One of my goals this year is to stay on top of birthdays and holidays. Cards will arrive in perfect time and presents will be wrapped without panic.
I was on a roll. I had a custom-made birthday card for my future father-in-law that was absolutely hilarious and his present was neatly wrapped in a shiny gift bag and an abundant amount of teal tissue paper. All of this three days ahead of the actual event – I was completely impressed with myself.
Terry and I would dine at his parents’ house the night of the birthday celebration. Bob and JoNell couldn’t wait to marinade and grill an assortment of meat. There would be salad and potatoes too. The one request they made of us was dessert. The birthday boy requested red velvet cake or cupcakes.
That should be easy enough, I thought. I had seen mixes for red velvet cake at the grocery store, though I had no idea what was in a red velvet cake, nor had I ever made one.
The night before the big party I went to the grocery store. I stared at the 15 available cake mixes, none of which were red, willing the red velvet mix to appear. It did not.
I went to another store, it didn’t exist there either.
The next afternoon I had a plan. I would either drive all over Fargo finding a prepared red velvet anything, or I would adapt a mix from a recipe online and crank them out myself. Red velvet cake would not take me down.
I posted on Facebook, “Anyone know where to get red velvet cake in Fargo?” What followed were 17 comments: places to get red velvet cake in Grand Forks, in Fargo, recipes on how to adapt regular cake mixes into red velvet cake (a whole vial of red food coloring?!) and a story about a boss randomly eating part of someone’s slice of red velvet cake, using the employee’s fork, and then putting it back.
I thanked everyone for the responses but my gut told me to take myself downtown. On my errand run at 3 p.m., I made a beeline to Josie’s Corner on the north end of Fargo’s downtown. I opened the door to the café and bakeshop, and heard the bell ring on the door. I stopped in my tracks.
Straight across the shop I saw one of the most beautiful sights I had ever seen. On the top shelf of the cooler, perched atop a crystal cake stand, were giant red cupcakes. I swear music played, if only in my head.
I approached the counter where Tracy was waiting (I visit Josie’s often).
“Are those red velvet cupcakes?”
“Yes they are.”
I had to catch my breath.
“Are there more of them?”
“No, those are the last five.”
“I’ll take all of them,” I spit out, before anyone could claim them as their own, even though I was standing at the counter by myself.
I have no idea what the bill came to, but I can tell you they were worth every penny.
Tracy boxed them up: five jumbo red velvet cupcakes complete with swirly white frosting and sprinkles.
We arrived at the party right on time at 5:30. We perched the great find on our own crystal cake stand and I admired them throughout Bob’s birthday dinner.
When it was time for dessert, Terry placed a jumbo cupcake in front of Bob. I held my breath as he tried it.
“Perfect,” he said, between bites.
The smile on his face reinforced the word.
I started to breathe again and took a giant bite of my own red velvet cupcake. The cupcakes were perfection.
Mission accomplished, Josie’s Corner. Mission accomplished, red velvet cupcakes.
Next year, I will be more prepared.