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Someday They’re Going To Give Me A Medal For This Stuff

You know the part of your brain that keeps you safe?  The part that knows not to lick raw chicken or sunbathe in the street?  Well, that part of my brain and Scott’s brain are different sizes.

Scott doesn’t worry very much.  He eats the hotdogs he finds at the back of the refrigerator.  He puts milk in his cereal, eats the cereal, and then asks me if I think the milk tastes funny.  He also tries to incorporate a dangerous power drill into as many household chores as possible.  You could ask the guy to change the toilet paper roll and he’d be all, “the toilet paper holder is a little wobbly so I’m just going to remove this section of wall, install a new toilet paper holder, and reattach everything with my power drill.”

I, on the other hand, worry a lot.  At any given moment, I’m thinking the following things:

  • I left the stove on;
  • I left the stove on and the window open;
  • I left the stove on and the window open and a rabid squirrel is going to come into the kitchen and knock the paper towel roll onto the stove top and the house will catch on fire and we’ll have to go live with my parents until my arson/squirrel abuse trial is over.

When I explain this sort of thing to Scott, he thinks I’m joking or something.  And then we have some version of the following conversation:

ME:     I’m not joking.  What kind of person jokes about rabid squirrels catching on fire?

SCOTT:     Well, nobody.  Because probably only two rabid squirrels in the history of the world have ever caught on fire.

ME:     That can’t be true.  Think about all the forest fires.

SCOTT:     But you’re not going to start a forest fire tonight.  I promise. 

ME:     We should probably go home and check, though.

SCOTT:   No, we shouldn’t.

ME:     Can I use your phone?

SCOTT:     Why?

ME:     To call a friend.

SCOTT:     I don’t believe you.

ME:     Fine.  To call 911.  HOW ARE YOU NOT UPSET RIGHT NOW?

SCOTT:     Oh my God.  Please sit down.  I’m ordering you a stiff drink.


So you know what I do sometimes?

I make a cake to celebrate my brain’s hard work. 

Because the thing about worrying is this: there’s no proof when it pays off.  Nobody knows when a forest fire doesn’t happen. 

But everybody notices a cake–especially a chocolate Coca-Cola® cake with homemade marshmallow frosting.

Which, by the way, you should refrigerate after you make it.  It has uncooked egg whites in the icing.  And OH, THE IRONY if you were to get dengue fever or ebola or whatever from the cake you made to celebrate how good you are at avoiding disaster.

Cola cakes don’t taste like Coke, but it’s fun to know that they’re sweetened with soda pop and marshmallows (which disappear during baking).  I added some chocolate chips to give it more chocolaty flavor.  Usually these cakes are served with a nutty, chocolaty glaze on top, but I like them with a fluffy marshmallow frosting.  It’s just amazing how much this stuff tastes like whipped up marshmallows.

Chocolate Cola Cake with Marshmallow Frosting {Download & Print Recipe}

Cake adapted from the Coca-Cola® Company cola cake; icing from The Cake Duchess, in my own words.


For the cake:

2 c. sugar

2 c. flour

1 1/2 c. small marshmallows

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter

1/2 c. vegetable oil

3 Tbsp. cocoa

1 c. cola (such as Coca-Cola® or RC Cola®; not diet)

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 c. buttermilk

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla (optional- I made it once with and once without and couldn’t tell the difference)

1 c. semisweet chocolate chips

For the icing:

1 c. granulated sugar

4 egg whites at room temperature

1/3 c. water

1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

1 tsp. vanilla


1. Make the cake:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9×13″ pan.  In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, and marshmallows.  In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter, oil, cocoa, and cola, and bring to a boil.  When it reaches a boil, remove from the heat and pour over the flour mixture.  Stir to combine.

In a small bowl, dissolve the baking soda in the buttermilk (do not do this in advance) and immediately add it to the batter with the eggs and the vanilla (if using vanilla).  Mix well.  Don’t be surprised if the marshmallows melt a bit.  Add the chocolate chips (they may melt a little too) and stir to combine.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.  Let cool completely.

2. Make the frosting:

Bring the water, sugar and cream of tartar to a boil in a small saucepan, but don’t stir it.  Boil it for a few minutes until you have thick, clear bubbles and the sugar has dissolved.  As soon as the sugar is dissolved–and before the liquid turns an amber color–remove it from the heat.

Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until they form soft peaks.  Slowly add the sugar syrup a little bit at a time and beat on high speed for 5 minutes.  Ice the cake once it is completely cool.  Store any left-over cake and icing in the refrigerator.


Thunder is a worrier like me.  Here she is worrying that Seymour is going to try to take her bone.

And here she is glaring at him like “Take another step and by God I’ll chase you down and chomp on your ears until you beg for mercy.”

63 Comments Post a comment
  1. My husband and I are both worriers, him usually more so than me. So when I told him a few years ago that when he was out of town, I lay awake worrying that the air purifier was going to short out and burn the house down while the kids and I slept and HE TOLD ME THAT WAS CRAZY, I knew it actually was crazy. Because his bar for crazy is set pretty high.

    September 28, 2012
    • Anne, that sounds like a good set-up. Since Scott is so much less of a worrier than I, when he gets worried about something, I practically stop breathing. I usually stammer “but. . . but I thought you. . . you were going to tell me I was being crazy!!” And then I burst into tears because I know that if he’s concerned, the end is nigh. NIGH, I say.

      September 29, 2012
  2. Amy #

    I’m a major worrier…like i ALWAYS expect the worst to happen. Nate says I shouldn’t worry about things I have no control over, but I just want to be prepared, you know?! This constant worrying is causing me MAJOR stress during my wedding preparations. Maybe I need to make this cake right now…

    September 28, 2012
    • Oh crap. Do you need me to send you my lucky tweezers? Just in case she doesn’t get back?


      She’ll be there. xo

      September 29, 2012
  3. Ok, have you been Freshly Pressed yet? You should be.
    I’m a worrier too; my husband is not. I try to be more like him but then my cautious attitude pays off in some way and just reinforces the whole darn thing.

    September 28, 2012
    • Arg. Your cautious attitude pays off? I am so jealous. I’m sure mine does, but so rarely (e.g., the stove is NEVER ON when I go back to check it) that I barely notice it. I thought for sure this tree in our back yard was going to fall on the house so I banned us from being back there, and then it didn’t fall for a week. . . two weeks. . . three weeks. . . and now I practically make myself a cup of tea and read under the thing every afternoon.

      Watch it fall before Christmas.

      September 29, 2012
      • Dinnerversions #

        Oh it’s just the little stuff that pays off….like going on a bike ride and I insist on bringing the ‘cuts and scrapes kit’ even though my kid is almost 8 and super proficient on his bike. Or bringing extra snacks for outings….apparently I overprepare but inevitably someone needs something that I’ve brought!

        October 1, 2012
  4. BrandDGarrett #

    I’m genetically Catholic so not only am I a worrier, I feel guilty about it as well. sigh. I need cake.

    September 28, 2012
    • I am genetically Catholic too! Daughter of an Irish father and an Italian mother (not first generation, but still.) The Catholic genetics run deep over here. It’s really funny that you say that because when I started writing this post, it had LOTS about guilt in it but I cut it out on the theory that I should deal with ONE ISSUE AT A TIME. 🙂

      September 29, 2012
  5. Cam #

    LOL, I worry when I don’t have something to worry about that I _forgot_ to worry about something important.

    September 28, 2012
    • Cam, I feel like I need to make this into a magnet or something because it so perfectly describes my life, too.

      September 29, 2012
  6. Squirrels usually stay in the attic. (It’s the mice you have to worry about.)

    September 28, 2012
    • THANK YOU. I will keep that in mind. I had a mouse problem in New York. A MAJOR mouse problem. There were so many mice in my apartment that I gave them names (not that I could tell them apart. It was more to just pass the time.) They were really noisy at night as they chewed through my cereal boxes.

      A bird flew into our laundry room a couple weeks ago. And I’ve been seeing armadillos on the side of the road when I drive out into the country. There’s no telling what kind of beast is going to be responsible for burning down my house one day.

      September 29, 2012
  7. I used to always worry I’d left the coffee pot on, so I got a new coffee pot that turns itself off after two hours. But I still worry I forgot to turn it off. And now I also worry that something will go wrong with the timer on the thing and it will turn itself on while I’m not looking….

    September 28, 2012
    • This made me laugh. And I wish you could have been a fly on the wall during Christmas 2011. We got in the car and drove 11 hours to Virginia, where I decided upon arrival that we had left the coffee maker on in Alabama. Scott assured me that it would turn itself off automatically, but I didn’t believe him so I googled that brand of coffee maker and looked over the features to make sure he wasn’t just making it up.

      Good times.

      September 29, 2012
  8. Sandra R #

    I have worked hard to put a lid on my worrying, an inherited trait. My grandmother would settle on one grandchild as her worry target, and would carry on for weeks. We hated being her target, and used to joke when she moved on to the next kid. So I know the worrying is not good. Eggton, I am pretty sure squirrels do not carry rabies. I could be wrong. But more likely a rabid skunk would come through the open window and….. See. A skunk would be worse. But don’t worry!

    September 28, 2012
    • A skunk WOULD be worse. About 7 years ago, I lived with a girl who had a Jack Russell. It got sprayed by a skunk once and the whole house reeked for days, and the dog couldn’t stop puking the color of a yellow highlighter (seriously fluorescent). The skunk wasn’t even rabid and it was STILL a terrible experience!

      October 2, 2012
  9. Sometimes my brain makes plans for how to react in the event of an unexpected ninja invasion. *shrug*

    Emergency preparedness comes in all shapes and sizes.

    September 28, 2012
    • So now I’m wondering if whether you’ve acted on these plans and have amassed a nice machete collection in your closet. *No judgment here, by the way.*

      October 2, 2012
  10. Amanda #

    This post made me laugh, I live the same life every day with my husband. Our last conversation like this was about camping in the rain and how the dirt road would wash out and the creek would flood and our puppy would get swept away in the current…turns out he was right and everything was ok with the exception of a few wet socks and sneakers…

    September 28, 2012
    • Amanda, we’re thinking of going camping in late October, just for a night in Tennessee because our friend is having a bonfire-type thing. I will keep your story in mind for when everything seems to go wrong!

      October 2, 2012
  11. hermosausaadmin #

    This post just made my entire afternoon! Good stuff – recipe, wit and humor. Great combo! Hope your weekend goes well and is so fun you won’t have time to worry (as much). ^_~. ~Marianne

    September 28, 2012
    • Thanks Marianne! My weekend was good. Hasn’t been a productive week so far (it’s raining. Makes me not want to do anything but read) but I’m hoping that changes!

      October 2, 2012
  12. craftytammie #

    I actually HAVE called a neighbor to go to my house and make sure I turned off the bathtub water. because I was sure I hadn’t and was going to flood the house. but she already knows I’m crazy so it’s ok 🙂 that cake looks divine…

    September 28, 2012
    • Tammie, when I get attacks like that (is the shower running? did I leave the stove on?) Scott’s like “have you even cooked in the past three days?” And usually the answer is no. But it doesn’t matter. I’ll still freak out.

      October 2, 2012
  13. I have a friend who is always worrying about accidentally burning her house down. She will call her house, and if the answering machine picks up she feels better because that must mean her house is still standing…

    September 28, 2012
    • That’s hilarious. I don’t even have a land line, but maybe at Christmastime when I’m at my parents’ house, I’ll dig out an old answering machine from the garage and take it back to Alabama with me. Ha!

      October 2, 2012
  14. I know the thirteen other women ahead me of me already confirmed their worry problem too, but can I tell you that this is so spot on it’s uncanny. I mean one weekend, I took a flight to London and turned to my boyfriend at takeoff and asked if I left the iron on. All weekend long I checked the news to see if our apartment building had burnt down yet. HAHA I wish I was exaggerating, even a little…

    September 28, 2012
    • AAAACK that must have SUCKED. My heart (a.k.a. anxiety central) aches for you on this one.

      I was in Wyoming last year with my family on a vacation and someone mentioned how his landlord wasn’t letting him out of his lease, which had this rrrrrreally long notice period before it automatically renewed for A YEAR and for the rest of the trip I FREAKED OUT that maybe my lease (which I was planning on giving 3 months’ notice on) had that weird provision too and I’d be locked into a MANHATTAN LEASE (i.e. extremely expensive) for another 12 months, and it would mess up my plans to move to Alabama.

      When I got back to NY, I turned my place upside down looking for the lease. It didn’t have the provision in it. 🙂

      October 2, 2012
  15. a #

    I am not the worrier in my household. I cannot waste energy in that unnecessary manner. 🙂

    Of course, I still get some anxiety attack…

    September 28, 2012
    • I WISH I thought like you do. You’re totally right that it’s usually a absolute waste of energy. *Sigh.*

      October 2, 2012
  16. It is good to know that the world is safer because we worry. It is my calling to worry. I carry the burden of responsibility proudly, knowing that I come from a long line of worriers. It is good to find many kindred spirits along the way…Love your posts!!!

    September 28, 2012
    • I do have a secret(ish) theory that by worrying we make it impossible for the exact thing we worried about to happen–how unlikely would that be? 🙂

      September 28, 2012
      • Oh, I do like the way you think!!!

        September 28, 2012
        • I’d like to second everything that’s been said here.

          October 2, 2012
  17. I’m also the worryer in my relationship and, that being said, V is the ranter – I’ll go above and beyond to be concerned about what could go wrong but when a little thing DOES go wrong (stuck in traffic a bit longer than usual, post hasn’t yet arrived, the cat ate all the muffins etc) he’s the one crying about it. That’s how I justify that he has to listen to me because I am always right. Or something something.

    September 29, 2012
    • That’s an interesting division of responsibility. I like it.

      October 2, 2012
  18. OMG! Seymour is BIG! Aunt Sandy has missed all the in between puppiness since his last picture! Anyway, he’s all: “Youse de alpa doggie, T’under. Iz very bow ‘n’ scrape cuz you de boss ‘n’–HA! gots the bone!!!”

    September 29, 2012
    • Seymour is HUGE, Sandy Sue! He’s 33 lbs and about 6 1/2 months old. He’s growing into those tall, tall legs he’s got. He is such a sweetie. (Though he did eat about a half gallon of stuffing out of the bed in the guest room the other day. We made him throw it up just to be safe, and all was well.) Thunder has taught him how to fetch a ball and eat the pillows and wrestle and sit and play tug. They’re quite the pair!

      October 2, 2012
  19. My Mom used to make that marshmallow frosting. You have given me an idea. An awful, terrible, delicious idea. Perhaps and very soon I shall blog it… *shifty eyes* It does not involve singeing any squirrels. In theory. Hammy should be OK. I think…

    September 29, 2012
    • I can’t wait to see what comes of this….

      October 2, 2012
  20. I hear ya, sister. I’ve been writing a series of posts about anxiety on my blog. And my boyfriend and your husband sound very similar- I think people like us need people like them to balance it out. Take two people with our level of anxiety, put them in a relationship, and I don’t even want to know what would happen.

    Sometimes we leave our window open when we aren’t home so that our cats can sit on the ledge and be against the stream. My most recent fear is that it will rain one of these days, the rain will come through the screen and land inside our electrical outlet causing our apartment to burn to the ground.

    September 29, 2012
    • I LOVE YOUR BLOG. I followed it in every way I could the other day. Scott independently clicked through to your blog and without any prompting from me said “have you read J-Bo’s blog?” because he thought it was awesome, too.

      Anyway, Scott the Physicist says that you can set your circuit breaker to trip at a low amp (like 5 or something) so that if water DID get into BOTH prongs of a power outlet, the circuit breaker would flip and hopefully that would be enough to prevent an electrical fire. Apparently the setting is on the circuit breaker itself.

      I have no idea what he’s talking about, but figured I’d pass it along.

      October 2, 2012
      • Thanks so much! I love your blog too. I basically comprehended 0% of Scott’s advice, but appreciate it all the same! Tell him that he’s ever passing through Iowa he can come set that up for me 🙂 In the meantime, I will just pray for no house fires.

        October 3, 2012
  21. How did Seymour go from puppy to big dog over night, and should we worry about how fast he is growing up?

    September 30, 2012
    • Can you believe how fast this is happening?!?! Carolyn, he’s 33 pounds now. He’s about 6 1/2 months old. He’s SUCH a good dog. All he wants to do is lick your face and cuddle with you. He puts up with Thunder chasing him around the house, and he just looks at me with these expressive eyes sometimes that make me SO GLAD we adopted him!

      October 2, 2012
  22. I am a worrier. Thus I created SECURITY CHECK. I’m thinking of marketing it. It’s a system of checking everything in the house that could possibly be left open, unlocked, on, leaking, or flaming. And you have to complete every one of the 100 check points three times before leaving the house or going to bed. 2.0 often mocks SECURITY CHECK. Because he says if we’ve checked everything once, it’s unlikely that one of the cats doubled back and turned on the stove.

    That is why when I make this cake, I won’t be sharing any with him.

    October 1, 2012
    • I kind of want to send you a laminator just so you can laminate one of these for me and then I can punch a hole in the top and attach a pen from a piece of yarn and that way I could reuse it over and over and over.

      October 2, 2012
      • Yarn? Dude, use proper string – twine at the very least. Or, perhaps a decorative grosgrain ribbon.

        You have so much to learn from me.

        October 2, 2012
  23. krisanngentry #

    Or, you could put it this way:

    October 1, 2012
    • This was so awesome. It reminded me of Flight of the Conchords. (Which you’ve watched, yes?)

      October 2, 2012
      • krisanngentry #


        October 4, 2012
  24. I am hysterically laughing – Thunder is just priceless and I make that same face when someone tries to touch my food too. Seriously. I also had to giggle because as I sit and type this post, the smell of a Coca-Cola cake is wafting into my office. Great minds and all! YUM!

    October 2, 2012
    • Oh cool! You have to tell me how yours turns out and how delicious it is with the chocolate glaze!

      October 2, 2012
  25. Right before I got married, I panicked because I thought I left my straightening iron on in the hotel room. So I stopped everything and made my husband call the hotel (not as dramatic as it seems – we got married in a wine bar with 10 people). He called them while standing with the officiant and our friends and family who were waiting for me to walk down the “aisle”. I waited around the corner and listened to him talking to someone at the front desk. “Um, yeah. I’m just about to get married and my girlfriend thinks…” I was a little embarrassed, but I never would have been able to get through the ceremony while thinking that the hotel may burn down.

    So, I’m with you. I understand. Worry warts, unite!

    October 2, 2012
    • What an amazing story. I *completely* get it. What a lovely wedding that must have been, once you hammered the straightening iron situation out! (or I suppose I should say “ironed it out.”)

      October 15, 2012
  26. I have this…thing. the thing that irrationally says – in the dark space in my brain (it’s empty too and need filling so why not fill it with worry? it’s an ethnic thing)- the birthday candles that I threw into the garbage without wetting the blown out wicks first- will magically re-ignite and set the damn can on fire while I sleep… and do I have good batteries in the smoke detector? as a pyro phobe it’s really weird that I spent a good part of the summer tryig to spontaneously combust. so far no good.

    October 2, 2012
    • I totally understand. In New York I lived in an apartment building with a trash chute. So when I threw my trash away, I not only worried there was something in there that would catch me and my apartment on fire somehow, I worried I’d BURN THE WHOLE BUILDING DOWN. The whole building and its 75 inhabitants. It was exhausting, worrying for 75 people.

      October 15, 2012
  27. I am more like Scott, not much of a worrier, but love the recipe. Also I have a question–I am a new blogger on WordPress, how did you get the “follow me on pinterest” tab on your site?

    October 3, 2012
    • Hi there! Congrats on joining wordpress! I like it.

      My “theme” didn’t have a built-in pinterest option, but it does have a side bar that I can put hyperlinks or html or whatever on if I want to. So what I did is I went to the pinterest webpage, looked for “goodies” (or just google pinterest + goodies) and it tells you what codes to insert on your page to make various pinterest icons to pop up on your page.

      Give that a shot, and if it doesn’t work, I’m happy to figure out some way to show you how I did it!

      October 15, 2012
  28. i am SUCH a worrier; about everything, all the time. in fact, i’m worried right now that i took too long to comment on this post, even though i read it on my phone probably the second it was published. why didn’t i comment then? because i worry about typing on my phone with my seemingly giant fingers and screwing up what i’m saying like “i love that concrete colon cake with marshmallow pasties” and hitting send accidentally. so i wait. and then time goes by, and i get concerned that you didn’t think i read it, and…..scene.

    October 11, 2012
  29. BWAHAHAHA–it’s a good thing YOU don’t have a “bake my cake” competition, or I think I’d have to make you a “concrete colon cake with marshmallow pasties,” and that would be awkward for everyone.

    I always wait to comment (ahem, like on your page, even though I love it so) in the hopes that I’ll think of something hilarious if I mull it over first. But then, of course, my idiot brain fills up with thoughts like “I wonder if there’s any cheese left in the drawer. . . ” and “Does that tire look flat? Or just. . . low?” and pretty soon I’ve forgotten to go back and tell you.


    October 15, 2012

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