The little book club that could (eat appy chip cake)

With that photo, I'm not sure I would be breaking down doors to bake this cake either. It looks so...messy.

I don't deny that there's a lot of topping to contend with, but it's worth every morsel of chocolate and every flake of coconut you're forced to pluck from the tabletop. This cake has appeared at potlucks, travelled to work and was, once upon a time, the inaugural dessert of the little book club that could.

On May 19, 2004, I sent out this email to a few close friends marked: idea?

Hi Gals,

I've noticed in talking with all of you one-on-one
that we've all got something in common: we all seem to
read a lot. That got me thinking, and eventually led
to my latest and greatest idea -- a book club!

What I'm envisioning is a book every month or 6 weeks
or however often people would be interested in doing
it -- nothing too strenuous and something that would
leave time for people to read other stuff. We could
rotate the discussion spot at different people's
houses and have potlucks (dessert potlucks?!), or use
other venues as deemed appropriate.

I'm open to suggestions for how it could all work, as
well as to suggestions for others to invite along.
With a few more people involved, it would work better
in case 1 or 2 people have a really busy month or

Anyways, let me know if you're interested OR if you
think I'm out to lunch and should stop acting like a
middle-aged woman.

After a coffee shop meeting in early June to meet and greet, a book was chosen and a date was set. In late July 2004, 7 giggly girls gathered for a potluck dinner with our copies of Small Island in hand.

Early on, it was clear that the book was merely a bit player in our book club; a diversion from the good food and company around the table. Looking back at that initial email and the hopeful mention of dessert potlucks, I should have seen the writing on the wall. We spent more time debating the merits of chocolate bars and cooking magazines than discussing themes or character development, and I loved every minute of it.

At one point there was talk of compiling the potluck recipes into a little cookbook for family and friends, to which one enthusiastic member -- tongue firmly in cheek -- responded:

Of course I think we should think "BIG". I have visions of us selling this to a publisher, and then doing a book tour, and perhaps the talk show circuit...

Three plus years and too many books to count later, I'm no longer a regular attendee at the little book club that could. Some members have gone and new ones have come.

There isn't a cookbook, but we've still got the recipes.

Appy Chip Cake

Bowl 1
Mix together using a pastry blender:
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 cup margarine
Note: Reserve one cup of mixture for Bowl 4 (see below).

Bowl 2
Mix well:
1 ¼ cups apple sauce, unsweetened
1 egg
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon

Bowl 3
Stir together:
2 tablespoons boiling water
1 teaspoon baking soda

Bowl 4
Stir together:
1 cup of mixture reserved from Bowl 1
1 cup coconut
½ cup chopped pecans (I used sliced almonds here, but best to stick with the pecans)
½ cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9"x13" pan and set aside.

Add the contents of Bowl 2 to Bowl 1 and mix well. Add Bowl 3 to Bowl 1 and mix lightly.

Pour batter into the prepared pan and smooth with a spatula. Sprinkle the batter with the contents of Bowl 4.

Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Source: Mom's recipe file.