Now I know that Valentine’s Day is all about drummin’ up new ways to say “I love you,” but when you’ve celebrated as many Valentine’s Days as I have, it gets harder and harder to impress. Michael can always win me over with jewelry or some other thoughtful gift. Last year, we were staying at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills and I saw the most beautiful Valentino handbag. I wanted it so bad, but the salespeople claimed that they couldn’t find the key to open the case. Or so they said. I was so agitated—like they thought I wasn’t good enough for that bag. Well, when we got home, on Michael’s desk was the most beautiful box with a card that read, “To my Valentine.” Turns out that he had gone behind my back and told the salespeople not to show me that purse. Then he bought it and had it shipped here. By the time we got home, it was waiting for me. I couldn’t believe it. I thought it was the sweetest thing.
But men are so much harder to shop for. Michael, having been a docking pilot for most of his life, isn’t a monogrammed cufflink kind of guy. He wouldn’t be caught dead carrying some “man purse”—so no matching Valentino’s for us. And making reservations at an overcrowded and overpriced restaurant—the same one that is reasonable any other day of the year—would feel more like work than romance. So instead of one perfect gift, or one perfect 5-course meal, I’m going for one perfect touch.
No, not that. I’m talking food, y’all.
The way to Michael’s heart has always been through his stomach, which is just one of the many things that makes us a perfect match. One of our first Valentine’s together I made him the most absolutely perfect 15-layer caramel cake. Okay, it wasn’t 15 layers; it just felt like it. But one bite of that cake sealed the deal. He said, “I might could like her,” and like me he did. So to show Michael that he’s the light of my life, I’m going to go back to doing what I do best and make him the most fabulous cake I know how to bake—something that trumps even my caramel cake—and that’s my Sugared Rose Parade Layer Cake.
It’s a super-duper special cake that I allowed the Tournament of Roses people to use at the announcement brunch this year. There’s a lot of love and time that goes into this spectacular cake, making it befitting for Valentine’s Day. I make four 10-inch layers of alternating red velvet and white cake, cream cheese frosting and sugared rose petals. It calls for two kinds of flour, 12 cups of sugar (including the roses and frosting) and two pounds of cream cheese. Now if that won’t make your heart stop, I don’t know what will.
Valentine’s Day is really about sharing an intimate moment with your loved ones. It needn’t be a lot of hoopla, just a slice of spectacular cake and a cup of hot chocolate set up in a cozy spot. Like y’all, we spend most of our days eatin’ on the run over the table in our kitchen and rarely get a chance to sit down, let alone have a decent conversation. So creating a beautiful table setting in our bedroom really brings it all together—conversation, food, intimacy and most importantly, our big-hearted love.