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I made a cake yesterday for our dorm boys, the smaller group of six of whom my husband is “in charge.” He’s sort of their parent in Chattanooga, since their parents are spread out all over the world.
Between the cake and its ganache frosting, I used three-and-a-half sticks of butter and almost two bags of dark chocolate chips. There was a good bit of sugar (a pound … plus all the chocolate!), eggs, flour, the usual suspects. It was a rich, dense cake that should have knocked my socks off.
But instead of the called-for two teaspoons of vanilla, I decided I would substitute one teaspoon with almond extract. Yes, I know that is a lot of almond flavor, but I usually adore almond extract in just about anything. I made my vanilla probably a year ago with bourbon, and to me it still smells like bourbon instead of vanilla. So instead of saturating the cake with bourbon flavor, I went with some almond.
It was a mistake.
I could smell it a mile away with my very strong sniffer. The cake was permeated with cheap almond extract, taking away from the richness of the dark chocolate and good sugar and butter. One teaspoon of almond was all it took to fight through the rest of the strong flavors.
Maybe it’s silly, but it made me think of sin.
We can be rolling along pretty well, but there’s one sin issue that we just can’t seem to let the Spirit conquer. Fear? Overeating? Acting in anger? (Guilty on all counts.) It seems small in comparison to all the good in our lives, all the obedience we have, but it’s there. Seeping into other areas of our life, separating us from the Godhead. It permeates as quickly as a teaspoon of clear, pungent extract. It can eat up all the sweetness we have.
You can’t cover up the flavor of sin with dark chocolate ganache. Or with good deeds or wanting it badly or washing yourself from head to foot. All you can do it start again, asking for forgiveness from the One who says His mercies are new every morning.
In that repentance is a promise both ways, His to cleanse and yours to let Him be the one in control.
Just like I will probably never make a perfect chocolate cake in my lifetime, short of heaven we will never be perfect. We’ll probably return to the same sins again. But as we become more willing and able to let Him take control, the sin that seemed so enticing becomes dull compared to life with Him.
I won’t be making chocolate cake with almond extract again any time soon. And I pray that I can remember this lesson a baking experiment taught me yesterday.
image source: Arrqh via Flickr Creative Commons