Sour Cream Chocolate Cake and…A Crisis and Liquid Myrrh

It’s been one of those days.  And it started yesterday.

Last night was the opening night of Archie’s play.  Drew, Arabella and I went along to support him.  The night was thoroughly entertaining and Archie gave a performance that was lively and energetic.

But I have been worried about Archie because as well as rehearsing four nights a week he has been going to Uni five days a week and he has had a lot of assessments that all involve singing so he’s been using his voice a lot.  And in the play he is on stage for almost the entire three-hour show and he has to project his voice and yell and scream and leap about like John Cleese in Fawlty Towers.

Sour Cream Chocolate Cake

I have been telling Archie that he needs to look after himself and make sure he’s getting enough sleep and eating properly and I’ve even suggested he curtail some of his social engagements.  Like was it really necessary to go to a party dressed in drag the night after coming home from a disastrous tech rehearsal that had him home no earlier than 4.20am?

But Archie didn’t listen to me because he is 19 and as such only has selective hearing.

I did try to help by packaging up home cooked meals like spaghetti bolognese, chilli con carne, chicken pesto pasta, lasagne etc.  But there have also been days when Archie has walked through the door announcing he is off to an extra rehearsal and I have been left completely unprepared.  So I’ve handed Archie $20.00 and told him to buy himself a decent meal.

But Archie is enterprising and worked out that McDonald’s (close to the theatre) sells cheeseburgers for a dollar.  Archie could buy four cheeseburgers for $4.00 plus a can of red bull and pocket the balance.

And I said to Archie, ‘Eating like that will catch up with you.’  But selective hearing is deaf to wisdom.

It wasn’t a total surprise when Archie woke this morning with no voice.   With three consecutive performances starting from tonight, we were in a crisis situation.

Archie had heard that drinking liquid myrrh would cure a strained voice.  Excellent!  But I didn’t know where to buy it.  Apparently it is a herb so I googled herbal shops in my area.  I phoned the first number that appeared.  A man with a heavy Chinese accent answered the phone.  I asked if he sold liquid myrrh.  He said, ‘Yes, your name?’  So I told him and then again asked, ‘Do you sell myrrh?

‘Yes, yes.  What you want it for?’  I explained Archie’s situation.

‘He needs to see the doctor.’

‘I’m sorry, we don’t have time for that, can I just come and pick up the myrrh?’

‘If he not see the doctor I don’t know what formula to give him.’

‘Well doesn’t it just come either as a tablet or as a liquid?  We just want the liquid.’

‘I have liquid.’

‘Great. Can I come up and get it?’

‘I don’t know the formula.’

This went on and on and we went round and round with me ending up agreeing to bring Archie in immediately in exchange for a bottle of liquid myrrh.

Oh, just a thin slice for me!

When we arrived he told us to wait 15 minutes because he was busy.  We saw he was talking to a man at the counter but the man wasn’t a customer, he was there selling the Chinese man a mobile phone plan.  The salesman was offering the first two months of the plan for free but the Chinese man wanted three months for free.  And Archie and I sat there with the day ticking by.

Then the Chinese doctor came out and said she needed to talk to Archie.  She did a brief consult and agreed he needed something to bring back his voice.  I said, ‘Great, can we take the bottle of myrrh?’

She said, ‘I don’t sell myrrh.  I have something much, much better.  His system out of balance, he need full consult to fix it.  He need this,’ and she handed me a box of lozengers he can suck, ‘and he need this’ and she gave me a couple of boxes of pills, ‘and he need this’, and it was something for him to drink.  And because Archie is out of balance I have made an appointment for him to see her next Tuesday, probably because she said to me, ‘You have very nice boy and you!  Too young to have such nice boy.’

Because we were in a crisis situation I felt we should have a two-pronged approach and alongside the Chinese remedies we should also have a Western approach.  I drove Archie to the Compounding Pharmacy and Archie had another consult.  She sold him some Vitamin C powder, a throat spray, some lozengers and some herbal tablets.  The throat spray even has a little bit of myrrh!

So Archie is on his way to another performance, heavily stocked up with Chinese and Western remedies.  For the sake of all in the audience I can only hope they work like a miracle.

When Archie gave me proper notice about an upcoming rehearsal I would try to make something the whole cast could enjoy.  I made this sour cream chocolate cake and it was well appreciated by the cast who, because they are starving, are probably not the best to judge but they did say this was the best chocolate cake they have ever eaten.  The sour cream adds a special richness to the cake and makes it very moist.

Very rich and decadent chocolate cake

Sour Cream Chocolate Cake and...A Crisis and Liquid Myrrh
Recipe type: Cake
Cuisine: Australian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8-10
A very rich and decadent chocolate cake perfect for birthdays
  • 1½ cups plain flour
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • 1½ tspns baking powder
  • ¾ tspn baking soda
  • ½ tspn salt
  • 250g (1 cup) sour cream
  • ⅓ cup water
  • 2 tspns vanilla essence
  • 250g (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1⅓ cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • Frosting:
  • ¾ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup (250g) cream cheese, whipped
  • 115g (4oz) dark chocolate, melted and cooled (melt over hot water)
  • 1 tspn vanilla
  • 2½ cups icing sugar
  1. Pre-heat oven to 180C/375F.
  2. Grease and flour two 9-inch (22cm) round cake pans, knocking out excess flour.
  3. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. In a small bowl whisk together sour cream, water and vanilla.
  5. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  6. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
  7. Add some flour mixture to butter mixture. Mix well. Add some sour cream mixture. Mix well. Continue this process, ending with the flour mixture. Beat until the batter is smooth. Divide batter between prepared pans and smooth the tops.
  8. Bake layers in middle of oven 25 -30 minutes until cooked.
  9. Cool cakes in their pans on racks for 10 minutes. Turn out onto racks to cool completely.
  10. To Make Frosting:
  11. Using an electric mixer, beat together butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add remaining ingredients and beat until combined. Place one cake on a large plate and spread with about ¾ cup frosting. Put the second cake on top, then spread remaining frosting over the top and sides.

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  1. Oh no 🙁 Did Archie get his voice back? Was he able to perform? I’ve never heard of Myrrh and didn’t know that it helps of loss of voice ~ I’m gonna remember that because I like talking too much and losing my voice is just so hard to bare! But whenever I’m sick my parents are always combining western and chinese remedies together 😀

  2. What a gorgeous looking cake, and sour cream makes cakes so moist. Hope Archie gets his voice back in time.

  3. this selective hearing/disregard for their body thing is definitely specific to males. Even the 20 plus year olds that I know now are like this. Heck, even my father is like this!

    All you can do is put the good food in front of them and hope they don’t selectively not see it in favor of mcdonald’s. And give them cake.

  4. Ooo! I love cakes with sour cream in them! Alas – no cakes for me atm… I may have decided to try the speedy, but stupid idea of hand whisking and electric mixing at the same time. My cheapy mixer and whisk both died that day!

  5. I think we love myths as much as the decadence of chocolate. Now about that selective hearing …. what did you say?

  6. Hope Archie is better soon.

    The cake is lovely. It looks very much like one I am about to make for our son’s 20th birthday. He has requested a chocolate cake with whipped cream frosting. My buttercream frosting never looks as creamy and perfect as yours on the cake above.

  7. Hopefully Archie’s feeling better soon. It’s very important for entertainers to take care of their voices! Lovely cake!

  8. The cake looks luscious. I have never used sour cream in any of my cakes. I must try it because I love sour cream on its own and somehow feel it would do miracles to a cake. Thanks for the lovely recipe.
    I hope your son gets back his voice very soon!

  9. What a gorgeous cake! I hope Archie was able to regain his voice. I love alternative medicine. My sister in law is a Naturopathic Doctor and I worked for her for many years. There are so many ways to cure ailments and even serious medical conditions with herbs, it’s really quite amazing.

    Hope his voice is better than new! 🙂

  10. This is my kind of cake! I love putting sour cream and yogurt in cakes, it makes them so moist. Just perfect. And I hope Archie’s voice is better! Oh, to be 19 again 🙂

  11. Liquid myrrh–well, that grabbed my attention. In Mexico, they sell myrrh resin in hardware stores of all places. Frankensense as well. I use the essential oil in mouth/throat preparations–it’s wonderful. I hope that something you used, whether it was myrrh or not, worked for poor Archie!

    Am certain that the cake was a hit. It looks great!

  12. I am dying to know how the performances went! Sour cream works miracles. Too bad the cake didn’t fix him.

  13. Oh, what a crisis for sure! I think I would only require a wee slice of this cake and I would feel 100%!! I’m glad he’s feeling better! Good luck to you all !!

  14. You’ve won a special place in my heart by mentioning John Cleese in Fawlty Towers….one of my favorite characters of all time.

    And I’ll take two pieces of that cake please.

  15. What a fabulous dark chocolate cake. How is Archie, did the medicine cabinet of remedies work? He certainly sounds like he’s working really hard. GG

  16. Gorgeous cake, the dark chocolate looks so rich. I hope Archie’s experience with eastern medicine was a positive one.

  17. That is one beautiful looking slice of cake (I’m partial to chocolate anything). Its frosting looks so light and creamy! I sure hope Archie’s performance went well and that he’ll be able to perform again tomorrow. It would be a shame if he missed performances after having worked and trained so hard. Fingers crossed …

  18. What a story; we were all young once upon a time…and foolish, I suppose (or at least that’s what our parents thought!). That cake totally reminds me of a cake my Mom used to make. I wish I could have a taste of it.

  19. Philippa says:

    Charlie you are too good! and that cake looks divine!

  20. I’m going to pin this right away, I hope the rehearsal went great for Archie (I already feel like I know him for all your stories!)

  21. I just pulled this quote from your post and wrote it down: “Selective hearing’s deaf to wisdom.” That seems to be the story of my life these days with my 18-year-old. They have their own minds and wills, don’t they?

    I hope the voice comes back.

    And that chocolate cake…don’t even tempt me. Oh, you already have.

  22. Haha I love that you were convinced by the Chinese lady’s kind words. I hope Archie’s voice makes a return!

    Can’t wait to try this cake. I’ve never seen sour-cream used with chocolate before.

  23. lol, I don’t even know what myrrh looks like – you made me want to go and look it up now 😀

    Lovely squishy looking cake Charlie – and I just love how thick that frosting is…. yummy!

  24. Eek – I hope Archie’s voice recovers! I wonder if his selective hearing will improve too? 😉

    This cake looks delightful. I love the thought of adding sour cream – I’m guessing it makes it lighter in texture? Beautiful recipe.

  25. what a beautiful dessert!

  26. Magnolia Verandah says:

    Probably the cake alone would have cured him – I know it would cure all my ills!

  27. That sour cream cake looks amazing….it reminds me of those cakes in the scene from that ancient Hayley Mills “Polyanna” movie with the maids and the cakes at the bazaar. That part of the movie always made me want…every crumb of every cake.

  28. You are a good mum and this cake looks luscious….could o itch. Lice right about now 🙂

  29. Sour cream and chocolate is just heaven in cakes. I wonder why myrrh would be like in cooking?

  30. I hope the combination of treatments does the trick for Archie. With that many pills etc germs shouldn’t stand a chance! If not, this chocolate cake should be pure comfort food, Yumm…

  31. Let me just tell you this… you are such an amazing person and such a wonderful mom. I love reading all of your stories and this one really reminded me of my own family and the closeness we have. I also loved this Sour Cream Chocolate Cake.. because we all know how I feel about chocolate cake lol

  32. I am sending positive thoughts your way for poor Archie. I have a 17 yr. old and selective hearing seems to come with territory. That chocolate sour cream cake looks To.Die.For. I would be in so much trouble if that were near me right now. YIKES!

  33. Great cake! And your adventure with the Chinese doctor shows me that you are gutsy! Hotly Spiced indeed! I would have been too cautious! Hope all is well now! Debra

  34. Cake looks fab, I can imagine the taste. So, how did Archie go then, did his voice show up in time and stand up to all that work?

  35. oh how sad, hope archie gets well soon. the cake looks absolutely delish!

  36. This also reminds me of a sour cream chocolate cake my mom used to make years ago. I just want to dive into this one it look so good! Hope Archie is okay!

  37. Did he survive the performance? I have to say, Chinese herbal medicines scare the living daylights out of me.. 😉

  38. Ah, how fantastic! I’ve had a chocolate bar with myrrh and have always been a little bit confused, thinking it more the stuff of Christmas stories than reality.

    Gosh, sometimes I wish I could’ve been that reckless with sleep and life when I was 19! Damn my control freak and perfectionist nature. I never came home at 4am, alas for my parents missing out on that fun element of parenting!

  39. Oooh what a fabulously looking filled cake: so rich, apart & tasty! 🙂

    I hope your son is feeling better really soon!

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