ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
Let's forget about the turkey and skip straight to desert for today's Found Recipe. Imagine, if you will, a cake. On the outside, brown and white spirals of chocolate and marzipan. On the inside, a rich pumpkin mousse. Now, if you happen to be eating at the home of Vermont pastry chef Gesine Bullock-Prado, you can quit daydreaming and just dig in.
GESINE BULLOCK-PRADO: I do this cake every Thanksgiving. And it's so beautiful, and then it just happens to taste pretty amazing.
SHAPIRO: It also has a family story behind it involving Gesine's late mother and a cat - a cat Gesine and her sister rescued, a cat named Mittens.
BULLOCK-PRADO: We found her behind a dumpster - a little kitten in a paper bag. She was black with white paws. And my mother was out of town - and she was a strident, German lady and had made it a rule not to have animals in the house. But it was this cute kitten, so we brought her home, and we thought maybe the way to introduce Mittens, the cat, to mom was to put her in a little basket with a bow. And we brought her out. And at first, my mother looked as if she might lose a noodle. And then she picked her up. And then Mitten mewled. And she saw her little, white paws, and she became Mittens, mom's cat. Mittens had a chronic hernia that was brought on by stress. So as mom's cat, she pretty much had free reign of the whole house, including the kitchen counters.
I tell you about Mittens because, well, she had a huge part in my 16th birthday, specifically the cake. My mom and I had this tradition that months before my birthday she would ask, what kind of cake would you like for your birthday? And I had remembered this recipe from either the Washington Post - I really didn't remember what it was. But I remember the swirls. It was a cake in the shape of a dome. It had chocolate and white swirls all over top of it. And inside was just chocolate. And as it turned out, it took three or four days to make. She made a roulade. So you'd take a chocolate cake and then a layer of marzipan, and you roll it up altogether - like a Swiss Roll. And then you slice up the roulade, and it creates these pinwheels of chocolate and almond swirls. And then you line a bowl with all those swirls, and you let it sit for about a day. And then you make a chocolate mousse. And you fill the bowl with the chocolate mousse. And you have to let it set overnight. And then you add a foundation cake on top, and then you let everything set overnight. And on the day of my birthday, she turned over the bowl, and we let it sit on the counter to rest because you need to take a little time before you cut it.
Course, Mittens jumped up on the counter, transfixed by the chocolate and the almond. And she batted at it a bit, and we were very gentle - no, please get off the counter. And then so we left, and we thought everything was fine. Then a few minutes later, we heard a kerfuffle and a bang. And then there was my cake on the floor. Obviously, mom was really upset. First of all, the cake was ruined. It took her three days. And even more so, being the German that she was, she wanted to discipline someone for this error, but it was Mittens the cat. She had a hernia. We couldn't give her any kind of stress. So mom just looked at me, and she says nein - gives me the, I can't do this again. And that was the end of my 16th birthday cake. Years went by, my mom had passed. Mittens the cat had passed at the ripe, old age of 21. And we invited my father - my husband and I - to celebrate Thanksgiving in Vermont. This cake came to mind, but I didn't know where the recipe was. So I went online. And then all of a sudden, there it was - Jimmy Schmidt's London Chophouse chocolate-almond cake with mousse filling. I began working. I made the roulade first. I made the mousse. And I thought it's Thanksgiving, I'll make another mousse. I'll make pumpkin and chocolate mousse. I filled it. I let it set. I put another layer of cake on top, and I turned it over on Thanksgiving Day. And we all got to enjoy it because I don't have a cat.
SHAPIRO: That's Gesine Bullock-Prado, author of "Bake It Like You Mean It." You can get the recipe for what she calls Mittens Cake on our Found Recipes page at npr.org. This is NPR News.