May it Please the Palate: "Is it Really Better?"

Cartoonist Nicole Hollander once had a character in her "Sylvia" comic pose the question, "Which do you like better, sex or cake?" Quick as a wink, the reply came, "What kind of cake?"

Why "Better than Sex" cake, of course. The name alone is enough to send the sewing circle into embarrassed blushing. The typical "BTS" cake is sinfully rich and sweet, and supposedly a guilty enough pleasure to evoke the comparison. A common recipe is loaded with devil's food cake, sweetened condensed milk, caramel topping, toffee candy bars, and whipped topping. (There is a Weight Watcher's version of that same recipe, featuring fat-free everything, and a can of Diet Coke.)

Paula Deen's take on BTS cake is festooned with pineapple and coconut, and rather than making a bold proclamation, she coyly asks rhetorically: "Is it Really Better Than Sex Cake?" There is an award-winning "Better than Sex" dessert restaurant in Key West, featuring decadent concoctions with salacious names, such as the $12.69 "Between My Red Velvet Sheets Cheesecake."

In the non-food category, "Better Than Sex" is the name of a book about the 1992 Clinton election, by gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson. It is the title of an Australian movie about relationships. And it is also the name of a song by mega-star Tyrese, with pro-marriage lyrics such as these: "Girl, I've had a one night stand ... You just might be wifey. ... Oh girl, better than sex."

Everything is relative, of course. Serious researchers are out there asking hard-hitting questions, helpfully compiled by www.toptenz.com. In one survey, more than 30 percent of women claim that "cleaning gives them more satisfaction than sex." Another survey has 30 percent preferring to "make more money," with "losing 10 pounds" close behind at 26 percent.

From Marrakesh Records, 60 percent of 16-24-year-olds would rather go without sex than music for a week. This increases to 70 percent for 16-19-year-olds, which I suppose is a relief to parents of teenagers, formulating their next punishment. When it comes to cell phones, the results are even more dramatic. A UK survey found that only 24 percent of women would rather give up sex than their mobile phone for a month; that number drops to zero percent for men. Internet access is more precious --half of all women surveyed would rather abstain from sex for two weeks than to give up their browsing. For men, predictably, the number is much lower.

But nothing appears to be better than sex to the extent that food purports to be, at least for women. The web site urbandictionary.com describes "better than sex" as "a euphoric experience, often food-related, quite similar to an orgasm. Usually used by women, as for most men there is nothing better than sex."

Cooks.com alone has 307 recipes for "Better than Sex" cake. One cook, with a good sense of priorities, is fine with calling hers "Almost Better Than Sex" cake. Betty Crocker primly calls her cake "Better-Than-Almost-Anything." (Get your mind out of the gutter, or Betty will whap your hand with her spatula.)

Many busy lawyers haven't sufficient time for sex, or cooking. I can't help with the former, but I can offer you a version of the classic.

Better Than Sex Cake

Ingredients:

1 German chocolate or other chocolate cake, baked, 13x9x2-inch

3/4 cup caramel or butterscotch topping

3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk

6 chocolate covered toffee bars, crushed (such as Heath - or buy the Heath bits)

1 tub of whipped topping such as Cool Whip

Preparation:

Bake the cake according to package directions. Do not remove it from the pan. After the cake has cooled, make holes all over with the handle of a wooden spoon, or a large straw. Pour (one at a time) caramel or butterscotch, then condensed milk over the top of the cake. Sprinkle 1/2 of the crushed toffee bars on the top. Frost the cake with the whipped topping and add the remaining toffee bars to decorate the top.

It is reassuring to know that there are so many things out there that are Better Than Sex. Interestingly enough, one thing you won't find in your Internet search is a recipe for a "Better Than A Deposition" cake. We lawyers know there is no such thing.

Nick Roumel is an attorney with Nacht, Roumel, Salvatore, Blanchard and Walker, P.C., a law firm in Ann Arbor specializing in employment litigation.

He also has many years of varied restaurant and catering experience, has taught Greek cooking classes, and writes a food/restaurant column for "Current" magazine.

He can be reached at: nroumel @nachtlaw.com

Published: Thu, Mar 29, 2012

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