Is there a house in your town that you love? The one you walk by and think to yourself, “I’d love to live in that house.” or “I’d love to fix the house up.” You know the kind of house I’m talking about, right? For five years, my husband and I have walked passed our favorite house and imagined renovating it.
One day, in passing, I mentioned our love for the house to someone in town. Surprise. Two weeks later there was a message in my inbox from the owner asking if we’d like to buy the house. The catch? The owner would entertain only two offers, one from us and one from … a developer. Ugh.
Let’s just start with the fact that going up against a developer would be difficult, at best. Then, add to the mix how upset we are about what many developers are doing to our community.
Historic home? Who cares. Knock it down and put up a 7,000 square foot monstrosity built right to the edge of the property line. Or better yet, quickly slam up four or five cheap looking homes on a lot where a single lot once stood.
All we could think about was how to save this historic house from the developer.
But wait, there’s more. For those of you who have renovated homes, you know it’s not easy to get accurate estimates. You really need to know exactly what you want from the choice of siding and insulation, right down to the switch plates. If you just ask, “how much will it cost to renovate this house,” the only response you’ll get is, “it depends.” And they’re right, it does depend.
Needless to say, after an absurd amount of due diligence, we came up with three plans. A basic renovation that would get the house functional to modern standards. A moderate renovation, that would get us a couple of decent bathrooms and finally, a dream renovation, which would make the house look like a Pinterest board.
Keep in mind, this house has been in one family since 1890. It has great bones but was not well updated by the owners.
The cost of the basic renovation was through the roof (no pun intended). The total cost of the home after a basic renovation would exceed the market value of similar size homes in the neighborhood by over 70%. Forget the moderate renovation. Who exactly owns those homes on Pinterest?
We even had someone from America’s favorite home renovation show come up and look at it. Even they were stunned by the dirt basement…and wait for it…the outhouse. The owners had indoor plumbing but never bothered to take down the outhouse. When these guys are stunned, you know there’s a problem.
If you ever wondered why historic homes get demolished, this is why. Needless to say, the developer won. And now, with heavy hearts, we wait to see it demolished.
So, the only thing to do now is to have you join me in a chocolate dessert. I give you ‘Dark Chocolate Cakes with Blackberry Honey Sauce and Chantilly Cream’
And, if you have your own house stories, please share…would love to hear them…
Dark Chocolate Cakes with Blackberry Honey Sauce and Chantilly Cream
13 tbs. butter (185 g) butter, unsalted
1 1/3 c (185 g) dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 c less 3 tsp (50 g) flour
1/4 tsp (2 g) baking powder
3 egg yolks
1/2 c less 2 tbs (75 g) sugar
2 pints blackberries, washed and pureed
fresh local honey to taste
splash of vanilla extract
extra butter for greasing the pan
3 tbs cocoa powder for flouring the pan
Butter five 4” baking tins and dust with cocoa powder
Melt butter and chooclate together and stir until blended. Set aside to cool.
Mix the flour and baking powder together.
Whisk the egg yolks and the flour/ baking powder into the melted chocolate and butter mixture, by hand.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the sugar and eggs and beat on medium high for about 8 minutes.
Fold the chocolate mixture into the egg/sugar mixture.
Fill pans 2/3 full.
Bake for 12-14 minutes until the sides are set but the center is still a bit soft.
Remove and cool
Serve with blackberry sauce and chantilly cream ( see below)
Puree 2 pints of blackberries in a food processor. Strain to through a fine mesh sieve to remove the seeds. Mix seedless sauce with local honey to taste.
Whip 1 cup heavy cream with 2 tbs (or more) sugar and a splash on vanilla extract until thick and creamy.
The cakes are best eaten warm but can be cooled, stored and gently reheated in the microwave until slightly warm.