January 11: A Loving Look at Milk, for National Milk Day

Happy National Milk Day! Well, it's also National Hot Toddy Day. Not to sound like a teetotaler (which I am not), but I really don't have a ton of interest in hot toddies. So I'm focusing on the beverage much nearer and dearer to my heart: milk. 

I love milk. In particular, whole milk. The richer the better. 

I'm most certainly not glugging milk from the container: for me, milk is an exquisite beverage, to be enjoyed in small, almost espresso-like amounts. A shot of milk is like heaven to me. 

When I was young, my beverage of choice was milk with ice. That sounds weird to even me now, but it was my favorite thing, maybe not quite in the world, but close to it, when I was roughly 3 to 7 years old. 

I loved milk with cookies. Bucking cultural dictates, however, I never-ever-ever dipped my cookies. That would really only muck up both the milk and the cookie, and I didn't care for it. They were accompaniments. Equal parts of the equation of deliciousness...but always separate. A bite of cookie, a sip of milk.

I know you might not even believe this, but I was never into cake with milk until about 3 years ago (I am 34! I know, 31 years wasted!). 

It happened because of my sweetheart. He loves chocolate cake, the darker the better. And he ALWAYS has milk with it. It's to the point where he actually will decline the cake if there is no milk around (what!?). I can't say I remember exactly when, but I too started to take a bit of milk with my cake--first with chocolate cake and brownies, but eventually with all cakes. And now, I couldn't imagine it any other way. In fact, I would say that my love of cake + milk eclipses my love of milk + cookies. 

Cake with milk. It is the best. 

 Photo licensed via Creative Commons on  Flickr

Photo licensed via Creative Commons on Flickr

What makes cake with milk so great? Over the past day or so, I have given it a bit of thought. Here's what I have come up with.

Milk is motherly. This is exactly the part that grosses out the part of the population that thinks milk is gross: it's from a cow's (usually) teat. While I am not necessarily attached to that aspect of milk, there is something about milk that is innately nurturing and comforting, like a mother's love. Cake, to me, also tastes like love--and happy memories. Together, these happy and nurturing foods make a beautiful culinary experience.

Fresh milk is unlike anything else in the world. The quality of milk is directly related to its deliciousness. Have you ever tried milk directly from the cow? It's like drinking straight cream, and it's fiiiiiiine. When paired with cake, it's almost like adding whipped cream on top. Awesome. 

Milk moistens cake. Even the moistest of cakes can feel like they get a little stuck in your throat. Milk is the perfect complement, moistening it, coating your throat sweetly and helping the cake mainline to your belly. 

Cake brings out milk's natural sweetness. Have you ever taken a bite of cake then a sip of milk and thought "is there sugar in this milk?". Milk is naturally lightly sweet, and a cake accompaniment really brings that out. 

Milk and cake is pretty. Is there anything prettier than a beautiful piece of chocolate cake paired with a glass of snowy-opaque milk? It's possible that on pinterest, something prettier exists. But in terms of a pretty combination that tastes as good as it looks, I will stick with milk. 

Do you love milk with cake?