Lolita | Strawberry Shortcake meets Devil's Food
“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.”
"Lolita," written by Vladimir Nabokov and published in the late 50's, is a classic—but a classic novel they never would've assigned in high school, due to it's reputation as erotic and controversial. The story is told by a creepy, unreliable narrator, Humbert Humbert (yes, that's his real name), and he's recounting this story from the future, where he sits in a jail cell awaiting trial for murder—but we'll get there.
Humbert is a middle-aged English teacher who became obsessed with Dolores (Lolita) Haze, a 12-year-old girl. Feeling icky yet? Just wait. Humbert knows his obsession with Lolita is wrong and that society would never approve, but his desire overrules his brain and he devises a plan to get closer to Lolita by marrying her mother. In his new role as Lolita's stepfather, Humbert starts a diary where he writes down all his feelings about Lolita. Her mother finds this diary and in her blind rage, she runs out of the house and is hit and killed by a car.
This wasn't Humbert's plan, but now Lolita is all his. That day he picks her up from school, tells her that her mother is in the hospital and drives them to a hotel out of town. He slips her a sedative, only to return to the room hours later and find that it wasn't enough. The two share a restless night in bed without anything creepy happening—until the next morning, when Lolita wakes up, says "Wanna see what I learned at camp?" and initiates sex with Humbert. Throughout the rest of the book, Lolita and Humbert travel across the country, moving from state to state—Humbert posing as her father and bribing Lolita with clothes, money and permission to attend events in return for sexual favors. Eventually and unsurprisingly, the whole thing falls apart when Lolita is kidnapped by another "gentleman," but I'll stop short of spoiling the ending for you.
This book has been debated and reviewed so often I almost didn't want to try. A lot of people love this book, but maybe even more people hate—and I mean, really detest—it, and not for nothing. The book is literally about pedophilia, kidnapping, and murder. Of course it's going to turn some people off. But even though the book is surrounded by controversy, you can't honestly say "Lolita" isn't well-written. Even when Humbert is describing the most abhorrent actions, it sounds like poetry. For instance:
“I recall certain moments, let us call them icebergs in paradise, when after having had my fill of her –after fabulous, insane exertions that left me limp and azure-barred–I would gather her in my arms with, at last, a mute moan of human tenderness (her skin glistening in the neon light coming from the paved court through the slits in the blind, her soot-black lashes matted, her grave gray eyes more vacant than ever–for all the world a little patient still in the confusion of a drug after a major operation)–and the tenderness would deepen to shame and despair, and I would lull and rock my lone light Lolita in my marble arms, and moan in her warm hair, and caress her at random and mutely ask her blessing, and at the peak of this human agonized selfless tenderness (with my soul actually hanging around her naked body and ready to repent), all at once, ironically, horribly, lust would swell again–and 'oh, no,' Lolita would say with a sigh to heaven, and the next moment the tenderness and the azure–all would be shattered.”
Throughout the book you have to question whether, knowing his writing would be left behind, was our narrator was a little romantic, a little starry-eyed, a little less than truthful. But it won't stop you from enjoying the read. Five stars!
Early on in the book, Humbert says "She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita." These cupcakes represent both Lolitas—the innocent child in heart-shaped sunglasses and Mary Janes that the reader sees, and the perceived temptress Humbert sees, a woman who strings him along only to leave him in the end. Shortcake for Dolly, strawberry filling for Lola and Devil's Food for Humbert's Lolita.
1 & 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 egg whites
1/4 cup Greek/regular yogurt (vanilla or plain)
3/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs (room temperature)
1/4 cup coffee (as strong as you like it, at room temperature)
1/4 cup whole milk (room temperature)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups diced strawberries (about 10 medium strawberries finely diced)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 2 teaspoons warm water (to get rid of clumps)
1. First the filling! Put strawberries in a saucepan over medium heat and stir for about 4 minutes until fruit juice has been released.
2. Add the sugar and cornstarch/water, and keep stirring until the mixture thickens, probably another 2 minutes. Remove from heat to cool while you make your batters.
3. Strawberry shortcake batter next! Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside.
4. Melt butter in the microwave and stir in sugar.
5. Stir in egg whites, yogurt, milk, and vanilla extract until combined.
6. Mix dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until no lumps remain. Batter should be thick. Set aside.
7. Now for the Devil's Food batter! In yet another bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set aside.
8. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Slowly beat in the eggs, one at a time.
9. In a measuring cup (because let’s face it, you’re out of bowls), mix together the coffee, milk and vanilla.
10. Add half the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, beat to combine, and then add the coffee-milk mixture and continue to beat.
11. Finally, add the remaining dry mixture. The mixture will look thick and airy.
12. You can mix these two batters however you want. I filled my liners about half way with the shortcake, added a dollop or two of Devil’s food, and then swirled them together with a toothpick.
13. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick in the middle come out clean.
14. Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, core them and put in the strawberry filling. Try not to reach the very bottom of the cupcake when coring—cut only about halfway through. You can also save the tops to replace. That way you aren’t mixing frosting with your filling later. I decorated with white frosting, a drizzle of chocolate, and some strawberry roses.
“All at once we were madly, clumsily, shamelessly, agonizingly in love with each other; hopelessly, I should add, because that frenzy of mutual possession might have been assuaged only by our actually imbibing and assimilating every particle of each other's soul and flesh; but there we were, unable even to mate as slum children would have so easily found an opportunity to do so.”
“I knew I had fallen in love with Lolita forever; but I also knew she would not be forever Lolita.”
“We all have such fateful objects -- it may be a recurrent landscape in one case, a number in another -- carefully chosen by the gods to attract events of specific significance for us: here shall John always stumble; there shall Jane's heart always break.”
“She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita.”
“I looked and looked at her, and I knew, as clearly as I know that I will die, that I loved her more than anything I had ever seen or imagined on earth. She was only the dead-leaf echo of the nymphet from long ago - but I loved her, this Lolita, pale and polluted and big with another man's child. She could fade and wither - I didn't care. I would still go mad with tenderness at the mere sight of her face.”
“Life is short. From here to that old car you know so well there is a stretch of twenty, twenty-five paces. It is a very short walk. Make those twenty-five steps. Now. Right now. Come just as you are. And we shall live happily ever after. ”
“And she was mine, she was mine, the key was in my fist, my fist was in my pocket, she was mine.”
“You have to be an artist and a madman, a creature of infinite melancholy, with a bubble of hot poison in your loins and a super-voluptuous flame permanently aglow in your subtle spine (oh, how you have to cringe and hide!), in order to discern at once, by ineffable signs―the slightly feline outline of a cheekbone, the slenderness of a downy limbs, and other indices which despair and shame and tears of tenderness forbid me to tabulate―the little deadly demon among the wholesome children; she stands unrecognized by them and unconscious herself of her fantastic power.”