Sometimes, things have a way of just happening to you. When I woke up one morning several weeks ago, I found myself looking forward to a lazy Sunday afternoon, followed by an evening of cocktails, theater, and dinner with a few friends. If I had any plans apart from those, they were small ones– like wandering down the street to get coffee or sending off a few emails. Not once did I think to myself, “I think I’ll go get horse whipped by a severe-looking woman in a vinyl bustier and a Betty Page haircut.”
But that is pretty much what happened. It’s often fascinating where a quiet day can take you.
After a glass of prosecco and a few snacks at Bar Bambino, my friends and I trundled off to Hypnodrome to see Pearls Over Shanghai— the lurid, acid-trippy faux-operetta originally conceived by the drug-addled minds of The Cockettes in the early 1970’s. I was prepared to be pleasantly horrified by bad acting, singing, and stage production. I was wrong on all counts. The show was hilarious.
We said as much at the intermission, when we stood about sipping white wine, astheater-goers do. It was then that one of the characters from the play stood center stage, slapped a riding crop against her thigh, and announced that she was looking for someone to whip. My friend Gary, who has never in his life suffered from an inability to make himself heard, pointed at me and told the dominatrix that it was my 40th birthday. People began to chant something– I can no longer remember what– and the next thing I knew, I was on stage, told to remove my wallet from my back pocket, and compelled to get down on all fours.
I had expected some tame, playful ass-slapping, since this was theater and theater is based on illusion. Or so I thought. I have since altered my theory about the dramatic arts. The woman whipped me hard, and then whipped me some more. When she stopped, I stood up– sore and humiliated. “Get back down, mister, we’re not done.”
Back on my knees, the dominatrix asked the audience to count along with her to the number ten. She had previously given me thirty whacks. Since I was turning forty, she said she needed to give me ten more. As the count grew higher, so did the intensity of the whipping. There I was, on hands and knees and in a surprising amount of pain for the benefit of the audience. I have the feeling that the tune “Happy Birthday was sung to me, but I was too much in shock to remember. When I was released from my torture, the audience clapped loudly, videos and photos were uploaded onto Facebook and YouTube, and I smiled as my bottom throbbed. I spent the rest of the show shifting in my seat in fascinated discomfort.
It seems I will do anything for applause.
After a session of severe whipping by a dominatrix, only dinner at a severe, East German restaurant would do, so we wandered into Walzwerk without reservations. I secretly hoped we might be chastised or otherwise humiliated by the Walzwerk staff for our lack of forethought and organization, but nothing of the sort happened. We were, however, welcomed and treated very well. As we stuffed ourselves with beet soup and wursts and beer, I considered the creamed herring on the table and wondered if it would somehow make a cooler, more comforting salve for my particular physical complaint than the mustard that stood next to it. I decided not to experiment with either at the table.
After our plates were cleared, our server asked if there was room for a bit of dessert. As most of us groaned, one of our party did the simultaneous finger pointing while silently, but dramatically mouthing the words “It’s his birthdaaaayyyyyy” that I see people do nearly every night in my particular line of work.
“Great!” our server said, “I’ll send you out a little something.”
That something was a slice of layer cake made of chocolate and butter cookies. “It’s called Cold Dog”, she said, “Kalter Hund.” Where the name came from I don’t know, but it was memorable. It was delicious, rich, and something I’d never before encountered, not unlike a riding crop (minus the rich and delicious). However, when “Happy Birthday” was sung to me for the second time that evening, I was filled with happiness instead of pain, and the cheeks that had turned red only a few hours before were finally upstaged by the redness of the other, more visible pair now flush with beer, and music, and the sweet afterglow of a birthday spent with old friends.
And, before you ask… No, I will not send you the YouTube link to the spanking video.
Kalter Hund mit Schlag
Makes one loaf.
This is a very simple dessert to prepare, and one that requires no baking, which makes it even better in my book.
If you’re looking for the history of this dessert, I haven’t the faintest idea as to its origin. I recommend asking a German.
The addition of whipped cream (or schlag, as the Germans would call it) is my own, though I somehow doubt I am the first to add it. It just makes sense, especially in my case. I look upon it as a sort of salve, given my experience. And it’s a great way to use up the extra coconut cream, not to mention a wonderful way to conjure up a bit of violent imagery.
1 cup bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups milk chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup cream of coconut (Goya brand works extremely well), using as much of the coconut fat as possible.
1/2 cup heavy cream
A splash of rum or other chocolate-and-coconut-friendly liqueur.
Enough butter cookies/biscuits to line one’s loaf pan. I used three packages of Walkers short bread, because it is my favorite*.
For the Schlag:
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons cream of coconut, using the liquid portion only
sugar to taste (there is sugar in the coconut cream, so tread carefully)
1. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper (this is key to the dessert’s removal later).
2. In a double boiler, add both chocolates and melt. Stir in coconut fat/cream and heavy cream. Whisk gently until well-blended. Add your splash of booze, if desired, and gently whisk again.
3. Spoon enough of the chocolate mixture into the bottom of the loaf pan. Gently lay the cookies in an even layer across the chocolate. Cover with chocolate, add another layer of cookies. Repeat the process until you have reached the near-top of the loaf pan. Fill in any gaps with the remaining chocolate.
4. Cover and set pan in refrigerator for at least six hours. Better if left overnight.
5. For the whipped cream, whip the cream until soft peaks form, then add coconut cream. Whip some more, since this will certainly thin out the soft peaks. Taste. Adjust the sugar level to your liking. I don’t recommend a very sweet cream since the dessert is extremely so.
To serve, slice thin (you really won’t need any more than a thin slice, I swear) pieces and dollop with cream. I like to eat mine while seated on one of those donut-shaped inflatable cushions, just to remind myself of my very special birthday evening.
*Walkers biscuits are much thicker than those traditionally used. Most Kalter Hund cakes have several layers of thin biscuits. Mine generated only three, but I am very comfortable with that number since I am not German.