Brazilian Brigadeiro Cake

Look. I'm not one of those folks who enjoys going to therapy. I hate therapy the way normal people hate dental work. As if in anticipation, my body went into revolt at almost 9 pm last night and demanded Brazilian brigadeiro cake.

What is brigadeiro cake? The best chocolate cake you'll ever have in your life. There was a sister in Ala Santa Tereza who made this cake every time we had a baptism in her ward. She made it for my 22nd birthday. It's also labor intensive if baking is not your thing. But you know what? It's the perfect thing if you have The Big Sads. 

Here's how I made it.

The chocolate cake doesn't matter. Make the box or from scratch chocolate cake mix of your choice. If you want to be authentically Brazilian, make a scratch cake in a bundt pan. But this is your cake. Do what makes your soul happy. I did Pillsbury's Devil Food and it was fine.

The real star of the show here is the ganache-style topping. Make the topping once the cake is done baking and has cooled completely.


  • 1 can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 can of table cream, which might also be called "media crema" at your Latin market/aisle of choice
  • 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 5 spoons of Nescau powder. It's Brazilian Nesquik. I taste the difference between it and American Nesquik, so I think it matters. But if it doesn't matter to you, use American Nesquik.
  • Chocolate sprinkles sufficient to cover the entire cake surface
  • The ability not to walk away from this the entire time it's cooking.


  1. Use a saucepan over medium low heat on the stovetop. The wider the bottom of the pan is, the easier this will be. I've always used a stainless pan. 
  2. Add the sweetened condensed milk, the Nescau, and butter to the pan. Combine by stirring with a rubber spatula.
  3. Continue dragging your spatula to keep the mixture from burning. It takes forever. If it's starts to violently bubble, your heat is too high.
  4. Once it pulls away cleanly from the bottom and it takes a second or two for the sides to come together again when you drag the spatula through it, add the table cream and mix thoroughly. You're looking for a thick chocolate spread similar in color and consistency to warm Nutella.
  5. Spread the chocolate paste onto the cake. The spread doesn't need to be completely cool when you do this. It actually helps if it's still a bit warm because it spreads better and the sprinkles stick to it better.
  6. Cover every exposed surface of the spread with chocolate sprinkles.

If you're doing a layer cake, there's enough of the chocolate spread to do a layer inside an 8 inch cake. I didn't do that because I went into goblin mode and dumped all my cake batter into one 8 inch pan, so mine just has extra spread on top. It piles on just fine.

If you're like me and you do this too, you'll notice after 30 minutes of baking that your cake is still molten in the middle. Drop your heat to 340°F for another 15 minutes. If it comes out domed, use a bread knife to cut off the dome, turn it out, and make the bottom the top.

Real Talk about Tithing

No matter how strained my relationship with the Church has become, no matter how much or how little I've had at my disposal, I have always paid a full tithe. There are people in this world, particularly disaffected former members of my church, who take personal offense at that. 

Why would anyone else care about what I do with my own resources? Why would the money I give in tithing ever be offensive to them?

Because they haven't even begun the process of deconstructing the impulse, especially present in certain LDS families, to be a relentless scold. They don't know how to interact with people beyond being a self-appointed measuring stick for the ethical behavior of others. I have to remind myself that only hurt people do stuff like this, and it truly has nothing to do with me. But the urge to be petty and ask them when the last time they bought something from Amazon was gets hard to ignore.

Another component to this is not understanding that there are legal limitations to how the Church can spend tithes and offerings, as opposed to philanthropically donated lands, funds, stocks, and estates from families like the Marriotts. Philanthropically-donated wealth paid for City Creek, not tithing funds. It's a private investment that has never been touched by tithing dollars. Anyone who doesn't know the difference is unprepared to have an intelligent, good faith conversation about what they're trying to criticize.

In all likelihood, my tithing money is paying the basic operational budgets for congregations outside of the United States. I'm paying electric bills for members of the Church in Europe. I'm paying for the disinfectants to clean the toys in Primary in New Zealand. I'm paying for basic, mundane, lifesaving things to people I don't know and will never meet. The money I give as tithes and offerings to the Church overwhelmingly pays for back to school clothes, puts food on tables and in pantries, gets medicine and wheelchairs to people in developing countries. I'm paying for youth camps in Brazil, temples in Africa, chapels in the Philippines, and for all the infrastructure in the lives of those Saints that come with them that wouldn't be there without my contribution, small as it is. 

My tithing is never going to be some life-changing amount of money, in terms of total monetary value. But Christ himself taught in the lesson of the widow's mites that it's faith and generosity, not money, that matters most to him. (See Mark 12:41-44) Jesus, who taught his people to "render to Cæsar the things that are Cæsar’s, and to God the things that are God’s" and pulled a coin from the mouth of a fish doesn't need money. (Mark 12:14-17, Matt. 17:24-27) Rather, he needs to know whether I will place the lives of others above and beyond the value of money. I pay my tithing to demonstrate to God that there are more important things to me in this world than money.

I don't take criticism on this aspect of my faith from folks who have never heard of D. Michael Quinn, let alone the work he did to privately verify that church finances are largely boring and unremarkable.

And to show, in good faith, that I'm not some rube who truly believes no tithing dollars are ever wasted, here are some of the things I would never spend another dollar on if it were up to me. 
  1. BYU and CES 
  2. Kirton McConkie 
  3. LDS Family Services
The Church isn't perfect. But to sit here and say that the Church hasn't done any good at all with the money in its possession, that the ownership of those wrongs belongs to the members who gave that money in good faith, is totally asinine and disingenuous.
If the people making these assertions were purely interested in ethical consumption, rather than setting up others to fail moral standards they themselves could never meet, I'd take their criticism more seriously. But given that people complaining about tithing on Twitter from their iPhone, in line to buy coffee from the Starbucks inside of a Target before taking their Amazon return to the UPS store have no sense of themselves as they're going through space. They can take an entire stadium of seats.

Protecting Families in the Church from Sexual Violence


If I can use the gift of discernment to know that my companion and I were in an unsafe area full of drug cartel members who fantasized about kidnapping and raping her, what excuse exists for any man who is allegedly more qualified to hold the priesthood than I am?

I do believe the gift of discernment is real. That's why I'm not making excuses for any man in this church for not using it. If men aren't seeing the predators trying to prey on the flock that was entrusted to them, maybe they're not as prepared to lead as they think they are.

There is a certain kind of man within the Church who cannot deal with the reality that he is not the most capable person in every room. That's why they yell at women like me for pointing it out and shattering the illusions by which they take respect they don't deserve. More than one of them has been gorilla pounding on their chests in my Twitter mentions, demanding me to take my time to personally tutor them on what I expect the Church to do to prevent sexual abuse in the Church.

We could try respecting women enough to listen to them when they report these issues because, as actual potential targets, they are more attuned to these threats than men are as a matter of survival. 

But that seems like a big ask. 

So how about... actually be the person you're pretending to be. Be competent in spiritual leadership as something other than giving assignments and having meetings where everyone shows up eager to believe everything you say. Have the spiritual maturity to actually receive the warnings about people the ward brings to your attention, instead of blowing them off because those warnings didn't come directly from God to you. 

Be the kind of men who could actually protect someone. And not in this delusional, 2A, I have a gun so I'm prepared to blow someone's head off if they look at me funny "protection." The kind of protection that sees a problem and stops it before it ever gets the chance of happening. Real protection.

I expect you to do the job you were so certain you could do better than any woman, you took all of the meaningful administrative tasks for yourself. You wanted to lead, including on this. So either do it and stop messing up, or get out of the way and let someone else do it. 

"Nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest."

The folks angry with me for condemning The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for how they're handling the sexual abuse case in Arizona feel that way because they don't know me. They don't realize that even though we're members of the same church, we haven't had the same life experiences. They clearly weren't raised in an east coast Catholic family when the Globe Spotlight story on clergy sexual abuse within the Catholic Church came out, and it shows.

First of all, y'all would know that the Associated Press piece was written by Michael Rezendes, one of the reports who worked that story in Boston.

They'd also have a much healthier self-awareness of what not to be saying and doing right now. They'd know that the only right place to be is on the side of abuse victims, especially when those victims are children.

My family didn't avoid the conversation because it was uncomfortable.

They didn't pretend like nothing was happening, that it wasn't affecting them.

They never attacked anyone for bringing it up in conversation because it might make the Pope or the Catholic Church "look bad."

They talked to each other openly and honestly about the situation.

They checked in on each other, trying to unravel if anyone they knew or cared about was connected to any of the accusations.

And I cannot stress this enough: they were NOT nice, measured, or flowery in the language they used. They put every ounce of east coast piss and vinegar they had into those conversations. They didn't hold back.

So if you think I'm being unreasonable in my criticism of how the Church and their attorneys handle themselves when these situations come to light, I hate to tell you this. But I'm what the tactful, diplomatic version of this response looks like.

If you can't handle me, you'd vaporize in front of them.

Y'all want to be missionaries in cities like Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, but you can't keep it together in a conversation on sexual abuse? 

Those people would eat you alive.

You can tell me the church is doing everything it can for victims when it publishes an accessible list of known abusers like the Archdiocese of Baltimore does.

So do better. Be better. Be strong enough to go into the valley of the shadow of death for your own when they're suffering. Stop being more concerned about your feelings, your reputation, or the Church's appearance than you are about real pain. 

If you're going to be a person of faith in a situation like this, you need to know and have internalized what it means to "not have feared man more than God," to have a functional idea of what that looks like.

The Duty and Difficulty of Protecting Children from Sexual Abuse

Let's talk about why it's important for believing members to be okay with  condemning The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for its failures to adequately protect children from sexual abuse.


The Church is not just an institution made of policies and procedures like some sort of abstract machine. First and foremost, it is an assemblage of people. It's going to have all the same problems people have. And there is a problem with childhood sexual abuse in our society. The Church has a childhood sexual abuse problem because our society has a sexual abuse problem. And I say that as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. 

This is something every person needs to be acquainted with how to address. Not just at Church. In their jobs. In their families. In their schools. In the friend groups of their children. For a child to be abused secretly, more than just a church needs to fail.  

Teachers. Coaches. Youth group leaders, secular and religious. Parents. Friends of parents. Other relatives. 

Think of all the adults in a child's life that have to fail them for a secret like this to go on being kept. How many adults have to be unsafe for a child to say nothing?

This is a failure in the Church to take this seriously. But I'm afraid too many people are so eager to dunk on church leadership, they're not internalizing the important lesson here. It's not just the church leaders who failed. 

Every adult in that family's lives failed. 

An estimated 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of childhood sexual abuse, according to the Crimes Against Children Research Center. Think about what that means in your life. Your family members. Your children's friends. Your students. Your friend's children. 

Maybe you've managed to be surrounded by the 4 out of 5 girls and 19 out of 20 boys every day of your life who has never experienced sexual abuse, that you've never missed the opportunity to help. 

Or maybe you're not as safe of an adult as you think you are.

The entire reason I refused to ever report the sexual abuse that happened to me was because I never wanted to be forcibly separated from my younger sister. If I didn't know where she was, I couldn't protect her. Any adult who would've come into my life, guns blazing, trying to upturn my situation with no thought as to how the dust was going to settle once law enforcement came into my life was not trustworthy to me. Especially when sexual abuse is rampant in the foster care system.

Helping childhood sexual assault victims is many things. Heartbreaking. Tragic. Delicate. Morally fraught, especially for all the ways a child's wishes have no weight on the situation.
The one thing it's not is simple, which is why we all are so abysmally bad at addressing it in our society.
So why am I in a place where I criticize the Church for these failures, especially from a place where my association with the institution isn't changed by stories like this? Several reasons.
  • The Church won't change what it doesn't have to acknowledge from the inside.
  • These types of failures exist everywhere in our society, not just in the Church. It's not like I have anywhere I can go to escape it. It's literally everywhere. 
  • I can, and have, done work to heal survivors on the ground in my local congregations.
  • My experience as a survivor in the Church, because the Church was not connected to my abuse, has been overwhelmingly positive. I have seen how well the Church can do the work of healing survivors, when they do it right. To me, that is a goal worth working towards.
So if it makes you uncomfortable to see a faithful church member condemning the Church for how it's currently handling its failures to protect children from being abused, maybe you should sit down and ask yourself: 
What do I think the Atonement is for if not for this?

You might think I can't be a good Christian if I'm willing to condemn the prophets and apostles over this. I don't think you can be a good Christian without it.

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