Happiness is a warm, exhilarating feeling. And being happy because of someone else is even more thrilling: a lightness like you're a balloon buoyed up with air. It's out of your control -- which can be scary and leave you reeling, or amplify your happiness beyond a factor you yourself could achieve.
Being happy like that feels like driving at night up a long stretch of road and hitting every green light, one after another after another. Like walking into the subway station just as the train pulls up.
It's Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" and Sam Cooke's "Wonderful World" and Bruce Springsteen's "Dancing in the Dark" coming on the radio. Flipping your pillow onto the cool side in the middle of the night. A drink of cold water when you're incredibly thirsty.
Stepping into a hot shower after a cold, rainy run. Finding a pint of ice cream in the freezer when you thought you were out of dessert. Seeing your phone light up with a text message, finding a hand-addressed letter in the mailbox, a package arriving a day earlier than you expected.
It's putting on sweatpants after a long day of wearing skinny jeans, finding one extra piece of gum in the bottom of the pack, discovering that you have an extra hour to sleep in the morning.
It's trying to master a molten chocolate cake recipe: unmolding it, holding your breath as you cut into it, and discovering that the center is perfectly gooey, oozing a river of dark, intense chocolate.
Molten Chocolate Cake
Adapted from the New York Times
1/2 cup butter
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons flour
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Butter and flour four 4-ounce ramekins. Make sure to be very thorough!
Melt the butter and chocolate together in the microwave or on the stovetop (if using the microwave, use short intervals of 30 seconds, stirring between each, until the chocolate has melted into the butter).
Place the eggs, egg yolks, and sugar into a bowl and whisk until very thick (at least 3 minutes of beating -- a stand mixer helps here).
Add the egg mixture and flour to the melted chocolate and stir to combine well.
Divide the batter between the four ramekins. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake for 7-9 minutes. The top of the cakes should puff slightly but still be very soft and jiggly.
Remove from the oven, let sit for 2 minutes, then place a small plate over each ramekin and flip to invert the cake onto the plate. Hold the cake there for 15 seconds, then remove the ramekin to unmold the plate.
Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or vanilla whipped cream.