The USER group in Computer Science at work has a weekly “Tea Time” gathering every Thursday afternoon, where people from the USER group and related areas gather for an hour or so of food and talk. I don’t know how long the gathering has been happening — I first heard of it when I joined Almaden Services Research in 2004 — but I’ve been a frequent attendee.

People take turns hosting, and so the cuisine varies, although it’s very rarely nutritious — or, to put it more directly, people like to bring dessert. Today, a colleague and I split the hosting duties, trying two approaches to chocolate cake.

Hers was a variation on Gourmet’s Double Chocolate Layer Cake, using a cream cheese frosting for a contrast. I made the Simple Chocolate Sheet Cake that Al suggested, as I’d done for Diane’s birthday last year, although this time I remembered to put the vanilla in the frosting.

There was a definite contrast between the cakes. Her cake was much more complex and subtle, with many flavors and an elegant presentation (she even brought it in a box). My cake had one, rather unsubtle message: chocolate!. It was very dark (and the frosting was even darker), and there were no distractions like cream cheese or strawberries. And it was still in the cake pan, because I didn’t have anything big enough to transport it in.

We had thought about taking a poll to see which cake people preferred, but didn’t get around to it — both cakes vanished, with people going for seconds of both, so I guess we both won.

I wonder what next week will bring.