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Tag Archives: birthdays

When life gives you desserts

Ok, folks, I really dropped the ball on this one. Today I write about not this week’s dessert, but last week’s, with the hope that I might write about this weekend’s dessert much sooner and be all caught up. Hopefully. I’ll just blame the rush of the holiday season. Yeeeeah, that sounds good.

Anywho (or as I saw someone spell it on Facebook recently, “newho,” and sat there for about five minutes trying to figure out what that word was supposed to be and how to pronounce it), last weekend we celebrated my wonderful mother-in-law’s birthday, so it was time for more birthday cake! If it seems like I write about a lot of birthday cakes on here, by the way, I do. That’s what happens when you’ve got parents, parents-in-law, four siblings, four siblings-in-law, three siblings-in-law-in-law, four nieces and nephews, a beloved hubby, and a wee babe. Notice I don’t count any extended family here, either…

When thinking of a cake for Mom G, my first thought went to something with ginger (Mom G loves ginger), but to go with something a little more universal, I went with one of Mom G’s next favorites – dark chocolate. Gotta love those antioxidants!

During my perusal of my awesome cookbook, I stumbled upon this little gem:

Raspberry Whipped Cream Truffle Cake

Really hard to get that ganache perfectly smooth.

I wish all pieces of cake were this big!

The dark brown and pink contrast as well as the chocolate and raspberry flavors. How's that for artsiness?

This decadent, delicious cake really is like a truffle in cake form. I was especially proud of the way this dessert turned out – it’s probably the most even-looking, cake-shop-window-worthy (hopefully!) cake I’ve ever made! AND it didn’t even slide apart once it was finished! YAY! Anyway, the cake was comprised of moist layers of chocolate cake sandwiched between a rich ganache and raspberry whipped cream. Yum. Check it out here – it’s definitely worthy of a special occasion, but just give yourself enough time to work ahead. You’ll be aptly rewarded for your patience.

So, the next question is, what DO you do when life gives you desserts? Why, make more dessert of course! The truffle cake recipe only called for three out of the four layers that you end up with, so the fourth cake layer went to this:

Chocolate cake parfaits with raspberry whipped cream. Like a little cake in a glass. Although I think the whipped-cream-to-cake ratio may have been a little skewed. Delicious nonetheless. And in fact, not all of the leftover cake went into this. Half of it currently lives in my freezer, waiting to be turned into – you guessed it – more dessert.

So that’s how it’s done, folks. You apparently can never have too much dessert. Or maybe it’s just me who can never have too much dessert. In any case, stay tuned for this weekend’s creation. Here’s a hint: there will be more dessert(s).

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Bananas over birthdays!

This weekend my family celebrated some very special birthdays. My youngest nephew Kacio turned a year old (yay, happy birthday!) and my dear mother turned, um, 35 maybe? Something like that.

Anyway, we had a wonderful family dinner with TWO birthday cakes and lots of eating and talking and fun. Here’s Kacio with his delicious, chocolatey birthday cake made by his mama:

Happy birthday Kacio!

Yum!

When I asked my mom what kind of cake to make for her birthday, she requested no chocolate (what?!) and no citrusy flavors. Maybe she was afraid of the crazy cakes I’ve made before, ha. But this actually made things super difficult! As I looked through my amazing cookbook, I kept going, “Ooh! That looks good! Oh wait, chocolate. Ooh, how about thi-, no, chocolate. Hmm.” Finally, though, I found one of the most unique cakes I’d ever seen.

You see, most of the time when I think of layer cakes, I think of the basics – cakes that taste like vanilla, chocolate, some kind of nuts maybe, with pretty straightforward fillings and frostings. So the cake that I ended up picking was something completely different. I give you:

Banana Layer Cake with Caramel Cream and Sea-Salt Roasted Pecans.

Awwww yeaaaaah. I just thought it sounded so unique! It’s like bananas foster, elevated to cake status! I got to use some new techniques and new equipment (yay for candy thermometers!) for this cake, too, so that’s always good for my baking-education purposes. I will say this, though, if ever you make a cake whose filling is essentially whipped-cream-based, please, for goodness’ sake, assemble it on-site or make sure to chill it for several hours before you take it anywhere. Otherwise you end up with this:

A delicious avalanche.

Sad. Still tasted great!

So if you’re looking for something completely different, I suggest you check out this cake some time. I’m not even usually a fan of banana-flavored things, but honestly, this cake was fantastic. The sweetness of the bananas mixed with the saltiness and crunchiness of the pecans? Delish. Here’s the rest of the pictures to get you salivating… and baking! Seriously, try it!

Close-up of those home-roasted pecans. These are worth making by themselves.

Four layers!

That’s it for this weekend. Have a wonderful week!

Cakes, candy, birthdays, oh my!

Alrighty peeps, here’s this week’s dessert. This week was fairly easy to decide because – drumroll, please – it’s my nephew/godson’s fourth birthday and he needed a birthday cake! Yay!!!

My lovely godson Felek has the biggest sweet tooth of anyone I know, so I wanted to make a cake that would satisfy his sweetness craving but that the adults would like, too. I settled on a recipe called Birthday Angel Cake from one of my new cookbooks (the not-huge one); it’s an angel-food-esque layer cake with strawberry mascarpone filling and homemade cream cheese frosting. Topped with M&Ms. Enough sugar for Felek, I hope.

I have to say, I was a little disappointed with the way the cake itself turned out. Not only did I follow the (unfortunately rather vague) instructions closely, I’ve made a pretty decent angel food cake before, so I was sad to see my cake layers collapse. I went into panic mode as I was putting the cake together – I’m pretty sure some of you bakers can understand the horror of a failed dessert – but the support of my wonderful husband reassured me and everything turned out ok in the end. My niece even requested a second piece! High praise, indeed.

Also, one thing I learned from making this cake is that if you need a quick, easy cake filling, just blend together mascarpone and some fruit jam. So easy. So delicious. Try it out next time you’re stuck without a cake filling! Because, you know, that’s a pretty common situation to find yourself in.

Anyway, here’s the incriminating evidence:

Pretty good-looking kid's birthday cake, if I do say so myself.

M&Ms ready for their closeup.

Jaggedy cake.

The collapsing-ness of the cakes caused the jaggedy effect you see above. But the cake still tasted good, sssooooo it’s all good. 🙂

And, as a bonus, here’s the sweetie pie who satisfies MY sweet tooth:

I love you, too, cousin!