It’s birthday season around here, as I may have already mentioned once (or twice)… With the exception of the one child who requested shepherd’s pie for his birthday dessert until I informed him he could have it for dinner AND have a proper cake or pie, everyone has asked for something spectacular. Last week was no different, but the pressure was amped up a bit. My eldest and youngest were born on the same day, eight years apart. Birthday feasts and desserts take on a special level of crazy when two people are egging each other on in the brainstorming process.
Mercifully, the eldest wanted fried chicken and the youngest wanted fried chicken nuggets. (Bless you child. Your nuggets were boneless, skinless chicken thighs dredged in the same coating as your elder brother’s fried chicken. And it was good.) The youngest deigned to allow the eldest to have a fruit salad even though, as he has repeatedly informed us he does not “wike fwoot.” And then came the negotiations on the cake.
Cake, for crying out loud.
How complicated does it need to be*? The answer to that, evidently, is extremely complicated. Eldest wanted a vanilla cake with strawberry layers. Youngest, again, informed us he doesn’t “wike fwoot”. Youngest wanted chocolate. Eldest didn’t want plain chocolate. Eldest suggested combining chocolate and mint. Youngest now decided he didn’t “wike mint”. Eldest suggested I make two cakes. Youngest agreed. And then one of them, can’t quite remember which since my head was spinning on its axis, said, “Why don’t you just make a huge chocolate and vanilla swirl cake? Then you can put ganache** over the whole thing!”
*This is a question I should be past asking considering one year they wanted a realistically shaped/decorated globe cake, another year someone wanted a 3-D Tardis, and so on and so forth. But I am an optimist. Some day someone will ask me for a sheet cake with nothing on it. Then I’ll probably cry.
**Because my children do say things like, “Put ganache over the whole thing!” I suppose this means I’ve spoiled them.
Phew. It’s the lead-up to the cake request that stresses me out the most. Swirls I can do. Swirls I have done. But my previous swirly cakes were a bit more on the dry side (intentionally) since they were to be layered with ice cream. This cake was to be a moist, stand-alone (if you count being smothered with ganache as standing alone) birthday beauty. Enter butter… and quite a bit of it.
Let’s talk about ganache just for a moment. If you’re not familiar with it I’ll break it down for you. Ganache is equal parts heavy cream and chocolate, melted together and gently stirred until it magically turns into a thick, glossy, chocolate spread. And oh, what a chocolate spread. When refrigerated, it is thick enough to roll into balls to nibble, drop into hot milk for hot chocolate, or coat with cocoa powder or chopped nuts or more melted chocolate for homemade truffles, or, or, or… to frost or sandwich between cookies, or CAKES.
So, to recap, we have a big layer cake made with lots of butter covered with dark chocolate and heavy cream. Very diet friendly. But diets have no place in a home with five sons. This is my justification and I’m sticking with it. Would anyone else like to join me here on Delusional Island? We have cake. And ganache.
Happy Birthday to my sweet bookends.
My Chocolate and my Vanilla…
Am I the luckiest mom in the world or what?