In the Business of Birthdays: Present Cakes

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I know that my friends would rather receive a bow on a bottle of Jack for their birthday, but I insist on a cake. I ask about a week beforehand what they’d like to see sliced on their big day and my present to them is a decadent, made-to-order treat, candles and all. Some like to challenge me with “I’ll eat whatever!” but I can tell a chocolate fudge layer cake person from a lemon meringue pie fool. To the left is my best friend Sammy with her chocolate chip cookie dough cake on her 22nd birthday fiesta.  A few too many margaritas may have been a factor in the “BEST CAKE EVER” phenomenon, but I can make this girl anything with chocolate and I will be considered heaven-sent. She’s not making birthday-candle-pre-wish hands, she’s making pray-to-chocolate-goddess hands. Duh. (Photos- Middle: Isabella and I with her Dulce de Leche Cheesecake / Right: Stephanie and her Carrot Cake)

However when it comes to my birthday, I don’t ask for a Publix sheet cake. I know my friends would try their very hardest to make the local bakery purchase look like it came from their own ovens, but I won’t do that to them. My birthday present to myself is a cake made by me. Not just because I’m a snobby food asshole and don’t trust anyone else’s icing techniques, but because the time and effort that goes into a birthday cake is so therapeutic and comforting to me. Two years ago, my grandfather passed away the day before my birthday and for me, driving to South Florida on that Saturday was the hardest birthday I didn’t try to celebrate. This weekend is going to be hard but I’m going to make a cake for both my grandfather and I. I want to spend some time with flour, sugar and me- the best kind of present you can give yourself. I’m thinking something light and lemony? Or maybe a pile of cake donuts… Whatever it ends up being, it’s going to be awesome.

Here are a few ideas for my birthday cake! Which one do you think I should take inspiration from?

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From top left to bottom right: Lemon Poppy Seed Cake — Peach Cake with Cream Cheese and Oatmeal Crumble — Donut Birthday Cake found on Pinterest.com — Brown Butter Waffle Cake with Sorghum Meringue Buttercream — Brown Butter Cake with Vanilla Bean — Momofuku Milk Bar Cake

 

The Last of Summer: S’mores Cupcakes

It’s hard to believe that this summer is drawing to a close, especially when Florida doesn’t really ‘do’ seasons. School is starting back up again and everyone seems to be ordering books, settling into their new places or, if you’re a year-old pup, staring out the window and barking at UPS guys. I totally feel the whole stare-out-my-window thing, Dob. So, to celebrate the end of my last summer before real life happens, I thought I’d make treats!. My friends love me more than you 😉

Smores Cupcakes

S’mores Cupcakes with Toasted Marshmallow Fluff Frosting

Makes: 24 cupcakes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup graham crackers, crushed
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 Hershey chocolate bars

For the frosting:

I followed Chow TV Video‘s recipe for marshmallow fluff. Candy is a delicate process and I highly recommend not doing this unless you have a candy thermometer! Jarred stuff always works, just in case you are afraid of boiling sugar but fear is for losers.

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Mix all cupcakes ingredients except for the chocolate in a mixing bowl or stand mixer and beat until well combined.
  3. Distribute batter amongst 24 paper-lined muffin tins, about 1/4 cup of batter in each. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until tops are golden brown and bounce back when touched.
  4. Let cool for 2 minutes and then press broken off pieces of chocolate into the center of the cupcake. Use a knife to start a hole for the chocolate if the cupcake melts the chocolate too fast. Let cupcakes cool completely.
  5. Make marshmallow fluff and spread onto tops of cupcakes. Set oven to broil and let cupcakes toast on the top rack until golden, about 20 seconds. Top with more chocolate. Enjoy!