Birthday Excess

IMG_6877

Happy Birthday to meeeeee!!!

IMG_6890

I made my own dessert. Is that weird?! I have no idea. I’m weird, so it’s probably fitting, right??

Besides, not much has changed:

10522437_10202751179084633_2125268902459090635_n

Yep. As my mom says, “To our sweet girl (who still attacks dessert with dedication and gusto–and looks just as cute doing it!!) Happy 24th Birthday!
Much much Love, Mom and Dad”. That’s fairly accurate, don’t you think?! And I know for a fact I still make that face…

IMG_6886

I’ve always wanted to make choux pastry. So I did!! Forget cake. I love it and whatnot, but it’s my birthday so I’m playing by my own rules. Besides, all you really need to do is makes something delicious that you can put a candle on. Because birthdays are definitely NOT birthdays without smelling candle smoke. Nothing reminds me more of a birthday than smoking candles!

IMG_6870

My birthday rules are thus (and I just made them up soooo they’re going to apply from now on):

1. Excess is required.
2. Jazzercise is an excellent way to start the day and possibly offset the excesses of dessert that will happen.
3. SPRINKLES.
4. Desserts must be excessive. Because… see rule number 1.

IMG_6876

IMG_6885

I think these are spot on. And I DID go to jazzercise yesterday morning which was fab and sweaty as usual and then I went and ate at least a cookie if not two (whoops, not quite sure how that happened) and then I ran around more and then I made these. And then I ate them! Muahahha.

24 is going to be excellent.

IMG_6882

Chouquettes with Vegan Banana Cookie Dough Ice Cream + Salted Date Caramel

Wow really?? Could that title be any longer?? But it’s my birthday sooooo I can do whatever I want, up to and including making excessive desserts that are actually refined sugar free! Because that’s how I roll. Healthy indulgences in celebration of turning 24. Wheeee!! There is gluten, butter, and sprinkles in this. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Chouquettes are lightly adapted from David Lebovitz (amazing!!), here. The date caramel is my own brainchild and the vegan banana ice cream is just embarrassingly easy… I made a half batch of chouquettes, which yielded 10. Recipe as listed yields 25 ish. And obvs made extra caramel and ice cream, obvs. These are also excellent stuffed with real ice cream… or pretty much anything.

IMG_6872

For the chouquettes (which makes me feel really sophisticated to say, even if I mangle the pronunciation):

  • 1 c water
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp coconut sugar
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 4 eggs, at room temp
  • optional: chocolate chippies! I did them in half the batter

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 425.

In a medium saucepan, heat water, salt, sugar, and butter, stirring often, until the butter is melted and the water starts to boil. Remove from heat and immediately stir in the entire amount of flour, stirring until the dough is incorporated and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan (it should clump up into a big blob). Let cool for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally to release heat. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until dough is silky and smooth. If adding chocolate chips, let the dough cool completely before adding them. If not, begin dropping dough onto the prepared cookie sheet (I found that a single large spoon worked well), about 2 tbsp’s worth per blob. They’ll spread just a little so don’t put them too close together. Bake for 35 minutes, until puffed and golden. Remove to a cooling rack and serve warm or at room temp. Freeze any leftovers (or really, just eat them immediately).

IMG_6873

For the vegan banana cookie dough “ice cream”:

  • several frozen bananas (however many you need depends on the amount of peeps you’re serving)
  • a good splash of plain almond milk
  • 1+ tsp vanilla
  • a dash of cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp (ish) peanut butter

Blenderize all that good stuff in a food processor until creamy. The bananas magically turn into this great ice cream-like consistency!! Like magic. So wonderful and happily guilt free. You can flavor this however you like, I usually use about 1 banana per person, and freeze them in chunks for easy blending. Eat immediately! It’s best fresh.

Then throw all this in the food processor [dry ingredients first, then the wet until it all comes together] :

  • 1 c raw cashews
  • 1/2 c rolled oats
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/6 c dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp unsalted almond butter
  • excessive amounts of sprinkles. ha.

Et voila! Vegan, refined sugar free funfetti cookie dough. Muahahha. Mix it into your banana soft serve and be really happy about life.

THEN.

Make salted date caramel:

Soak 1 c of pitted dates in boiling water for at least 5 minutes.

Chuck them all into the food processor, followed by a judicious about of vanilla + unsweetened almond milk + a pinch of sea salt + giant heaping blog of almond butter and blendy blend blend until it’s all smooth.

AND THEN.

Stuff the cookie dough banana deliciousness into a chouquette, top with a ridiculous amount of date caramel, and more sprinkles. Because… it’s your birthday. Or at least it’s mine. So you have an excuse to indulge anyway ;)

IMG_6880

IMG_6878

Baking is my om

IMG_6230

Hello!

This is what I did with my weekend.

IMG_6236

A nearest and dearest has a birthday today!! So of course I baked, decorated, surprised, and delighted. It’s what I do. My way to express love and gratitude, the feelings that bubble up inside when I know I’ve surprised someone… and the joy of sharing something delicious. That’s me. That’s who I am.

IMG_6232

Even though I tend towards “healthier” baking, I still love the simplicity of a more traditional approach. This cake is that. Simple. Flavorful. Soul-satisfying. Nothing soothes me more than this cake. And the aroma of it is heavenly—I dare you to find something that smells as good.

IMG_6231

That being said, of course I put my own spin on it anyway. Whole wheat pastry flour instead of white, coconut sugar instead of refined cane sugar, and dark chocolate ganache. And an om, obviously. Symbolic both for the birthday recipient, and for me.

IMG_6234

Yes, I do (copious amounts of daily) yoga, meditate, study yogic philosophy. That is my om.

But my om is also baking, decorating, and the giddy feeling that arises from a successful surprise of a gastronomical treat. No matter how simple, this will always be my favorite gesture.

IMG_6235

Love the world. Share some cake!

*This recipe is the same one found here, and here, for my favorite banana cake with chocolate ganache glaze. Simple, delicious, and a perennial favorite.

IMG_6237

Winner winner, funfetti dinner!

ahhh yeahhhh, twenty two!

Guess what.

I turned twenty two yesterday! Such a nice symmetrical number.

However… I obviously can’t take the credit for all this awesomeness, as without a mother I clearly wouldn’t be here at all. Here’s what she has to say about all these bun in the oven shenanigans:

Twenty-two years ago, mere hours after I’d been swing dancing at a wedding, Hayley decided to make a speedy entrance into the world!! Originally, this wedding was supposed to take place on a boat sailing around SF Bay—good thing they chose a docked, historical ,version instead, since her Daddy was the best man! Call the Coast Guard!! She allowed us to get home from this big event, tired and happy, but then, since all of the dancing had stopped for her mom, she decided that it was time to do the baby cha-cha! Daddy-to-be couldn’t believe that it was time to watch the clock—he just tried to talk me into going back to sleep. Persistent baby….apparently, Hayley was *not* pleased that she missed the party AND  the cake, and decided that she’d had enough gestation….et voila! Punctual baby, punctual person! Early am, September 23rd! Daddy even remembered to throw the tuxes in with the suitcase, so he could return them!! Who gave the man with the really pregnant wife the tuxes to return!?

mmmm

There you have it. My entire personality in a nutshell can be determined from birth: I’m punctual, polite (I waited), and I love cake. Don’t try to stand between me and my cake.

And birthdays mean cake! Annnddd fun candles. So since I’m secretly a five year old inside, I requested funfetti from scratch, with MEGA sprinks. And my lovely mama made it for me! How fab is that. How very civilized having someone else make cake for you.

DO YOU SEE THE DINO?!

A tres fabulous birthday weekend all around… AND I have leftover cake. Winner winner, funfetti dinner! Ha.

Recipe from Sweetapolita! The only changes we made were whipped cream frosting instead of buttercream (I like whipped cream better), and a teeny cake in 6″ cake pans (also whole wheat pastry flour, natch). AND mega sprinks. Some were dino shaped. Feel free to be jealous, veryyy veryyy jealous, that I have such an awesome mutti who buys dino sprinks. Hehee.

Keep Calm and Cake On!

old picture, from Wurstfest. But cute! Roomiesss!

The Roomie has landed! Our apartment is now officially EPIC. And the fridge is fully stocked with deliciousness, hooray! Be prepared to read about lots of shenanigans that will most likely ensue, in the kitchen and otherwise. Or, if you’d like to witness it yourself, you can come stay in the closet/guest room. Yep. We have a guest room sized closet, be jealous.You can be like Harry Potter, in his cupboard! Except more awesome,  since we’re WAY cooler than the Dursleys.

Because I was SUPER EXCITED that the Roomie (otherwise known as Kira, just so we’re all on a first name basis here…) was arriving, I decided to make… a CAKE! Of course. What else?!  The only problem was that I made it Saturday… and she wasn’t arriving until Sunday night… which meant that I spent all of the time between wanting to eat it. Oops. But I didn’t! Willpower wins, so there! Take that gremlins! Be satisfied with your muffins and stop bothering me.

Also, in the interest of my quest to utilize everything and not waste anything, I had my eye on some dangerously ripe buhhhnahhnnas (say it with a drawl or an accent, it’s much more fun!). Because why would you make anything else when you could make banana cake?! Besides, it’s only the BEST BANANA CAKE EVER, and who needs an excuse for that?! I certainly don’t. In fact, one of the besties at home (Michellleeee!!!) can vouch that this cake is epic. AND the Roomie like it. A lot. So YAY! Cake wins all around. Moral of the story: Make cake whenever possible. Or as the British government wisely said, Keep Calm and Carry On. Or, rather… in my case… Keep calm and cake on. Always!

adorable small cake

Fabulous Buh-naah-na Cake

Adapted from The Pastry Affair (a really fab blog!), here

This cake is delicious. It’s simple, requires mostly what you have on hand in the pantry, and comes together in snap. Not only that, but it’s surprisingly light—a nap is not obligatory after finishing a slice :) The banana and chocolate flavors come together perfectly, and there is a perfect banana to chocolate ratio. It’s excellent with vanilla ice cream, of course (what isn’t ?!), but also stands divinely on its own. I always refrigerate it, so the glaze stays hard, but it’s really good out of the fridge, so everyone wins.

Whatcha need:

For the cake:

2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (or microwaved until soft. I’m always too impatient)
1/2 cup white sugar (or less. I always use less—maybe more like 1/3 c)*
3/4 cup brown sugar (also less. Like maybe 1/2 c. Depends on your preference for sweet)*
2 large eggs
3 overripe bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk

*I’ve also successfully made this cake in a half batch, with 1/2 c coconut sugar in place of the brown+white. I LOVE it this way, but up to you!

Preheat the oven to 325. Grease two 8 or 9″ cake pans (alternatively, make half the recipe, like I did for Kira, and use two 6.5″ pans. Perfect for two roomies!)

Whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon,  and salt.

Using a hand mixer, cream the sugars and softened butter together until fluffy. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating after each. Add vanilla and mashed buhnahnas. Mix again.

Add in buttermilk and flour, alternating between the two, and starting and ending with flour. You can use your mixer for this too, which is obviously nice. Pour your batter into pans, and inhale the lovely banana aroma. Bake until golden and a tester comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. (It’ll be less for the 6.5″ pans–unfortunately I’m not sure how long mine took. I set the timer for 20, and watched them carefully from there. I’m thinking about 25 total). Let cool in pans for at least 10 minutes, and then let cool completely before frosting.

Keep Calm… and Sprinkle On? I think so.

Chocolate Glaze

In a double boiler, melt together 1/2 c of butter, and 2 c of chocolate chips. For a 6.5″ cake, I used a little more than half of this amount. I also threw in a little vanilla—it’s a nice addition. Let this cool a bit before frosting, otherwise it’s extremely runny. Which is kind of fun, but not exactly aesthetic…

Top with sprinkles! Of course. What else?! This is why my gremlins are technicolor.

Enjoy with a fab roomie, who you are super excited to live with, after a really civilized picnic-style dinner of good cheese, crusty bread, fresh basil, and fresh veggies. YUM.

din din!
I look like I’m about to fling the cake on the floor, oops!

AND THEN.

Do a happy dance because your lovely parents bought you a surprise for your 21st birthday on Friday! A RED Kitchenaide STANDMIXER! Happy, happy, HAPPY! Danke schoen, Mutti and Vati, you are quite possibly the BEST EVER!

Kitchenaide, you are my new pet!