Category Archives: birthday

Happy Birthday: Banana & Chocolate Chip Cake

I’m not a huge cake person, and I have extremely high standards for them.  Because of this, we didn’t even have a cake at our wedding.  Instead we had fruit tarts- yes, the mini versions of my annual Birthday Fruit Tart for my birthday.

Since I am a bit picky, it was hard to choose the cake for Ben’s (Sam’s brother) birthday.  We had a little get together last Saturday, a couple of days before his actual birthday, and I wanted to make a little treat.

Ben's Birthday Cake

While Sam made a wonderful dinner for Ben and some friends with our new grill, I attempted a cake.  Lucky for me, I was impressed- this turned out great.  The best part of it was that it continued to taste equally delicious (moist, fluffy) days after it came out of the oven.  This cake has the flavor and texture of a banana bread, although a bit more moist, with the addition of chocolate chips and a cream cheese frosting.

Ben's Birthday Cake 2

Banana & Chocolate Chip Cake
Adapted from: Bakers Royale

I’m not a huge fan of frosting, so I don’t use as much.  If you are a frosting-lover, I would double the recipe.

Cake
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup buttermilk
12 oz mini chocolate chips (1 bag)

Frosting
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar

In a stand mixer, beat together the butter, white sugar and brown sugar until it’s fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time while mixing.  Then mix in the bananas, baking soda and salt, continue mixing.  Next, add in the flour and buttermilk, alternating the two ingredients as you’re pouring it in, continue mixing on low.  Finally, stir in the chocolate chips.

Grease a baking pan with a little bit of butter, then lightly flour it.  If you have two 8-inch round baking pans, divide the batter between them.  If not, pour half of the batter into the pan, bake the first one.  Allow the first to cool and take it out, then bake the second half of the batter.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Bake in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes.  Double check to make sure a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the cake.  If it does, then remove the cake from the oven, and allow to cool.  Repeat with the second batter if necessary.

To make the frosting, beat the butter, cream cheese and vanilla in a stand mixer.  Finally, add in the powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time (otherwise it’ll make a mess).

Once the cake has cooled, add some icing in between the two layers.  Then frost the outside and top of the cake.

Book Club: S’more Cookie

I hosted my Book Club at our house last week, there were 8 of us here to talk about The Corrections, and catch up on what’s going on in our lives.  Check out what else was on the Book Club menu!

I’ll skip around the book club menu a bit to tell you all about the dessert.  I do have a reason- today it’s my Dad’s birthday, and I think he’d love this dessert.  Happy Birthday Dad!  One of his favorite desserts are chocolate chip cookies, and this is equally good.

I found this recipe thanks to Pinterest, I kept seeing recipes for s’more bars or cupcakes, and since it is an American dessert, I thought this would be perfect.  Although s’mores tend to be eaten near a bonfire or while camping, this is the perfect indoor substitute.

Growing up I spent a couple of summers at Cedar Lodge Summer Camp, in a tiny town of Lawrence, Michigan.  It’s mainly a horseback riding camp, but there were some that attended and didn’t ride.  I have very fond memories of my summers there, especially at the campfire at the end of each week!

Every Saturday night, all the campers and staff would gather around the bonfire with their blankets, bug spray, flashlights and sticks to make s’mores.  First we would eat dinner (burgers, hot dogs, or sloppy joe’s) and then we would find a great place to sit to hear stories.  My first week there, I remember Eddy, the owner of the camp, told us a scary ghost story which kept me awake that night in the cabin.  After he passed away, Amy (his daughter and Camp Director) continued to keep us entertained.  With night settling in, all of us would make s’mores and huddle together.  It was the perfect way to close a week of camp, before the new set of campers arrived.

S’more Cookie
Adapted from: Wit & Whistle

I basically did the same recipe, although I made it in a bigger pan.  It’s possible to make it smaller as well.  Best served when it’s cooled off, maybe with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 6-8 blocks)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 King-sized Hershey’s chocolate bars
3 1/2 oz marshmallow puff*

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Using about a tablespoon of butter, grease a 9’x13′ baking pan.

In a large bowl, mix together the butter and sugar.  Add in the egg and vanilla, beat well.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, nutmeg and salt.  Slowly incorporate it into the large bowl, mixing at a lower speed until it’s combined.

Divide the dough in two chunks.  Press the half into the baking pan, an even layer.  Then place the chocolate bars on top, try not to break the bars.  Spread the marshmallow puff onto the chocolate in an even layer.  Press the remaining dough onto the layer of marshmallows.

Bake for 30 minutes, until the top is lightly brown.  Cut into pieces after this has cooled off.

*Do not use melted marshmallows!

February Birthdays

I’ve mentioned our Supper Club a couple of times here (when we made: baklava and roasted mushrooms).  We switch hosts every time we all get together, this month was a bit more special when our friend, and host, Stephanie was also celebrating her birthday.  To celebrate in style, she decided to make a lobster dinner.  The dinner was delicious, and the presentation was spectacular- I thought all of you would like to see:

What a great way to celebrate another wonderful year with close friends!

Happy Birthday to all those February babies!  (this obviously includes me and Carrie)

Birthday Fruit Tart

For my birthday Sam made an amazing fruit tart:

This is my favorite dessert in the world.  And let me tell you, I’ve bought fruit tarts from many pastries or bakeries, but this was the best tart I’ve ever had!

Remember, you can use different fruits- whatever you like.  Some suggestions: kiwis, raspberries, blackberries, plums or bananas.

Birthday Fruit Tart

For the crust:
1 1/4 cups flour
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, diced
1/4 cup ice water
9-inch tart pan

For the filling:
5 extra-large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp rosewater
1 pint strawberries, halved
1 pint blueberries
1/4 cup honey

In a food processor, add the flour, salt, and cold butter and pulse until crumbly.  Now slowly add the cold water until the dough comes together into a ball (you shouldn’t need all of the water).   Wrap the ball in cling wrap and put it in the fridge for a half hour.  Preheat your oven to 375ºF.

While that’s cooling off, you can work on the filling.  In a small pot, warm up the heavy cream, being careful not to let it bowl over.  In a stand mixer, beat the egg yolks together with the sugar for a few minutes until they’re nice and thick.  With the mixer on low, add the corn starch.  Now add the mixture to the milk and whisk constantly with the heat on medium low.  It will quickly begin to thicken.  When it reaches the consistency of pudding, turn off the heat and mix in the butter and vanilla (you can substitute with almost anything here; almond extract or even some good, black rum would be nice).  Transfer the mixture to a bowl and put in the fridge to cool.

Now roll the dough out on a well floured cutting board and add to a greased tart pan.  Toss it in the oven for 25-30 minutes until golden.  Remove the crust from the oven and pour the filling into the crust and smooth out with a spatula.  The filling may seem fairly firm, but don’t worry, it will soften up in the heated crust.  Now add the fruit to the top of the filling (I used strawberries and blueberries, but you can use whatever you want.  Peaches and raspberries would be good too.)  Mix the honey and rosewater together and microwave for 20 seconds, then brush it over the fruit.

That’s it!  Put the tart in the fridge to cool for 30 minutes and enjoy!

Happy Groundhog Day!

While traveling the rest of this week, the internet was not readily available (and I was busy working), so I’ll be catching up with some posts this weekend.

Today I’m celebrating another wonderful year with amazing family and friends.

Chef Sam made me a delicious birthday dinner (very similar to this one) and this exquisite dessert (from scratch)!

Happy Groundhog’s Day!