J’s (aka the Cooking Poro’s) birthday was last weekend, and as it was a rather important birthday, we had a little party to celebrate. I don’t have pictures of most of the food, as it wasn’t anything exceptional– veggies with dip, cheese platter with crackers. I did bake two things, though, and was thrilled with how well they were received. One was this blondie recipe, with about a cup of semisweet and white chocolate chunks and a few spoonfuls of toasted walnut bits thrown in. I was a little worried they’d be too rich, since like I’ve mentioned before, Estonians don’t usually have very dense, rich desserts. For my part, I knew these blondies were awesome– I tried this recipe in August and could barely keep myself away from them, even after I cut most of the pan into squares and stashed them in the freezer. And I needn’t have worried what others would think– people were OBSESSED with them. Pretty much nobody in our multi-cultural party (not just Estonians– we had Finns, a German, a Briton, etc.) had ever even heard of blondies, and some people thought I was joking when I said that’s what they’re called. People would ask “Is this some kind of brownie or something?” And then, after that, they’d ask for the recipe ;-). I think a highlight of my night was when I was slowly starting to put the food away and I said aloud, “Look at that, only one piece of cake and one blondie left.” And my German friend said, “One blondie? I’m sorry, I cannot let that happen. These are just too good,” and proceeded to eat the last one.
And yes, my other successful creation was the birthday cake. I thought for a while about what kind of cake to make. I didn’t want anything too complicated, and neither did J. I’m not any kind of cake master, so I wanted something easy. Then I decided that a chocolate stout cake would be perfect for a man’s birthday (another recipe from Smitten Kitchen– I love her stuff so much!). My man likes beer and he likes chocolate, so it was a perfect choice. I made a two-layer cake, and we had a minor crisis when one layer essentially broke in half (horizontally) when we removed it from the pan (the recipe had warned of sticking, so I buttered the pan really well, but as it was silicone I guess that just wasn’t good enough). The other layer came our nicely because I was smart enough to put a buttered round of parchment on the bottom of the pan and let the cake cool completely before removing it. Since the broken layer was a bit lopsided, so was the completed cake (with chocolate ganache between the layers and on top), but I don’t think anyone noticed. It was delicious.
Those are my ever-so-delicate hands cutting the cake (not the birthday boy’s)
This is seriously a great chocolate cake recipe, and of course it’s a lot of fun to inform people that there’s beer in it. You can’t really taste the beer, but it does give a bit of deepness and almost bitterness to the cake. The ganache, or some other kind of sweet frosting, is a must to tie it together. As mentioned before, there was only one small piece left, which I was happy to finish off the next day as a reward for a job well done.
But anyway… while I was happy that my baking endeavors were successful, the most important thing about the night was that we had an awesome time celebrating J’s birthday among friends (… and a vodka watermelon :-)). Happy belated birthday, honey!
P.S. When I logged onto WordPress today, I laughed when I saw that a search engine term that led somebody to the blog today was “old man poro”!! How terrible! 😀