Update: These are long ago memories I’m sharing in this post, though it’s true I’m still not a fan of birthday parties. Hope I haven’t upset anyone – it just came together as a nice little piece of writing for me.
I don’t have birthday parties, as a rule. Something awful happened to someone I cared about in the middle of the biggest birthday bash I’d ever had and I handled it badly. After that, I kept it small – a few friends for lunch, a date for dinner, sometimes a family get together. I broke that rule once and got some karmic payback as a reward.
The person who hosted the party had just broken up with a mutual friend, who’d also disappointed other people we had in common. The guest list was filled with people her ex liked, only two of whom I really knew. The cake was a horror of dank cream and hidden pellets of jelly. And the only other sweets, a box of cookies her ex brought me from one of my favourite bakeries, disappeared into the host’s cupboard shortly after the ex’s hasty departure. I spent the rest of the evening in uncomfortable silence as the host complained at length about her break up. I took it as a sign that I still had penance to do for failing my friend all those years ago.
Needless to say, I went back to small gatherings. But I’ve made sure that my birthday sweet, whether it’s a pie or a cake or a pile of homemade cookies, is excellent and shared widely.
This year, I made the Simple and Splendid Chocolate Cake from The Sweetapolita Bakebook, filled it with salted caramel ganache from this Bon Appétit recipe, then topped it with Sweetapolita’s Glossy Fudge Frosting. I was left with only two regrets: dropping the third layer onto the kitchen floor and not starting early enough to have enough time to ice the…two-layer…cake fancily. After the first round of slices, I sent some home with family and some to our lovely neighbours downstairs, leaving me with just enough for dessert (and let’s face it, breakfast) the next day.
This week’s French Fridays dish, the last dessert on our agenda, might just be next year’s birthday sweet. It’s light and rich at the same time, while being casually elegant – perfect for small gatherings, no?
I used dried cranberries, since raisins and I only get along one-on-one. Dried cherries or blueberries would be nice here, too. And I used a mixture of cottage cheese and sour cream, since fromage blanc is a bus ride away for me and I didn’t have the gumption to go far for ingredients. The mixture of cottage cheese and sour cream stood in admirably for fromage blanc.
We’ve ended the dessert chapter on a keeper, though that could also be said of almost every recipe in the chapter. Next week, we’ll have our last scheduled fish recipe (aren’t you glad, Mardi?). The week after that, we’ll have special posts for Food Revolution Day. And then, we cook the cover to finish off the last recipe.
Hard to believe.
You can find links to the rest of the French Fridays crew’s posts on this week’s recipe here: Cheesecake Tart.