Birthday festivities and AMAZING recipes

birthday girl

Isn't she adorable???

I had to follow-up with some fun tidbits from Tara’s birthday.  First of all, she was a riot.  The first thing Tara wanted to do after she woke up was to find birthday candles (after I sang a very exciting version of “Happy Birthday to You” as she worked her way down the stairs) .  So, three birthday candles lit on her

bat girl

do you like my outfit? i'm wearing bathing suit shorts.

breakfast cookie (she did have a green smoothie too, just in case you were worried. Though no amount of green could cancel out the amount of chocolate and sugar today).

I worked all morning in the kitchen on homemade ice cream, cake, and icing.  After talking for days about helping me, she declined my invitation to help.  But she did want to lick the beaters, spoons, spatulas, and bowls.   Somehow I managed not to get a picture of her chocolate stained shirt.  And face.  And hands.

In addition to the birthday tradition we have of putting together a Shutterfly photo book capturing the year’s finest moments for each of our children, Blane bought Tara a t-ball set and a cute pink glove and ball (the ball sticks in it with velcro!).

After dinner, Blane’s parents and my sister-in-law came over for cake and ice cream.  They also brought some really fun birthday gifts.  Very perceptive on their part, his parents gave Tara something she talks about all the time:

trying out my sister's new scooter (which will also be mine when I'm big enough)

For whatever reason, she’s obsessed with scooters.  Every time we are in the

grocery store, she wants to ride on the back of the cart “like a scooter.”  I am always afraid that her foot is going to get caught underneath and bumpity bump, I run over Tara with the cart.  It’s never happened, but it’s a fear.  Anyway, she was super excited, but again, we failed to get a picture of her on it.

On to dessert.  Everyone loved the cake and ice cream.  It was the.  best.  ice cream.  ever. For vanilla and chocolate, anyway.  I have made vanilla and chocolate before in our home ice cream maker, but we weren’t thrilled with them.  So I was on a mission to find one recipe for each flavor.  I had heard of David Lebovitz’s book, “The Perfect Scoop” through a few different sources, but (call me cheap) didn’t want to buy it.  I earnestly looked for recipes online and voila!  I found them.  Move over Breyers!  It was agreed that they are better than Breyers (you have to understand my in-laws and ice cream).

I doubled both ice cream recipes to make approximately 2 quarts.

bday girl

homemade bday hat

Chocolate Ice Cream

Makes about 1 quart

2 cups heavy cream

3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder (I just used regular organic cocoa powder)
5 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (I used dark choc. chips)
1 cup whole milk
¾ cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Warm 1 cup of the cream with the cocoa powder in a medium saucepan, whisking to thoroughly blend the cocoa. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer at a very low boil for 30 seconds, whisking constantly. Remove from the heat and add the chopped chocolate, stirring until smooth. Then stir in the remaining 1 cup cream. Pour the mixture into a large bowl, scraping the saucepan as thoroughly as possible, and set a mesh strainer on top of the bowl.
  2. Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in the same saucepan. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolk. Slowly pour the warm milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
  3. Stir the mixture constantly over the medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula (170°F on an instant-read thermometer). Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the chocolate mixture until smooth, then stir in the vanilla. Stir until cool over an ice bath.
  4. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. (If the cold mixture is too thick to pour into your machine, whisk it vigorously to thin it out.)

(From The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz)

Vanilla Ice Cream, Philadelphia-Style
(The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz, page 25)

3 cups heavy cream, or 2 cups heavy cream and 1 cup whole milk (since I doubled, I used 1 qt cream and 2c raw whole milk)
¾ cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Pour 1 cup of the cream into a medium saucepan and add the sugar and salt. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the saucepan and add the pod to the pot. Warm over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved.
  2. Remove from the heat and add the remaining 2 cups cream (or the remaining 1 cup cream and the milk) and the vanilla extract.
  3. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator. When ready to churn, remove the vanilla bean, rinsing and reserving it for another use, and then freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

And the cake.…I am not a cake person.  Unless it’s really moist and rich.  I love really moist, fudgy chocolate cake.  I love really moist carrot cake.  This cake was amazing.  I was thrilled too, considering I tinkered with a recipe.  (I’m always experimenting when I need to remember that I’m feeding guests.  Thankfully it turned out well!).  chocolate cake

I don’t know how healthy you can make something that has sugar in it, but I wanted to soak the flour (aids in digestion) overnight to make it healthier.  Usually, whatever it is that I’m soaking turns out very moist after baked (which I love).  This was no exception.  I started with Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake and made my own adjustments and substitutions.

Chocolate Cake

1 c Sucanat

1c organic cane juice crystals

1-3/4 cups soft white wheat flour

3/4 cup organic Cocoa

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs ( I didn’t have any so I used 5

egg whites from the ice cream!)

1 cup milk

1/2 cup coconut oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup boiling water

1 c dark chocolate chips


  1. The night before, soak flour in milk (add 2T apple cider vinegar) and coconut oil.
  2. The next day, add remaining ingredients except chocolate chips and mix with an electric mixer at medium speed for 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in chocolate chips.
  4. Pour mixture into two 9-inch cake (or Springform) pans.  Bake for 35-40 minutes.  Let cakes cool completely on a wire rack before removing them from pans.
  5. Turn one cake onto a cake platter (or a piece of cardboard nicely wrapped in foil) and ice.  Layer second cake and ice.
  6. Store cake in refrigerator until ready to serve.  I promise it tastes better this way!

Okay, the only problem with this cake is that

it is so moist that it falls apart.  I worked with it, knowing that it was going to taste better since I soaked it and the icing hid the mess.  But, if you want to avoid this, you can skip the soaking step.

Chocolate Icing

from Sue Gregg’s “Desserts” cookbookfudgy cake

This is the tripled version of the original recipe.  I would suggest leaving it this way for a 9×13 cake, though it does make a lot.

Don’t gasp at the amount of butter called for.  Just enjoy it.  :)

3 sticks soft butter

3/4 c cane juice crystals

3 eggs (or arrowroot binder, which is what I used because I had no more eggs…see below)

3/4 c cocoa powder

3 tsp vanilla

  1. With an electric mixer, blend butter and sugar until light and creamy.
  2. Blend in remaining ingredients until creamy and spreadable.
  3. Chill in fridge if mixture is too soft.  (I had to do this for about an hour)

Excuse the bad pictures, we have a simple, old school digital camera, no SLR.  The cake was amazing and everyone loved it.  They didn’t see the bottom cake  that completely fell apart when I took it out of the pan or the top layer that broke into pieces because it was so moist (or me eating the fudgy mess from the metal spatula(s) that were required to lift the cake to the platter).  The icing covered the imperfections wonderfully.

All in all, it was a really fun day.  I have said before that I am not a big birthday party person, but it was so fun preparing for a fun evening of cake, ice cream, and celebration with family.  I can’t wait to do it again!

But next time, I’ll eat rich chocolate cake and rich chocolate ice cream at lunch time.  Not after dinner.  And maybe I won’t help myself to seconds.  I was up until after 2:30am because of it.  What would I be like if I drank regular coffee?


i just started walking about a month ago and i'm almost running!

and I couldn’t resist…

i'm afraid of Daddy's toy - a remote controlled helicopter

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