A Double Birthday

The birthday was a major success!

A small group of us had dinner at Black Finn for the first part of the night. Since it was my 25th, I felt free to order myself a few cosmos and a nice steak, which, unfortunately, I wasn't as impressed with as my boyfriend's burger. I actually don't prefer beef and tend toward turkey burgers (homemade only) instead, but this looked so amazingly messy and you know those are always the best! Not to mention, it was actually cooked right -- medium, rather than well-done, which is just gross.

After Black Finn, we headed over to Joe Kool's for the real party. If you recall, Megan didn't know that the party was also for her, so I asked a friend, who she drove with, to ensure she didn't arrive to Kool's before I did because I wanted to be there when she realized what was going on! Since we were going to be at dinner together beforehand, I had (I thought) no way to get to Kool's with enough time to decorate, so my wonderful parents went a little early to set up the balloons and sign. I love how easily a few balloons can alter an atmosphere! 

Anyway, the funny part is that Megan was incredibly late to Kool's because she and her boyfriend made some incredibly long pit stops beforehand. I sat there, with my vodka and lemonade, waiting...and waiting...and waiting...I couldn't even go to the bathroom because I was afraid she'd walk in right at that moment! And when she finally did, she didn't even notice the sign. Having known Megan nearly my entire life, I should have known better, but it was awesome all the same. And she loved her gift, a portrait lens for her camera, which our friends were so generous as to pitch in for. 

You can guess how the rest of the night went. Drinks, friends, good food...what more could you want?

Scroll to the bottom of the page for recipes :)

The cakes!!

Now, for archiving purposes, only the Peach Melba Cake recipe is in this entry. You can find the Cioccolato-Mangiare in the very next.

Peach Melba Cake: Trifle Version

There are two variations of this cake; you can either make it similar to a trifle (like I did for this birthday) or as a classic cake, frosted on the outside (as I did for last year's cake). If you want to make it like a classic cake, use the recipe from the previous entry: Peach Melba Cake with Buttercream

Fruit Trifle
  • Savoiardi (these are crunchy lady fingers, you may substitute with soft ones, if preferred, but realize that these do soften once layered with liquor and whipped cream)
  • Marsala wine, Chambord, or Framboise liqueur 
  • poached peaches (recipe above)
  • fresh raspberries
  • heavy whipping cream
  • sugar 

I have to apologize because I have no measurements, whatsoever, for this recipe. Every time I make a trifle, I simply grab a bag of savoiardi, whatever sweet liqueur or wine I have on hand, a bunch of fresh fruit, a container of heavy cream, and I just go with it. Trifles are easy to wing, though, because you don't have to cook a thing and, unless you overdo the liquor, it'll pretty much taste good no matter what. I know it would be much more helpful if I had measurements, but you simply have to trust your instincts. So...

First, you have to decide whether you want a trifle in a bowl or you want a freestanding one, like mine. If you plan to spoon it out of a dish, like you would a traditional trifle, your first step is simply to cover the bottom of the dish with lady fingers; if you have to cut some in half or quarters, in order to cover the bottom, that's fine.

If you want a freestanding trifle, like mine, you need a springform pan, whether round or square. In the springform pan, you'll layer the trifle the same way you would a dish, but line the inner sides of the pan with wax paper to ensure the trifle stays together when you finally remove the sides. I've made a few trifles without the wax paper and, believe me, it is not a good idea. Once your wax paper is in place and your first layer of lady fingers is set down, you're ready to continue assembly.

Soak the lady fingers in the wine/liqueur. When I say soak, though, I really mean an even drizzle, all over the lady fingers; you don't want to get them too wet or you'll end up with dessert soup; your real aim is to flavor them while adding a hint of moisture. If you've ever made tiramisu, you'll know exactly what to do. I like to use my smallest pyrex measure because it has a spout and I can easily pour a little bit wherever I need it; you may prefer to brush the liquid on, though, if you're afraid of over-wetting the lady fingers.

Next, spread on some freshly whipped cream. To whip your own, pour a few cups of heavy cream (or whipping cream, whichever you find at the store) into a stand-mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and mix it just like you would egg whites -- start on low speed (so it doesn't splatter) and turn it up to high. Don't overbeat the cream or it'll be too stiff; if you're unsure, just stop the machine and check the consistency -- it should look a lot like cream out of a can. If it does end up too stiff, though, it's not the end of the world; nobody would probably even notice! I'm sure I've overbeaten plenty. You'll probably want to sweeten it too, so just add a little granulated sugar at a time until it tastes as sweet as you like. If you want to color it pink, like I did, just add a little red food coloring before whipping.

Your layer of whipped cream should just about equal your layer of lady fingers. Once it's spread evenly, cover it in fruit. I like to make sure I have an equal amount of everything I'm using. So, for this cake, I covered the outer border in raspberries, then bordered inside those with peaches, then raspberries, and so on and so forth until the cream was fully covered in fruit.

Now, repeat the entire process, adding a layer of lady fingers over the fruit, drizzling with wine/liqueur, spreading with whipped cream, and covering with a decorative topping of fruit. Depending on the depth of your bowl/springform, you could add more than two layers of each, but I usually only get two.

If you've used a dish, simply cover it and refrigerate overnight to allow the fingers to soak up the flavor and moisture of the liquor and whipped cream. To serve, just spoon onto plates.

If you've used a springform, cover and refrigerate overnight. The next day, remove the sides of the springform and peel off the wax paper. To serve, carefully slice into pieces as you would a cake. Now, if you've done this correctly, your trifle should generally stay intact, just like a cake -- no fruit pieces falling all over the place or lady fingers separating from each other. I've never had a problem with this.

Also, though I didn't do this (but meant to), you could set aside a container of raspberry sauce to pour over each slice. It's really one of my favorite features and I highly recommend it! It add's that little extra something :) 

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