Dear Twenties, Wow. We had some good times. We met when I was a fame-hungry film student, surviving on cheap coffee and poutine from Einstein’s Pub. Remember how we would spin records through the night and still make it to those 8am classes? When did we sleep? I wore really revealing clothes, looking back, too revealing. I hope my daughters never dress like that. Sweet twenties, you’ve seen me leave a wild life to become a great wife and an amazing mom. Such highs and lows in these past 10 years; healthy, sick, fat and thin, we’ve had no money and, at times, spent far too much of it on shoes. We’ve met A LOT of different characters. We’ve been many different characters. We lost some really important people and gave birth to 2 amazing little ones that I get to call “mine”. We did a lot together and it’s been awesome but I’m moving on now. No regrets. Only happy memories. I will always remember you fondly. Thanks for everything, Dana
Many months ago a cake recipe from Saveur.com caught my attention, it has the title “Heaven and Hell Cake“. Layered with devil’s food chocolate cake and an angel food cake, with a peanut butter mousse (purgatory??), I immediately knew that this had to be my birthday cake — it would be perfect farewell to that roller coaster decade known as “my twenties”. Notes: This cake is phenomenal but, be warned, it is very time consuming and takes a great deal of patience. Start to finish, this was a 2 day project for me. You need to bake 2 unique cakes, let each cool and give the ganache at least 4 hours to set. Evenly slicing and layering the cakes can be difficult. I think the next time I create a Heaven and Hell Cake I will simply even the chocolate and angel food cakes as single cake layers and halve the peanut butter mousse recipe as a single, middle layer.
My Heaven and Hell Birthday Cake Courtesy of Saveur.com Serves 12 to 15 Chocolate Ganache:
- 2 lbs. (900 grams) of good quality milk chocolate
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Angel Food Cake:
- 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1 cup cake flour
- 1 1/2 cups egg whites
- 1 tsp. cream of tartar
- 1/8 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 1 tsp. almond extract
Devil’s Food Cake:
- 1/2 cup vegetable shortening, plus more for pan
- 1 1/2 cups cake flour, plus more for pan
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp. baking powder
- 1 cup coffee
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 2 eggs
Peanut Butter Mousse:
- 1 1/2 lbs. cream cheese, at room temperature
- 4 cups smooth peanut butter, at room temperature
- 3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1. Make the ganache: Place the chocolate in a medium-size bowl. Bring cream to a boil in a 2-qt. saucepan; pour cream over the chocolate and let sit to melt for 5 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, combine the chocolate and cream. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to let rest for 4 hours. 2. Make the angel food cake: Heat oven to 325°f. Line bottom of a 10″ round cake pan with ungreased parchment paper. In a medium bowl, sift together confectioners’ sugar and flour; set flour mixture aside. In a large bowl, beat egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt with a handheld mixer on low speed until frothy. Increase mixer speed to medium, sprinkle in sugar, vanilla, and almond extract, and beat until stiff peaks form. Sprinkle half of the confectioners’ sugar–flour mixture over egg whites; using a rubber spatula, fold until just combined. Repeat with remaining flour mixture. Pour batter into prepared cake pan and bake until top of cake springs back when touched, 45–50 minutes. Transfer cake to a rack and let cool. 3. Make the devil’s food cake: Heat oven to 350°f. Grease a 10″ round cake pan with shortening and dust with flour to coat; shake out excess flour and set pan aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together cake flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder; set flour mixture aside. In another medium bowl, whisk the coffee and cocoa powder until smooth; set coffee mixture aside. In a large bowl, beat the shortening, sugar, vanilla, and eggs with a handheld mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, 2 minutes. Alternately add the flour mixture and the coffee mixture to the bowl in 3 stages, beating to combine after each addition. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean, 30–35 minutes; transfer to a rack and let cool completely. 4. Make the peanut butter mousse: In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, peanut butter, and confectioners’ sugar with a handheld mixer on medium speed until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Put cream into a large bowl and beat on high speed until stiff peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, fold the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture; set mousse aside in the refrigerator. 5. Assemble the cake: Using a serrated-blade knife, slice each cake horizontally into 2 layers. Place 1 layer of the devil’s food cake on a cake stand and spread 1/3 of the peanut butter mousse over the top with a butter knife. Top mousse with a layer of the angel food cake and spread with half of the remaining mousse. Repeat with the remaining devil’s food cake, mousse, and angel food cake. Wrap cake in plastic wrap and freeze for 2 hours. Stir ganache until smooth and spread evenly over the top and sides of the cake with a butter knife. Refrigerate the cake for 2 hours before slicing.
Dear Thirties, Hey. I’ve have had some mixed feelings about your arrival. You seemed kind of old and serious. But now that we’ve met, I think we’ll get a long well. You seem like a fresh start. I’ve seen how you’ve treated the friends who met you before I did. They seem confident, successful, more understanding of who they are. They know how to use their strengths and refine their weaknesses. And it seems like you have less tolerance for some of the things that hovered over my 20’s–some of the fears, worries, insecurities. You know better. No pressure, but I’m expecting a lot out of you. I expect you to take my creativity to more places, to more people. I expect a lot of new doors to open. Bring on the adventures. Kisses, Dana P.S. 30, you should know I’m more of a birthweek than a birthday kind of girl. To celebrate your arrival, let’s spend the week enjoying some of my favourite simple pleasures. Together.
- Create a family scavenger hunt
- Go on a hike
- Clean out my closet and donate anything I’m not wearing to a local shelter
- Finish a book. Actually finish a book.
- Grab a coffee with a friend
- Do an art project with the kids
- Taste a new food
- Clean the house. You wouldn’t think this to be on a birthday wish list but I enjoy a clean house and with a 2-year-old, 4-year-old and a Brett it doesn’t happen often.
- Catch up with an old friend
- Try on really nice, really, really expensive new shoes. I can’t afford them but there’s nothing stopping me from trying them on and strut myself around the store.
- Orgasm. Multiple times, perhaps.
- Visit a local art gallery
- Cook with an ingredient I’ve never used before
- Take a pic, edit it, frame it, hang it on the wall
- Choose a dream car. If I could have any make and model of car, what would it be?
- Take a long, hot bath
- Share a bottle of good wine with good friends
- Buy sexy underwear. I may be a mom but my underwear doesn’t need to scream it.
- Play dress up
- Give myself really big hair. When it comes to a woman’s hair, the grass is always greener. My super-straight, ultra-fine hair has always seemed dull and boring compared to the head of a woman with big, glorious curls. No perms, just overnight curlers, maybe some teasing.
- Roam a book store
- Make it to Yoga class
- Make out like filthy, careless teenagers
- Create a fancy cocktail, call it the Hot Pink Apron
- Sleep in
- Drink Irish coffee and read the Saturday newspaper (a BIG thanks to Grandma Liz for making this and the above possible)
- Make a “mix tape” CD and sing my heart out to it (Queen, Bowie, Alanis Morisette…)
- Grab a pint and some hot wings with my man
- Bake myself an outstanding birthday cake
- Write a fun, inspiring blog post about personal reflection and an amazing dessert ✓
Add to favorites