What you see here is Jim's birthday cake (German chocolate), with a handmade Superman candle we bought last year in Mexico. It's a lumpy, awkward, giant, awesome candle, and here it kind of makes the cake look small. Do not be deceived. Both cake and candle are giant. Shortly after this picture was taken, I did the unthinkable.
I lit Superman's head on fire.
You know what that makes me? A super-villain. But don't worry. Superman is fine and back in his place of honor, in a glass-fronted bookcase, with no more damage than a blackened wick. Jim extinguished his head in the nick of time. Jim saved Superman. I do not, however, have a picture of him doing so. You have to imagine it.
Here's us, though:
Had a lovely day yesterday. I was baking most of the day while Jim was mostly working -- he has a deadline looming with Scholastic right now -- and I also had some fun putting up birthday decorations, like these big paper swags that I love and will be leaving up for a while:
I blew up some balloons too, because why not? I honestly can't remember ever decorating for a birthday before, and it was so fun that it makes me really look forward to going all out on kids' birthdays in the future :-)
But what's really important here is this:
The tallest, most beautiful cake I have ever made (and it tasted really good too). And this:
Fruit pizza! I used to make this a lot, and hadn't for years. It's a great thing to bring to a summer potluck when good fruit is abundant. It's easy (slicing the fruit is the most time-consuming part) and delicious.
So. GERMAN CHOCOLATE CAKE! I love it but had never made it, and was glad when Jim requested it for his birthday cake. I found this recipe online, and then it turned out to be exactly the recipe from the Baker's German Sweet Chocolate box. (The frosting was different though; I used the one on the box and it was perfection.) German chocolate cake is not difficult to make, but there are more steps than most cakes I've made. In this recipe, the eggs are separated (though one recipe commenter online speculated that this might be the reason the cake, though moist, was really crumbly), the whites are beaten to peaks and that takes a little time. Plus there's toasting of coconut and pecans, frosting thickened on the stove, chocolate melting, etc. Just a lot of steps, but nothing complicated or requiring special equipment for "real bakers." And it was so impressive looking, and so very very delicious. A good one for impressing people!
Here it is just frosted:
I was a little hesitant to drizzle chocolate onto it, because I have a history of not being able to melt chocolate correctly, but I attempted it anyway, made a simple little glaze of 2 oz. German sweet chocolate, about 2 tbl of butter and 2 tbl of water (I think, I wasn't really measuring), and then put it in this adorable creamer from Anthropologie that I never imagined would prove functional--
--but which I actually use all the time for watering the small house plants, and now: for drizzling chocolate around the edges of a cake. Voila:
Blue glass cake stand, incidentally, also from Anthropologie. Cake stands make any cake more beautiful. I luff them.
So. Recommended cake! Just beeline to the baking aisle for the Baker's German Sweet Chocolate and go from the recipe on the box.
Next: FRUIT PIZZA = easy, but there are steps. There's frosting to prepare, and a glaze. I monkeyed with the recipe a little, to delicious effect, so here's my version (this makes 2 twelve-inch pizzas):
2 rolls refrigerated sugar cookie dough (Pillsbury, whatever)
1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
1 small jar (7ish oz.) lemon curd (this is my addition, to stretch the frosting further and add some zing)
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
2 tsp vanilla
FRUIT, sliced. Cutely sliced. (I used: strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, pineapple, kiwi, banana, and mango.)
1/2 cup gran. sugar; 1 pinch salt; 1 tbsp cornstarch; 1/2 cup orange juice; 2 tbsp lemon juice; 1/4 cup water; 1/2 tsp. orange zest.
1. Crusts: Preheat oven to 350. Spray two twelve-inch pizza pans. Slice the rolls of cookie dough and overlap slices on trays, then press the edges together to create an even crust. (I found this much easier than rolling! Halleluja! And it's easiest if the dough is right out of the refrigerator and not softened.) Pierce all over with fork. Bake 15 minutes. Allow to cool.
2. Frosting: Beat cream cheese, lemon curd, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Spread over cooled crusts:
3. Artfully arrange fruit on top of frosting.
(If you're using banana, dip slices in lemon juice before adding.)
4. Make glaze. In saucepan combine: sugar, salt, cornstarch, OJ, lemon juice, water. Cook and stir over medium heat; bring to a boil, stirring continuously, allow to boil a couple of minutes until it thickens a little. Remove from heat. Add zest. Allow to cool but not to set up. Spoon over fruit. Chill at least 2 hours. Here's the glazed look:
Oh, and you know what? A small linzer cookie cutter makes a great pineapple slice corer:
So, there is some sweet evil for you to try!
Happy birthday to my wonderful husband. In the words of a current favorite song of ours, "You're the chocolate at the end of my cornetto."
(That sounds great live!) I also love this line: "Someone stirred my soul with that great big stick of [his], kind of looks like an oar."
(And if anyone is wondering what a cornetto is, it's a drumstick ice cream cone, you know how they have the little chocolate plug in the bottom so the ice cream doesn't drip out? Isn't that so cute?)