Lucy was lucky enough to experience two exclusive birthday celebrations in her honor. This was especially pleasing to the little princess for she adored being sung to in front of a cake all aglow with her birthday candles. The first celebration was held with just my side of the family. Emma, Lucy, and I were in Indiana with my family on the day of Lucy's actual birthday so we unfortunately could not celebrate with Matthew and Paul. However, my parents felt very strongly about having a little celebration for Lucy nonetheless, although my mother asked me repeatedly if Paul would be at all offended if he were not present for the occasion. Of course he wasn't! He was just glad that our baby was getting spoiled on her birthday, even if it was not by him!
So, Lucy enjoyed a grand dinner of spaghetti and meat sauce and she shocked us all by consuming an adult-sized portion! Then, everyone gathered around to present her with her gift, a cute picnic basket that sings, talks, and laughs as the contents - food, plates, and utensils - are removed or returned. She loves it but unfortunately has to deal my older children trying to commandeer it as much as possible. It's currently the most popular toy in the household. After her gift-opening, Lucy enjoyed a chocolate cake and coffee ice cream and gobbled down every bite. She slept very happily that night, dreaming of the adventures ahead of her as she leaves her babyhood behind and enters her toddler years.
|Adrienne's face is priceless!|
Unfortunately, due to travel, work, and a series of illness, it was not until Memorial Day that we were able to officially commemorate Lucy's birthday with the rest of our little family. Dinner for the birthday celebration included Lucy's favorite food - pizza. Obviously, Lucy is taking after the healthy eating habits of her siblings. Just for once, I would like to have a child request a salad for their birthday. You might laugh at the absurdity of a child choosing something like a salad for their birthday dinner, but actually one of my birthday meal requests while growing up was a Chinese Chicken Salad that my Mom used to make. Of course, I had to compromise with my birthday-party-crashing younger brother Raymond who so rudely decided to be birthed on my special day and we normally ended up having ribs - which are awesome, but still not as great as that Chinese Chicken Salad. My Mom guards the recipe as if it were Fort Knox for after all these years I still have yet to procure it from her. (Mom, if you are reading this, can I please have the recipe!?!??!)
Anyway, we enjoyed pizza outside on the deck for the first time this summer! Lucy loved eating outside and I loved the fact that I wasn't overly concerned with how much food she was throwing on the ground. Afterwards, we played in the yard a bit before gathering once more on the deck to enjoy candles, song, and cake in honor of Lucy. Lucy simply loves being sung to! Unfortuntaely, Emma melted down badly during our first round of "Happy Birthday" and refused to sing. We just ignored her and sang anyway. However, when it came time to cut the cake, Emma broke down again because she had wanted to sing to Lucy and missed it. So, she gave Lucy a little personal serenade of "The Birthday Song" and Lucy smiled, kicked happily, and reached out to stroke Emma's face the whole time. It was so sweet. We ended the evening with presents from Paul's parents - a sweet summertime bonnet and extra-long bib both handcrafted by Grandma Nistler - and a little toy ferris wheel selected by the rest of us. Emma and Matthew were the most excited about the Ferris Wheel because they had been itching to play with it ever since we picked it up from the store. Indian givers. Once again, the birthday girl went to bed very happy and content, having turned one for the second time in just under two weeks. Now we can enjoy a lovely eight month break from birthdays in our household.
I stayed true to my original plan to make Lucia the most gooey, rich, and fudgy chocolate cake I could find. The chosen recipe was one for the Wellesley Fudge Cake, a decadent chocolate cake filled and topped with a slab of fudge frosting. Apparently, the recipe was originally concocted by the ladies of the famed Wellesley College after the headmaster declared that all sweets and treats be banned from the campus. The students developed their baking and confectionery skills in secret in their dorm rooms and this irresistible cake was the result of their efforts. The cake eventually made it's way to the menus of local tea rooms and has been famous ever since! The only reason I became aware of this cake at all was because the editors of Cook's Country chose to feature it in one of their issues a few years back. The minute I saw the picture of the cake and that gorgeous fudge frosting, I wanted to bake it! The cake has an incredibly moist crumb and the fudge frosting, while rich and extremely indulgent, is not as sweet as you might suspect. You know how a bite of some fudge makes your teeth feel as if they are spontaneously rotting? Not the case at all with this cake. However, this is definitely a treat to serve with ice cream or a cold glass of milk!
And how did the birthday girl enjoy her chocolate cake? She absolutely loved it, especially the frosting. She has been really practicing her utensil-wielding skills as of late and at first she daintily tried to eat her dessert with her fork but eventually gave that up and just started shoveling fistfuls inside her mouth. She was covered in chocolate and crumbs by the time she finished, but I was happy that she enjoyed it so much! That girl finds chocolate so irresistible! However, surprisingly, Lucy was not the only lover of this cake. Emma and Matthew are not huge chocolate fans but they too thought the cake was fantastic, especially Matthew. He talked about it for days and days afterwards. It is truly a memorable cake and my favorite chocolate cake by far, with the exception of German Chocolate Cake. That one still holds my heart. If you want to make something delicious for a chocolate-lover in your life, this cake may just be your ticket!
Wellesley Fudge Cake
from Cook's Country
For the Cake:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup hot water
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder (natural cocoa can also be used)
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces and softened
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the Frosting
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut in half, and softened
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup evaporated milk
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8-inch-square cake pans (traditionally used in for a Wellesley Fudge Cake) or two 9-inch round cake pans.
Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in bowl; set aside. In a small bowl, whisk hot water with cocoa powder until smooth; set aside. With electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Add eggs, 1 at a time, and mix until incorporated. Add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with 2 additions of buttermilk, until combined. Reduce speed to low and slowly add cocoa mixture and vanilla until incorporated.
Scrape equal amounts of batter into prepared pans and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few crumbs attached, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool cakes in pans 15 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack. Cool completely, about 1 hour. (Cooled, wrapped cakes can be stored at room temperature for 2 days.)
Heat 4 tablespoons butter, brown sugar, salt, and ½ cup evaporated milk in large saucepan over medium heat until small bubbles appear around perimeter of pan, 4 to 8 minutes. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture has thickened and turned deep golden brown, about 6 minutes. Transfer to large bowl. Slice remaining butter into 4 pieces and stir in with remaining evaporated milk until mixture is slightly cool. Add chocolate and vanilla and stir until smooth. Whisk in confectioners’ sugar until incorporated. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour.
Place 1 cake square on serving platter. Spread 1 cup frosting over cake, then top with second cake square. Generously spread remaining frosting evenly over top and sides of cake. Refrigerate cake until frosting is set, about 1 hour. Serve. (Cake can be refrigerated, covered, for 2 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.)