Oh, it’s a big weekend at Chez. T., folks! Two of my favorite dudes in the world have birthdays, one day apart from each other.
Main Man #1 is first, on October 16:
Main Man #2 celebrates his birthday a day later, October 17:
The boys will be fussed over, and given many hugs and kisses and presents. My husband will enjoy golf and family time, and Mozz-man will get many belly rubs and a special homemade treat, just for him. Yes, readers, I am baking homemade dog treats for the birthday pooch–I am that crazy.
I am not, however, crazy enough to bake a homemade treat for my husband. He knows this, because many moons ago, when we were first married and I was dewy and naive, I threw a birthday dinner party for him and was determined to bake the perfect birthday cake for him. I invited several of our closest friends and assured them that no, they didn’t need to bring a thing because I, devoted wife and cook extraordinaire, was going to handle everything.
I pored over cookbooks and sifted through recipes and surfed the internet, searching for the most impressive, delicious cake recipe ever. One thing I knew: the cake had to be chocolate, because my husband adores chocolate and rarely allows himself to eat it, so on his big day, chocolate was in order. I finally settled on an Emeril Lagasse recipe that featured three kinds of chocolate and almost pornographic quantities of butter and eggs and (alas) quite a bit of work.
But hey, this cake was for my man. On his birthday. I wasn’t about to skimp.
The day before the party, I studied the recipe and meticulously wrote down ingredients/proportions and toodled off to Whole Foods to purchase them. Do you know how much three kinds of really good-quality chocolate costs? Whoa. Still, I consoled myself with the idea that this cake was so dense and so rich, no frosting was necessary, so that’s a money-saver there, right?
That night, I took the eggs and butter out of the refrigerator (as directed) and set them on the counter, so they’d be the right temperature for baking the next day.
“They don’t go bad, sitting out all night?” my husband asked, furrowing his brow.
“That Emeril fella knows what he’s doing, babe. It’s fine,” I said. Look, I had my doubts about that, too, but no way was I admitting weakness.
The day of the party, I shooed my husband out of the house to watch football with his buddies and got down to work. Indian food was on the menu, which in retrospect, was not the smartest idea, since real Indian food requires toasting/grinding spices and sauteeing copious amounts of onion, garlic and ginger and cutting expensive cuts of Colorado lamb into consistent, bite-sized pieces. If you’re stupid enough to make several main courses, it also entails cleaning, peeling and deveining shrimp. By the time I had the dinner bubbling away on the stove, it was midafternoon, and I had a mere 3 hour window before guests were due.
Not a problemo, since Emeril assured me this amazing-ass cake was supposed to be served slightly warm. I rolled up my sleeves and got to melting chocolate and whisking flour and separating eggs. By the time the cake went in the oven, I was sweating buckets and I’d dirtied almost every pan/bowl in the kitchen. It was a mess. I threw what I could into the dishwasher and headed for the shower. Halfway through my shower, I thought, “Did I set the timer when I put the cake in the oven?” Shit. Soap dripping down my back, I snatched a towel and ran downstairs, leaving puddles in my wake. Okay, I had remembered to set the timer. Whew. 20 more minutes. I ran back upstairs, finished my shower and at least got some jeans on before I needed to be in the kitchen again.
Well, it smelled good, that’s for sure. I turned on the oven light and peeked through the little window. Aha! It was puffy and fluffy and perfect. Emeril, I love you! Two minutes later, when the timer rang, I donned my oven mitts, opened the oven door and FOOF!! My beautiful cake immediately deflated. And I mean de. flated.
“Aieee, noooo!” I yelled, thunderstruck. My husband’s special birthday “cake” was now a flat disc that was barely the thickness of a brownie. I looked at the clock. 55 minutes until my guests arrive and I have a fucking brownie on my hands. A skimpy brownie, at that.
What the heck now? I rummaged through the refrigerator–no cream, no berries. I threw open the pantry doors. No confectioner’s sugar or anything I could use to make frosting. Gaaaa. I opened the freezer. I had to have ice cream in there, right? I did–a container of French vanilla and half a container of coffee ice cream. Without really thinking, I took the ice cream out of the freezer and tossed the warm, flat brownie-thingy in it.
When the brownie-thingy cooled off enough to be handled, I spread the softened vanilla ice cream on top, swirled the coffee ice cream on top of that, and hucked the whole monstrosity back in the freezer. I barely had time to throw my hair in a ponytail, swipe on mascara and put on decent clothes before the doorbell rang. I was frazzled and distracted through most of dinner–I wondered whether I should spill the beans about my dessert disaster–I mean, it did kind of make a funny story, right? Then I thought of Julia Child, and how she always instructed the home cook to “never apologize.”
Okay, Julia, if you say so…
When it was time for dessert, I pulled my creation out of the freezer, sliced it up and served it like a boss.
“What an interesting cake,” one of the guests said.
“Yeah, isn’t it?” I said breezily. “It’s kind of like a cross between cake and a mud pie.”
“Wow, it’s really good,” my husband said, after his first bite. “What do you call it?”
Then I couldn’t help it. I burst into laughter.
“Funny you should ask,” I said, wiping my eye with a napkin. “It’s called ‘Pull It Out of Your Ass Cake.'”
And yes, while the “Out of Your Ass Cake” turned out to be a smashing success, he knows never to expect me to bake a birthday cake again.
As for the dog treats, I’ll keep you posted.
At least this little man can’t spill my secret if they’re a disaster, eh?