Once upon time, about 26 and a bit years ago, the X told me we were having a guest for Shabbat. “He’s Irish, he’s funny, you’ll like him.” He was, he was, and I did. He busted up my bathroom door, he practically flashed my neighbors (not on purpose) and spoke to me in that Lucky Charms leprechaun voice. Shabbat was magically delicious! I was eight months pregnant with Sassy at the time, and I laughed so hard that Shabbat I thought I would go into early labor.
Irish Jonny went on to marry Aussie Vicki and over the years the family grew to include Awesome Eytan, Famous Seamus, Lambie Leah and the ever mischievous Bambi (their baby deer who’s growing some serious antlers, watch out girls).
I met Jonny back in Chapter One, and now we flash forward to Chapter Two. I’ve been firmly ensconced in Ra’anana for several years now. Sassy and Nomush are grown and live elsewhere, Sassy with her Sabraman in London, Nomush in Jerusalem. My baby, Didi, has found her niche here in Ra’anana, but my Tinky was at loose ends. She lives in Jerusalem with the X, but tried to make it under my roof for a while. When I first moved into the Ju-Boy household Tinky was in boarding school, so she never really lived with me here in R-Town. After her year of National Service she moved in. She fitted seamlessly into the family, found a job, but was unhappy. Tinky is my party girl, a real social butterfly, and she missed her gaggle of friends in Jerusalem. In my effort to rev up her Ra’anana social life I tried to find her some friends. Bad move. Sad move. How embarrassing is it for your mother to find you some friends? If my mom had tried that when I was 20 I would have left the country (wait a minute, I did that anyway…). So Tinky returned to the hills of Jerusalem and her father’s house, where her favorite hang-outs are all within walking distance.
One Shabbat, when she came to visit us here in R-Town we invited Irish Jonny, Aussie Vicki and their hybrid crew over for a meal. Famous Seamus is Tinky’s age, so I said, “He’s (part) Irish, he’s funny, you’ll like him.” Much rolling of the eyes ensued, but this time Miriyummy planned and also got to laugh. Tinky and Famous Seamus hit it off, and even though she no longer lives with us, she has a friend in Ra’anana. They meet up every time she comes to visit and the house is filled with their laughter.
Famous Seamus is fond of my desserts, which I find very flattering since his mom is such an amazing cook. I would sell my soul to the Devil for her Pavlova. She’s Carine Goren with an Aussie accent. A few weeks ago I was playing around with my usual brownie recipe, adding a bit of this and tossing in a bit of that.They were a hit with everyone, but they had no name. How sad for them to be stuck in Brownie Limbo. Then Famous Seamus came over one Shabbat to hang with Tinky, and the smile on his face and the disgusting sounds he made while inhaling these babies gave me the idea to name them after him. See people, make my kids smile and you too can be immortalized in chocolate!
Famous Seamus Brownies
They’re more-ish, they’re funny, you’ll like them.
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter or margarine, room temperature
- 300 grams (10 1/2 ounces) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, broken into bits
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 large egg yolk, room temperature (I usually just use 3 eggs)
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2/3 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup shelled pistachios
- 1 cup craisins (or raisins)
- 2 cups (or 300 grams) white chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C (350 degrees F). Position the rack in the lower third of the oven. Grease or line with parchment paper (my preference) a 13 X 9 inch (32 x 23 cm) pan, set aside.
- Melt the butter with the chocolate, either in a double boiler or in the microwave. Stir to a melded, yummy mixture. Allow to cool for 10 minutes so you don’t scramble the eggs when you add them in.
- In a large bowl, beats the eggs and the egg yolk (if using) together with the sugar. Beat for about 5 minutes until the mixture is thick and a pale yellow. Then beat in the vanilla and the chocolate mixture until smooth.
- With a wooden spoon or a spatula stir in the flour and the salt, until just incorporated. Do not beat (or I will call the Brownie Police for aggravated assault of brownie batter).
- Add the pistachios, craisins and white chocolate chips. Stir until just evenly combined.
- Pour (more like cajole) the thick batter into the prepare pan. Bake for 35 minutes. The middle of the cake will be soft, but the brownies will set up as they cool. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least two hours.
- If you have used the parchment paper, just lift the brownies out of the pan and cut into squares. At this point they can be frozen, or just served to the hungry hoards who have come drifting in while smelling the amazing chocolate aroma drifting out of the house.
I have been blessed with four of the most gorgeous, stunning daughters on the planet. This is not news, I’ve mentioned my girls before, but am always happy to marvel at God’s and my handiwork. Gorgeous they may be, good-hearted most assuredly, and skinny? My girls are skinny!
There are a few levels of man plans, God laughs here:
1) I used to be skinny. My mother used to say that I was hovering around ghetto weight (Warsaw, not Harlem). I was a picky eater as a child, but totally scarfed down the calories as a teen. A regular high school lunch would include two slices of pizza, half a felafel, both washed down with a large Tab (remember Tab?), a brownie from Heisler’s bakery and a cone from Baskin Robbin’s to eat on the way back to school. I never gained an ounce. My metabolism was freakishly fast until the age of 32, when I turned into an inflated lifeboat overnight. It’s as if God pulled the string and pffffffft!
2) I love to cook. Even more than that, I love to feed! What’s the use of cooking something if you can’t shtup it to your friends, family, neighbors, co-workers and strangers you meet at the bus stop? I must have been a French fois gras farmer in a previous life. God had a good giggle when he introduced me to the X. The man grew up on Jewish/Polish/English cuisine, meaning his mother’s overboiled, under-seasoned chicken, potatoes and wilted green stuff (the vegetables in that house were usually unidentifiable by the time they hit the plate, and actually, they weren’t very green by then as well). I would serve him a meal lightly seasoned with a few spices, he would take one bite and reach for the water glass, gasping, “Are you trying to kill me?”
3) The X passed his food genes on to my babies. I love to feed, they love to say “Don’t like!” Sassy, my oldest, can eat one lettuce leaf, push back her plate and say, “Thanks, I’m full.” Nomush is the vegetarian who hates vegetables. Tinky is my best eater, she will actually finish a whole plate of food (a small plate), but that will satisfy her for the rest of the week. Didi will come into the kitchen after Ju-Boy and I have filled the fridge and the larder with the weekly shopping, look at it all in disdain and say, “There’s nothing to eat in this house!”
I like to play in the kitchen, experimenting with different techniques, interesting foods, freaky recipes. One of the ways I get my picky progeny to eat a balanced diet is to sneak certain ingredients into their favorite dishes while they’re not looking. Kidney beans and brown rice can be cleverly disguised in a zhuzzed soup, especially if you bling up the bowl with croutons and grated cheese. Whizz up a few carrots in the food processor with the steel knife, hide them in the pasta sauce and the kids just might believe it’s bolognese. My lastest sneaky coup has been to hide (are you ready for this?) beets into chocolate cake. Strange but true! I found the recipe on a food blog called Yummy! byYemi (any blog with the word yummy in is has to be good).
Don’t overdo it with the beets. You want to enrich the cake, but too much pureed beet adds an earthy flavor to the chocolate, and you don’t want your cover blown.
I first tried this dessert on Rosh Hashana, as beets are one of the simanim. We don’t do the simanim thingy per se, but I try to incorporate them into the meal itself. I made the recipe into chocolate/beet cupcakes, and received the Hillalee Seal of Approval. Hilalee is Didi’s friend, and she’s the antithesis of Mickey from the Life Cereal commercial from the 70s. Hilalee doesn’t like or eat anything (she could be one of my kids). But she did like my mini beet chocolate cupcakes. And if Hilalee likes them, you might love them.
Pick Me Up Cake
Yemi calls this Pick Me Up Cake, which is a much more attractive name than Chocolate Beet Cake. We emailed back and forth a bit when I asked for the recipe, and she told me that she made it up herself! In her own words:
- 2 cups steamed beets
- 6 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 3 tablespoons rice flour (or regular flour)
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 4 tablespoons butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 3 eggs
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Coat a 9 or 10 inch cake pan with vegetable cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a blender puree the beets, and vanilla extract until smooth. Set aside.
- In a small bowl combine the cocoa powder, rice flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar for one minute with an electric mixer. Beat in the eggs for about 5 minutes. Beat in the beets, until the mixture is nice and smooth.
- Stir in the contents of the small bowl containing the cocoa powder into the batter carefully until it is completely mixed in.
- Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
- Sprinkle with powdered sugar and enjoy!
We all know the story of Noah — it rains, people start getting wet, but the ark is warm and cozy and in the end Noah finds a nice spot, high and dry and don’t we all love a happy ending?
It was going to be a great Friday! Ju-Boy and I were in the supermarket shopping for Shabbat when the heavens opened and the rain started coming down. Everyone was smiling, rain is something we so desperately need here in Israel, and everyone loves the yoreh, the first rain of the season. And how appropriate, since this was the Shabbat where we read Parshat Noach, the story of Noah. Some of the checkout ladies started dancing in the parking lot, oblivious to the wet. The guy who had fight with me at the cheese counter (he claims I cut in front of him, but how was I to know, he was standing in line at the meat counter at the time) smiled at me, and I smiled back. Everyone here loves the first rain. The weather hasn’t yet turned cold and after a long, hot summer, the first rain makes everyone happy. Driving home while the drops pounded on the roof of the car, I watched the streets flood (in Ra’anana the streets flood even after a drizzle) and turned to Ju-Boy and said, “This is going to be a great Shabbat Noach!” I couldn’t wait to get home and start braiding my challot and cook in my cozy house, filled with light and music and the smells of Shabbat coming out of my oven.
And then… boom! Literally and figuratively. A flash of lightning, the boom of thunder, and the lights flickered. I quickly unplugged the computer and went back to braiding the challah. Whew, that was close! And then… boom! And once again, I planned, God laughed, and the lights went out! You could hear my scream all the way to Mount Ararat! So the house darkened, the oven went cold, and we waited. Then the lights flickered, our spirits were raised, and then, boom! The lights went out again and the Miriyummy household entered the Middle Ages. No electricity! I had such plans for that electricity — I was going to bake challot, chickens, whip eggs whites and cream, even Ju-Boy was tenderly blow-torching a roast that was then going to get some oven time. I quickly stuck my braided challah into the fridge and waited for the lights to come back on. In the meantime, we started cooking on top of the stove (if you have an electric oven, you should have a gas hob).
We called the Electric Company and heard a recording that the power cut was massive — Ra’anana, Kfar Saba, Hod Hasharon, Herzliya, Ramat Hasharon, we were all in the dark. We had some friends who still had electricity, some friends who were busy hunting for candles. Remember Serene Shar and Peaceful Perry from Headless Chicken? They had electricity and said we could use their oven. I quickly drove my challot over, leaving Ju-Boy to deal with the rest of the cooking over the stove in the darkening house. The Electric Company promised to reconnect us at 4 PM, and when that came and went I quickly drove home through the flooded streets (and no working stoplights!) to get the chickens and shove those in Shar’s oven. Shabbat was coming faster than a tsunami of floodwater and that’s when Shar and Perry truly proved that they were foul-weather friends and issued an invitation to eat with them that Friday night, a mingling of food and friends, 17 of us around the table basking in the light of the house and the light of Shabbat. By the time we returned home around 10 PM that evening the lights were on and the day had been saved. Don’t we all love a happy ending?
Rainbow Chocolate Balls
Even before the thunder went boom and the lights went out I had decided that we were going to have a dessert straight out of the story of Noah — everyone needs a rainbow.
The recipe isn’t mine, it’s Shy-Boy’s, so he’s my guest chef this week. One of the best things about this recipe? No electricity needed!
- About 50 plain biscuits (we use petit beurre, two sleeves worth)
- 200 grams (1 cup) margarine
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup cocoa (we use Dutch processed)
- 1 egg
- A few glugs of wine
- Rainbow sprinkles
Chill the balls in the refrigerator for at least an hour or so before serving.
We brought these to Shar and Perry’s house where they were a hit for dessert. We brought them home to have with kiddush and for dessert for lunch the next day. Keep them in a Tupperware in the fridge, handy for snacking, great with a cup of coffee, a bit of whisky, or just a colorful nosh on a rainy day.
Nature versus nurture, it’s a crap shoot, really. How much of the person you are today is because of DNA? How much of your personality is due to your upbringing? Case in point: my brother, Skeezix.
Skeezix is three years younger than I am. In spite of my efforts to destroy this interloper into my happy childhood, he’s managed to survive to become one of the defenders of truth, justice and the American way. Skeezix is a submariner in the US navy, stationed in Pearl Harbor. We were both raised in the same home, both smothered in chicken soup, sweet kiddush wine and the paranoia of Holocaust survivor parents. And yet, we have ended up on opposite sides of the Jewish spectrum.
I am what you would call agressively Jewish. I am Torah observant, I keep kosher, my week revolves around the spindle of Shabbat. Judaism for me is not just a religion, it’s a way of life.
Not so for Skeezix. In his early teens he began to buck against my parents and our way of life. Today is he a fervent athiest. He revels in letting me know how delicious pork is, that he has no clue when Yom Kippur is, and it’s really pissing me off that he inherited our mother’s cast iron frying pan and he’s using it to fry up his shark steaks and bacon strips.
One of the things that drove my parents to despair is that Skeezix married Dree, the Shiksa. My father sadly shook his head and oy-yoy-yoyed into his Gemara. My mother threatend to put her head in the oven. Dree is the epitome of Shiksahood. Tattooed, pierced in places you can only begin to imagine, this bacon-eating, Santa-loving transplanted surfer girl was every thing my parents dreaded Skeezix would bring home.
I have to admit, I was also prejudiced, at first. My brother’s description of their wedding included the line, “Dree’s dad got so drunk we had to carry him out to his truck.” No offense, my darling Dree, but those are words never really heard at an Orthodox Jewish wedding.
Skeezix and I planned a joint trip back to New York, me bringing my two youngest from Israel, Skeezix bringing the Shiksa and her daughter (from her first marriage) from Hawaii. I was planning on being gracious, but not overly friendly. I was sure this family reunion was going to set off an Armageddon in the Bronx (as if that didn’t happen all the time).
I planned on being gracious, and yet again, Miriyummy plans and God laughs. What I discovered was that Dree was one cool Shiksa. She’s funny, she’s smart and she refuses to take any crap from the anti-religious Skeezix. She’s the one who pushed my brother to light Chanuka candles in my father’s house. She’s the one who forced him to drink kosher wine at my mother’s Shabbat table. She made sure the chocolate dreidls they brought my kids from Hawaii were kosher. She dragged my brother out of the apartmet to smoke in the stairwell so as not to offend my father on Shabbat. As much as I wanted to not like Dree, I grew to love her. She respected my parents’ way of life, and made my rebellious brother respect them as well.
Dree and Skeezix are unfortunately separated now, though still married. I never thought I would say this, but I hope my stupid brother comes to his senses and realizes what a treasure he has in my favorite shiska. Listen, if your family has to have a token shiksa, let it be one as cool as Dree. Aloha au ia ‘oe kuaana!
This is a Carine Goren recipe. The first time I posted some pictures on Facebook of a chocolate babka I made I got a comment from Dree that she loves that stuff. So here’s a yeast cake that transcends all religions and brings family together, even when they are 12 time zones apart.
For the dough:
1/2 kilo (3 1/2 cups) flour
1 tablespoon yeast
100 grams (1/2 cup) butter
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (300 ml) milk
4 eggs (at room temperature)
scant half cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the filling:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon cinnamon
100 grams (1/2 cup) very soft butter
1 beaten egg, for brushing on top
To make the dough, place the flour and yeast in the bowl of a stand-mixer. Attach the dough hook. Melt the butter together and then add the cold milk to the melted butter so the liquid is just lukewarm. Add th butter/milk mixture to the flour/yeast mixture, together with the eggs and sugar. Mix at low to medium speed until the dough pulls together, and then add the salt. Continue mixing until the dough is smooth and just a tiny bit sticky. Cover and let rise until doubled.
Because the dough is sticky, it’s perhaps best to let it rise halfway in a warm place in your kitchen and then to let it finish rising in your fridger for another two hours. This way the dough cools down and will be less sticky to work with. You could also prepare the dough a day before, or let it rise in the fridge overnight.
To make the filling, mix together the sugar, cocoa and the cinnamon in a small bowl, and set aside.
Take out the doubled dough and punch it down. Divide it into two separate (yet equal) pieces. Roll each piece out into a rectangle about 1/2 centimeter (a little over an inch) thick. I can never get the perfect rectangles you see on TV, but it really doesn’t matter, because when you roll the whole thing up in the end you can’t tell anyway.
Spread the butter over the two rectangles (polygons, blobs) and then try to sprinkle the filling evenly over the buttered dough. Roll each blob up from the long end, then twist the two rolls together and place in a buttered (or parchment-papered) round cake pan. Brush with the beaten egg. When I first made this recipe, as you can probably see in the photo, I didn’t read all the instructions, because, you know, I’m such a hotshot cook. So I mixed the butter with the sugar, cocoa and cinnamon instead. It was still spreadable, still edible, but not as good as doing it according to Carine’s instructions. Hubris bites.
At this point you should have remembered to preheat your oven to 170 degrees C (340 degrees F). Place the rolled babka into the oven, there’s no need for an additional rise. Bake for about 50 minutes until the babka is all brown and yummy and inviting.
The reason you don’t have one more rise before placing the babka in the oven is because that’s the way most of our grandmothers did it. If you really, really feel you need to let it rise just a bit one more time, go ahead, the Babka Police aren’t going to arrest you.
Normally I’m a very confident cook. People like my food. Ju-Boy says I shouldn’t get too cocky. Yes, that’s the word he uses, cocky. I’ll make something and when I finish putting it together I might take a small taste, and if it’s worked out well I might just punch the air, do the Happy Happy Joy Joy dance and say, “I rock!”
“Don’t get too cocky,” Ju-Boy will almost always reply. If he’s not there, I will play both parts.
I love desserts. Actually, I love every course, from soup to nuts, as they say. But I have a special place in my heart, stomach, psyche, for dessert. I could be that once upon a time my Magyar father told me that it’s a Hungarian custom to eat dessert first. My Lithuanian mother would then say it’s only because Hungarian Jews are slaves to their sweet tooth. They would be worried about pogroms, so they would save the best for first. Makes sense to me.
Ju-Boy, amazing cook that he is, is not a patissier. He makes a decent trifle (Brits appreciate understatement, so he knows this should be a compliment). He can serve up a pretty plate of fruit. But beyond that, his talent lies with meat and potatoes, not sugar and spice, everything nice. So as you can imagine, when I joined the Ju-Boy family, my dessert skills, along with my pastry bag and collection of sprinkles, were quite welcome… with the exception of Optimus Prime.
I would bring out pretty bowls of chocolate mousse and he would decline to partake. I would serve up ice cream cake with praline topping and he would decline to partake. I would bring out a bowl piled high with chocolate-covered profiteroles and he would decline to partake. This kid was starting to give me a complex. It didn’t matter that everyone else at the table was begging me to induce a sugar coma, Optimus was not interested in my desserts. My balloon of contentment was starting to deflate.
One night we all went out to dinner to celebrate a bunch of birthdays. Dessert was chocolate mousse cake replete with whipped cream and birthday sparklers. You can just imagine my surprise and horror when Optimus cut himself a piece of cake and ate it! Okay, that’s it! I’m angry now!
My anger soon evolved into smug bitchiness. It wasn’t long before Optimus started to groan. “Urgh, I feel sick! Dad, why did you let me eat that piece of cake? You know what sugar does to me! That’s why I never eat dessert.” As much as I wanted to hold a gun to his head, I obviously hadn’t, he had eaten that chocolate bombe bomb fully compos mentis. I fully understood now, and knowledge is power.
My smug bitchiness soon evolved into irritation. Optimus wasn’t feeling well and was going to make sure we all knew about it. In the car on the way home I began to wish we had never ordered that &@*%! cake! “Dad, drive slowly, I’m going to be sick!” (Brits are polite, they don’t hurl.) “Dad, open a window, I’m going to be sick!” “Dad, can you stop the car, I’m going to be sick!” And so on, and so on, ad nauseum…
So imagine my surprise a few weeks ago when, during Shabbat lunch at our house, I served up some Paradise Cake and Optimus ate it! It seems he’s been building up a tolerance. What’s even more wonderfully surprising is that a few days later he called to ask for the recipe! He and the Rani were having guests the following shabbat and they wanted something Miriyummy. At that moment he was my favorite child.
I’ve been making Paradise Cake for over 27 years. When the X and I were first dating in Jerusalem we used to frequent a restaurant called Le Souffle, and Paradise Cake was their flagship dessert. They gave me the recipe and PC became my signature dessert for years. Don’t you love restaurants that are generous and share recipes? Sadly, Le Souffle went out of business in the mid-80s, but Paradise Cake lives on.
The recipe can be made parve but tastes so much better when dairy. If you need the parve conversion, give me a buzz…
- 15-20 plain biscuits (depending on the size of the dish)
- 2 cups whipping cream
- 300 grams (12 ounces) dark chocolate
- 200 grams (1 cup) butter
- 3 tablespoons cocoa
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon instant coffee
- 4 eggs, separated
- 1 80 gram box (3 ounces) instant vanilla pudding
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- chocolate syrup for decorating
- Dip the cookies one by one in the whipping cream and lay on the bottom of your cake pan (I’ve used all sizes). Reserve the rest of the cream for the vanilla layer.
- Make the chocolate layer by melting together the dark chocolate, butter, cocoa, sugar and instant coffee. You can either do this on the stove top. I normally nuke it for 3 minutes. Mix to combine well.
- Add the egg yolks one at a time, mixing well after each addition. If your chocolate mixture is still hot, don’t dawdle, you don’t want scrambled eggs in chocolate sauce.
- Whip the whites to stiff peaks. Fold into the chocolate mixture until completely combined. Spread this over the cookie layer and place in the fridge to set, between 15 and 30 minutes.
- In the meantime, take the rest of the whipping cream and whip together with the instant vanilla pudding and the vanilla extract.
- Spread this over the chocolate layer. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least an hour to chill.
- Before you serve the cake, decorate with chocolate syrup or whatever else you like to use to decorate cream cakes (I once used pulverized sugared almonds, a bit hit).
I don’t often quote my X, but will here: “One piece and you’re in paradise, two pieces and you’re in heaven, three pieces and you throw up.”
My mother, of blessed memory, hated the heat. Born in Lithuania, she spent the first 35 years of her life either there, or freezing her tushy off in Sweden (with a short stop in Bergen Belsen, also not exactly warm, balmy breezes). My mother loved freezing her tushy off, she hated the heat. When I first became engaged to The X, with an August date set for the wedding in Israel, my mother kvetched about the trip which would take place during the hottest month of the year. After the glass was broken and my mother hugged me under the chuppah, she whispered in my ear, “If you ever give birth to any babies in the summer, I am not coming to help!”
Mommy plans, God giggles…
Ever hear the phrase lazy days of summer? Hah! I have four of the most gorgeous daughters on the planet, each one more beautiful than the next, each one simply exquisite, each one born in the summer.
Three of my gorgeous girlies have birthdays at the end of July, all within two weeks of each other. Nomush, my maverick, decided to let me experience pregnancy during a record-breaking swelter, all the way through to the end of August.
And you know what? My mom came out each time to help! In the multiple diaper-induced coma back then I am not sure I fully appreciated her sacrifice. Back then we had no air-conditioning, and I’ve never seen anyone wait for the chill of the Jerusalem evenings more.
Five years ago I got married again, and yes, it was during the summer. When I called my mom with the good/bad news, she said to me, “Oy! Miraleh! Again with the summer?” And this time, with the wisdom accumulated over score of years (in between weddings), I absolved my mother from coming out. She loved the pictures I sent her.
So July and August can be busy months in the Miriyummy household. Once upon a time there were birthday parties to plan, Bat Mitzvah celebrations to coordinate, presents to buy, cakes to bake… oh yeah, the cakes! I once tried to get the girls to have ice-cream cakes for their parties, but all they really have ever wanted was a deep chocolate cake (like their Miri-mummy, can I blame them?).
Deep Chocolate Birthday Cake with Miriyummy Ganache
I’ve made bajillions of birthday cakes over the years, but back in 2004 the lovely Molly53 posted a cake on Recipezaar that has become THE birthday cake in our household. We accept no substitutions. I usually make a non-dairy version.
- 1 cup butter or 1 cup margarine (200 grams)
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 3 eggs, well beaten
- 1 cup cold black coffee
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup cocoa
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- 300 grams (12 ounces) dark chocolate
- 1 cup cream or non-dairy substitute (I use Rich Whip)
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (350 F).
- Grease and dust an 33 x 23 cm (13 x 9 inch) cake pan with cocoa. Actually, I just line it with parchment paper.
- Cream the butter and add sugar a little at a time.
- Add eggs the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
- Sift the flour, salt, baking soda and cocoa together 3 times. Sometimes I don’t bother to do this and the cake still bakes beautifully.
- Add the coffee to the batter alternatively with the flour mixture.
- Mix well after each addition.
- Then add vinegar and vanilla. Mix well again.
- Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until your cake tester comes out dry. Leave to cool completely.
- To make the ganache, simply melt the chocolate and cream together, either on top of the stove over low heat, or nuked in the microwave for about three minutes.
- Pour over the cooled cake and let set.
- This cake actually tastes great when kept in the fridge. You can also decorate it with little silver sprinkles or anything that shows up well against the deep, dark chocolate of the ganache.
Today is the 12th of Elul — happy 25th birthday Nomush!
Today is the 22nd of August — happy 21st birthday Chip!
Ben Zoma says:
Who is rich?
The one who is appreciates what he has…
Appearances and actions can be misleading. My sweet Tinky has drifted though life as if on a cloud with a silver lining. Nothing phases that child (shouldn’t say child, she just turned 21). She takes everything at face value, not because she can’t see beyond any facade, it’s just because she’s a happy kid (yes, I know, 21 is not a kid). There is no pinch of salt in her life. For those of you who don’t know her, watching her go through life with a constant smile on her face, no worries to furrow her brow, it can be disconcerting. She gives off a certain space cadet demeanor, or, as we say in Israel, you might take her to be an astronaut.
According to urbandictionary.com:
space cadet: n. A person who tends to space out often. He or she does not respond when directly spoken to. The space cadet is not necessarily a person of low intelligence or a heavy drug user, but rather one who is so easily lost in reverie that he or she loses all awareness of the surrounding physical world.
Reverie. Yes, my Tinky is lost in reverie. But that’s as far as it goes. Yes, sometimes we have to pull her down to Earth, but that kid is sharp. She knows what she wants, and she knows how to get it. Not the most stellar of students (learning disabilities and our family’s own Annus Horribilis may have derailed her), she drifted along on that cloud for a bit, but now she’s on the right track. Her mission in life? To make the world more beautiful, one person at a time. She’s got a great sense of humor (I like to think she inherited that from me). She laughs loudly and loves fiercely. And just like that astronaut she may seem to be, she’s gravity proof — she can bounce back from anything, with a smile.
Tink is a fan of the simple things in life. She lives and studies in Jerusalem, and when she comes to visit us for Shabbat (when the boyfriend isn’t home from the army, and her huge circle of friends isn’t getting together, or she just wants her mommy to spoil her) she has a few requests for the menu…
“Mom, when I come, can you make sure we have Ju-Boy’s roast potatoes? And make sure he makes a lot of dafdafet (Hebrew for loose pages, what she calls leek). And some of his steamed broccoli… and don’t forget to tell him to make some cabbage the way I like it.” Wait a minute, I see a pattern here. Isn’t there anything I make that she likes? And then she says the magic words, “Mom, can you make me your fudge?”
My recipe for fudge? It’s so simple, so easy, I’m almost embarrassed to give it to you. Almost…
Incredibly Simple Fudge
- 1 can (400 ml or 14 fluid oz) sweetened condensed milk
- 300 grams (12 oz) dark chocolate
- 1 dash vanilla extract
- Break the chocolate into pieces (Israeli chocolate is conveniently marked in little squares) and place in a microsafe bowl. Add the sweetened condensed milk. There is no need to stir.
- Nuke in the microwave for 3 minutes. If you are micro-wary, you can do this in the top of a double boiler, constantly stirring until smooth.
- Add the vanilla and stir until smoothly combined.
- Spray an 8″ x 8″ pan (20 cm X 20 cm) with vegetable oil or line with parchment paper (I use parchment paper). Pour in the fudge while it’s still warm and pour-able. Tip the pan to make sure the fudge gets into all the corners evenly.
- Chill in the refrigerator for about two hours, or even overnight, if you have the willpower. I have seen kids (and adults) watch the fudge set like some people watch paint dry.
- Cut into squares, serve the masses, and smile as the compliments come your way.
Sometimes it’s so simple to be so happy.
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