A few weeks ago when I was figuring out what I wanted to do to celebrate my 29th birthday — dinner with friends? a weekend trip? — I decided that I wanted to spend the entire weekend (and an unlimited budget for Callebaut chocolate!) decorating a really fancy cake to share with my friends and family on Sunday night, my birthday.
The cake is four tiers of my absolute favorite chocolate cake. A client of mine gave me the recipe after I tasted it at a dinner party she hosted; it was the most delicious cake I’d ever had and I was practically drooling in between bites as I asked her where it had come from. She told me it was her mother’s recipe and a family secret but a few days later I received a hand-written card in the mail from her with the recipe for both the cake and the icing! It is seriously one of my most favored possessions, and every time I make it people go nuts for it. And of course, every time I make it I tweak it slightly so it gets bigger, better, and fancier!
I’ve always loved making cakes and cookies, and I especially love piping icing and playing with chocolate, so I couldn’t have picked a more exciting way to celebrate my birthday. I started out on Thursday night by making the dark chocolate roses. Each rose is shaped by pressing a tiny ball of chocolate clay (made by mixing melted chocolate and corn syrup, letting it set up and then kneading it until it’s pliable) into the shape of a petal and clustering a number of them all around each other. It’s a labor-intensive and tedious process, especially when you are making three dozen of them, but I’m weird like that and think it’s fun! It’s hard for me to explain just how intensely satisfying this kind of thing is to me, but there’s really nothing I enjoy more.
In spite of said enjoyment, however, by Friday night chocolate wasn’t the only thing melting down… I wound up despondent and on the phone with my sister, lamenting the fact that (and wondering why) I can’t just be a normal person and be satisfied with, like, a Duncan Hines funfetti sheet cake, or something… Why do I feel so compelled by these profound urges to create the complex and extraordinary?! Why do I turn almost everything I do into an elaborate make-work-project? Thankfully, though, my existential crisis was short-lived; Saturday was a blur of creative rapture and by the time I finished the cake at 6 p.m. on Sunday — barely an hour before my guests would arrive — I was jumping up and down, laughing almost maniacally at having pulled this off. I was so excited; nothing makes me happier than creating something beautiful — especially if it tastes delicious, like this cake, or feels exquisite, like one of my dresses — and sharing it with people that I love!