Another birthday come and gone. It was a good one as my birthday stretched into a birthday week. It started off with a surprise package from my almost-twin in England, who sent me a gorgeous necklace. Thank you, Melinda! I get so many compliments when I wear it, which is most of the time.
Then another friend took me out for lunch, French pastries, antique shopping, and visiting Fran's chocolates. Can a day get any better than that? Merci, Erin!
My actual birthday I got hugs and presents (cookbooks) from my family, plus a Happy Birthday balloon that my son enjoys using as a punching bag. Another bonus.
Then we wrapped up the week having friends over to help taste test some treats (stay tuned for that post) and to help me eat up my birthday cake.
Usually I'm all over a rich chocolate cake with mounds of chocolate frosting for my birthday. I'm not sure why, but this year it didn't appeal to me. Maybe it's the heat or all the cakes I've made in the past few months with mounds of buttercream frosting, but I couldn't muster up the enthusiasm to make a traditional cake loaded with frosting.
Also, there was the side issue of the the mini-bundt cake pan. It's stoneware. And I'd made dainty lemon cakes in it, and they would have graced the blog, except they refused to come out of the pan. My kids enjoyed eating the pile of cake morsels, but it made me cross. The pan needed more seasoning. What's my greasiest recipe that I could make in that pan to help season it? Peanut butter cookies. I made the dough and then carefully pressed it into all the tiny nooks and crannies of the pan. I baked it and it seemed to work beautifully. The pan was seasoned and I had a mound of peanut butter cookie crumbs to deal with.
They sat in a sealed container on the counter as I pondered what to do with them. Finally I hit upon the perfect solution to both what to do with the cookies and what to do for my birthday cake.
I lined a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with aluminum foil, leaving extra hanging over the edges, and pressed the cookie crumbs into the bottom of it. I made a quart of vanilla ice cream, Philadelphia-stye, from The Perfect Scoop and scooped it straight from the ice cream maker into the pan, spreading it over the crumbs and smoothing out the top. The pan went into the freezer for several hours. When the ice cream was firm I took the pan out and spread peanut butter over the ice cream. I didn't measure - it was about a cup - enough to cover the whole surface. Then the pan went back into the freezer.
I made a batch of chocolate ice cream, again from The Perfect Scoop. The custard base for this was so rich and voluptuous I had a hard time restraining myself from diving into it face first. After chilling it was thick and beautiful, like a dessert cart's dream pudding. It was so thick that it broke the handle on my Donvier. The plastic snapped off at the lid. Aaaahhhh! I grabbed a spatula and tried scooping and folding to get the right consistency. Because it didn't have as much air added into it as machine done ice cream, it ended up being dense, but I like that in a chocolate product.
The chocolate ice cream, when as close to being frozen as it was going to get, was smoothed over the peanut butter layer, then the dish was popped back into the freezer. While it chilled I made a recipe of The World's Best Hot Fudge Sauce and let it cool. When all the way cooled, I spread it over the top of the chocolate layer and (you guessed it) put it back in the freezer.
About 10 minutes before serving, I took the pan out and, using the foil as handles, lifted the whole brick out of the baking dish. After softening on the counter for about 10 minutes, I cut the "cake" into squares (small, as it's incredibly rich) and put each square on a cake, topped it with whipped cream and garnished it with butter brickle chips. Chopped peanuts would also be good.
It was tremendously good and got thumbs up of appreciation from the guests (their mouths were too full to politely give commentary). I send them home with pieces for later, but still have some in my freezer to take out and savor as the summer heat lingers.
Obviously you could make this entire recipe with store-bought ingredients. I just prefer to have it all homemade. I'm weird that way. If you want to make it, you can also change up the flavors to suit your tastes. If you don't care for peanut butter (strange sister of mine), you could do a layer of caramel sauce there and substitute butter brickle ice cream for the chocolate. Play with it and have fun, but remember to share because it makes enough for a party!
Peanut Butter Cookies
adapted from the Cookie book
1/2 cup (4 oz) butter at room temperature, diced
3/4 cup (4-1/2 oz) firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup (8 oz) smooth or crunchy peanut butter
1 cup (8 oz) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1- With an electric mixer cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
2- In a separate bowl, stir together the egg and vanilla, then gradually beat into the butter mixture.
3- Add the peanut butter and blend thoroughly. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt, and stir into the mixture to form a soft dough. Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes, until firm.
4- Preheat the oven to 350 deg. F. Lightly grease two baking sheets.
5- Spoon out rounded teaspoonfuls of the dough and roll into balls.
6- Place the balls on the prepared baking sheet and press flat with a fork into round shapes about 2-1/2 inches in diameter, making a criss-cross pattern. Bake the cookies for about 12 minutes, or until lightly colored. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Or, to season a stoneware pan, press the dough into it, bake for about 12 to 15 minutes, then find a delicious use for the crumbs.