1. I bought on-sale Malted Milk Balls at Easter.
2. Decide on a surprise birthday party and coral the guests. I decided on a very small gathering of friends from the area, although I did try to get The Best Man to come from Pittsburgh... Fuzzband has dreamed of a pot-luck appetizer dinner, so that is what I asked peeps to bring.
3. Monday, 5 days before B-day, I stayed home because I had a doctor's appointment, which I combined with lunch with my friend KR. She also took me shopping for ingredients for the B-day. The Fuzzband has the car, and it would have been suspicious if I had borrowed it. PLUS I got to hang out with KR! I had drawn a plan in my little memo book, "Dichtung und Warheit" - KR did not get it, apparently, but when she saw the cake it all made sense. The Fuzzband'd engineering mind grasped it immeidately when he saw it on the B-Day. Although by then he had also seen the cake....
4. Wednesday I had a dentist's appointment, so once again I stayed home. And baked meringue, using the Joy of Cooking's Meringue I recipe. I left them in the oven, hoping Fuzzband would not get inspired to use the oven. The gamble payed off!
5. Friday, B-day. I stayed home on the pretext I need foot X-rays. My medical issues sure have been agreat for excuses not to go to the office and prepare for the party! While I did figure out where I need to go for X-rays of the sore foot, (the joys of the US health care system! Aaargh!) I actually spent most off the day in the kitchen with the Birthday cake:
The meringue had gotten a bit sticky on the surface, so I turned the oven back on and dried it out. Worked like a charm! Must remember for future reference.
While first aid was going on for the meringue, I made chocolate ganache from our Chocolate cookbook - it goes with Stephen's favorite dessert, their Tropical Fruit Vacherin, of which there is a photo on Facebook. I also melted the chocolate for chocolate buttercream - Wilton's recipe - to be mixed with whipped cream for a less sweet and lighter filling. While those were cooling I baked the Devil's Food Chocolate Cake from The Joy of Cooking.
This is what I turned out in the end:
a tile design, which had a neat textured relief thing going. As it is flat, it would also mean I could make a higher cake!
I wanted to make the sides have a sort of under the water vibe. They're supposed to be water grass and the Malted Milk Balls are bubbles or rocks in muddy water. :
Fuzzband really liked the cake! Yay! Everyone else did, too!
Below you can see the layering: chocolate cake at the bottom, then meringue, chocolate cake, and topped with meringue. There were Malted Milk Balls between they layers. I put the meringue at the top to get a super smooth top and no crumbs. Fuzzband is not big on buttercream icing, so I filled the cake with chocolate ganche flavored whipped cream, and did my very best to have as thing a layer of buttercream icing. Having a top layer that does not release any crumbs makes this easier. Please take a moment to admire the thin layer of icing at the top - the chocolate layer is ca 1 mm thick, or less in places, and then there is the colored buttercream icing - and sprinkles to make the fish glisten! KR and I picked those out.
The Surprise: Friday!
On Fridays we often go out for Mexican, so to keep the Fuzzband at home, we came up with a plan that our friend MF was coming for dinner - she lives a bit further out so this is rare enough to warrant a Special Occasion. I also told the Fuzzband that I had told her of our new meal plan - The Fresh20 - and had mentioned the black bean quesadillas on the menu for this week, and that she was excited, so I would make those for her on Friday!
The plan was that our friends the Ms and KR would just pop in around 6 pm and as the Fuzzband opened the door, they would say "surprise" and hand over their appetizers. HOWEVER! Once MF had arrived, I noticed we were out of toritllas, and thought "Shit! Now he'll have a good excuse to go out!" but instead he offered to go to the store to buy more! Woot! Off he goes. The Ms and KR arrive at the same time minutes after the Fuzzband left, KR parking partially in front of our driveway as she always does, thinking the Fuzzband was at home. I told her Fuzzband would be irritated first, but then realize what the situation was, and she should help set the party up and not move the car. So, we pull out the table to make it bigger, set it with cheerful napkins in the birthday boy's favorite color - green - and set it up with all the appetizers everyone had brought!
The Fuzzband gets home, and as he comes into the kitchen from the garage (the guests were hidden behind the corner in the dining room) he's griping "Somebody has parked partially in front of our driveway! I would like to let you know I did NOT spit on the car"!!!! He walks into the dining area and - SURPRISE!!! He was completely surprised! And delighted! And speechless! And his griping about the offending car was not only hilarious, but he completely forgave KR. I was a bit worried he's recognize the car, but luckily he did not. An absolute success! Thank you, gang!
Everything was delicious: Ocra and veggie patties; prosciutto, melon and goat cheese canapes; chile-cheese dip and tortilla chips; quacamole; Italian orange and egg salad; potato veggie salad; and potato chips and Amerikan Dippi from Finland we love, and had told the Ms and KR about the previous weekend. I had made a HUGE pitcher of Singapore Sling. The Fuzzband loves it, and he was born in Singapore!
It was a lovely evening of chatting, laughter, and a garden and compost tour for the gang.
Other things we did on the B-Day weekend: Saturday!
We drove south to Kentucky, and had lunch: our first visit to Chick fil A! We've been getting their calendars from family friend sin Maryland for years, ever since the chain came out with a Cows in Shining Armor version. The calendars are all about celebrating the glory of cows, so we should all eat more chicken to spare these noble beasts!
We went to the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Kentucky - Kentucky is gorgeous!
On our way back to Cincinnati we wen't to Miyako's in Crescent Springs for Hibachi dinner. Crescent Springs is just across the river from Cincinnati in Kentucky.
When we got home, the Fuzzband's newest hobby of ax collecting was initiated with the arrival of this beauty:
Isn't he handsome, this Canadian lumberjack of mine?!
We capped the B-day celebrations with cat-sitting our neighbors' cat, Zoey, eating cake, and watching Call the Midwife on their Netflix. Lovely!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LOVE!