NES's Birthday Cake (aka Tiramisu Cake) and Ice Cream, too!

Hi there.  Let's catch up.

It's been far too long, and August was far too busy of a month.  Let's change that.

August in a nutshell:
2 beach days
4 family birthday/anniversary celebrations
2 sidewalk sales
2 long weekend camping trips
2 grueling exams
1 Gatsby-inspired picnic
Too many study days to count
1 new camera (!!!!!)
2 hot fudge sundae shot celebrations
Many ice cream and gelato trips
1 afternoon blueberry picking
A bunch of peach, banana and blueberry smoothies
1 new office
2 new desks
Many, many meals prepared by NES
Did I mention studying?

So that was August.  I have a lot of catching up to do, so let's start.
First of all, NES's birthday was in July.  On NES's actual birthday, we just kinda had a quiet night at home.  I studied a bit ahead so that I could stop when NES got home from work.  We wandered downtown for a bit, and I got a shrimp burrito on my way home.  NES got Chinese food.  It's his favorite.
We also spent some time playing Minecraft together.  We don't get too many chances to play together, so it was fun to chill and play together.

Ok, so it's a birthday -- there must be food involved!

I happened to try to make ice cream for the first time for NES's birthday!  I had seen a couple recipes recently (since July was, after all ice cream month!) for no-churn ice cream (from Picky Palate).  I decided it was time to try it out.

As much as I'd love to say that I thought of it because NES loves ice cream and oreos and ice cream . . . and oreos, I actually thought of it because I had some way-overripe bananas.  I was going to attempt a banana, peanut butter and chocolate chip ice cream.  Then I peeled the bananas and licked my fingers, and they had gone too far.  No more sweet, soft overripe bananas for me.  They were past that into a bitter-ish stage.  Forget that.

So I settled with cookies and cream for NES and peanut butter chocolate chip for me.  It was super easy: just a cup of whipped heavy cream mixed with half a can of sweetened, condensed milk and a tsp. of vanilla. Then I added crushed mini Oreos to NES's and a few spoonfuls of homemade peanut butter and a few chocolate chips to mine.  I froze it for a couple days just for timing.  I liked the cookies and cream better, all things considered!

Then it was time to celebrate with friends and family!
We spent the afternoon relaxing by the lake.  We ate hotdogs, hamburgers and veggie burgers (expertly grilled by dad S.) on buns made by mom S.  KEB and mom M. made salads.

And I made the cake!

Back when NES and I were in Maine, I bought myself a cookbook from Black Dinah Chocolatiers.  Well, really, I bought it and gave it to NES to hide away till our anniversary.  Because somehow that felt better.  Don't ask.

I thought I was buying the book more for the stories of running a chocolate company and cafe on an island accessible only by boat.  I have fallen in love with the recipes, though, and have already made (at least an adapted version of) two recipes.  One was NES's birthday cake.

Tiramisu is one of NES's favorite things.  It also comes with a funny story.  Way back, when we were still not even dating, I made NES tiramisu cupcakes for Christmas.  It wasn't really a present (since I brought them to a party), but yet, it showed I was thinking about him (we were in THAT stage).  He was so excited about them.  Then a real tiramisu showed up.  Well, there went that plan.

So, when I was looking through the new cookbook and saw a chocolate tiramisu cake, I had to run with the idea.  With a few adaptations.  For one, NES doesn't love chocolate.  He doesn't hate it either, but if he had a choice between chocolate and vanilla, he'd pick vanilla (almost) every time.  So, I switched up the chocolate cake layers for traditional sponge cake.

I had never made a sponge cake before, and watching the egg whites fluff up and incorporate their fluffiness into the whole batter was pretty nifty.  I made three layers instead of just two, so the frosting just barely covered, but it did cover!
I used the rum syrup and frosting recipes from the Black Dinah cookbook.  The frosting was wonderfully light and fluffy, and just coffee-y enough.

The rum syrup was very strong, and forgotten.  Oops.

I got about halfway through the cake assembly, only to realize that the rum syrup was still cooling in the fridge.  It was bad.  But, it really ended up being good.  The syrup was quite strong, and some of the people at the party (myself included) probably would have thought it was way too much.  We ended up just drizzling
it over the pieces, so everyone could have as much or little as they liked.
And fyi, this is NES's new birthday cake of choice!

Tiramisu Cake
cake from Martha Stewart
frosting and syrup from Desserted

¾ cup flour
¾ cup corn starch
6 eggs, separated
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
¾ cup + 6 tbsp. sugar
¼ tsp. salt

½ cup sugar
½ cup dark rum
½ cup butter

16 oz. mascarpone cheese
2 cups heavy cream
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tbsp. instant espresso powder

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter 3 - 9 inch round cake pan.  Line the bottoms with parchment paper, and butter again.  Flour the pans.

Sift together the flour and cornstarch.  

Beat the egg yolks, vanilla and ¾ cup of sugar with the whisk attachment of a mixer on high speed 3 minutes, or until thick and pale.  Transfer mixture into a large bowl.

Wash and dry the mixer bowl and whisk.  

Combine the egg whites and salt.  Beat on medium speed 1 ½ minutes or until soft peaks form.  Add the remaining 6 tbsp. of sugar.  Beat until stiff and glossy, or about 1 minute.

Gently fold the egg white mixture into the egg yolk mixture.  In three separate additions, add the flour mixture into the egg mixture.  

Divide batter amongst the 3 prepared cake pans.  Smooth with a spatula.

Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, or about 20 minutes.  

Transfer the cakes to racks to cool.

Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until all the sugar has dissolved.  Allow to cool completely.  Add the rum and mix.  Store in the refrigerator until needed.

Beat the mascarpone cheese, cream, sugar, vanilla and espresso powder with the whisk attachment of a mixer until creamy, smooth and spreadable.  Do not over beat.

Slice each layer of cake in half horizontally.  Place one half layer on the cake plate, pour rum syrup over the cake, and cover with a layer of frosting.  Top with a second half layer, and continue until all layers of cake are used.  Frost the outside of the cake.   Sprinkle with cocoa powder and decorate with chocolate covered espresso beans.

Alternately, do not add the rum syrup when assembling, and allow each person to add their own to their slice.


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