Comparing Birthday Treats
When birthday celebrations come side-by-side, like they did in our house last week, the whole family makes comparisons between the two celebrations. Ironically, at the same time I taught James 3 and showed my students a talk that referenced comparisons:
Try not to compare your children, even if you think you are skillful at it. You may say most positively that “Susan is pretty and Sandra is bright,” but all Susan will remember is that she isn’t bright and Sandra that she isn’t pretty. Praise each child individually for what that child is, and help him or her escape our culture’s obsession with comparing, competing, and never feeling we are “enough.”
Jeffrey R. Holland, The Tongue of Angels
Comparisons were minimal this year, except in one way. Both daughters showed me their individuality with their unique approaches to choosing a birthday dessert.
KH, my youngest daughter, plans every detail of the birthday dinner she wants. This year she chose the recipe for a strawberry brownie bombe for dessert. She even sat at the bar while I decorated it and savored the process as much as the end result.
EH, my oldest daughter, wants it to all be a surprise. When I ask what kind of dessert, “Cake? Pie?” she says, “Surprise me.” When I ask, “Chocolate or not?” she says, “Surprise me.” Here’s this year’s surprise: chocolate pecan pie with whipped cream and maraschino cherries.
My comparative cooking note: Both desserts tasted great. The chocolate pecan pie tasted like brownie batter in a pie shell. The strawberry bombe looks pretty in the picture, but it’s too sticky and hard to cut and serve at the table.
Strawberry Brownie Bombe
(from Joanne Watts in the Taste of Home cookbook)
1 package (21-½ oz) fudge brownie mix
½ cup strawberry preserves
1 quart strawberry ice cream, softened
2 cups heavy whipping cram
3 drops red food coloring, optional
¼ cup confectioner’s sugar
1. Prepare brownie mix according to package direction. Pour the batter into two greased and waxed paper-lined 8-in round cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool completely in pans.
2. Line a 1-½ qt. metal bowl with foil. Cut and fit one brownie layer to evenly line the inside of the bowl. Brownie may crack. Spread preserves over brownie layer. Freeze for 15 minutes. Fill brownie-lined bowl with ice cream. Smooth top. Cover and freeze for three hours or until ice cream is firm.
3. Place remaining brownie layer on a serving plate. Remove bowl form freezer; uncover. Invert onto brownie layer; remove bowl and foil. Return to freezer.
4. In a mixing bowl, beat cram and food coloring until stiff peaks form; set aside 1-½ cups. Spread remaining whipped cream over top and sides of bombe.
5. Fill a pastry bag with reserved whipped cram; pipe border at base of bombe. Garnish with strawberries.
Note: I used a mixture of bright pink butter frosting and cool whip instead of the whipped cream.
Chocolate Pecan Pie
½ cup unsalted butter
½-¾ cup Special Dark chocolate chips
1 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell
1 cup pecan halves
(I used chopped pecans)
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Slowly melt butter and chocolate chips in the microwave, 30 seconds at a time, stirring between times. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, combine sugars and flour; mix well. In a small bowl, combine eggs, mile, and vanilla. Beat until blended. Add chocolate mixture to sugar mixture. Stir until blended. Add egg mixture slowly; mix well.
3. Pour mixture into pie shell. Top with pecans. Bake pie for about 45 minutes or until center is set, semi firm to the touch. Remove pie from oven. Let cool on a wire rack. Serve pie topped with whipped cream and/or ice cream.