Category Archives: birthday

If You Lived Here*, You’d Be Drinking Sangria Right Now

A Birthday Dinner Menu with Chocolate Cake

If you still lived here, you’d come over for birthday dinner. The weather would be perfect (not the cold damp it really is), and we’d have a fire in the chiminea. (Our children would be taken care of and nobody would wake up yelling mommee, mommeeee! And while I’m dreaming, they’d sleep late the next morning too. )

We’d drink sangria and eat tapas (which somehow we are cooking and enjoying while outside by the fire).

We’d have olives and cheese to start. Then we’d eat spanish tortilla and garlicky shrimp (I’ll forget for a moment that you eat neither eggs nor shrimp. It’s my birthday after all). We’d have roasted tomatoes with garlic and olive oil and grilled asparagus. We’d have cheesy stuffed portabellos. And we’d sop up olive oil and juice from all our food with bread.

Then, feeling really full, we’d have flourless chocolate cake with raspberries and barely sweetened whipped cream. (And since the kids are sleeping in we have dark roasted coffee with plenty of cream.)

Given the title, I should be writing about sangria here, but what’s a birthday without cake.

Flourless Chocolate Cake
  • 4 oz bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 stick butter (every recipe I’ve looked at calls for unsalted, but I always have salted on hand and use that)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 375° F and grease an 8- or 9-inch round cake pan (a springform pan is great, but not necessary) pan. Line bottom with a round of parchment paper (This is important especially if you use a regular cake pan as the cake is quite likely to stick).

Chop chocolate into small pieces. In the top of a double boiler, melt chocolate with butter over barely boiling water, stirring until smooth. Remove from the heat and whisk sugar into chocolate mixture. Add eggs and whisk until fully combined. Add 1/2 cup cocoa powder to the chocolate mixture (if you are not lazy, sift the cocoa powder over the chocolate mixture) and whisk until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in middle of the oven for 25 minutes, or until top has formed a thin crust. Cool cake in pan on a rack for 5 minutes and invert onto a serving plate.

This is dense and rich and excellent as I described above with raspberries and whipped cream. It also makes a truly decadent layer cake described below.

Flourless Chocolate Layer Cake with Chocolate Butter Frosting and Ganache Glaze

Make two flourless chocolate cakes as described above.

While they are cooking or even before, make the filling. (It takes a while to chill.)

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 4 Tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup butter ,softened
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar

In a medium sauce pan, combine sugar, cornstarch, and cocoa powder and blend well. Gradually stir in the milk, and cook over medium heat until mixture thickens and boils, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (I find it usually takes longer) or until thoroughly cool.

In a large mixer bowl, beat butter and powdered sugar until well blended. Gradually add cooled chocolate mixture. Beat until light and fluffy.

Make the glaze.

  • 3/4 c. whipping cream
  • 8 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

Place the chopped chocolate in a heavy, heat resistant mixing bowl.

Place the cream in a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat. While stirrring, bring just to a boil, stirring. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes.

Put it all together:

Place one cake on serving plate (you can frost the plate under it lightly to keep the cake from sliding). Spread a thick layer of frosting on top of the first cake. It’s optional to cover with raspberries, but I like the way the raspberries break up the chocolate a little. (I usually use raspberries I’ve frozen myself, though I’m sure fresh would be fine. My experience with commercially frozen raspberries, has been that they leak a lot more juice—and don’t taste as good.) Place second cake on top of the frosting/raspberries. Pour glaze over cake and smooth with a flat spatula. You can use any extra frosting to decorate top and sides of cake.

Cut small slices as this is really rich.

*I try not to start things with “if you still lived here,” but I will today, just for my birthday.


Birthday Pie: Raspberry Rhubarb

B. is a pie guy, so for his birthday he gets a pie instead of a cake. Last year, he asked for a raspberry pie, but since his birthday comes at the very beginning of raspberry season (this year when everything is early being an exception), I suggested it might be hard (read, expensive) to come by that many raspberries. “How about raspberry rhubarb?” he suggested.

He bought a pint of raspberries from a local farm. I chopped a bunch of stalks or rhubarb from our garden and put it together as I would have a straight-up rhubarb pie. And it was good.

It’s a twist on an old classic, his new favorite, and likely a birthday tradition.

Raspberry Rhubarb Pie


2 1/2 c. flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 c. shortening

1/4 c. butter (chilled and cut into small pieces)

6–7 Tbsp. cold water

1/2 c. crushed corn flakes or Total

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix flour and salt. Cut in shortening and butter until it forms small balls the size of peas. Gently blend in water, one table spoon at a time, with a fork until the dough holds together.
  3. Divide dough into two roughly equal parts. On a floured counter, roll out the dough for the bottom crust. Arrange in a 9-inch pie pan.
  4. Cover the crust with the crushed cereal.
  5. Set the pie pan and remaining dough aside  and move on to the filling.


1 pint red raspberries

4 cups chopped rhubarb

3/4 c. sugar

1 egg

2 Tbsp. cold water

  1. Gently mix together the raspberries and rhubarb and put in the prepared pie pan.
  2. Mix the sugar, egg, and water in a medium bowl, and pour over the fruit.


  1. Roll out the remaining crust and cut into 1-inch strips. Weave the strips into a lattice crust.
  2. Put the pie pan on a cookie sheet to catch drips.
  3. Put the pie into the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Then lower heat to 350°F and bake for 40–50 minutes longer. (You can use frozen raspberries or rhubarb, but it will take longer to cook. Keep baking until the filling starts to bubble a little.)