Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Éclair Birthday Cake


The day has arrived.  I turn 24 today.

Remember, as we were making resolutions with the ringing in of the New Year, how I shared that I felt a little strange about my upcoming birthday?

I couldn't put how I was feeling into words, making me restless and annoyed.

But the words finally came to me Sunday morning, in the kitchen with the sun beaming through my lovely yellow café curtains.

I realized, standing there with a cup of coffee in my hand, for the first time in my entire life, I am no longer terrified of being an adult.

I no longer fear moving to a strange city and building a life and a home.  Paying bills doesn't scare me.  Finding my niché and developing my career is no longer a distant dream.  The thought of marriage no longer turns my stomach with fear.  And the idea of, one day, having my own little family no longer makes my throat involuntarily close up in a panic.

And knowing I was no longer terrified of these things scared the bejesus out of me.

At this time last year, I really had no idea who I was, what I wanted or where I was headed.  I was a transplant Manhattan-ite who had just decided to pursue a somewhat crazy dream of making a career out of my passion for baking.

So it's really no surprise that the thought of others being, in some form, dependent on me, was terrifying.

Today, one year older and a little wiser, many things are still uncertain about my future.  But I feel like I am chasing my dream and enjoying the adventures and obstacles along the way.  I know I will never look back with any regrets for the path I have chosen.

So I welcome 24 with open arms and a big slice of birthday cake.  The butterflies in my stomach are not there because I am scared of being a year older, but because I feel like the best is yet to come.

Of course, if Mike stopped saying it's time to trade me in for another, younger model, that would help too.

Éclair Birthday Cake
from Mummy

This has been the cake reserved for my special day since my very first birthday.  It is delightfully easy to create and yields delicious results.

My mum's chocolate frosting is what really makes it special.  I have yet to find another version that is as delicious and comforting as hers.  The recipe below is the closest approximation I have been able to create.

1 pound Honey Maid Graham Crackers
2 small Jello instant vanilla pudding
3 1/2 cups whole milk
9 ounces cool whip

Chocolate Frosting
1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons shortening
3 tablespoons whole milk
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation Instructions
Butter a 13x9 cake pan.  Line bottom with graham crackers.

Combine pudding and milk in bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment.  Beat 2 minutes.

Add Cool Whip to pudding.  Mix until combined

Pour half of pudding mixture over first layer of graham crackers.

Create another layer of graham crackers on top of pudding mixture.  Top with remaining pudding mixture.  Create final layer of graham crackers on top.

Refrigerate at least 2 hours before frosting.

Chocolate Frosting
Combine all ingredients in stand mixer until light and fluffy.

When cake is properly chilled, frost top layer of graham crackers with chocolate frosting.

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