Tania’s Birthday.

This is my dear, sweet friend Tania who I met years ago when I still lived in New York.  I’ve mentioned her a few times before.  She is one of the greatest women and mothers I know.

One of my favorite memories of Tania was when she came to visit me and bring me dinner after I had my first baby in 2004.  She had only given birth three weeks before I had and she was bringing me dinner.  To this day I remember the homemade turkey soup, rolls, and the best brownies I’ve ever eaten in my life.  Tania’s famous brownies topped with a layer of melted Andes mints, the inspiration for my Peppermint Bark Brownies.

Tania is a labor and delivery nurse and so she didn’t even flinch when I told her how much trouble I was having with nursing and all about the crazy rash I had all over my body…and then I showed her.  We were fast friends.  A few years later we spent a most memorable and enjoyable Thanksgiving at her home with her family.  It is still my favorite TG to date.

Tania came into town last week to ski and celebrate her big birthday.  She e-mailed me a few weeks ago asking if I knew of any restaurants where she could have her party.  We e-mailed back and forth discussing different options, and while I never said it to her, I was hoping she’d bring me on board in some capacity to make some of the food.

She ended up deciding on The Lion House in Salt Lake City.  It’s a beautiful historical mansion in downtown Salt Lake City near Temple Square.  It is a favorite spot for parties and receptions.  It’s very lovely.

Tania asked me if I would be able to make a few cakes and cupcakes.  I was so happy she asked.  I didn’t want to impose myself, which is why I didn’t offer.  Nothing makes me happier than making food for people I love–especially birthday cakes.  The only request she had was that there was chocolate and fruit.  The rest didn’t matter.  She let me do whatever I wanted.  It had way too much.

Happy Birthday, Tania!  Thanks for letting me be a part of your special day.

And now for the cakes and cupcakes…

Dark Chocolate Mousse Cake–Devil’s food cake filled with David Lebovitz’s recipe for Chocolate Mousse from The Essence of Chocolate cookbook, frosted with semi-sweet chocolate ganache and topped with chocolate curls.  (For tips on making the chocolate curls, check out The Pioneer Woman’s tutorial.)
Black Forest Cake–Dorie Greenspan’s Cocoa Buttermilk Cake (I didn’t add the melted chocolate this time), filled with a whipped cream cheese and creme fraiche mousse, sour cherry pie filling (I bought it because cherries aren’t in season here in UT yet), and frosted with sweetened stabilized whipped creme fraiche.  I made my own creme fraiche by mixing 2 Tbsp. buttermilk into 2 cups of warmed heavy cream (about 100 degrees F.) and left it out to thicken overnight.  It is soooooo worth the extra time and effort.  (I’ll post more about this at some point.)
Triple Lemon Chiffon Cake–three layers of light, airy lemon chiffon cake, filled with tangy lemon curd, frosted with lemon curd enriched stabilized whipped cream  (recipe from Sky High:  Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes, check Mary’s , The Food Librarian blog for awesome pics of what it looks like inside. I didn’t get any pics of it.  You can find the recipe and more pretty pictures here.)

Phemomenon’s Chocolate Strawberry Cupcakes–cocoa buttermilk chocolate cupcakes topped with a strawberry jam meringue buttercream and a chocolate dipped strawberry.  Luxurious.

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes–buttermilk vanilla bean cupcakes topped with vanilla bean IMBC (I adapted the cupcakes from a Martha Stewart Kids recipe from a long time ago.  I swapped out milk for buttermilk and used 1 vanilla bean in place of the extract.)________________________________________________________________There was a table all set up for the cakes when I got to The Lion House.  My husband helped me arrange the cakes before we sat down to dinner.

Tania cutting into the Black Forest Cake
The inside of the BF Cake.
Inside the dark chocolate mousse cake

One of the coolest things Tania did for the party was to have a candy table.  It was so whimsical I thought.  She had little bags for us to fill up with a sticker that said “40 is the new 20.”  :)  I love the tiny stainless steel scoops.  She ordered them from Sur la Table.

I filled my bag primarily with jelly beans, Swedish fish and the Reese’s pieces.  I haven’t had those in ages.  I think I’m going to do something similar for my big 3-0 in four weeks.
I have to share a new tip with you.  I was trying to think of what I could do on the long drive to SLC with all the cakes and cupcakes in my trunk so they wouldn’t slide around and smash into each other or the sides of the boxes.  I lined the bottom of the cake boxes with that squishy, rubbery shelf liner I use in my cupboards.  It worked like a dream.  Nothing moved.
If you are making and taking goodies somewhere, I totally recommend buying cake boxes from the party or cake decorating store.  I always thought it seemed liked a hassle.  But it’s not!  It makes it so much easier.  The box pictured above is a 12″ box.  I use that size for finished 10″ cakes and it fits, as you can see, 16 regular sized cupcakes.  You can nestle the cupcakes closely to each other, but keep them from touching.  They will stay put with the shelf liner on the bottom.
Tomorrow I will post more pics from San Francisco.  It was such a busy week.  Who am I kidding…they are all busy weeks.

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  1. Lindsey, WOW! My mouth is watering. I am amazed at your talent. I wish you were here to make multiple birthday cakes for me. They look and sound absolutely delicious. What a fun way to celebrate your friend!

  2. HOLY COW. I want to get remarried just so I can hire you.

    That chocolate cake??? INCREDIBLE. I need a piece.

    And…I’m sorry about last week. Holy cow. We have a hard time. What about tomorrow?? Busy?

  3. lindsey, i am so, so impressed. it all looks amazing. and to think i offered my help, i’m a dork. no way do you need it.

    the table looks gorgeous covered in your cakes. delightful.

  4. It was so sweet of you to prepare all these lovely treats and cakes for Tania’s birthday; they sure do look mouthwateringly delicious !
    It may seem like a silly question to ask, but how did you get the chocolate shavings in the Dark Chocolate Mousse Cake to curl up like that without breaking, and arrange them so beautifully ? It’s a piece of art, really. : )
    Your story about this woman was so heartwarming; it’s so great to be surrounded by wonderful, inspiring people, and it seems, from your posts, that that is definitely the case for you : ).

    Thank you so much for your ongoing support, by the way ! I am really clueless about how to use blogspot, so I haven’t quite learned how to reply to comments, but I do indeed read them, and every word really means a lot : )

  5. What a friend you are, Lindsey!! What talent, what a beautiful job you did. Super duper impressed. What a fun way to celebrate 40. Wish I would have done something like that for myself back in December.

  6. OH MY GOODNESS. I am so sad I couldn’t go, because I really wanted to see Tania and celebrate her birthday, and I wanted to see you. Now I’m really sad I missed that I also missed your chocolate cake! :)

  7. These cakes look INCREDIBLE! How great that you could be there to celebrate for Tania. You both are such amazing talented women!

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  9. Oh my goodness! I loved your article on Design Mom so hopped over and am so glad I did!!!

    I am totally going to copy the cake/cupcake and candy tables for my 40th in a few years!

  10. Oh my goodness! I loved your article on Design Mom so hopped over and am so glad I did!!!

    I am totally going to copy the cake/cupcake and candy tables for my 40th in a few years!

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