Monday, March 10, 2014

Milestones and a Macaron-Covered Cake

I think '30' started getting hyped up a few years ago. Or is it that I only started paying attention to the hype the closer I got to 30? Anyway, the closer I got, the more I started thinking about it and I guess I was mostly neutral; I never flipped out, but neither did I go, yaaay I'm going to be 30. Till some tragedies occurred close to home and shocked me into thinking straight: every day you're here, is a day to be glad for.

Chocolate cake with peppermint buttercream filling, fudge frosting and macaron shells

So I thought turning 30 deserved a special effort, when usually I just buy a couple of slices from my favourite bakery. And I hoped that if it turned out alright, I might be able to share recipes and ideas here. The cake itself came out great, though my macarons, while tasty enough, have a long way to go before they're technically proper.

The cake is the same Devil's Food Cake I made for my daughter's birthday last year, and the recipe is at the end of this post. This time, I used a third of the measurements to make three 6" layers each, that were sandwiched with buttercream (recipe over here). I used half this buttercream recipe and flavoured it with peppermint extract instead of vanilla. I divided the buttercream into two batches, dyed to match the two macaron colours. The frosting is a dark chocolate fudge, that I tried for the first time, and came out superbly. I had wanted to put a big flower on top, but honestly was a bit intimidated by them, till I found this easy technique.

I wanted to use macarons somehow, as they are my daughter's favourite dessert at the moment. However, they are notoriously tricky to get just right, and even on my fourth attempt I am far from getting the perfect texture. Should you want to give them a shot, here's a good video to get you started. I placed some unfilled macaron shells on the cake, and later kept some filled macarons around it. For the filling, I used the same peppermint buttercream as in the cake.

Chocolate cake with peppermint buttercream filling, fudge frosting and peppermint macarons

Now on a personal note, I had wondered if I should share some .... thoughts, on turning 30, but then I er, thought about it, and didn't feel like I had many :), except that sense of inexpressible gratitude. Even after reading this touching post by my friend Neelu, I didn't feel like I had much to say, as I thought she said it all, and said it brilliantly.

But then my birthday arrived. Start to finish it was beautiful, by God's grace. I received some wonderful, unexpected surprises. Wishes flowed in from friends and most of my family .... except for one person. My daughter :). She refused to wish me all day, right up to when we were about to cut the cake later that night, at which point her dad said enough was enough: wish mum now! She did, with a sheepish grin, and sang happy birthday as well.

The reason for all the drama? She's anti-birthdays at the moment. All you folks out there freaking about turning 30, 40, whatever, my little girl's got you beat. She's worried about turning five! Why? Because she doesn't want to leave preschool and the teachers she loves, doesn't want to go to 'big school' and doesn't want to grow up :) So for her right now, birthdays (mum's and her own included) are silly.

Then, the next day I received this incredible gift from my family. All my dad had told me before, was to expect a couple of DVDs in the mail. I sat to watch the first without a clue as to the contents. Words can't express the sheer joy I felt when I saw what it was: the recordings of mine and my sister's first birthdays!

Video recording had just taken off in India when I was a baby, and my first birthday was the first recorded event in my family. We had these on the old VHS tapes (remember those?), and over time they started gathering mildew and couldn't be viewed properly. So with a great deal of sadness, we all wrote them off as lost causes. I don't think any of us watched them in at least a decade. But on a recent trip back to our house in India, my dad found the tapes and got the salvageable portions converted to DVD format.

It's a priceless gift for all of us, something we thought we'd never see again, carefully restored. Even more priceless, because they include people we loved, like my grandfathers, who are not with us anymore. Precious memories in a tangible form that I can now share with my child, and show her at least some part of her history, and where she comes from. And yes, also help her to understand that she is not the only one who's had to deal with growing up; I too was a child like she is now, and I too had to grow up and go to big school and so on :)

All of these things made me realise that I actually do have a few thoughts that I'd like to share, so here goes:

  • Embrace your age wholeheartedly, and be thankful for it. If you ever start feeling otherwise, spare a thought for all those who weren't lucky to make it to whatever age you are now.
  • No matter where you reach, never forget where you've come from and the people who've been a part of your journey; more importantly, those that have helped you on that journey.
  • Change is inevitable, and seldom easy. But you do your best to deal and go on trusting He knows your way forward.
  • This is an echo of what Neelu said in her post, that I feel more strongly about now, having seen those DVDs again: document your life story! I am so grateful to my parents for choosing to record our birthdays; and so grateful to God for every moment from those first milestones to this one.
Chocolate cake and a glass of red!


  1. Anonymous8:10 PM

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  2. Congratulations Salomie !..yes we must rememeber our roots and people we met on the way...You must have touched many people that way, because I really feel that conection with you.

    1. Thank you so much Renu! Your thoughts are very like my mother's in many ways, so that connection is mutual :)

  3. Salomie, both your cake and words are equally beautiful. I wish I could sit next to you, enjoy a slice and talk about turning thirty. We would have so much to talk about. Sigh!

    I cannot believe you got a video of your 1st birthday celebration! What a thoughtful gift from your parents!

    Although I take a lot of photos of my children, J is the one who does all the videos. I hope TnA are as happy as you are when they see them later in their lives.

    Krissy, you are a darling and you made me laugh hard.

    Thank you for linking to my post. I'am happy to know that my 'spur of the moment' write up struck a chord with you.

    May the future bring you more happiness and peace.


    1. Inshallah I will get you cakes and cookies some day, and we'll have that chat (hopefully the kids will leave us in peace for that :D) And yes, I'm very sure T & A will love the efforts you guys take to preserve your memories, it is very inspiring, and now I seriously want to do the same. Much love!

  4. Belated happy birthday!! you must have had a wonderful one!
    And dear Kristy is such a darling. She is wary of moving up ?My kid changed rooms in her day care and shes is so anxious now.I thought once shes adjusted to day care, she would take to any other changes i throw at her like fish to water. boy was i wrong :(
    Well hope things at home are a bit better now.
    I totally agree that our life should be documented :) hence the blogging :)

    I quite liked the feel of this post.You do intersperse personal titbits in the midst of those delectable recipes - but this post was a great movement from the normal course of things.I really enjoyed reading it! And each baking good after another makes me even more envious of your skills.Gosh what would i not trade to be a nifty baker!

    1. Thank you so much Amrita! Was a quiet birthday, but yes, it was wonderful. When we adults find dealing with change so difficult, I guess it must be even more traumatic for the kids especially when they can't express their fears, so hang in there. In some time you'll have another post about how she's adapted to the new room :)

      And the baking is really just practice. I'm nowhere near as good as some of the people whose work I admire, but you keep at it every chance you get and you do get better. So bake! Take stuff into work every now & then.