We have a long-standing birthday feast policy in our house wherein the birthday boy designs the menu for his special day. I did not think this needed clarification until earlier this week. A glance at the calendar informed me that I needed to get my fourth born (and almost 5-year-old) thinking about his birthday dinner. I asked him to consider what he wanted for his special day. He squinched his eyes, bit the side of his lip and descended deep into thought.
Half an hour or so later, he caught up with me while I was preparing to write this week's column and exclaimed, "Mommy! I know what I want to eat for my birf-day. You wanna get a pencil?" I told him I figured I could keep his menu straight and he could fire away when ready.
-- Leif: I want an ice cream cake with chocolate cake and strawberry ice cream. And I want it covered with chocolate and sprinkles and a dog.
-- Me: No problem!
-- Leif: And I want sticky chicken bones with pizza and lots of fruit.
-- Me: Can do. All right. That's a great meal.
-- Leif: I'm not done, Mommy.
(Stage direction: Me scrambling for pencil and paper)
-- Leif: I also want peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch and a strawberry pie with it. I want peanut butter balls and peanut butter spoons, too.
(Noted to self: Buy more peanut butter!)
-- Leif: And for breakfast I want pumpkin cinnamon rolls wiff lots of icing. Drippy icing, please, Mommy. And some bananas.
-- Me: Leif! I usually just make a special birthday meal. This will have me in the kitchen for two days.
And at this point, my little beloved baby tossed off one of the throwaway lines my kids are so adept at producing. "I'm a big boy now, Mommy. Five year olds need lots of food. One meal just won't do it any more."
Sticky Chicken Bones
For reasons known only to them, my children have always called chicken wings "chicken bones." This has been a popular birthday feast choice over the years and each child has had a favorite version. Here is Leif's. (Note the absence of "green stuff" and "vegetables." Am I an indulgent Mom or what?)
1/4 cup honey
2 T. soy sauce
2 T. ketchup
2 T. orange juice
2 T. dark Asian sesame oil
1 t. ground ginger
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 pounds fresh chicken wings, cut in 2 pieces at joint or 2 pounds frozen chicken wings, thawed.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Combine honey, soy sauce, ketchup, orange juice, sesame oil, ginger and garlic in large bowl. Add wings and toss to coat. Oil or spray a large, rimmed broiler-safe baking pan or roaster pan. Place wings with sauce in single layer in prepared baking pan.
Bake, turning occasionally, 25 minutes or until chicken is browned evenly.
Increase oven temperature to broil. Broil wings close to broiler element, turning occasionally, for 8 minutes or until sauce is thickened. When the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, and leaves a clear line when a finger is drawn across, the spoon it is done. Remove wings to a serving dish and spoon the sauce over top.
I-Scream Birthday Cake
This is the choose-your-own-adventure version of an ice cream cake. Leif chose a chocolate cake with strawberry ice cream covered with ganache but the possibilities are endless; pumpkin ice cream with spice cake covered with brandied whipped cream, vanilla and strawberry ice creams with chocolate cake and ganache, raspberry ice cream with cake-like brownies, peach ice cream with vanilla cake ... Use your imagination!
If you opt to frost the cake with whipped cream, you'll want to eat it all in one sitting. The whipped cream will not re-freeze well. Ganache and buttercream will hold up admirably in the freezer if you plan on having leftovers.
For fantastic homemade cake and ice cream recipes to use on this cake, check www.foodiewithfamily.com/blog. ...And feel free to substitute boxed cake mix and store-bought ice cream if time or the inclination to whip this up from scratch is short.
1 cake or brownie, 8 or 9 inches around, any flavor that is completely cool
2 quarts ice cream, any flavor
1 batch ganache (*See recipe below), whipped cream or frosting of choice
Using a cake slicer, serrated knife, or dental floss, slice the cake into three horizontal layers that are roughly even. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or waxed paper. Set layers flat onto the cookie sheet and put in freezer, uncovered for at least 1 hour but up to 4 hours.
Allow ice cream to soften at room temperature to the texture of mashed potatoes. While ice cream is softening, prepare a 9-inch springform pan by lining the bottom and sides with long pieces of plastic wrap.
Remove cake layers from the freezer. Place one layer in the lined springform pan, trimming cake to fit if necessary. Spread about 1/3 of the softened ice cream over the base cake. Make sure ice cream not only covers the cake, but also creates an even layer all the way to the edges of the pan. Top with another layer of cake and ice cream and repeat. The final layer should be ice cream. Smooth the ice cream to form an even top. Lay a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the ice cream and put in the freezer to firm up overnight.
Pull cake layers from freezer and carefully remove from the springform pan about 10-15 minutes prior to serving. Place cake on a serving platter and cover with ganache, whipped cream or frosting immediately after removing from the freezer.
Decadent, Deep, Dark Ganache
A jar of this ganache will keep up to a month in your refrigerator. The alchemy that occurs when chocolate combines with cream helps to preserve it. There are much worse things to eat on a spoon on midnight fridge raids than this...
10 oz. semi-sweet baking chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 c. heavy cream
Place chopped chocolate in a medium sized heat-safe bowl and set aside. Pour cream into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour the boiling cream over the chopped chocolate and set aside for five minutes. After five minutes, whisk until smooth. Allow to sit for at least 10 minutes before using. Leftovers can be stored in a container with a tight fitting lid for up to one month in the fridge.