Friday, October 5, 2012

Party Menu (Chocolate Cake!)

Since this blog is/used to be? primarily about food I feel like I'd be remiss if I didn't give you a quick recap of our birthday party menu along with the all-important cake recipe review.

As I've said, this was a small event and considering the guests of honor were 2 year-olds and that we had several house guests, we really wanted to keep the menu simple and easy to prepare.

The only munchies we set out before dinner were chips and fruit salad.  My little guys love fruit!  Last year, they chose watermelon over cake.  Not this year!

For dinner we made Mr Pear's amazing Pulled Pork which was amazing as usual.  We don't usually eat it with bbq sauce but we did provide a couple of different kinds for our guests along with some small soft rolls in case anyone wanted a sandwich.

The boys both love pulled pork but I wanted to make sure there was something super kid-friendly for our other small guests.  I decided to try this beefy mac and cheese and it was a huge hit!  I doubled the recipe and I'm so glad I did. This stuff was so good' we will definitely be making it around here often.

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The only other side we served was a simple coleslaw similar to this one.  Instead of  using all green cabbage I always use one green and one purple.  I also like to grate my veggies in the food processor along with half of a sweet onion.

Dessert was cake of course!  As I mentioned the other day, I decided to go with Pioneer Woman's Big Chocolate Birthday Cake recipe.  The recipe looked good and the cake looked very easy to make.  Another plus was that it was "Big" (she bakes hers in 4 nine inch round pans) which was great because I was going to be making an 11 x 15 inch sheet cake.

The cake was super simple to make and the instructions were very clear.  The only change I made was to stir 1 tablespoon of instant coffee granules into the chocolate after it had been melted in with the butter.  I think instant coffee really helps deepen the chocolate flavor and I promise you can't taste coffee in the cake!

I greased my cake pan with vegetable shortening instead of my usual butter, and floured it, and despite my huge fear of this big cake getting stuck in its big pan, it came right out!

I dyed a double batch of Wilton buttercream frosting light blue (though I didn't use nearly the amount of icing sugar called for in the recipe) and decorated the frosted cake with cherry flavored decorating candy string (also by Wilton, found in Target of all places) to make a railroad track in the shape of a 2.  A few train set props and we had our train cake!

Unfortunately I made one mistake.  I kept the cake in the refrigerator during the party (since it was still 100 degrees out) and the cake was cold.  Instead of being light and fluffy it felt a bit dense.  The flavor was still really good and the cake was more than edible, but it tasted even better the next day when I put the left overs on a covered cake plate on the kitchen counter.  Delicious and light and fluffy.  Arg.  Lesson learned, but thankfully, not the end of the world either.

So that is it!  The birthday is over, now on to a third great year with two great little boys.  :)

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