Happy Birthday to Teddy. I remember the first birthday I spent with him. We had an afternoon picnic at Fort Snelling along the Mississippi and ate chicken salad from the Byerly's deli. He was turning 21 and had big plans to celebrate his ability to legally imbibe. I was a fresh-faced 19 year old girl without a fake id, thus the birthday lunch. Lots of years, birthday cakes and celebrations later, I finally made Ted his all time favorite cake— Black Forest Torte.
I have been on this earth for 42 years and have yet to make a cake from scratch and I didn't think a birthday cake for a dinner in six hours was the time to start. I bought a Duncan Hines chocolate cake mix and started my baking project. If you remember, following directions is not my forte and as a result, my baking adventures can be fraught with disaster. However, I am a good bartender and I had a couple of secret weapons to mitigate my boxed cake mix: Luxardo Maraschino cherry liqueur and Luxardo Maraschino cherries. I am telling you, these cherries will change your life. They will make you realize the fire engine red 'maraschino' cherries in a Shirley Temple or on top of an ice cream sundae are an abomination. Okay, maybe not an abomination but certainly ordinary and sickly sweet. I put 2 or 3 tablespoons of the liqueur on each cake round, frosted the cakes with whipped cream, layered the cherries between the layers and on top and shaved good dark chocolate all over (it seemed like a pastry chef thing to do).
It was a little lopsided, the unflavored gelatin I put in the whipped cream to stabilize it did not dissolve properly and I couldn't find birthday candles but it was perfect. Perfect because we were in the kitchen— eating and laughing at the table. A birthday cake ablaze (in Ted's case) with candles reminds me to recognize the beauty of getting older and celebrate how far we have come together.