SO! I had a birthday last week.
This sort of thing doesn’t usually get me all introspective, but the past couple of years were pretty big for me… so I feel like I should have something to say for myself.
I lived my dream of quitting my job and traveling Europe with my favorite guy. And at the end of all that, we settled in sunny Australia – very very far from my home, my city and my people.
And while I am not even close to having much of anything figured out…I think I’ve learned a few important (and some unimportant) things this year.
1. I can live in Australia without melting into a puddle of homesickness and tears.
2. Feeling homesick can be really frustrating and tough. Be nice to yourself.
3. A mustache tattoo on one’s index finger is a good omen.
4. I need a dog.
5. Sometimes gelato is an acceptable Saturday lunch.
6. Buy the fancy butter and salt. You won’t regret it.
7. Don’t throw house parties with white carpets and people you don’t know.
8. Magpies are evil winged creatures that are out to get you.
9. I can successfully make a souffle, pulled pork and pavlova.
10. Travel is amazing, but nesting can feel just as rewarding.
11. Regularly counting the small things you’re thankful for can make a big difference.
12. It’s totally OK to make your own birthday cake.
For my birthday this year, I decided to make myself a blondie/cookie cake studded with some of my favorite things: dark chocolate, coconut, banana and pecans bound together with brown sugar and butter. Not a traditional birthday cake, but I couldn’t think of anything more perfect.
Unfortunately final product photos didn’t happen due to late-night overzealous cake consumption. Forgive me, it was my b-day, and I was being selfish.
I was inspired by Joy the Baker’s Banana, Walnut & Chocolate Cookie Cake – she’s got the good looking cookie-cake pics going on too, if that’s something you’re into. Which you probably are. I hope.
Banana, Pecan, Coconut & Chocolate Cookie Cake
(makes 1 8-inch cake)
adapted from Joy the Baker
– 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
– 1 cup brown sugar, packed
– 1 large egg
– 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
– 1 ripe banana (mashed)
– 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
– 1 cup all-purpose flour
– 1 cup spelt flour
– 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks
– 1/2 cup large coconut flakes
– 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
– a pinch of sea salt flakes
Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and heat oven to 350 F/175 C.
Melt butter in an 8-inch cast iron skillet over medium-low heat. Stir in sugar and vanilla extract and remove from heat. Whisk until thoroughly combined. Allow mixture to stand and cool for about 5 minutes. The mixture should not be super hot when the eggs goes in, or the egg will cook.
Add the egg and whisk together until smooth. The mixture will be glossy and no longer greasy. Add banana and cinnamon and stir to combine.
Add the flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir carefully until all of the dry ingredients are incorporated. Add the chocolate, coconut and pecans and fold together.
Spread mixture across the pan creating a somewhat smooth top. Sprinkle with a few flakes of sea salt. Place in the oven.
Bake for 15 to 18 minutes until mixture is dry on top, but still slightly soft in the center. Under-cooking this cake is where it’s at! Think over-sized gooey cookie.
Remove from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes. Top with ice cream and serve warm.
Here’s to another excellent year of life!