Thursday, May 27, 2010

Bon anniversaire, BFF!

Oui, it is the BFF's big day.  I have only been able to catch a quick glimpse of her because I am teaching and she is selling houses.  This working thing does indeed get in the way of our fun sometimes.  But... I guess we have to work so that we can afford to have some fun once in a while, n'est-ce pas?  We will celebrate appropriately tomorrow.  C'est promis!
Salamanzar's wife is evidently a cupcake maker par excellence.  Since I am the BFF, I got one of these heavenly chocolate delicacies.  I did not eat it delicately, however.  Pas possible.  And I did need a chocolate fix.  Merci, Madame Cupcake.
I found the perfect birthday card for BFF.  But there is a story behind it.
In September 2008, about halfway through my sabbatical, the BFF and Lucy #1 came to visit.  We met in Rome.  (They came to visit  me in Paris and Arles in 2007.)  We had a fabulous time seeing all the sights in Rome before taking the train to Florence.  We stayed in the Hotel California, near the Duomo.  (I was a bit nervous about that, but it turned out just fine, obviously, since I am here to write about it!  I do love that song, though.)  The BFF had made all the arrangements, so I just felt as if I was along for the ride.  A welcome change from being the trip planner.
We saw so many beautiful sights...
(I had to include the kissing couple!  How Italian is that?)
I am sure that Douglas, our guide in Tuscany, would wish you Buon Compleanno if he were here, BFF.
Back to the story.
The BFF bought tickets for us to visit the Galleria dell'Accademia while in Florence.  The main attraction in this gallery is Michelangelo's David, carved in the early 1500's.
This is an amazing work of art, standing 17 feet high.  Michelangelo's attention to detail is incredible.  I wonder what it would be like to be able to take a piece of marble and create something so magnificent.  The BFF fell in love with it.  She took this photo even though it was forbidden... Lucy #1 and I were supposed to distract the woman guarding it.  Yeah, right.  It must have worked, though, because she got this picture without getting thrown out of the museum.
There is also a replica of it in the Piazza della Signoria in Florence.

I hear that there is another replica in Marseille.  Malheureusement, we didn't see it when we were there.  Guess we will just have to go back.
So, imagine my delight when I found the perfect birthday card for her!  At Target, no less.
Would Michelangelo approve?  I sure hope so!

I am not sure if this is the recipe Mme Cupcake used, but until I get a chance to ask her, I'll go with this one.  It sounds heavenly. It is from Chocolate & Zucchini, Clothilde Dusoulier's website, which I love.  She found the recipe in Trish Deseine's Je Veux du Chocolat.  One reader made cupcakes from it.

Gâteau au chocolat fondant de Nathalie / Melt-in-your-mouth Chocolate Cake

To quote Clothilde:  "I have no idea who this Nathalie person is, but if her cake is anything to judge her by, can we please be friends?"
200 g (2 sticks minus 1 Tbsp) butter
200 g (7 oz) dark chocolate
200 g (1 c.) sugar
4 eggs
1 rounded Tbsp flour

** Note:  Like all dark chocolate cakes, this cake is best made a day ahead (or at least in the morning if you serve it for dinner).

Pre-heat your oven to 180C (350F).  Line an 8-inch round cake pan with parchment paper (no need to if you're using a non-stick pan).
Melt together the butter with the chocolate (in a double-boiler or in the microwave slowly and for just a few seconds at a time, blending with a spoon between each pass).  Transfer into a medium mixing bowl.  Add in the sugar, stir with a wooden spoon and let cool a little.  Add in the eggs one by one, mixing well after each addition. Finally, add in the flour and mix well.
Pour the dough into the pan and put into the oven to bake for 25-30 minutes, until the center is set but still a little wobbly.  Turn the oven off but leave the cake inside for another ten minutes, then put the pan on a cooling rack on the counter to cool completely.  Cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate and take it out about an hour before serving.

Bon appétit, BFF, et bon anniversaire!!

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