With more causal planning over the last month, I spent every night over the past week feverishly baking and crafting and cleaning to make everything as special as possible. I strung up a birthday banner, made floral arrangements, whipped up a festive drinks station, and of course bakes desserts. With all of that going on, we let Shop Rite's catering department take care of the meal (a no-frills-necessary hoagie tray, plus potato- and macaroni- salads and a tray of chicken fingers).
As for dessert, I made Mom's requested cake (she thought she was coming over just for a special dinner with me and John...mauh ha ha) as well as a batch of rainbow cookies. I spent Wednesday and Thursday nights making the rainbow cookies, which came out way better than my first attempt at Easter last year. While the makings of the cookies went just fine the first go-round, when it came to slicing them, it became a hot mess. So I Googled and YouTubed around earlier this week for tips and tricks, and discovered how to avoid another slicing massacre: firstly, I realized I had used too much chocolate to "frost" the cookies last time. I also think I just dumped it on top and smoothed it out, so there was little to no control over portioning it. I also made the mistake the first time of frosting, chilling, and slicing the whole shebang while it was intact as one sheet cake of a cookie.
So this time I was armed with better knowledge and a real battle plan. I sliced the sheet into 4 even bars, then I used the spatula to paint a nice, thin, even coat of chocolate onto the tops. Because the cookie was chilled, this set pretty quickly. Then I flipped the bars over onto their side and painted the "front" and "back" edges with chocolate. By the time that was done, I was able to trim off the unfinished edges and slice then bars into neat and equal individual cookies. Hot damn, they looked so perfect. Badda bing.
Friday night I baked Mom's actual birthday cake, which was pistachio honey cake frosted with a whipped mascarpone vanilla cream. Oh my gosh this felt like such a breeze after the cookies. My hands and forearms are still recovering from the exhaustion of it all.
The party was amazing and wonderful and to see Mom's shock at the smiling facing screaming "surprise!" was just perfect. I know I complained about the amount of work of the week, but that moment truly made it all worth it, as I knew it would. After hearing about all the surprise parties I pull off at work, I think Mom was tickled pink to be the recipient of one herself.
When the last guests trickled out around 9:30, John and I did the last bits of tidying, then flopped onto the couch, under blankies, and heaved huge contented sighs of relief and happiness. For reals, why is throwing parties and baking not my "real" job. Sigh. Maybe someday I can open that tea house by the ocean...