Themes Birthday Parties – Yay or Nay?

Tropical Paradise During a New England Winter……

The winter of 2011/2012 will not go down as a very serious winter, weather wise. True, we did lose power for 5 days in that freak October storm, but hey, that was officially Fall. The winter has been mild. Still, it was a fun break to be invited to a Caribbean themed party for a friend’s 50th birthday. She promised to crank up the heat and requested that people dress appropriately (scantily). The potluck food was to be tropical as well. I slathered on bronzer head to toe, wore a T-shirt, shorts and sunglasses (inside) and tried to look like I was on vacation – which was hard to do since that day there was a lot of ice on the ground and a few cars got stuck in the driveway. Even though the winter has been mild, this is New England after all.

My friend Mary and I were in charge of the cake. Initially I was thinking coconut….rum….passion fruit, but then the B’day girl informed us of a dislike of coconut. She is a chocolate lover, so I switched gears radically….how about chocolate….coffee….and Brazil nuts? Sometimes I am developing recipes using a specific product or for a particular company, but when I get to develop a recipe with just my imagination, that is the most fun. It occurred to me that I had never baked with Brazil nuts, which intrigued me even more.

I turned to a recipe of mine that was tried and true: a hazelnut daquoise and wondered if substituting the Brazil nuts for the almonds would work. It did. Beautifully. This cake needed a little more oomph, so in addition to the two layers of dacquoise, I also included two layers of chocolate cake. The contrasting layers of Kahlua enhanced chocolate cake, silky, smooth, rich espresso buttercream and crunchy, Brazil nut dacquoise were very well received. The cake pictured was a 12-inch diameter that fed over 30 people. I have reduced this recipe to a 9-inch round, which will feed about 12 to 14 people. Note that the sides are covered with extra dacquoise, which makes for easy decorating. The Brazil nuts ringing the top have been painted with edible gold powder. This Brazil Nut & Chocolate Dacquoise Torte with Espresso Buttercream is a great cake for an adult birthday party. HAPPY BIRTHDAY JULIE! WE LOVE YOU!