How brunch becomes an Easter Celebration and a cake so much more than dessert
Easter Sunday was Day 4 of my 12 Days of Birthday Celebrations and my actual birthday. Naturally, I was singing from the rooftops! Ok, I may be exaggerating, because I am afraid of heights, but you get the picture…I was so happy for the Easter Celebration that was about to take place!
To the tune of 12 days of Christmas… sing along with me! I bet you can’t read the next sentence without singing in your head…
On the fourth day of birthday celebrations, my best friends gave to me…an Easter Brunch and lots of festivities!”
It was a beautiful, sunny day in Orlando. Although I did not have my family in town to celebrate with me, I had the next best thing – a great group of friends that have become my family. I have heard the saying “Friends are the family we choose for ourselves” and I could not agree more. I am lucky to have met a group of people who started out as neighbors, turned into friends and became family. We have been there for each other through the good, the bad and the delicious (there’s always lots of eating and drinking at our gatherings!). We even jokingly adopted a not-so-secret name we call ourselves – The BTBZ Circle – for the initials of each of our last names. It was wonderful to share this special day with them!
I was blessed this year to have my birthday fall on Easter Sunday, a day of rebirth and renewal, which seemed appropriate as I have been in a renewal process too. I found out through a Google search this has only happened twice in my lifetime. The first time my birthday was on Easter Sunday it was in 2003 and I was working, as I did most holidays in the hospitality industry. This is the first year in a very long time that I have been able to sit down at a table with family and friends to celebrate the holiday. Now you know why I was so excited pretending to sing from rooftops (but really at street level!)
My good friends love to cook and are amazing hosts, throwing legendary parties throughout the year. What I love most about their events, is not their culinary prowess, but instead that their cooking is full of love. It is apparent from the research and planning of the menu, the seating arrangements (boy-girl-boy…), the small touches on the table including treats for the kids, to the special recipes, and making sure special preferences such as “no cheese” or “no tomatoes” are honored. I have always believed cooking equals love, as food not only nourishes your body but also your soul. This is why I encourage everyone to make time to get together with family and enjoy great food and drinks. Entertaining is not about throwing a fancy party. But more importantly, it is about bringing friends and family together to share a meal made with love, whatever that meal may be. Be it grilled cheese sandwiches or a fancy feast like we had on this day.
We enjoyed a delicious Easter feast of roasted leg of lamb, baked ham, scalloped potatoes, cheesy macaroni and cheese, asparagus topped with chopped eggs and chive-lemon dressing, sautéed peas with Portobello mushrooms, Jack Daniels glazed carrots, Greek salad, shrimp salad, and crusty rolls. It was all so good we sat at the table for hours eating, laughing and chatting.
Sitting around the table sharing this meal and conversation with everyone was truly celebration enough for me. I was given beautiful, sweet and funny birthday cards, including my favorite one in Chinese (which I can’t read!). Even the kids attempted to write Chinese symbols just so they could see my puzzled reaction when I opened the card. Needless to say, there was a lot of laughter.
A Chocolate Dulce De Leche Birthday Cake that was so much more than dessert
Then, I was surprised by an absolutely amazing birthday cake! My friend’s mom, whom we have all adopted as our mom and affectionately call “mami”, makes the most incredible desserts from her native country of Chile. I love her “Mil Hojas” cake with what seems like a thousand layers of pastry and dulce de leche. It is sinful! This chocolate cake however was the most decadent home-made chocolate cake I’ve ever had. It was moist and airy with rich chocolate. The dulce de leche, a South American Caramel sauce, provided the decadence while the whipped cream frosting kept the cake from being overly sweet. I was so honored when I learned it was made using her mother’s recipe, from a handwritten recipe book that only a few in the family have ever seen. I felt officially part of their family and that is what friendships are all about. This cake was more than dessert because I could taste the love that it was made with.
As if that was not enough to give me pure joy, the cake was decorated with creamy milk-chocolate Easter eggs and chocolate shavings. It brought back memories of my childhood birthdays as my mom also decorated my cakes with chocolate eggs. This is when a cake becomes much more than just dessert…it’s love and flavorful sweet memories!
The cake was so beautiful I shared a picture on Twitter and Nestle La Lechera, makers of condensed milk used to make dulce de leche, retweeted it! How exciting! Mami’s cake was now getting international attention!
Dulce de Leche Recipes for an Easter Celebration or any day!
If you’ve never had dulce de leche you are simply missing out. I love caramel and having the Dulce de Leche as layers in this cake was pure heaven. I immediately wanted to put Dulce de Leche on everything: cakes, pies, cookies, brownies, bread, you name it! After the sugar-high wore off, I did what all of us do. I searched the internet for recipes! I also reached out to a group of amazing food bloggers called The Sunday Supper Movement. If you want to prepare a great home-cooked meal, they are a wonderful source of inspiration and recipes. Their Sunday twitter chats are legendary. I begged them to help this caramel-lover out and they graciously came to my rescue. Here are some delicious recipes they recommended which I can’t wait to try. I think you will enjoy them too.
First, you can either buy dulce de leche at the store or make your own. If you’re time-deprived buy it but when you look at this recipe from “Culinary Adventures with Camilla” you will be inspired to make it at home. Just make sure you have enough time. Anything that good is worth waiting for.
This beautiful Dulce de Leche Bundt Cake by “Magnolia Days” would be perfect for a beautiful Spring afternoon with a glass of bubbly! Plus, she offers an easy method of making dulce de leche. So good!
If you’re more of a cookie monster then these chewy pecan cookie bars from “Food Lust People Love” and these Chocolate Chip Dulce de Leche cookies from “Hip Foodie Mom” will satisfy your caramel and cookie cravings. Hip Foodie Mom also has a recipe for these rock star caramel brownies that I can imagine devouring with a tall glass of cold milk at hand. Yum!
Now if you know me, you know I love ice cream. I think caramel and ice cream go together like well…caramel and ice cream! This Caramel & Coconut milkshake from “Chocolate Moosey” sounds like heaven in a glass!
I also stumbled on this recipe for a chocolate birthday cake with dulce de leche by “The Missanthropist’s Kitchen” that looks really easy to make. As much as I love to eat homemade baked goods I don’t usually have a ton of time to bake. This recipe mentions you can use boxed cake mix which is something I can do!
If you still need more of these heavenly Dulce de Leche recipes, here is a link to Nestle that has tons of ideas.
I hope these recipes inspire you to prepare something sweet for your family and friends. Whether it’s simple or elaborate, if it’s made with love it will be so much more than dessert.
Now it’s your turn to share. Do you have a dish that brings back special memories of your childhood? Please share in the comments below. I would love to hear about it!
Oh, if you’re wondering what 12 Days of Birthday Celebrations is all about, click here. It is the best cure for the birthday blues. I started with a Cider and Cheese Tasting in an unexpected place on Day 1. Had an awesome Foodie Dinner & Movie experience on Day 2. For Day 3, I hosted the Go Epicurista Ultimate Progressive Dinner in Winter Park. And I’m just getting started. On Day 5, my sweetie and I accomplished my mission to #MakeSomedayHappen by dining at an Orlando institution that I have been wanting to visit for years! My recap of a Romantic Dinner at Christner’s is coming up next. Come back to the blog and check it out!
If you liked this post and this Easter Celebration inspired you to entertain your family and friends, please share using the links below. Set a date, plan it and #MakeSomedayHappen!
Thank you for joining me on this culinary journey!