A Birthday Wish & Dinner Around the World

just a sliver

just a sliver

When it comes to our children isn’t there just one wish when the candles are blown out? Just one toast when the glass is raised? Just one blessing as hands fold in prayer? “To a long, happy and healthy life.” If you are a parent, that’s it.

Wedding Day photo by Campli Photography

Wedding Day photo by Campli Photography

This week we raised a glass or two to Sam and celebrated him with a most delicious birthday dinner. Sam is a real good egg. He has brought great joy to our family, not only because he loves my daughter, but also because he encourages what I like to call “my crazy”. He’s fun and just goes with the flow with any goofy thing I want to do. He also likes my cooking and that makes me very happy. He is willing to try anything including my foodie experiments, so I gave him a little culinary trip around the world in honor of his 29th! Here is the menu:

Mediterranean 7-layer dip

Mediterranean 7-layer dip with pita chips

Then……

Asian short ribs with shitakes, pickled daikon/carrot, golden Carolia rice and haricot vert

Asian beef short ribs with shitakes, pickled daikon/carrot, golden Carolina rice and haricot vert

Bring on the birthday candles……and my award winning Peanut Butter Turtle Torte. Sam loves chocolate and peanut butter, so this was an easy choice .

Happy birthday dear Sam and many, many more

Happy birthday dear Sam and many, many more

In 2005 I became a finalist in the Southern Living Recipe Contest with this heavenly rich dessert. While I wished to be the grand champion that day some things in life don’t turn out as planned. Still we pick ourselves up and keep going. We adapt. I have changed up the recipe a bit because my original version had such a thick layer of chocolate on the bottom that it was tough to cut through. For ease of cutting warm up your knife by dipping it in a glass of hot tap water and then wipe it dry before slicing.

the layering of ingredients

the layering of ingredients

Peanut Butter Turtle Torte

18 chocolate wafers finely crushed

3 tablespoons butter, melted, divided

16 chocolate wafers

4 ounces chopped dark or semisweet chocolate

1¾ cups whipping cream

1 cup halved pecans toasted

1/3 cup caramel topping

1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened

1-cup creamy peanut butter

1 1/4  cups confectioners’ sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla

Combine crushed chocolate cookies and 2 tablespoons melted butter; press mixture on bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan. Stand 16 cookies around edge of pan, slightly overlapping and pressing into crumb mixture on bottom of pan. Bake chocolate cookie crust at 350″ for 5 minutes; cool. Stir together chocolate, 1/4 cup whipping cream, and 1 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, cook, stirring constantly, until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Remove 2 tablespoons chocolate mixture, and place in a small zip-top plastic bag (or squeeze bottle). Pour remaining chocolate mixture evenly over cookie crust in pan. Arrange pecans in an even layer on chocolate layer in pan. Spread butterscotch-caramel topping evenly over pecans, starting from center, leaving a 1-inch border around outer edge of crust. (Be sure to leave this border; if not, the caramel will ooze out of the torte.) Beat cream cheese, peanut butter, confectioners sugar and vanilla at medium-high speed with an electric mixer until well blended. Decrease speed to low, and gradually add remaining 1 1/2 cups cream. When cream is incorporated increase speed to high and beat for 1 minute or until mixture is thick and creamy. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over caramel layer. Snip a tiny hole in 1 corner of chocolate-filled zip-top plastic bag, and drizzle chocolate over mixture in pan. Cover and chill at least 4 hours or overnight. Just before serving remove pan sides. For easy slicing use a warm knife.

looks like me, doesn't it?

looks like me, doesn’t it? Sam thought so!

17 thoughts on “A Birthday Wish & Dinner Around the World

  1. I remember tasting that amazing cake and thinking that the judges who didn’t grant you first prize were crazy. That whole meal from start to finish looks fabulous. You bless your family and friends with so much love and so many acts of kindness! We are lucky to have you in our lives. And I love the bunny plate! Love you! Bev

    • The bunny plates are the best and I thank you for them. There is even one that looks like Sam wearing the same bow tie he wore in the wedding–just hilarious. I read a quote this morning about friends being inseparable even though they are separated (by distance) and I immediately thought of you!

  2. This post put a smile on my face. Happy Birthday to Sam! You really are a super mother-in-law- to him. That was quite a culinary journey!

    Where do you find those chocolate wafer cookies? I have not made a few recipes because I cannot find that cookie.

  3. I buy the cookies in the regular grocery store in the cookie aisle. Do you have a Giant food store or Stop & Shop? I’d be happy to mail you a few boxes.

  4. I was trying to figure out how you “made that bunny” on the plate til I read they the comments!!!!

  5. That dinner looks delicious!! I have to admit my 29th is coming up and I’m having a small meltdown over it. But if someone was making me this dinner than I might relish my birthday after all ;). Happy birthday to Sam!!

    • see now this is why I need an apartment in NYC–so I can cook you dinner! My guess John has something very nice planned. Happy birthday in advance.

  6. Happy Birthday to Sam and congratulations on the award winning menu! He’s a lucky guy.

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