Birthdays, Cakes

[Peanut butter-chocolate cupcake, February 2009.]

February seems to be the month of birthdays — and with birthdays, inevitably and of course, comes cake(s). There was a red velvet for my coworker, a vegan banana bread-cake for my dad, and probably a few others I’m forgetting right now. March is fast approaching with even more on the horizon (oh, lucky me) and I’m glad, though as I may have mentioned?, I hardly need an excuse to bake. Still: whew. I feel like I need to step away from the butter for a little bit.

Foolishness! Today, you see, is my mum’s birthday and I’d be terribly remiss if I didn’t bake her something appropriately decadent, worthy, and chocolate-y. I’ve whipped up a batch of muffins already this morning (swapping blueberries for the poppy seeds) and my dad made a few of his ethereally fluffy omelets (I ‘let’ him make the bulk of breakfast after he suggested we arm-wrestle for who got to cook it; I may be fairly strong but the guy swims two miles at a time three days a week so I know when to fold early). We have plans to go for dinner later on (yes, I am lacing up my running shoes as soon as I get off of the computer) to be followed by a slice of one of my most reliably delicious chocolate cakes.

Although I’ve been living in the Bay Area for nearly three (!) years now, it’s still a particular pleasure that I’m able to celebrate birthdays with my family. I can’t tell you how many years I carefully packed up baked good and little bottle of champagne and special treats to cross this vast country to reach California. Sometimes I sent flowers; sometimes I sent fancy soaps. No matter what, however, I always wished I was there so I could bake the cake myself — how nice, then, that I’m able to do so this year. I hope she enjoys eating it as much as I enjoyed making it.

In the meantime: spring. I’m ready. The time turns next weekend and I’d be lying if I said I haven’t been sitting-on-my-hands jittery impatient with longing for it. It’s light now until 6p, which is most appreciated and absolutely lovely, but I am happily content to welcome March even as it stalks in in a feline, mane-tossed splendor of rain and wind because three weeks in comes the spring solstice and that, of course, means we’re just the tiniest bit closer to tomato season, blackberry season, peach season — summer, you know, and all that entails. Sweet, sweet spring with your spindly asparagus and green beans, Meyer lemons and baby spinach. I shall ply you with cupcakes — dense, peanut buttery, and chocolate-capped — to entreat you to make your appearance, oh, soon! Surely you’re as ready to shake off this dusty old mantle of winter and burst into sun and new grass as the rest of us.

ps: Bon anniversaire, maman.

Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache
, adapted from

2 cups brown sugar

Join the Conversation

  1. Thanks for all the lovely birthday wishes….what a sweet and generous daughter I have.

  2. So this means I will see sun here?? I miss it so.

    It is a birthday month – isn’t it??

  3. ok, i just gained three pounds looking at that photo! and another two after i read your post. ;)

    your family is very lucky to have you! happy birthday to your wonderful mom!

  4. Happy Birthday Helen!

  5. Lovely post. It is wonderful to be able to celebrate with family.

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