I know there are some people who dread their birthdays because it’s proof that they’re growing another year older. Then there are others who downplay the day – don’t want any fuss. Neither of these descriptions fit me. I love the anticipation – wondering what presents may arrive, reading sweet cards, and reflecting over a flood of Facebook messages. In a busy world, it’s easy to let events pass by without much notice. That’s why I appreciate birthdays and holidays. They are scheduled events that force us to take a little time to sit and breathe in a bit of happiness that we are alive, and that we’ve gotten to appreciate another year.
As you may have guessed from this lead in, I recently celebrated my birthday, and was joined by several family members for a day of sweet treats and a hike by the lake. My pre-teen niece even surprised me with a creation of her own – homemade Oreo’s from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. She is a consummate baker, and last fall we were talking about her penchant for cookie-making. She was asking about the differences between making vegan cookies and the kinds she typically makes with animal products. An idea was born, and in addition to the other things I’d already planned on getting her, Isa & Terry’s adorable book of vegan cookies found its way under the tree with a bow and a nametag with her name on it.
On my birthday she told me about her favorites from the book (Peanut Butter Chocolate Pillows top the list), and she graced me with these chocolate sandwich cookies, which are reminiscent of devil’s food cake and filled with vanilla cream. That she went out of her way to surprise me with vegan cookies (and mighty delicious ones at that!) was a highlight of the day.
In lieu of traditional birthday cake, I couldn’t let summer’s berries get away without using them to make the strawberry shortcake from Spork-Fed. The only work that has to be done in advance is letting a can of full-fat coconut milk partially-solidify in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, the cream is taken from the top and the liquid underneath is thrown away. The shortcake came together fairly quickly with my dad on strawberry slicing duty, my niece whipping the coconut cream, and me cutting biscuits. The shortcake is wonderfully light and sweet, with tones of lemon underneath. It’s amazing that something as simple as coconut milk, maple syrup, sea salt, and vanilla extract can make such a decadent whipped cream. The only changes I’ll make next time are reducing the salt in the biscuits and whipped cream and slicing each biscuit in half through the middle for a stacked presentation with coconut cream and strawberries in the center.
Jenny Engel & Heather Goldberg have the recipe for Strawberry Shortcakes with a Coconut Whipped Cream Topping here on their website. Check it out before berry season is over! (To read about more of my favorites from Spork-Fed, check out this post.)
After celebrating over sweets, cards, and presents, it was time to pack for a weekend getaway. More to come…
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