EVENT: Book Deal and Blog 1 Year Anniversary Party
VENUE: Phoebe’s Apartment, Flatiron
PARTY SIZE: 50-75
TYPE: Classy Weekend Rager
MENU: Jonestown Punch; Coconut Three-Layer Cake; Raspberry Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting; Sun Chips
We’ve never been the type to shy away from real parties, virtual as our blog may be. We hosted a big fete, with dips for guests’ sustenance, back in March and called it our Launch Party. It was on a Thursday night in the living room of Phoebe’s apartment, and it was crowded, loud, and fun.
When we found out we’d been made an offer for our book, our first thought, after “yay!!!!” was, “when should we have the We Have a Book Deal Party?” We wound up putting it off a few weeks, since our third thought was, “Uh oh, we have to write a book,” but eventually we decided it was time. Otherwise we’d have to wait until after the holiday season and new year’s, and we didn’t have that kind of patience (not to mention that, now that it’s January we really have to write the book). So we scheduled a Friday night cake-and-punch affair and opened up the flood gates (via Paperless Post) for our friends’ attendance.
For the cakes, we discussed and debated until we landed on two winning choices: 1) a festive, albino coconut cake, and 2) a yellow cake punctuated with raspberries and covered in peanut butter buttercream, inspired by the cupcakes at Jordana’s birthday a few weeks before. The PB&J cake’s main rival for the coveted position of book party dessert #2 was a coffee-toffee ice cream cake, but we were eventually convinced of the insane impracticality of this idea.
For the punch, however, we sought expert advice. Phoebe asked her dear friend Anna‘s boyfriend, who consults for upscale bars, for the perfect “classy” party beverage, and he emailed us a punch recipe, along with the wisdom that punch is derived from the Hindu word for 5 (pronounced Paunch) and must contain 5 basic ingredients. Alcohol. Bitters. Sweet. Sour. Tea. Who knew!
For our party, he determined we should mix bourbon with orange bitters, simple syrup flavored with red zinger tea, lemon juice, and apricot brandy. We aimed to follow his directions to the letter, but then a budget-saving trip to BJ’s had us dumbing down the ingredient list with Jim Beam instead of fancier booze and bottled lemon juice rather than tons and tons of fresh. Arguably, these substitutions eliminated the classy element of the cocktail altogether…
Friends came, went, opened bottle upon bottle of champagne in our honor. At the end, with mere slices of the cakes and none of the punch left, we decided to seal the deal. Somewhere around 1:30am, like newlyweds, we fed each other cake from our bare hands.Friends came, went, opened bottle upon bottle of champagne in our honor. At the end, with mere slices of the cakes and none of the punch left, we decided to seal the deal. Somewhere around 1:30am, like newlyweds, we fed each other cake from our bare hands.
From our kitchen, cake-filled and writing-focused, to yours,
Cara and Phoebe, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOKS
Jonestown Punch, BGSK Style
Makes 1 large bowl (or bucket)
Jason’s recipe called for some premium liquors, and I’m sure he would be horrified at our poor-gal’s excuse for Jonestown Punch. The actual cocktail, which is served at The Violet Hour in Chicago, has many nuances. Ours may not have been as complex or refined with the budget liquors and bottled lemon juice, but our crowd didn’t seem to be any wiser.
10 cups Jim Beam (or other reasonably priced bourbon)
3 1/2 cups Fresh Lemon Juice (or bottled…let’s be real)
2 1/2 cups Zinger Syrup (recipe follows)
1 1/4 cup Apricot Brandy
2 tbsp Regan’s Orange Bitters (hard to locate…but it’s worth it!)
Garnish with sliced lemons (or oranges, Phoebe doesn’t do those though) and grated cinnamon.
The best way to serve a punch is to freeze a loaf of ice and place it in the punch bowl. Less surface area creates less dilution.
For the syrup:
Take one liter of room temp simple syrup (equal parts white granulated sugar and water) and soak 5 Red Ziinger Tea bags for 1-2 hours. If simple syrup is cold it needs to be 24 hours. The syrup needs to have good color and bold taste with out being tanic.
Makes 1 rich two-layer cake
For the Cake Layers:
Loosely adapted from The Sweeter Side of Amy’s Bread
3 1/3 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 sticks softened butter
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease two cake pans and line the bottom with a circle you’ve cut out of parchment paper. (If, like me, you own only one pan, you’ll have to bake in two separate steps. Use a measuring cup to wind up with even layers.)
In one bowl, mix the flour, powder, soda, and salt until combined.
In another bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, cream, and vanilla.
Then, cream the butter and sugar until it’s light and fluffy. This takes about 3 minutes in an electric mixer, 5 in a handheld, and just about forever if you’re working by hand. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
On a lower speed, add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the batter. Then add half the milk mixture. Repeat with the flour, milk, and flour again. Between each, you should stir only to just combine. Don’t worry if the batter is thick–just don’t overmix.
Divide the cake batter between the two pans, or, if you’re working with one pan, divide it cup by cup between the pan and a second mixing bowl, making sure you ens up with even amounts. The pans should be about 2/3 cups full.
Bake for 40 minutes until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Cool the cakes in the pan for 10 minutes, then carefully remove to a rack to cool completely.
For Icing and Serving:
12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 sticks butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
about 2 cups sweetened, shredded coconut
Combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and sugar in a bowl. Mix to combine very well and keep mixing until the icing is creamy.
Arrange the first cake layer on a serving plate. Put a big scoop of icing in the middle, then use an offset spatula or knife to spread it evenly around. If the layers are at all uneven, this is your chance to use icing to level them out. Place the second layer, top side down, on top of the icing. Use the remaining icing to frost the top and sides, then, using your hand, press the shredded coconut into the icing all around the top and sides. Serve within a few hours; otherwise refrigerate. (Phoebe and I know, from sticking our forks into the leftovers at a lunch meeting, that this cake tastes amazing cold.)
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/3 cup sour cream, divided
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks at soft room temperature
about 1 1/2 cup frozen organic raspberries
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare a cake pan (or two if you have them!) by buttering it and lining the bottom with a circle of parchment.
Whisk the eggs with 3 tablespoons of the sour cream and the vanilla.
In a separate bowl–the bowl of a stand mixer if you have one–whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, soda, and salt. Add the butter, cut into rough tablespoon-sized chunks, and the remaining sour cream, and, using your hand-held mixer or your very strong arm if you don’t have a stand mixer, beat this together for nearly two minutes. It will be quite creamy. Pour in the egg mixture in two parts, beating for nearly a minute after each.
Cool completely before frosting.
For the Peanut Butter Buttercream and Assembly:
1 cup smooth peanut butter, at room temperature
1cup cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, at room temp
1 1/2 tablespoons sour cream
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup fresh raspberries
In a food processor, beat all the ingredients until very smooth and uniform in color. You can store the buttercream in the fridge, but use it at cold room temperature. It goes on very smoothly with a knife if, like me, you’re not into piping.