Baking For Others: A Cookie Cake for J
EVENT: Jordana and Josh’s Birthdays
VENUE: Jordana’s Apartment, West Village; Josh’s Apartment, Park Slope
PARTY SIZE: 50-ish
TYPE: At-home celebratory dance parties
MENU: Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake, Customized
When you’ve been single for any given period of time, a new relationship can bring with it, along with the rainbows and butterflies, a host of logistical considerations. Perhaps it’s the planner in me, but I find that people don’t talk about these contingencies nearly enough. Or maybe it’s just that I’ve never been fully prepared to tackle the appropriate terms and timing behind toothbrush integration, or perfect the art of walking home from my boyfriend’s apartment (or in this case, taking a 30 minute ride on the Q train) in the morning without feeling too unladylike.
One thing I was equally unprepared for this time around: having a man in my life who happened to be born on the same day as Jordana.
But that’s not to say this small fact was a surprise. Jordana, who was present on our first (double) date in September, spent much of the early stages of conversation uncovering both suitors’ basic facts—place and day of birth, number of childhood pets, mailing address, parents’ first and last names—and converting these bits and pieces of information to memory. (The constant recounting of random details about our fellow classmates led my high school friends and me to develop a theory that, instead of doing her math homework, Jordana spent after-school hours memorizing the school directory and was somehow responsible for every piece of spam/junk mail we’d ever received.) So back on that first date, as we plowed through our Pabst cans and paninis, it didn’t take long for Jordana to discover that Josh was also born on November 14th and was, therefore, was a winner.
But this didn’t stop either of them, months later, from choosing the same night to celebrate their identical dates of birth, and from choosing to do so in two different boroughs. Which was an issue.
For some, the decision might have been a simple one, with loyalties falling on the side of the boy. But Jordana isn’t just any friend, and her birthday isn’t just any party. Two years ago, on November 14th, Cara and I covered the surfaces of Jor’s parents’ apartment with crostini, quesadillas, and cupcakes with candles. The fun we had feeding our friends and celebrating Jordana became the impetus for starting BGSK, the recipes and memories from the night, the subjects of for our first post ever.
Though we cooked again for her 25th birthday, this year, Jordana decided to have the party downtown at her own (small) apartment, meaning there weren’t enough surfaces to make room for our finger food. Instead, she ordered pizza, and Cara baked three batches of Carrot Cake Cupcakes for dessert.
But regardless of the menu, there are some traditions that are worth savoring, and no matter what, I wanted to be there to celebrate Jordana. To split my time judiciously, I had to give up Josh’s birthday dinner in favor of starting my night at Jordana’s apartment, and I planned on joining him later at his place for a larger gathering. Days before, as the group emails about Josh’s birthday dinner accumulated in my inbox, my guilt did too. I needed something to make up for my absence. Something sweet. Something, as Cara suggested, like a cookie cake.
I purchased a 16-inch pizza pan and the makings for three batches of chocolate chip cookies, and I coordinated a covert operation with one of Josh’s friends to pick up the treats and transport them to Brooklyn. But after I’d pressed the first batch of dough into the pan, I stood in the kitchen staring at a bowl of chocolate chips, distraught. My heart said write something on it, but my head said no: you can’t do that for a boy (you nerd). I made three cakes that day, two of which had large J’s in the center. I packed the first customized cookie for Jordana, who’s love of nerdiness I was sure of, and dropped the other two off with Josh’s friend , in hopes that he would make the judgment call of which version was appropriate to present.
In the end, the predicament wasn’t one that warranted so much stress. I got to both parties more or less on time, and got to celebrate both of my favorite November 14th people in my favorite way possible, dancing in the middle of a living room, drinking homemade cocktails, and eating not one, but two giant cookies.
From my kitchen, where both my J’s add so much sugar to my life, to yours,
Phoebe, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar (you can substitute dark)
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
1 large egg
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups plus 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Add the sugars and butter to a large mixing bowl. With a mixer, hand-held beater, or very strong arm, beat until creamy. Add the egg and beat until the batter is fluffy and light. Stir in the flour, baking soda, and salt until just combined. Mix in 1 1/2 cups of the chocolate chips.
Turn the dough out onto a 16-inch pizza pan. Press the dough into the pan until it reach the edges, in one even layer. Arrange the remaining chocolate chips on top of the cookies cake, in the shape of the first letter of the recipient’s name, or the number of years they are turning.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until just barely set. Cool for 5-10 minutes in the pan, then invert onto a large cutting board, and then back onto a platter or pizza box (if transporting).