This past weekend I celebrated my wonderful father's 55th birthday! That's right, for 55 years he has been putting up with my nonsense...Thanks Dad! In my family, birthdays celebrations seem to last over the course of a few days. First, we celebrate with just the immediate family on the day of the actual birthday. This usually involves dinner out at a nice restaurant. Second, comes the celebration with friends. This is usually a night out on the town, with the drinks overflowing, music blasting and the dance floor hopping. Finally, another family gathering with all the cousins, usually a Sunday afternoon get-together with good food and delicious cake.
Thursday night (my Dad's actual b-day) we headed over to Grille 3501 in Allentown. Offering the best in New York Fusion, their menu combines extraordinary Asian, Mediterranean, and French cuisine. I noshed on a salmon filet and asparagus that was phenomenal! For dessert, I called ahead and arranged a special surprise....Dulce de Leche Cheesecake with Warm Chocolate Spring Rolls, and a birthday candle on top. It was probably one of the best meals that I've ever had. I will surely be frequenting the establishment more often.
Saturday night, I broke out the glitz and glamour as we all headed to Shula's at the Promenade for dinner and drinks. Known for their fine quality meat selections, we were given a table side steak cart presentation. I opted for the petit filet mignon, served with a side of bernaise sauce. For the table, two a la carte sides were shared, lobster mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus drizzled with balsamic vinegar. I'm not joking when I say the lobster mashed potatoes were perhaps the most delicious thing I have ever tasted in my whole life...even better than cake! I've already started googling recipes to try this one at home sometime. The entire night was a wonderful experience. Extremely pricey, but very delicious!
After Saturday's dinner, waiting at home was a pistachio layer cake filled with a green pistachio dream whip center and smothered in buttercream frosting. Watergate cake has always been a big favorite of my dad's, so I wanted to make an adapted version of it for his birthday. After having a few bites, I forgot how much I really liked it too! Easily, one of my new favorite cake recipes. And It's so simple to make. All you need is a white cake mix, instant pudding mix, a few eggs, club soda and oil. Initially I planned to frost the entire cake in a pistachio icing made from cool whip and pistachio instant pudding mix. However, I was having some issues getting the icing to the right consistency. I'm pretty sure the recipe called for too much milk since my frosting never thickened and looked like a bowl of green milk. After two attempts, I decided to nix the pistachio frosting and use a simple buttercream. Not as delicious, but still good. To make up for my failed attempt at the frosting, I decided to combine what I had left with some Dream Whip and make a pistachio filling for in between the cake layers. Light, fluffy and delicious!
When it comes to baking, I prefer to stick with cupcakes. They're less formal than a cake, and much easier to decorate! This was my first attempt at a layer cake, and while my drawing skills need some fine-tuning, I think it turned out half decent! I misjudged the proportion of the cupcake rendering a bit so I ran out of room to write 'Happy Birthday'. But overall, I was pleased with the end result. And it tasted delicious too! I just wish I could have nailed the pistachio frosting. Oh well, there's always next time!
Pistachio Cake with Green Pistachio Dream Whip Filling
Adapted from Group Recipes
1 pkg white cake mix
1 pkg instant pistachio pudding mix
1 cup oil
1 cup club soda
1 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans)
For the Frosting: **(I substituted a simple buttercream recipe)
1 box instant pistachio pudding mix
1 1/4 cup milk
8 oz cool whip
- Preheat oven to 350*
-In a large bowl, mix cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, oil, club soda, and nuts.
-beat on high for 4 minutes
-grease and flour 2 round 8 or 9 inch pans
-bake for 35-40 minutes
-let cake cool completely
For the icing:
-Blend all ingredients together and beat until light and fluffy
For the Dream Whip filling:
-Combine 1 pkg instant pistachio pudding mix with 1 pkg Dream Whip and 3-4 tblsp cold milk. Beat until light and fluffy.
-Level cakes and spread a thick layer of pistachio Dream Whip filling on the bottom layer. Stack the second layer on top.
-Crumb coat the cake
-Once crumb coat has dried, ice the cake and decorate as desired!