Another Trip Around the Sun and Coconut Raspberry Dainties
Few things make me happier than making my special man’s day special, but it can be a challenge to say the least. My plans always begin with an element of surprise, which I usually end up scrapping as the day draws near. For a man who relishes routine, Greg is impossibly unpredictable when it comes to his birthday. Here’s how the week preceding his big day went down this year:
“I’m planning to take the day off.”
“I might have to work a half day.”
“Let’s just have dinner here. I don’t want to spend any more money.”
“Maybe I’ll just take Friday off instead.”
“Let’s go out for dinner. Maybe a BYOB?”
All of the above was peppered with a bunch of, “I don’t really care. It’s not that big of a deal to me.”
As for my side of the conversations, the early bits sounded like I was a private investigator searching for clues, my questions cryptic in order to conceal the surprise. The late bits, the bits that took place fewer than twenty-four hours before his birthday, were straightforward and desperate. Restaurants worthy of a birthday celebration often require reservations. Special meals are hard to pull off with just a pantry raid. Baking treats for his office takes care too. A food blogger wife can’t hardly send her man to the office–assuming he goes to the office on his birthday–with a package of Oreos.
When the clock struck midnight on June 20th, I kissed my Gemini happy birthday and good night even though my frustration had reached the level where I would have otherwise rolled to the edge of the very big bed with my back turned to him. Allowing my frustration to show hardly seemed fair, let alone festive. And why was I so angry? His version of the story is that he’s pretty low-maintenance, wanting little, needing nothing, happy with anything. My version is that his indecision made planning a bear. How can you make something special for someone who doesn’t see the importance of making it special? It felt like that Jerry Maguire scene when Jerry is begging Rod Tidwell to “help me, help you, HELP ME, HELP YOU.”
Lying in bed, too stirred up to sleep, I tried to imagine my life without Greg in it. My chest seized at just the thought of it. What if he’d never been born? What then? Maybe he didn’t need his birthday to be special, but I did. With or without his help, I intended to celebrate his birthday.
So that’s exactly what I did. I ignored his last minute request to go out. Instead I laid in supplies for a fancy dinner–a seared scallop on bacon grits kind of fancy dinner. Crab cakes to start. A Christina Tosi-style layered birthday cake and mint chocolate chip ice cream to finish. The big, pretty wine glasses that don’t fit in the dishwasher. Our last bottle of Gary Farrell pinot noir–the 2005 that we’d been saving for a special occasion. Pink Martini, The Boss, and Johnny Cash took turns serenading us. I even managed to pull off a surprise by showing up at his office in the afternoon with a box of homemade treats that included these coconut raspberry dainties. And somewhere between spinning his favorite ice cream and making the playlist, I realized that I didn’t need Greg’s help figuring out how to make his birthday special. I’d known all along.
Happy Birthday Sweetie!
Coconut Raspberry Dainties
I’m not a big fan of specialty baking pans, but my mini cheesecake pans are an exception. I use mine for more than just cheesecakes. They’re great for brownies and super chewy chocolate chip cookies. They make the perfect sized corn muffins too. If you don’t have a mini cheesecake pan and I haven’t convinced you to buy one, you can make these with a muffin pan and paper liners.
2/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or all-purpose)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and diced
2/3 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup raspberry jam
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons powdered sugar for finishing (optional)
12 fresh raspberries (optional if in season)
1 mini cheesecake pan
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut in the butter. Bring the dough together with your hands. Divide the dough equally among the 12 cells of the pan. Using the blunt end of a wooden spoon or similar, tamp the dough until firmly and evenly compacted.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately make a deep indentation in each mini crust. You’re making a bowl for the jam to sit in.
- While the crusts are baking, make the topping. Whisk together the melted butter, sugar, and egg. Stir in the coconut and vanilla.
- Spoon two teaspoons of jam into each crust. Equally divide the coconut topping among the jam covered crusts. Bake for 18-20 minutes until the coconut is deeply toasted and golden.
- Cool completely on a wire rack. Carefully remove the cooled treats from the pan. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Top with a fresh raspberry.