I Can’t Have a Birthday Party This Year, but I Can Still Have Cake

Every Wednesday, Bon Appétit executive editor Sonia Chopra shares what’s going on at BA—the stories she’s loved reading, the recipes she’s been making, and more. If you sign up for our newsletter, you’ll get her letter before everyone else.

It’s birthday central in my family—a bunch of us fall in a neat little row—and usually I’d be at home in Atlanta right about now, ordering cookie cakes and petits fours, buying some cheesy balloons, and trying to pick a restaurant for dinner that will please a handful of people with wildly different tastes. I’ve always been very happy to ignore my own birthday in favor of doing something fun for my loved ones, but this year, when I’m the only part of the “birthday train” that isn’t back in Atlanta, I’ve decided to at least think about doing it up big.

I’m sensing these camo chocolate fudge brownies in my future…

Photo by Laura Murray

Or, well, big for a homebody in a two-person household in the aftermath of a blizzard in the middle of a pandemic, which basically means I bought the ingredients to make an elaborate cake (it has saffron meringue!) in a moment of ambition but have since scaled back my plans to make…I don’t know, maybe some pretty brownies? Or a fun pie, or, like, a more low-key meringue situation? Possibly some scones and a nice tart curd? Should I just buy myself some fancy chocolate and call it a day? Sarah Jampel recommended little berry shortcakes if you don’t want too many leftovers, and Emily Schultz suggested BA’s Best Cheesecake if you want dessert for days after the celebration—or, she says, why not bake a batch of cookies and turn them into ice cream sandwiches?

I’m feeling a weird amount of pressure to make something, and it’s kind of stressing me out. I can’t promise I won’t just ignore the whole day or maybe opt for a really cool box mix, but I’d love to hear what you would make (especially if the answer involves cream cheese frosting, my favorite) and how you’re celebrating birthdays at home right now. I’m at sonia@bonappetit.com.

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