Thursday, November 04, 2010


I celebrated my Golden Birthday on October 28th with wonderful fanfare, surrounded by good friends, amazing food, lots of glitter and glamour.

While planning this little shin-dig, I literally woke up one morning with this thought in my head:


It was as though I'd been doing nothing but flit through golden parties in my dreams all night long.

I knew this dramatic confection would be the perfect pièce de résistance for the party. I also knew it would take days to make. I joke about Martha's recipes, but this one would literally take at least three days to prepare. Before one even begins assembling the damn thing, one has to make and fill 300 cream puffs. And that didn't sound like such a wonderful way to spend a birthday weekend.

A few days later I clapped eyes on some frozen cream puffs at Costco. And I decided, heck yes. I'll just do a bit of stacking.

Not so fast Ms. Kazana. Even using frozen cream puffs, this was quite an undertaking. Croquembouche is French for "crackle in the mouth". Cream puffs are quite fluffy and light, so the crackle comes from dipping them in molten hot caramel, which is actually scorched sugar. (But not too scorched or it becomes Molasses! And your Happy Kitchen Zen is destroyed as you curse and try to find a way to clean petrified caramel lava off of your saucepan so you can begin AGAIN.) Once they cool, they have a delightful crisp and crackly outside and a cool, creamy, fluffy center. Heaven. But we aren't there yet.

Traditional Crouqembouches sometimes have a bottle of Champagne inside, but I decided I couldn't bear to waste one by gumming it up with caramel. I used a plain, clean wine bottle. Quite glad I did. I have no idea how modern pastry chefs do without it.

This is supposed to be topped with "angel hair" which is thousands of finely spun threads of caramel. I was at my limit after two hours. Perhaps as my Kitchen Zen improves I can re-attempt. I also wish I had done it closer to the party's start time. The Hawaiian humidity made them a bit soft and gooey.

This is my favorite shot from the whole evening. I love the mundane mixed with the supremely glamorous. It got better as my friends started to arrive bearing my favorite gift: Bottles of Bubbly.

My darling husband made individual Macaroni & Cheese for each guest. (It's GOLD people. Stay with me. I like to think the ramekins made it a bit more elegant.) We also served Butternut Squash Bisque, a green salad topped with golden raisins and golden peppers, crusty french bread, and lots of champagne.

I set the table with gold damask linens (found on Ebay for the occasion- just $25!) simple white china and clear stemware. The flowers are ordinary carnations and roses from the supermarket, but I used votive candleholders for the containers. They make a perfect size for such a small party and then the flowers don't block conversations. The pops of gold are glittered faux leaves from a craft supply store.

Lighting the candles- sparkly ones, of course! My party dress is Zac Posen for Target- scored on clearance for $20 since nobody in Kona wants such a decadent garment. (Lucky moi!) My dramatic earrings were a birthday gift and looked smashing with my new do. The crown was from lovely Gwen and the necklace was handmade by Kristin.

Eric arranged for this charming Champagne Bottle Pinata to read "Happy Birthday Becky"- and then stuffed it to the gills with golden treats!

We had fun collecting the treats in our goodie bags, (golden, of course!).

I think planning this evening was half the fun! Thanks to my wonderful husband for slaving away with me to make it such a special night- and cleaning up afterwards too! I'm so lucky to have you Eric. Thanks to my wonderful Hawaiian Ohana for celebrating with me. I love you guys.

You can see more photos here if you're curious!

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