End of the birthday season

table setting

This month my kitchen has been filled with happy little people all wanting to help and participate in preparation for a birthday party. Cook books have been poured over and together we shopped for the correct color napkins. Our birthday season is coming to a close.

I truly do enjoy organizing birthday parties for my kids and seeing the anticipation and their eyes shining with excitement makes it all worth it. I do have to admit that I sometimes secretly roll my eyes when a very excited birthday girl or boy comes and explains their plans for party games for the forty-fifth time at 10.32 pm. And I do try remain the adult and remember to say encouraging things like, “Yes honey, I know you are excited but now it is time for bed…let’s continue this discussion tomorrow!” I don’t always succeed in this grown-up effort. Our birthday season starts in March and for six months we have a birthday every month and in June there are two. The easy part about have many parties in consecutive months is that they usually want many of the same things on the menu as the others, making for fairly easy planning. This year the pinãta has been a big hit.

friends collageWe made one little mistake with one of the pinãtas. We started removing the balloon before it was completely dry since our schedule was getting to be a little tight. Simply said, the pinãta became a bowl for serving chips. Fortunately we still had one pinãta left to be filled with candy.

table setting closeupThe birthday girl had requested an ice cream cake to which I gladly agreed. All summer she had been asking me when I would bake brownies. Now was the perfect time to combine the two requests. For the bottome crust I baked a brownie, doubling the recipe from one of my favorite cook books, Elävä valo (orginally published in Norwegian, Levende lys).  The authors, Nina Dreyer Hensley, Jim Hensley and Paul Lowe are Norwegian and have captured the spirit of the Nordic winter light in their photography and recipes so wonderfully. Below is a little sample of their book and also the picture of the brownie crust I made for the birthday cake.

elävä valo collageIce cream is a little bit of a tricky medium as it melts quite quickly. I returned the cake back into the freezer between stages. To make things a bit easier with the ice cream cake, I used a fondant band around the sides to help control the drips and to keep the cake looking intact.

ice cream cakeIf your schedule is a little tight, the naked version of the cake could work just as well as a dessert and the homemade brownies and cookies could be substituted with something picked up from a bakery or grocery store.


Lilja’s Ice Cream Cake

The recipe for the brownie is for a round 25 cm/9-10 inch pan. I doubled the recipe and baked it on a oven sheet pan with small edges and cut out the desired size and froze the extra brownies for future use. The assembly of the cake went as follows. Add a liter/ 2 pints of toffee/caramel icecream on the brownie. Roughly chop up about fifteen  Omar Triangle cookies.  Using two liters /four pints of vanilla ice cream, scoop the ice cream on top of the chopped cookies so that they are covered. Return to the freezer at this point. Whip 1/2 liter/2 cups of heavy cream and ice the top and sides of the cake. Use a band of fondant to help hold the possible drips. Decorate as desired.


Brownie crust

3 dl/1.3 c sugar
1.5 dl/generous 1/2 c flour
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp dark cocoa powder
150 g/5.3 oz butter, melted
2 eggs
roughly chopped walnuts (optional)

Melt the butter and set aside. Mix all the dry ingredients and then add the melted butter and lightly whisked eggs. Bake the brownie for about 20 minutes at 200 C/390 F. Do not overbake!
Allow the brownied to completely cool.

Also needed:

15 Omar Toffee Triangles
1 liter of toffee/caramel ice cream
2 liters of vanilla ice cream
0.5 l/2 c heavy whipping cream
band of rolled fondant

birthday cakeLilja had one request for Dad. She wanted a precision shooting contest with the air rifle. And so the party guests all lined up to try aim at the plastic soda bottles against the garage door.

air riflefriends

little helper
little helper

This post is part of Celia’s In My Kitchen September edition. Visit her blog for a list of bloggers around the world that have opened up their kitchens for visitors to see.


  1. What a string of birthdays. I admire your ability to sustain the enthusiasm! I’m sure any child would love that cake, especially if they had specifically requested it! Lovely photos and post.

    1. Well, I do let out a sigh of relief after we have them all taken care of…but I know how important the day is for them as they often speak of it throughout the year either remembering the past or planning for the next party 🙂 …and once they turn ten they can plan smaller outings or invite a few friends over etc (of course I’ll bake the cake) and so not everyone has a full-out birthday party.

  2. Beautiful images of wonderful parties. Your children are very lucky to have you as their mum. My 37 yr old always requests ice cream cake for his birthdays, but I’ve never managed something as elaborate as this one! 🙂

  3. Your kitchen looked busy this month, Laila! The ice cream cake looks wonderful and the children look so happy with their treats and games. The set table looks picture perfect, too!

    1. Yes, we did have a little busy bees racing around all wanting to help with something. The marshmallow candy pops dipped in chocolate and then dipped in nonpareils were so easy that our 3 and 5-year old thoroughly enjoyed their job.

  4. Lovely as always…smiled over the “so girly” party with the precision shooting range! Shades of the G &GGGramma’s there:) Go, Lilja:)

    1. 🙂 I think the shooting range was her most earnest request in addition to the ice cream cake…and it was easy to organize since we had all the needed equipment in the closet…

  5. What a wonderful post! We’ve just wrapped up the first birthday party of the year, a much more chaotic affair it seems (no beautifully set table – just lots of vary small children running and screaming …). Thanks for inspiring me to up my game 😉

    1. Thank you Ginger! We have had plenty of chaotic parties and when our children were smaller I would ocassionally recruit a few neighbor kids to carry out the party games…giving me the opportunity to take care of the treats. More recently my husband and our older children have taken on the role…and to be truthful they come up with more creative things to do than I ever have!

      1. How well organised you all are! It’s great when the older siblings take over – we were really lucky this year with our own party entertainer, the 12-year-old older brother, who got them all rallied up and doing whatever he told them to 😉

    1. I know quite a few other families that have noticed the same issue. 🙂 and yes the the little helper is keen on getting into anything he might reach. We’ve had to place all of stools on their side for the time being as he is in no time at the stove or the fruit basket and poking holes into the tomatoes or nectarines!

  6. Laila, how I love your posts! They’re always filled with light – and I don’t just mean bright light, but everything from sunlight to subdued winter light to candle light – all reflecting the mood, the season, the time of day. Whenever I click on one of your links, I’m excited to see what the light will be in that particular post. Your posts are also filled with family and so much love that it literally lows through the screen. Thank you for sharing your kitchen with us! xxx

    1. Oh, thank you so much Celia for your lovely comment! I love light and learning how to capture it is an adventure that is still very much at the beginning. Little by little I am learning and enjoying it very much!

  7. Really beautiful photos, Laila. I particularly love the top one with the overhead view of the birthday table and a little smiling face looking up. And wow, I wish I’d had ice cream cake growing up. Sounds and looks magnificent. Sophie xx

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