June is a big birthday month in our family. First, there’s my Nan’s birthday on the 13th. She was 95 years old yesterday. Then, there’s my Mum’s birthday today. I won’t risk telling you how old she is, but it’s another ‘something-5’ milestone this year. She says she’s 21-and-a-bit, so let’s just go with that for the sake of family harmony.
Next week on the 20th, we’ll be celebrating M’s 7th birthday. I say ‘we’, but the truth is that M is busying herself with the job of celebrating her birthday already and has become an excitable bundle of cheeky high spirits in anticipation of the day itself.
As if that wasn’t enough, we also have to fit in a Father’s day celebration for my Dad (aka Grandpa) and O (aka Dad) at the weekend. Our kitchen table inevitably begins to resemble something from Santa’s workshop at about this point in the proceedings – wrapping paper, sellotape, scissors, card, colouring pencils …
Now that T has learned to write his name neatly and with all the letters facing the right direction (most of the time), there’s an even ‘bitterer’ fight over who addresses each envelope and signs their name first on each birthday card. Naturally, the winner gets the best spot right in the middle where their name is instantly noticed and appreciated by the recipient, whilst the loser’s name is relegated to a tiny leftover bit of space in the bottom corner. O and I are usually the losers.
Birthdays are also synonymous with baking in our family. My children feverishly discuss grand designs for their own birthday cakes (I’ve hidden my Debbie Brown book of so-called easy party cakes to avoid overstimulating them during this risky process) and we all get together in the kitchen to cook up some treats as gifts for Granny and Nan. This year, I decided to try out something that I’ve been considering baking for a while – namely, chocolate covered brownie bites.
They’re very simple. Just bake a batch of your favourite chocolate brownies (minus any nuts or other gubbins you usually throw in), let them cool and then crumble them all up into little pieces. Children are good at doing this.
Next, scoop up a bunch of the crumbs, pinch them together and roll them into a ball between the palms of your hands. Children are good at doing this, too. Adults who have many years’ experience of gathering up scratty offcuts of playdough will probably also be at an advantage.
Finally, melt some of your favourite dark chocolate in a bowl. Use a couple of forks to dip each ball into the bowl and cover it entirely with the melted chocolate. Place the chocolate-covered brownie bites on a tray lined with baking parchment until the chocolate hardens. All the messy bits of chocolate can be cut away from the bites with a sharp knife once the chocolate has set.
I took a box of these brownie bites for my Mum to our tap dancing class this morning (don’t laugh – at the idea of me tap dancing, I mean) and they didn’t hang around for very long. I also hid a slice of uncrumbled brownie in a small tin for my Mum to enjoy on her own later …