A Tuscan Birthday Fare

Thumper's birthday was  weeks ago, but I had to share with you this milestone.
Although, the boy turned 12,  he's almost taller than me. And no longer shops for clothes in the boy's department. Fact is,  he's been recently spotted  wearing "man pants."

So, I was not too surprised when my suggestions for his birthday cake— a Star Wars theme, or perhaps, a Little Big Planet's Sackboy cake—were crushed.

"Mom, I don't want  cake—that's for babies. What I really want is Spaghetti and Meatballs!"

Say what?!

Have I spent all these years frolicking-in-sugar-in-order-to-someday-provide-my-kid-with-a-homemade-birthday-cake-for nothing? (comes up for air).

"Listen, Mister Man Pants, you're getting a cake, whether you like it or not!"

Being that my little guy is all grown up now, I honored his birthday wish—somewhat.  I baked him an old favorite  amongst his  peers,  Spaghetti Cake.

The cake was chocolate  (use your favorite chocolate cake recipe, or try this or this one.)
I baked it in an oval-shaped pan. The cake was  crumb-coated with a pale yellow-tinted buttercream. Then, the spaghetti strands were  piped from a #5 pastry tip.

I considered making truffles for the meatballs, but didn't think they'd  look realistic enough. Besides,  most kids  love Rice Krispies Treats, right?  So making  meatballs, using chocolate and rice cereal was a no-brainer.
Cake was garnished with fresh chocolate mint—Amore. The "tomato sauce" was   raspberry sauce.

Incidentally, in case you were wondering,  the wine  was for me—not the child.

Speaking of wine.  What would a traditional Tuscan fare be, without grapes? Which, btw, also happens to be the boy's  favorite fruit.

Well, I could've handed the boy a bunch of grapes, and called it a day.  But I wouldn't have slept through the night, unless I took the  fruit  to another level.
Concord Grape Sorbet was the answer  (Btw, leaves and tendrils were all made of Marzipan).

This frozen treat tastes like the grape juice many of us enjoyed as kids. Remember how it tasted purple?
Oh, you'll need a spoon for this one—or not—if you're a kid at heart.

I froze Concord grapes from last fall  for the occasion. Can't find Concord grapes? Make the sorbet with Concord grape juice. Can't find Concord grape juice? Use grape-flavored water. Can't find water?
...I'm way ahead of you...

Ain't I a stinker?

I'm kidding, of course. I just  think you should try this, sometime.

 Chocolate Rice Krispies Meatballs

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 ounces  unsweetened chocolate
1 package (10 oz., about 40) large marshmallows, or, 4 cups miniature  marshmallows
 6 cups Kellog's Rice Krispies cereal

In large saucepan melt butter and chocolate over low heat. Stir often.  Add marshmallows and stir until marshmallows are completely melted. Remove from heat.
Add 6 cups of the rice cereal, stirring  until well coated. Allow mixture to cool  about 10 minutes,  or until  cool enough to handle.  Roll meatballs from the chocolate mixture, using a small, greased,  ice cream scoop. Place ‘meatballs’ on  parchment paper-lined cookie sheet, and set aside until completely set.

 Concord Grape Sorbet

1½ pounds Concord grapes
¼ cup water
Simple syrup (recipe follows)
1½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
 Prepare an ice bath, set aside. Wash and stem the grapes. Combine grapes  and water in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, until the liquid begins to bubble and grapes start releasing their juices, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat, and simmer until grapes begin to break apart, about 3 minutes more.

Pass mixture through a food mill, or fine sieve into a large bowl set in the ice bath; discard solids.
Stir frequently, until completely cool. Stir in the simple syrup and the lemon juice.

Transfer mixture to an ice-cream maker, and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. Place in an airtight container, and store in freezer until ready to serve, up to 2 weeks. Serves 10.

Simple Sorbet Syrup
Simple syrup can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for at least 2 months.

2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup water
In a medium saucepan combine sugar and water. Bring to a boil, over medium-high heat. Cook until sugar completely dissolves, about 8 to10 minutes. Allow to cool, and then, refrigerate until needed. Sorbet recipe, courtesy of Martha Stewart.

Raspberry Sauce

One 10 ounce bag  frozen raspberries
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Chambord, optional

Bring raspberries, sugar, and lemon juice to a gentle boil. Simmer for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add Chambord.
Purée in a blender until smooth. Strain mixture through a fine sieve to remove seeds. Cool completely, and refrigerate until needed. This sauce also freezes well.

And there you have it:

Thumper loves pasta.
Thumper loves meatballs.
Thumper loves Italian cuisine, in general.

So, what was my mercurial son's birthday dinner?

Chinese food.


  1. You are a MASTER..I had to look 10 times.. really I still think it's psigetti and meatballs:)

    Wow Sol..

    And Man Pants:) They grow up so fast don't they~

  2. You never cease to amaze me with your creativity, Sol! When I first looked at the pictures in this post I thought your spaghetti sauce looked so much more raspberry colored than my tomato sauce but knew the brand of Italian squiggly pasta that you used - LOL! Time to put on the glasses, I guess.

    Congratulations on Thumper's milestone and maybe it's time he gets a new nickname to suit his Mr. Man Pants status? The Big Hare, perhaps?

  3. Happy Birthday Thumper.

    Seems just like yesterday that he was five.

    Sol, you really are amazing.


  4. Monique, they do grow up fast. Maybe we'd better hurry, and ask Santa for a Time Machine this Christmas.

    :)Susan, if it's any consolation, I once mistook a miniature horse for a dog, in bright daylight.
    Btw, I think The Big Hare is perfect! I'll try it out on him.

    Thank you WW! It's hard even for me to believe how quickly the boy has sprouted!
    And while he may be all grown up, he still has the toy truck you sent him years ago, when he was about five.

  5. Hehehe, Mister Man Pants.... I love that nickname! Kids seem to grow up a lot faster now. At 12 I was a baby.

    Gorgeous presentation and dishes! I love that theme.



  6. You are so creative! What an arrrr-teest you are. My son is 13 and we hit "man pants" not so long ago. Wearing a bigger size than his old man wore when I first met him. It's crazy how tall they can get and so fast!

  7. Mr Man Pants is one lucky kid! Hey, Sol, my birthday is in July...

  8. Happy Birthday to Thumper!

  9. Happy Birthday Thumper! (Sol, does he read your blog?) Shhh, don't tell him but I have always thought he is adorable. And I can't believe your little guy is wearing MAN pants. Where has the time gone!

  10. You are a goddess! Very creative! And happy birthday Thumper!

  11. Amazing! I was fooled at first but then it looked so perfect. Happy birthday to the little mister and may all your creations find their way on this site for us to admire !!

  12. I really like grapes and after seeing your photos I want one :)and the cake as well. Very very nice photos.Want to be your neighbor invited by you on birthday parties ..

  13. Amazing Sol!

    Eres una maestra!
    Feliz Cumpleaños para Thumper.
    Hard to believe that he's now in MAN PANTS...WOW.

    Un abrazo,


  14. WOW! I'm speechless, this cake is FANTASTIC!!!

  15. Rosa, at 12, I thought I knew everything. Reality sucks.

    Dorissa, I love that, no matter how big boys get, moms will always hold a special place in their hearts. Of course, if that were to change, we'll have to rely on the proverbial mama glare [G]

    Dear Carol, I'll keep that in mind, my friend!:)

    Debbie, Thumper has no interest in blogs. But, you know I'll have to tell him about this. He'll blush, I just know it...Thumper has a girlfriend :)

    Hello there Jun, and thank you kindly!

    Jourmana, you're sweet!

    Stanislav, I love grapes too; have you tried them frozen? Oh, praise Zeus!

    Sharon, Thumper is certainly proud of his 'man pants.' I wonder if grapes have something to do with his growth spurt.
    Btw, it's really good seeing you out and about again! Abrazos para tí.

    Susan, you left me speechless.

    Thanks for hanging out guys! Mondays are much brighter with comments like yours!

  16. Happy Birthday to Thumper!

    Genius presentation of the sorbet in that bunch of grapes and rice krispy meatballs...that is so cool!

  17. You are full of delightful surprises, sweet friend. Your edible/artistic creations are incredible ... Belated birthday wishes,Thumper. You are so lucky!

  18. OMG that is BRILLIANT! The grapes and vines are so realistic as are the spaghetti and meatballs. I bet your boy has inherited your sense of fun too! Happy Birthday to him! :D

  19. Thank you kindly, Tiger! I'll be sure to pass the birthday greetings on to him.

    Dear Joey, you've always been so kind. And, as cheesy as this may sound, I'm the lucky one! Thanks my friend.

    Lorraine, I think the boy has a sense of humor that's all his own. And it worries me.

    Thank you all for the birthday wishes, and for taking a peek!

    Air kisses!

  20. That is wonderful! I lost all the blogs on my sidebar and have been gradually putting them back, so I didn't know you had posted. I love this cake idea, and Happy Birthday to Thumper!
    I scrolled down through the rest of the posts I missed. You are just so talented!

  21. Anonymous8/12/10

    Hi, Sol. This cake and post were both hilarious.
    I was expecting a spaghetti-and-meatball dinner followed by the cake but, no, that would be too predictable.

    I went to a gelateria west of Chicago when I was young, which had spaghetti-and-meatball gelato (sweet flavours, not savoury), but yours takes the cake.



  22. omg that is brillant. hats off to you Marysol. totally couldn't tell that it is a cake at first sight. and a winning solution for both of u :)

  23. Wow! I could look through your photos forever. I so admire your ability to create edible works of art. Isn't it difficult to see them devoured in seconds?

  24. Thank you Kathleen!

    Dan, Spaghetti and Meatballs Ice Cream? Now, that, I'd like to see! I've been to Chicago quite a bit, but I've never come across such a gelatería. I'm determined to look that up.

    NC, the oldest kid—my daughter—swiped all the meatballs off the cake. Apparently this type of cake transcends all age groups :)

    Thank you Vittle!

    VM, I'd find your creations much more difficult to part with than mere cake.

    Thank you all for the smiles!

  25. Still can not get enough of this post! I think I have shown like 10 people this cake!

  26. Are you kidding me????
    I'm still going back and forth to look at this.
    Incredibly amazing...
    My piped pasta would look like a nest of worms or snakes...
    I am officially dumbfounded...
    I'm hoping for a pizza cake next year!
    Kathy @
    Sweet Up-North Mornings...

  27. I love that spaghetti cake and the reaction it gets from people. I made it for Father's Day a couple of years ago and everyone was incredulous! the grape cluster is lots of fun too. Will have to try it.