Birthdays slowly lose their appeal over the years, stacking up one after another whether you’re ready or not. What was once exciting becomes blasé. Been there, done that, ate the cake and lived to tell the tale. Rinse and repeat.
There are certain milestones that are genuinely worth getting fired up over. Especially for a youngster on the cusp of adulthood, a Sweet Sixteen is a huge event, above and beyond the average birthday. It symbolizes coming of age, transitioning into the next chapter of life, and maybe even graduating from the kids’ table.
My dearest BitterSweet blog, you are now a mature, fully ripened fruit. How on earth this happened is beyond me. Despite some bad parenting in the beginning, you managed to not only survive the abuse, but thrive in spite of it. Together we’ve grown in ways unthinkable at the start. Now I can’t imagine life without you, nor would I want to.
Happy Sweet Sixteen, BitterSweet! To commemorate this momentous occasion, I had to pull out all the stops for an unforgettable cake worthy of such an event. After hemming and hawing for month, inspiration struck: nothing short of a sixteen-layered crepe cake would do.
How I could have gone sixteen years without featuring a single recipe using ube is beyond me. Let’s make up for lost time and dive right in, shall we? This purple yam is a staple in the Philippines, where it’s often the key ingredient in ice cream, cakes, cookies, waffles, lattes, jams, puddings, and beyond. Though its main claim to fame is that otherworldly hue, the flavor is what keeps people coming back for more. Subtle and delicate with a natural sweetness, the flavor is nutty like toasted pistachio with a hint of vanilla bean.
Granted, I took a short cut here and used ube extract and powder rather than the genuine article. It’s much easier to blend in concentrated flavor and color than start from a whole, fresh tuber, even if it’s not authentic. Just a few drops makes a big splash, and as my crepes started piling up, I worried that I might have gone overboard.
Vibrant in a way that they looked Photoshopped in real life, those thin French pancakes have never been so bold before. Served alone to wrap up whipped cream or fruit, they would already be an unforgettable treat, but when transformed into a tall stack with fluffy layers of buttercream in between, the results are awesome, in the truest sense of the word.
Mille Crepe literally means “a thousand crepes,” so by that metric my grand gateau falls short. However, I think that sixteen is more than enough for now. Who knows: Maybe someday, little old BitterSweet will old enough to celebrate a millennia. Until then… Stay sweet!