In fantasy novels, peasants with birthmarks are born to fulfill heroic destinies. In critically acclaimed literary sci-fi, children are born in order to provide organ transplants to their siblings. In my kitchen, on my birthday, tiramisu cakes are born to be doused in high-proof liquor and lit on fire.
I made a big announcement. I invited people over. In the end, though, I just couldn’t do it. In part, the cake was too beautiful, too delicious, too wonderfully varied in flavor and texture. Like the huntsman in the Snow White story, I couldn’t stand to rip out the heart of something so innocent.
But also? I saw some horrifying shit while making this cake. My guests only saw it in its perfect, mousse-filled final form. But I witnessed what happened when I strayed from the recipe. The cloudburst-frosted facade cracked, and when I looked beyond it, I saw the abyss. It’s my personal policy never to provoke the powers of evil. So instead of opening a fiery gate to hell, I cut the cake into sixteen pieces and enjoyed it in its sweet, idealistic form.
My birthday cake was four layers of yellow cake brushed with coffee syrup, filled with alternating chocolate mousse and diplomat creme, and frosted with a brandy-vanilla cloudburst frosting. My birthday cake was possibly a portal to hell. My birthday cake was absolutely worth the risk.