I'm currently 25 years + 6 days old. A week literally flew by. It was such a happy week, and I'm all smiles inside. Some small highlights included a birthday dinner at my favorite restaurant, the sunshine on Sunday, and breaking in my new sneakers gifted by some of my best friends.
I write a lot about goals in this space - which I chalk up to my Type A personality and also probably from my Asian parents. With March being so close to the beginning of the year, my goals of being 25 are typically the same as my goals for the new year, so I've got no particular new goals from what I've told you earlier. Still working on making more homemade dinners and actually using the yoga mat in my room.
So instead I'll talk about dreams. Is there an actual difference? I posed this question to Andrew, who gave me the salty answer of, "Well sometimes my goals feel like my dreams." And I suppose yes, once in a while may find ourselves in a funk where we only see dreams as unreachable, unrealistic ideas.
But let's try thinking of dreams in a different way. Sure, they may be loftier than our goals, and they won't be met in a day or maybe even in a year. But their tall, sky-high nature makes them the perfect motivators if you ask me. Things you can recite every day when you wake up in the morning to get your juices flowing. Get yourself excited about the world that you live in. The world can change from these dreams at any point in time. It helps center your mind, and in time, it becomes interwoven into your values and builds your character.
Call me a cheesy optimist, but let's continue to dream.
Also! Another highlight of last weekend was baking this cake for my birthday twin, Alex from A Couple Cooks. I got to meet these two last month and they are such a wonderful couple that make me smile with their thoughtful posts and podcasts. They've been a huge motivation to get me in the kitchen and start cooking meals that treat my body and soul. I was thrilled when Sonja approached me to surprise Alex with a cake - and she let me have free reign over the flavors and the look which made me even more excited! I settled on a chocolate base, loaded it with cardamom and espresso, and then covered the whole thing in a cardamom cream cheese frosting. I delivered it on Sunday for lunch and we all ate grilled pizza and cake in the sunshine - the way double birthdays should be celebrated.
Cardamom espresso chocolate birthday cake
Adapted from the Magnolia Bakery chocolate cake recipe
For the cake:
- 2 cups + 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 3 tbsp espresso powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp vanilla
- 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp boiling water with 1 tablespoon espresso powder mixed in
- Preheat oven to 375 F. Line three 6 inch cake pans with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, mix the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and espresso powder until combined. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla until well combined. Whisk the egg mixture into the flour-sugar mixture until combined. Then add the boiling water + espresso mixture and whisk until batter is well combined (it will look liquidy).
- Pour the batter in the cake pans and put the pans in the oven. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until a toothpick placed in the middle of the cake comes out cleanly. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before frosting.
Cardamom cream cheese frosting
- 8 oz package of cream cheese, cold
- 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon ground cardamom
- Lots of powdered sugar!
- In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add 1 cup of powdered sugar and mix until combined.
- Add in the vanilla and cardamom and mix until smooth.
- Continue to add powdered sugar until it reaches the consistency/taste of your liking. Frost your cakes however you'd like and celebrate with friends!