Noosh and I have always had an unconventional way of celebrating. Whether it be the end of a busy semester, the completion of a long assignment, the bright festivities of the holiday season, or a long-awaited birthday.
By that, of course, I mean that we hole up in our apartment with absolutely zero intention of leaving the living room, and all of our efforts are spent on ensuring the accessibility to and consumption of good food. As I type, in fact, we’re lying here on the floor, surrounded by throw pillows and knit blankets, a platter of cake and tin of sweetened cream at our fingertips, only a few small bites away from a food coma with The Man in the Iron Mask playing on the telly.
Maybe not the most celebratory of 22nd birthdays, but as far as I can tell, we’re pretty content.
Noosh is going to be reading this, anticipating a few overly sentimental sentences about how our friendship has shaped who I am, my experiences here at uni, living together the past 3 years after knowing each other since the 5th grade, blah, blah, blah. Cause, I’m sure you’ve realized by now, excessive sentimentality is a favorite pastime of mine when it comes to friends’ birthdays.
But you know, after close to 12 years, you run out of things to say. Or at least, things to say that would be of interest.
I mean, she’s heard it all at this point. Hell, she’s been hearing it all since our long walks through our perfectly suburban neighborhood back during middle and high school when we lived less than a mile apart, taking advantage of breezy summer evenings and cool autumn weekends, laughing about the going-ons of bus rides home or, later, venting about the irritations of our separate high schools.
(Let it be known that there were many irritations.)
Our weeks soon went from seeing each other almost-daily to occasions when we both had free time from planning Congrès (her) and Model UN conferences (me). Still, there was a sense of comfort that could only be found in an afternoon sitting together on her bed, clicking through silly Youtube videos online and recounting the hilarities of our similarly hectic lives.
I’d spend some evenings visiting her school to watch her perform in orchestra concerts (the accomplished violinist and violist as she was), and she’d spend some of mine, bravely squirming through jazz band recitals (for which the flute was, I assure you, an unwelcome instrument) and theater productions. The friends I made at high school quickly became good friends of hers, and over the years I met her track mates and make a point to see them here when they pass through town.
By my senior year of high school, I had teachers asking me which classes she was taking, believing she was a student at Governor’s along with me. Of course, she already knows that, since she was asked about it, too.
She’s heard more than enough about how she picked up the pieces of one of my singularly pathetic phases during a terribly rough first semester here at uni, when I spent my nights alternating between serious contemplation of transferring away and curling up under the covers in lieu of nights typically spent by students in their first year of college.
(She also probably knows how she was literally my only anchor for aforementioned period of time, and, as such, the reason I was able to put myself back together by our second year.)
We spent many evenings after hectic classes together, eating through pints of Ben & Jerry’s and bags of pita chips while flipping through a hilariously wonderful Zodiac book I was given as a gift a few years ago, reading about how much we’ve changed over the decade – for better or for worse – and the utter lack of incompatibility that’s developed between us and the rest of the world. I suppose it’s the friends who grow cynical together that stay together.
(All in jest, of course. When we’re in a good mood.)
She’s been victim to my notably less-pathetic (though, I suppose that’s debatable) phases of sci-fi and pop-culture obsession, from BBC’s Sherlock to Doctor Who; far-too-many-hours spent on Final Fantasy VII (again, of course; I’ve definitely beaten it more than once at this point) and Assassin’s Creeds I, II, Brotherhood, Revelations, and III; easy nights of Modern Family and The Big Bang Theory. As much as she used to tease me about them, she joined in on the obsessions quickly enough.
(She’d agree, with a gesture to our David Tennant and colorful Hogwarts House scrolls lining the space above the sofa.)
Flourless Chocolate Torte
Adapted from Delicious Shots
Yields one 8-inch cake
Ingredients for the cake:
- 5 eggs, separated
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup [1 stick] butter, cut into small pieces
- 8 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 2 heaping tbsp cocoa
Ingredients for the chocolate ganache:
- 5 tbsp heavy cream
- 8 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 2 cups raspberries, rinsed and patted dry
Method to prepare the cake:
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8-inch springform pan and dust with cocoa powder. Set aside.
In a heatproof bowl, melt the chocolate and butter over a double-broiler (or in the microwave). Allow melted chocolate to cool a bit. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks and the granulated sugar on medium speed until pale yellow, about 3 mins. Gradually pour the cooled chocolate mixture into the egg yolks, whisking until blended.
In a large bowl, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 3 mins. Fold the cocoa and 1/4 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to loosen the batter. Fold in the remaining egg whites, being careful not to deflate the eggs. Gently pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40-45 mins, until set. Allow cake to cool completely, cover the top the of the pan, and refrigerate until frosting.
Method to prepare the ganache:
Place the chopped chocolate in a medium, heatproof bowl. In a saucepan, heat the heavy cream until just boiling. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Let sit for about 3 mins, then stir the chocolate until smooth. Stick chocolate in the microwave for about 15 seconds if it hasn’t melted enough. Let chocolate mixture cool to spreadable consistency, about 10 mins.
Carefully remove the cake from the springform pan and place on a serving dish. Spread the slightly cooled ganache over the top of the cake, using a knife to smooth the top. Starting with the outer edge of the cake, place the raspberries over the ganache topping. Once entire cake is covered in raspberries, refrigerate until serving.
Just today, in fact, she mentioned how this is a mirror of the cake I made her for her 20th birthday, during our first semester living together at the apartment. I was quick to point out that, true as it may be, it was a sort of edible manifestation of how, despite how much things can change, they’re still loved. A three-layer chocolate cake turned into a flourless torte for someone who’s given up gluten, but devoured by two 5-year-olds-at-heart with the same love of dark chocolate and raspberries. (A combination that has, in fact, been a favorite of hers for as long as I can remember.)
She promptly told me not to ruin the moment.
Eight hours later, plopped on the sofa (we’ve since migrated vertically from the floor, though the fireplace is still crackling), Noosh is verbally running through an outline of her ethics paper, which I’ve learned over the course of the past few years is the most helpful way for her to organize her thoughts. I’m mainly just sitting here being wholly unhelpful, simultaneously typing and nodding when appropriate (though to my credit, I do offer a few sentences here and there). Nearing the end of my nonsensical rambling, I’ll soon hit “publish” and she’ll get wind of this post.
I suppose she’ll be in for a bit of disappointment once she gets through it, though. Sorry, Noosh, that there wasn’t much to say. But, I suppose, at this point in a friendship, words are kind of overrated, anyway.