Birthday Cakes in Shangri-La

My kids are always happy to make the two and a half hour drive to Arlington, where my parents and sister live. If a month goes by without a visit, they start complaining, “We haven’t been to Arlington in ages! We really need to go for a visit soon.”

For them, going to Arlington is a little bit like getting sprung from hard labor straight into Shangri-La. Upon their arrival their Auntie plies them with their favorite Hershey’s Cookies’n’Creme candy bars. Occasionally, their mean mother manages to steal them away before they’re gobbled up at one sitting so that she can parsimoniously dole them out square by square over a week or so. They bask like cats luxuriating in a patch of sunlight in the glow of lavish praise for doing nothing more than existing on this planet. Freed from all responsibilities and chores, they laze all day long in my parents’ basement with absolute impunity, binge-watching the TV that their parents so cruelly deprived them of when they got rid of TV in their own home. Periodically, they emerge from the basement to feast, not on Hot Pockets, cheese quesadillas, or frozen Trader Joe entrees, but on food grown in the backyard and magically transformed into delicious, memorable meals three times a day. Once in a while, my sister likes to blow their minds with fabulous desserts that are the stuff of their wildest dreams. This time around, she whipped up these two decadent, no-bake birthday cakes she found on Pinterest…

The first birthday cake was for the kids:

1. Coat a tray with a layer of hot fudge sauce.

2. Add a layer of ice cream sandwiches.

3. Add a layer of whipped cream.

4. Sprinkle crushed candy bar over this layer. Cookies’n’Creme, naturally.

5. Add another layer of ice cream bars and whipped cream.

6. Crushed Heath Bar next.

7. Add one last layer of ice cream bars and cover everything with whipped cream.

8. Decorate side with crushed cookie. This was actually the hardest part. My sister and I were literally throwing cookie crumbs at the cake. We made a huge mess, which my mother silently, stoically swept up as we continued the final touches…

9. Mini M&Ms on top!

My dad’s diabetic, so he got his very own cake.

1. Cut up a roundish watermelon.

2. Remove all of the rind and shape the watermelon into a round cake.

3. Frost with sugar free whipped cream and decorate with fresh berries.

4. Voilà!