I won't bore you with any oh-my-god-where-did-the-year-go moaning, but seriously, I really want to.
He is a sweetheart, this little one. He snuggles. He's chatty, loves a story and he gets feisty with his big brother several times a day. He relishes being grubby. If there's dirt or a muddy patch to be found, he's there. He thinks he's an excellent helper in the kitchen, always ready to climb on the dishwasher door, hang off the oven tea towel rack or try to suck on the dust pan brush before I notice. Best of all though, is his dancing. Any tune, from Twinkle Little Star to Augie March and he will start moving side to side, like it's a reflex, as if everyone should. It's the funniest, most beautiful thing to watch.
And that, I guess, is where the year has gone. Getting to know our littlest beartiger.
What has not gone is my baby brain. It seems to have taken over. I annoy myself more than anyone else these days with the stupid things I forget. I recently went to Melbourne without jeans or underwear in my luggage. Shorts and heels to dinner? I rocked it.
The following weekend was Master O's first birthday and with zero preparation I needed an easy but effective cake. This tip truck number ticked all the boxes and allowed three-year-old Master N to help, plus I had a valid excuse to buy Violet Crumbles and Maltesers.
Here's how you do it:
Start by choosing your favourite recipe for a chocolate cake large enough to split into four layers. I have a few people in my clan who aren't big fans of heavy, muddy, varieties so I opted for a chocolate sponge with chocolate ganache frosting. Purists say ganache frosting isn't a thing. I say, try it. It's good. You could also use a straight chocolate ganache or chocolate buttercream for the topping/filling.
Next, raid your kid's toy box or visit a toy store and find a suitably sized tip truck (this is probably more hygienic option and what I did, mostly because I can't find a damn thing in my kids' room). Remember to leave some violet crumbles for the cake and you're ready!
Chocolate Tip Truck Cake
6 large eggs
1 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup cornflour
1 cup plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 tablespoons cocoa
Preheat oven to 160C.
Grease and line two 20cm round cake tins.
Beat the eggs with an electric mixer until thick and pale. Gradually add the caster sugar and beat until tripled in volume (about 10 mins).
Triple sift the cornflour, flour, baking powder and cocoa.
Turn mixer to lowest speed and gradually add the sifted dry ingredients, mixing only until combined.
Gently pour mixture equally into prepared tins and bake for 25 mins.
Turn cakes onto wire racks to cool.
Chocolate Ganache Frosting:
300g quality dark chocolate, chopped
200g quality milk chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups cream
1 cup icing sugar
Place chopped dark and milk chcolate into a bowl.
Heat cream in a small saucepan until just before boiling point.
Pour cream over chocolate and leave to stand for five minutes before stirring gently until the mixture combines into a thick and glossy ganache. Put in the fridge for about 20 mins to cool.
When cooled and oozy, beat ganache and icing sugar in bowl of electric mixer until light and fluffy.
Carefully cut each cake in half, creating four layers of cake. Place one layer on cake board or serving stand and spread with frosting. Repeat with remaining layers. Spread frosting over top and sides of cake with a pallet knife, then dust the whole cake with cocoa.
Place the toy tip truck on top and fill the tipper with chunks of Violet Crumble (some whole, some broken) and Maltesers.
On the side of the cake where the tipper is pointing, wedge more chocolate rocks in the frosting down the side of the cake and pile around the bottom.
Have some double cream and a bowl of berries handy for the grown ups at serving time.