I admit. When I first learnt I was pregnant earlier this year, I sent a few upward missives that went: “Lord, please give me a son this time round.” My firstborn E is a girl, so out of the purely selfish reason of wanting one of each, I wanted my second to be a boy.
Just think of it. I will have a daughter to dress up and bake pretty cakes with, and husband Z will have a son to skateboard with and do all those smelly things that boys do. And at first, all signs suggested that we would enjoy this idyllic, life-insurance ad configuration.
My aunt, who has a track record of accurately predicting the sex of a foetus by using some mystical formula involving the mother’s age, month of conception, etc, swore it was a boy. We have friends who “just have a feeling” that it was a boy. Even the wonton noodles auntie in my office canteen, with just one glance at my front-tilting bump, was sure of it too.
Then we found out the baby is actually a girl. And, wow, nothing prepared me for the tide of disappointment verging on disapproval that followed when we broke the news. My aunt, looking like she had just bitten into something rotten, told me I should “bok” (gamble) again and hopefully hit jackpot the third time round. When I told the wonton noodles auntie that I actually quite like having another girl, she said, with her back turned towards me: “As long as you’re happy lorhh. It’s okay lorhhhh.”
Everywhere I turned, people above the age of 45 would console me, saying “It’s okay lah. These days, boys and girls are all the same”. But, funny huh? If boys and girls are really the same, you never hear anyone saying this when you’re expecting a boy.
I, for one, have totally embraced and am loving the fact that I’ll be having two girls. First, you save lots of money by recycling the clothes. Second, if our new baby is anything like her older sister, we will have a pair of mild-mannered, well-behaved, neat and tidy kids who will not turn our home into a crime scene on a daily basis.
Third, and on to the real point of this post, I will have twice the opportunity to make the cutest, prettiest cakes all year round.
I mean, check out these adorable cheesecake pops I made as goodie bag takeaways for E’s birthday party two weeks ago. Would a birthday boy have appreciated the heart-shaped sprinkles or the pastel-coloured non-pareils? I don’t think so. When he becomes a teenager, he will look back on the birthday photos and accuse me of instilling in him an unmanly penchant for pink and polka dots.
If I had a son, every special occasion cake I make will have to factor in boy colours and emblems. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think a cake shaped like a blue tractor looks all that appetising. A dinosaur cake? Sure, I can make one. Just don’t make me eat it.
But with two girls, I will have at least two birthday cakes to make a year, festooned with flowers, flounces, ruffles in all manner of lemon-yellows and rosebud pinks. Already, I am having soul-lifting visions of my two girls in cute little aprons, helping me in the kitchen with the whipping, kneading and washing. What absolute bliss.
Having said all this, I’ll wait till I pop in January before I celebrate. Imagine the back-paddling I’ll have to do if the ultrasound scans turn out all wrong.
CHEESECAKE POPS adapted from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O’Connor
(makes 50 golf ball-sized pops)
40 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup plain flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 eggs (about 250g without shells)
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup heavy cream (at least 35% butterfat)
50 lollipop sticks (Wilton brand, available at Phoon Huat)
1 pound eating chocolate (dark, milk or white)
2 tablespoons shortening
1. Preheat oven to 160 deg C.
2. Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, sugar, flour and salt together until smooth. Add whole eggs and egg yolks one at a time, beating on low speed. Beat in vanilla and cream.
3. Lightly grease a 10-inch or 9-inch cake pan (not springform as the batter will leak) and pour batter into it. Place pan inside a larger roasting pan and fill up the latter with water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the inner cake pan. Bake until cheesecake is firm and golden-brown on top, about 45-50 minutes.
4. Remove cake pan from the water bath and leave to cool to room temperature. Then, refrigerate cheesecake until cold and very firm, about 3 hours.
5. Scrape off the golden-brown crust on top (because it will keep the cheesecake from sticking together in a ball). Then, using a small ice-cream scoop, make golf ball-sized balls and insert a lollipop stick. Freeze the pops until very hard, at least 1 hour.
6. While cheesecake balls are being frozen, prepare the chocolate dip. Place half the amount of chocolate in a bowl (use only half because the chocolate will harden very quickly during dipping, so might as well do in two batches) and microwave on high, taking it out every 15 seconds to stir. If you don’t, chocolate will seize and become grainy. When chocolate is melted and warm, add in shortening (to lower chocolate’s melting point so it won’t melt into a mess when you’re eating it) and mix till smooth.
7. Dip cheesecake balls into the chocolate until evenly covered. You will have to work quickly because the cheesecake’s cold temperature will harden the chocolate very quickly.
8. Then, immediately sprinkle over decorations before chocolate hardens. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
9. Once first batch of chocolate is used up, heat up second batch of chocolate and shortening. Repeat with remaining cheesecake balls.
10. Or, for more adult-looking pops, leave cheesecake unadorned and swirl patterns on the chocolate before they set. Gorgeous!