Hazelnut Torte and…Birthday Party Etiquette

I have a friend, Melissa, and she was telling me about how her daughter Chloe (aged seven) was invited to a birthday party by a girl in her daughter’s class.  Nothing unusual about that of course.

But the mother of the birthday girl lives a busy life.  Not because she’s raising four small children and looking after an enormous waterfront house and their yacht tied to the mooring at the bottom of their substantial block, but because she’s intimately connected with her plastic surgeon.  He was responsible for giving her the over-sized implants that turn the corner before she does (not that there’s anything wrong with implants), and the wrinkle-free face that as Melissa says, ‘is so stretched she has excellent peripheral vision, (not that there’s anything wrong with having excellent vision).

Hazelnut Torte with Creme Fraiche

Despite her hectic schedule, the mother did find time to organise the birthday party and it was definitely a case of ‘the more the merrier’.  Everyone from the class was invited as was everyone from their street, as was everyone from her Mother’s Group, as was every living relative and known living acquaintance.

On the day of the party my friend Melissa went via the local toy shop and bought one of those amazing toys that are huge and an absolute ‘must-have’.  Free gift wrapping is included so the present was covered in paper and thousands of metres of multi-coloured ribbon were added until it looked amazing.

The party was held on the local playing fields.  Melissa had to park quite a distance from ‘party central’ so she and Chloe (who held the present clutched between her hands), trekked across the playing fields towards the action.  As they progressed towards the party, the birthday girl spotted them and came running towards them with a huge smile.  Chloe’s face lit up as she was thrilled that the birthday girl, who already had large numbers at her party, appeared to be so thrilled at her arrival.

As the birthday girl approached she lunged forward and without a word or a moment’s hesitation, snatched the gift from Chloe’s hands, turned and ran off, back to ‘party central’.  Chloe was left stunned with her hands outstretched as though still holding the gift.

The present was never again mentioned.  There was not a thank you nor an acknowledgement.  Melissa was disappointed and Chloe confused.

What is proper birthday party etiquette regarding presents?

A party is not a party without a cake.  As Carl’s recent birthday bash I served this hazelnut torte that I adapted from a Jamie Oliver recipe.

Hazelnut Torte

Serves:  8

Degree of Difficulty:  2/5

Cost:  This is a beautiful, inexpensive, lovely dinner party dessert

  • 115g/4oz butter, softened plus extra for tin
  • 125g/4 1/2 oz hazelnuts, roasted
  • 125g/4 1/2 oz sugar
  • 4 large organic eggs, separated
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 30g/10z plain flour (I used spelt flour but I think quinoa would work equally as well)
  • 124g/4 1/2 oz ricotta cheese
  • 2 tbspn poppy seeds
  • a pinch of salt
  • 3 heaped tbspns jam, preferably apricot
  • 50g/1 3/4 oz best-quality cooking chocolate (70% cocoa solids), finely grated

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F.

Butter a 28cm/11 inch loose-bottomed flan-tin or cheesecake mould, line it with greaseproof paper and place it in the fridge.

Whiz up the hazelnuts in a foood processor until you have a fine powder – be careful not to over-whitzz.  You can bash the nuts up in a tea towel using a rolling pin if you don’t have a food processor.

Beat the butter and sugar together in a food processor until pale.  Add the egg yolks one by one, and the orange zest.  Sieve in the flour, crumble in the ricotta and stir in the powdered hazelnuts and the poppy seeds.  In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they are really stiff, then fold them slowly into the hazelnut mixture.  Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake in the preheated oven for around 25-30 minutes until there is a little colour on the top of the torte.  You can check to see that it’s ready by sticking a cocktail stick into the centre of the torte.  It should come out clean and not sticky.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.  While it’s cooling, place the jam in a little pan with 4 tbspns of water and bring this slowly up to the boil.  Brush this over the top of the torte and when cool, sprinkle with the grated chocolate.  Serve with some creme fraiche or fromage frais.

This recipe has been adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Kitchen

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  1. Sweet Posy Dreams says:

    The torte looks divine.  We have a family birthday coming up, and I would love to try this.  Our birthday girl has already put in her cake request though.  Maybe this can be a mother’s day cake for me!

    You would like to believe that by age 7, children have some party manners.  How sad for the birthday girl that her family is not preparing her for polite society.  Perhaps a yacht makes up for good manners?  I doubt it.  I expect poor Chloe learned a little something that day.

  2. “A party is not a party without a cake.” – Now that says it all!!! Thanks for the tasty thoughts for my morning.

  3. Here in Minnesota all the birthday presents go into a pile and are opened after the children play games, etc., and before the food is served. The guests cluster in a circle and watch the birthday child open his/her gifts. And the child verbally thanks each guest during this process. After the party, the birthday child writes and mails handwritten thank yous to each guest.

    The mother you referenced seems to be teaching her daughter to be greedy and self-centered. The sheer size of this party sounds ridiculous, too.

  4. I think decent manners are still an important feature of birthday party etiquette! Thank you letters are a good thing.

  5. Denisetyrrell1 says:

    What a ridiculous affair this must have been. I wonder what we are teaching our children these days. Anyway the cake was much more impressive – I could imagine tasting it the photo was so good. 

  6. Denisetyrrell1 says:

    Just gave your white bean dip a run on my blog.

  7. How horrendous. I can’t even imagine. We make sure to send a thank you card for every gift received. We also keep the parties small enough so that the kids can open the presents, thanking their friends in the moment. I think the givers are just as excited as the birthday child at present time. It’s always the most animated and excited part of the party. 

  8.  Argh, children like that turn me off of the idea of having sprogs of my own, lol. Great post!

  9. Niasunset says:

    WOW! This is so nice, I can eat all of them… Thank you dear Charlie, with my love, nia 

  10. Mmmm. Hazelnut is one of my favourite nuts and this cakes looks absolutely wonderful; not too sweet, not too creamy, just perfect.
    Birthday etiquette ARGH! It was just my nephews birthday and I gave him an iTunes gift card and baked him his favourite cookies. We were there Sunday to give him the gifts. He didn’t mention the gift card and just mildy said “Mmmm cookies” to me. It wasn’t until two days later his Mum posted the following on FB: “Eva, thanks for the cookies for Jack. He actually said “best birthday
    present ever” yesterday. Well, now we know not to buy him Mac’s and
    iPhones…I will just bake him some cookies. Haha.”
    What etiquette?

  11. Your hazelnut torte sounds fabulous!!! Especially with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream….mmmmmm.  

    I would expect a personal thank you AND a thank you note from this child.  But it doesn’t sound like her parents taught her proper etiquette. Very. sad.

  12. What is proper birthday party etiquette regarding presents? I take it’s a rhetorical question… Like mother, like daughter one could maybe add. Because when you say nothing wrong with … quite political correct of course, I do sense a bit of sarcasm… I feel for your friend’s daughter. Doesn’t make you want to do it again if you get a reception like this.

  13. Choc Chip Uru says:

    That child does need to learn birthday etiquette – its sad that some do not appreciate as they should 🙁
    On a brighter note, this torte is exquisite – I adore hazelnuts probably more than any nut in the world 😀

    Choc Chip Uru

  14. The hazelnut torte sounds really original and delicious. 
    The girl’s behaviour tells a lot about her parents. 

  15. Hi,
    How very disappointing for that child that the present was snatched without a word, I agree with what some others have said, it certainly does tell you a lot about the parents of the birthday girl.

    A cake is certainly a must have at a party and yours looks delicious.

  16. OMG … how rude; however, your torte looks amazing 🙂

  17. Poor little rich girl, it’s going to be hard finding contentment as she grows up…

    Beautiful looking torte, Charlie! 🙂 xx

  18. Oh yeah… I hate those unthankful people…

  19. ChgoJohn says:

    Let’s just hope that the little girl was riding a massive sugar rush and her parents, had they witnessed it, would have set her straight. Hey! It could happen — and I’m gonna win the lottery!
    This tart would definitely be a hit at any dinner party. Another great one from Jamie Oliver! Thanks for sharing!

  20. Aha, oh dear – I knew that was coming as soon as I read that the birthday girl was rushing over, beaming broadly! Proper birthday party etiquette? Run after the girl and snatch the gift back and explain that it wasn’t for her and was actually for someone else. Then leave and return the gift and get the money back. If she ever wonders why she got no gift, make a donation in her name to a charity and present her with a little certificate with details of the donation. A worthy cause, and a way of really annoying little miss Spoilt to boot!

  21. Rachel - Executive Beader says:

    Such lovely results, you worked hard for that dessert. Proper etiquette means a thank you card. It is possible the gift was not properly credited to the poor giver. I rarely get a thank you card from any child in my family but I do get them from friends. We were raised to send thank you cards and it is sad this generation is not being taught that by all parents. 

  22. Oh my…Sounds like alot of poor parenting and a lack of manners! So much to say but I think you drew a very clear picture of how that little girl was raised. What is so sad is some day she will be an adult, much like her mother!

  23. How sad for one so young to have such bad manners.

    The torte sounds delicious.

  24. Words Of Deliciousness says:

    That is sad that a young girl would act like that. I feel bad for Chloe. 
    Your torte sounds and looks amazing!

  25. OmG that is SO SO SO rude! they are probably a rich family with NO manners what so ever! i wouldn’t have been able to just leave like that! I would’ve told that little girl off! That’s just so wrong I feel so sorry for Chloe >_<

  26. Looks absolutely delicious! I could so eat all of that in one go!

  27. This torte looks amazing. Love hazelnuts and creme fraiche!

  28.  every visit to your blog, I am always hungry haha.,

  29. That torte looks delicious. You always make me drool. Now as for the snatching? That’s definitely uncalled for. Clearly the birthday girl has no manners and that act was simply RUDE. Who does that these days?

  30. Everything, everything about this makes me feel sick. (Except the sweet treat, of course!) We were only allowed birthday parties once every two years, and they were always small affairs. The kind where, during pass the parcel, not every layer had a prize.

    That said, I was talking with someone just this morning about how I miss lolly bags.

  31. This tart is truly a beauty. I will be happy too eating this for my birthday. Will bookmark this recipe.

    PS. Your blog is awesome and I have “Like” you at Facebook 😀

  32. I’m not up to speed on birthday party etiquette, but I am pretty certain that is not it! 

    Leaving such rudeness aside, this looks like a lovely tart and with flavours I’ve never actually tried in tart form. I shall tuck the recipe away 🙂

  33. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says:

    Definitely not but then again, plenty of people don’t have manners. Also kids are quite honest in their reactions to things (which can be good and bad! lol).

  34. Khushboo says:

    This tarte looks like the bomb.com but as for the manners, I can’t say the same…nothing irks me more than poor manners uff! 

  35. Oh my – how rude!  Not sure on children’s party etiquette but I do know manners and the lack of it when I see it or read about it!
    Fabulous Torte!
    🙂 Mandy

  36. A thank-you would have been nice, at the very least! The tart looks delicious!

  37. My mom has always been very adamant about sending thank you notes. It’s really the only way to go!

    I love hazelnuts. Like LOVE.  This torte looks amazing!

  38. Oh gosh what a great recipe. I love anything hazelnuts, really. Thanks for sharing, Charlie. Love how clean and simple it looks. Am sure it tasted amazing =]

  39. This looks amazing!! The only experience with hazelnuts that I have had was in nutella, and really, how much hazelnut can really be in there? I’ve got to get the real deal sometime soon

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Thanks so much. I would love to comment on your blog but I’m unable to. I can only comment on blogger blogs that have the URL/name option. I’ve tried to sort this problem out with google but they are reluctant to fix it! xx

  40. Justasmidgen says:

    Presents are so awkward.. if the child opens them all (and there would have been tons here) the excess amount of gifts could be embarrassing. On the other hand, children love to see the expression on the birthday girl’s/boy’s face when they open a well-chosen gift.. But to grab it and run off.. definitely lacking in manners!

  41. Deeps NaughtyCurry says:

    omg, thats incredibly rude! but i wonder if its the child’s fault if her mom is hardly ever there to teach her etiquette… the torte looks awesome, love the shaved chocolate on top…nice touch 🙂

  42. Oh well.. I dont know.. kids are kids.. you know.. I hope my son will never act this way..
      The tort looks amazing, I’m going to try it out!

  43. Gretchen says:

    I truly must try this recipe – I love hazelnuts.  And as for that child at the party…that is so wrong. 

  44. Presents can be tricky at children’s birthday parties, no doubt about it.  But we can only hope that the kids learn about good behavior from their parents, which goes a long way to eleviate “issues.”  Too bad for those kids who suffer though…

    Love the hazelnut torte–sounds wonderful.

  45. Wow that is so inviting, I really badly need a slice now

  46. I am terrible at etiquette but I think you either thank people at the party when you open the presents or thank in person, email or letter after the party – I wish I could say I always do both but no!

    I am very good at eating such a torte – though again probably not so good in following polite etiquette here either

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