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Posts Tagged ‘Dessert’

figupsidedown

I really wanted to bake something with the figs that I picked on Monday (see my fig pickin’ story and my Grilled Pizza with Fresh Figs, Prosciutto, Caramelized Onions and Blue Cheese here). I was not in the mood for a pie or tart and kind of had my heart set on baking some sort of cake so I Googled “fresh fig cake.” Surprisingly, there is not an abundance of fig cake recipes but I did find one Fig Upside Down Cake that sounded like just what I had in mind.

This cake was very simple to put together and so delicious warm out of the oven with a scoop of ice cream. The “upside down” topping of brown sugar, butter and honey caramelizes with the figs to create a caramelized fig preserves type flavor. The cake is moist and buttery and still tasted great the second day warmed up a little.

Fig Upside Down Cake
(Recipe source nola.com)

Ingredients:

12 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
10 fresh figs, stems removed, cut in half (I needed more like 15)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch cake pan with 2-inch sides (I used an 8-inch pan and it worked fin). Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and butter the parchment.

Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in the microwave. Stir in the brown sugar and honey until smooth. Pour the sauce into the prepared cake pan. Arrange figs, cut sides down, in concentric circles over the sauce. Set aside.

Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer or with an electric mixer, beat the remaining 8 tablespoons butter with sugar and vanilla until lightened in color and texture, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating until well combined after each. Turn mixer to low speed and add dry ingredients and milk in 3 parts, beginning and ending with flour. Spoon the batter evenly over the figs.

Bake until golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes (mine only took 45 so start checking early). Transfer the cake to a rack and cool in the pan for at least 30 minutes.

Run a knife around the sides of the pan to loosen the cake. Place a serving platter on top of the pan and invert the cake. Gently lift off the pan and remove the parchment paper. Serve warm. Extra delicious with ice cream.

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coconutlimecake

My mother in law’s birthday was last week and of course I volunteered to bring the birthday cake to our dinner party.  I love making cakes but it doesn’t make a lot of sense to make a whole cake for just Brandon and me.

I wanted to make a summery flavored cake. We have coconut and key lime lovers in the family so I decided that a coconut cake with a lime curd filling would be just the thing.

I used a Paula Deen recipe for the cake and frosting and adapted a lemon curd recipe from my blog for the lime filling. I must say that I was especially impressed by the Seven Minute Frosting for this cake. I had never made this type of frosting before and it was a nice change to my usual buttercream or cream cheese frosting. Brandon and I both thought it was reminiscent to marshmallow fluff, in a good way!

I was pleased with the way this cake turned out and it got good reviews at the party. I think my mother in law was also thrilled to be the guest of honor instead of the party planner.

Coconut Cake with Lime Curd Filling
(Recipe sources: cake and frosting – Paula Deen, lime curd filling – adapted from this lemon curd on my blog)

Ingredients:

FOR THE CAKE
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
3 cups self rising flour, sifted
1 cup coconut milk, stirred (not lite)
1 teaspoon vanilla

FOR THE LIME CURD
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (juice of about 2 limes)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lime peel

FOR THE FROSTING
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3  cup water
2 egg whites
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut

Directions:

FOR THE CAKE

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 3 (8-inch) cake pans. (I used the butter wrappers from the cake to grease the pans)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter on medium speed until fluffy. Add sugar and continue to cream for 6 to 8 minutes, until mixture is fluffy and lightened in color. Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition. Add flour and coconut milk alternately, beginning and ending with flour. Add vanilla and beat until just mixed.

Divide batter equally among prepared pans (about 2 cups per pan). Level batter in each pan by holding pan a few inches above counter, then dropping it flat onto counter. Do this several times to release air bubbles and create a more level cake.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until done. Start checking cakes at around 22 minutes. Cool in pans for 5 to 10 minutes before inverting cakes onto cooling racks to cool completely.

FOR THE LIME CURD
Whisk eggs, sugar and lime juice in heavy small saucepan. Add butter and lime peel. Stir over medium-low heat until curd thickens to pudding consistency, about 8 minutes. DO NOT LET MIXTURE BOIL – it will curdle (trust me, I had to throw a batch out!) Transfer to small bowl. Press plastic wrap onto surface of curd and chill at least 2 hours.

FOR THE FROSTING
Place sugar, cream of tartar, salt, water and egg whites in the top of a double boiler. Using a hand held mixer, beat mixture for about a minute on high speed. Place pan over boiling water and make sure that the boiling water does not touch the bottom of the top pan. Beat constantly on high speed with for 7 minutes. Beat in vanilla at the end and combine well.

TO ASSEMBLE THE CAKE
Place the bottom layer on a plate or cake stand. Spread top with half of the lime curd, leaving about a 1/2 inch border around the edges. Place second layer on top of the first and spread the remaining lime curd over the top. Place third layer on top of second and frost top and sides with frosting. Press coconut into the top and sides of frosting.

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oatmealraisin

Oatmeal raisin cookies are my FAVORITE. Seriously…if I could only eat one kind of cookie for the rest of my life it would be oatmeal raisin. I love them thick and chewy on the inside and a little crisp around the edges. I tried this recipe from Smitten Kitchen a few months ago and I  think it’s great and have made it several times since.

Most recently, I made them for Round 8 of Operation Baking Gals. This is a great organization where you join a team to bake for our troops overseas. I participated in Round 6 over Christmas and found it very rewarding. Here is my post explaining the organization and what I baked last time.

The soldier that we baked for this time was stationed in Iraq and has a wife and new baby at home. My package had oatmeal raisin cookies, peanut butter cookies and lots of other goodies (granola bars, mac and cheese, magazines, etc) .

If you’d like to do something for our troops overseas, I highly recommend joining a baking team at Operation Baking Gals!

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
(Recipe source Smitten Kitchen)

Ingredients:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cup raisins
1 cup walnuts or pecans, toasted and chopped (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.

Fit a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. On medium speed, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy and lightened in color (1-2 minutes). Add eggs one at a time and vanilla until smooth.

Reduce mixer speed to medium-low and slowly mix in flour mixture. Stir in the oats, raisins and nuts.

Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes before scooping onto a cookie sheet. Make sure they’re about two inches apart. Bake for 9-11 minutes. Take them out when they’re beginning to get golden around the edges and look a little undercooked in the middle.

Let cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: 4 dozen cookies

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mudpie

We had friends over for dinner Friday night and I wanted to make an easy dessert. Ice cream pie seemed like the perfect thing now that we’re having days with temperatures in the 80′s. This Mississippi Mud Pie did not disappoint. It was great! The recipe was recommended to me from Annie’s Eats.

The only change I would make next time would be to make extra crust. I didn’t have enough to go up the sides of my pie pan. I used a 9-inch pie pan. I’m reflecting that change in my recipe below. Otherwise, everything was perfect. The homemade chocolate mixture is sinfully delicious (I was definitely sampling the leftover chocolate sauce at 7 a.m. Friday morning when I was making the pie!)  and I think the toffee chips make this pie.

Mississippi Mud Pie
(Recipe source Annie’s Eats, originally from Williams-Sonoma)

Ingredients:

FOR THE COOKIE CRUST
2 cups Oreo cookie crumbs
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon sugar

FOR THE CHOCOLATE SAUCE
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

FOR THE PIE
1/2 cup toffee bits
1 quart coffee ice cream, softened

Directions:

FOR THE COOKIE CRUST
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together cookie crumbs, butter and sugar until crumbs are well moistened. Press mixture into a 9-inch pie pan. Firmly pack in crumbs and work up the sides of the pan.

Bake for 5-10 minutes (depending on desired crust firmness). Note that the crust will firm up more as it cools.

FOR THE CHOCOLATE SAUCE
In a double boiler, combine the chocolate chips, butter, cream and corn syrup. Heat over low heat, stirring often, until chocolate is melted. If you do not have a double broiler, you can use a small metal bowl over a small saucepan of simmering water. Bowl should not be touching the water.

Alternatively, in a microwave proof bowl, combine the chocolate, butter, cream and corn syrup and melt in microwave in 30-second intervals at 50 percent power. Stir mixture well after each 30 second interval. Do not overcook! Chocolate can burn quickly in microwave.

Add powdered sugar and vanilla to the chocolate mixture and whisk together. Reserve 1⁄3 cup of the chocolate mixture for the top of the pie. Spread the remaining mixture evenly in the bottom of the cookie crust and sprinkle half of the toffee bits over the chocolate. Refrigerate until chilled and set, about 1 hour.

TO ASSEMBLE THE PIE
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the softened ice cream on medium speed until it is spreadable but not runny. Immediately spread in pie shell and freeze until the ice cream is firm, at least 2 hours or up to overnight.

Reheat the reserved chocolate mixture in the microwave at 50 percent power in 30-second intervals, until it is spreadable but not hot. Use a spatula to spread it over the ice cream. Sprinkle with remaining toffee bits and return the pie to the freezer until it is completely firm before serving, 3 to 4 hours.

To slice, run a knife under hot water, then dry it off. If frozen overnight, pie may need to stand at room temperature for a few minutes before it is soft enough to slice easily.ream

Yield: One 9-inch pie; 8 servings

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strawberrytartfgts

Our friends Cristen and Graham just welcomed a beautiful baby girl into this world. After a couple weeks at home adjusting to the crazy life of being new parents, they were ready to get out of the house! We invited them over for a casual evening with make your own pizza. I put together some fun toppings and everyone made their own pizza. I think it was just the thing they needed to relax a bit. Baby Camille was on her best behavior and slept pretty much the whole time. We hardly heard a peep.

I wanted to make a lighter dessert that would be nice after pizza. I knew Cristen loved lemon-flavored desserts and I’d had my eye on some strawberry tart recipes for the last month or so. I decided to combine the two and it worked out perfectly.

I think my favorite part of this dessert was the crust. It was so good! It is definitely going to become my standard sweet tart dough recipe. If I made this again I would probably make an extra half batch of the lemon curd to fill the tart pan a little more. Don’t be intimidated by all of the steps. It’s really easy to put together if you make the curd and crust the night before you want to serve it.

Strawberry Lemon Tart
(Recipe source Smitten Kitchen – tart dough, Williams Sonoma – tart dough mixing method, epicurious.com – lemon curd)

Ingredients:

FOR THE TART DOUGH
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg

FOR THE LEMON CURD
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

GARNISH
Fresh strawberries, stems removed and sliced in half
1/4 cup strawberry jam

Directions:

FOR THE TART DOUGH
Fit a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Stir together flour, sugar and salt in mixer bowl. Add the butter and beat on medium-low speed until the texture resembles coarse cornmeal (should be between the size of oatmeal flakes and peas). Add the egg and beat just until the dough pulls together.

Transfer the dough to a work surface and gently pat into a ball. Lightly flatten into a disk shape. Roll our immediately or wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 1-2 hours.

When you’re ready to roll the dough, butter a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Roll the chilled dough on work surface to form a 12 inch round. You’ll want to free the dough from the work surface occasionally to make sure it’s not sticking. You can also use a bit of flour on your roller and work surface to help with sticking.

Turn dough into prepared tart pan. Seal any cracks that you may have. Trim your overhang to about 1/2 an inch. Fold the overhang in to create double thick sides. Pierce crust all over with a fork. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes (I froze mine overnight) before baking.

You need to bake your crust before filling. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove dough from freezer and cover with nonstick foil, shiny side down. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an extra 10 minutes, or until golden brown.

Cool crust on wire rack to room temperature.

FOR THE LEMON CURD:
Whisk eggs, sugar and lemon juice in heavy small saucepan. Add butter and lemon peel. Stir over medium heat until curd thickens to pudding consistency, about 8 minutes. Transfer to small bowl. Press plastic wrap onto surface of curd and chill at least 2 hours.

TO ASSEMBLE THE TART
Spread curd in crust. Layer strawberries over curd.

Heat jam in a small saucepan or in a small bowl in microwave. If you microwave – BE CAREFUL! The jam gets hot VERY quickly (ask my husband about the second degree strawberry jam burn all over my hand – ouch). I recommend microwaving for 5 seconds at a time until it thins to desired consistency.

Brush jam over the top of strawberries and let glaze set in refrigerator for at least one hour or up to six hours. Release tart from pan and serve.

YIELD: 6-8 servings

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This carrot cake popped up in my Google reader a few months ago. I starred it and have been waiting patiently for the perfect opportunity to make it. Easter dinner seemed like just the occasion. This cake was as wonderful as I hoped it would be and received great reviews from everyone around the table – even our one-year old niece! It was so moist and flavorful. I will definitely be making this cake again. Be forewarned though – it is huge! Make sure you have a crowd to feed for this one.

Tropical Carrot Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting
(Recipe heavily adapted from Dinner and Dessert)

Ingredients:

FOR THE CAKE
1 cup macadamia nuts, toasted and roughly chopped (I used pecans)
3 cups all purpose flour
3 cups sugar
1 tbsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1-1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
4 large eggs
2 tbsp vanilla
1-1/2 cups vegetable oil
1-1/2 cups shredded peeled carrots
1-1/2 cups diced fresh pineapple or drained crush canned pineapple (one 20 oz. can)
1/2 cup sweetened cream of coconut, such as Coco Lopez

FOR THE FROSTING:
3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, at room temperate
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup heaving whipping cream
1/4 cup sweetened cream of coconut, such as Coco Lopez
1/2 tsp salt

FOR THE TOPPING
1 cup coconut, toasted (optional for decoration)

Directions:

FOR THE CAKE
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place one oven rack one-third from the bottom of the oven and the second two-thirds from the bottom. Toast nuts on a baking sheet in the oven for about 7-9 minutes, stirring halfway through or in a saute pan on the stove top over medium heat, stirring frequently. When they begin to darken in color and smell aromatic they are ready. Set aside to cool.

Line the bottom of three 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper rounds, grease with butter, and dust with flour (or spray with Baker’s Joy).

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together oil and sugar on medium speed. Add eggs in one at a time, incorporating well after each addition. On a low speed, add in vanilla, cream of coconut, pineapple, carrots and cream of coconut. Slowly mix in flour mixture and beat on low speed until fully combined.

Evenly distribute the batter between the prepared cake pans. Stagger the pans on the oven racks so that no layer is directly over another (if you have a double oven, I recommend using both for baking the cakes and not using the stagger method). Bake for 30-35 minutes, checking the cakes after about 27 minutes. They are done when they turn golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes in their pans on racks for 5 minutes, then invert them onto the racks and cool completely, about 30 minutes.

FOR THE FROSTING
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the cream cheese and powdered sugar on medium-high speed for about 1-2 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the whipping cream, cream of coconut, and salt; beat until combined.

FOR THE TOPPING
You can top your cake with toasted coconut for decoration. If you’d like to do this, spread the coconut in a thin layer in a baking sheet. Toast in the oven at 350 degrees, stirring frequently, for about 5-7 minutes. Check on it frequently – it will burn quickly (trust me, I know!). The coconut is ready when it is golden brown.

TO ASSEMBLE THE CAKE
Place one cake layer on a serving plate or cake stand. Spread a thick layer of frosting on top, leaving about 1/2 inch around the edges.  Add the second layer and repeat. Top with the third layer and cover the top and sides of cake with an even layer of frosting.

Yield: 14-16 servings

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I wanted to make a dessert last weekend for the blog (and for our enjoyment on Friday night!). I needed to narrow down my options – it’s a little tough just to say “I want to make a dessert” – so I decided to focus on tarts. I bought a tart pan at Williams-Sonoma a few moths ago and hadn’t used it. I sent Brandon and a few friends an email with tart options and the overwhelming response was that I should either make a peanut butter tart or a chocolate tart. Brandon had the genius suggestion to combine the two. So off I went in search of a chocolate peanut butter tart. I found this recipe online on the cooking blog Alpineberry. It’s originally from Fine Cooking magazine.

This tart did not disappoint for my first foray into tart making. The chocolate and peanut butter flavors went together so well. If you love chocolate and peanut butter as much as I do, I highly suggest you give this one a try!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Tart
(Recipe source Alpineberry, originally from Fine Cooking Magazine)

Ingredients:

FOR THE CRUST
1 sleeve of Oreos (with cream filling scraped out) or chocolate graham crackers
2 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

FOR THE FILLING
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/4 tsp salt
3 large egg yolks
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
4 tsp all-purpose flour
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

FOR THE CHOCOLATE GLAZE
3 oz  bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
1 tbsp light corn syrup

Directions:

FOR THE CRUST
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Have an ungreased 9 1/2 inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom ready.

Place cookies in a food processor and process until finely ground. If you don’t have a food processor, you can place the cookies in a gallon bag and use a rolling pin to crush. In a medium bowl, mix the cookie crumbs and sugar until well blended. Drizzle the melted butter over the crumbs and mix until the crumbs are evenly moistened. Put the crumbs in the tart pan and use your hands to spread the crumbs so that they coat the bottom of the pan and start to climb the sides. Use your fingers to pinch and press some of the crumbs around the inside edge of the pan to cover the sides evenly and create a wall a scant 1/4 inch thick. Redistribute the remaining crumbs evenly over the bottom of the pan and press firmly to make a compact layer.

Bake the crust in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature on a wire rack.

FOR THE FILLING
In a medium saucepan, bring the milk and salt to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks, brown sugar, and flour until well blended. Slowly add the hot milk to the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it thickens and comes to a full boil, about 3 min. Continue to cook, whisking constantly, for 1 min. Remove the pan from the heat and add the peanut butter and vanilla; whisk until well blended.

Pour the hot peanut butter mixture into the crust and spread evenly. Gently press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the filling’s surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate the tart until cold, about 2 hours, before adding the chocolate glaze.

FOR THE GLAZE
Melt the chocolate in a small bowl in a microwave or in a double boiler over medium heat. (If you don’t have a double broiler, place a small metal bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.) Add the butter and corn syrup and whisk until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth, about 1 minute.

Carefully remove the plastic wrap from the top of the chilled filling. Drizzle the glaze over the filling and spread it evenly to cover the tart completely. Refrigerate the tart in the pan until the glaze sets, about 30  minutes or up to 12  hours.

chocpbtart

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strawberrycake

A few weeks ago, I saw this cake on Good Things Catered. I was awed by how beautiful it was and as I read through the recipe I thought, “huh, this is something I could make.” No crazy fondant or decorating – just simple strawberries and lady fingers.

This weekend we hosted a baby shower for our friends Cristen and Graham in our home. Cristen and Graham love strawberry cake and I knew this was just the cake for the shower. I think what sold me was being able to tie the pink ribbon around it – how cute! This is kind of sad but I was looking forward to making this cake all week. I set my alarm for 7:30 on Saturday morning so I could get up and get baking!

The cake was wonderful and got rave reviews – for both its appearance and taste. I will definitely be adding this cake to the “special occasion” recipes.

Lady Strawberry Cake
(Recipe source Good Things Catered for the Cake and Annie’s Eats for the Buttercream)

Ingredients:

FOR THE CAKE
2 1/4 cup cake flour, sifted (I did not have and could not find cake flour. I substituted all purpose by adding 2 tbsp of cornstarch in the bottom of each cup and filling the rest with all purpose. I used 1/2 a tbsp for the last 1/4 cup.)
1 cup strawberry puree, room temperature (I pureed strawberries in the food processor with a couple tablespoons of sugar)
1/4 cup milk , at room temperature
6 large egg whites, room temperature
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
12 tbsp unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened (not melted)

FOR THE FROSTING
20 tbsp (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened (not melted)
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted (I used closer to 3-3 1/2)
1/8 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp heavy cream

FOR THE GARNISH
1 package of Lady Fingers (or you can make your own – see recipe link above for instructions)
1 package of fresh strawberries, sliced

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of two 8-inch cake pans with wax or parchment paper. Grease sides of pan and flour.

In a bowl, combine strawberry puree, milk, egg whites and vanilla. Whisk until combined.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add sifted flour,  sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix to combine. Continue beating and add butter. Mix until mixture resembles moist crumbs. Add liquid ingredients and beat at medium speed for about 1 minute or until combined. Stop mixer and scrape down bowl. On low speed, beat for 30 more seconds.

Divide batter evently among pans and smooth tops. Place pans in preheated oven and cook 25-30 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Remove pans from ovent and let rest for 10 minutes. Turn out onto wire racks and let cool completely, about 2 hours.

For buttercream, in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20-30 seconds. Add sifted powdered sugar and salt, beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about a minute. Scrape down the bowl and beat at medium spped until the mixture is fully combined, about another 15 seconds. Scrape down bowl again and add vanilla and heavy cream. Beat at medium speed until fully incorporated, about 10 seconds and then increase the speed of the mixer to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down the bowl as necessary.

To assemble cake, place first layer on a plate and top with a thin layer of buttercream, leaving about 1/4 inch border around the edges. Place a layer of sliced strawberries over the top of the buttercream layer. Place the second layer on top of the first and frost with remaining buttercream. Place lady fingers around the sides of the cake, pressing lightly to anchor. Working from the outside in, layer remaining strawberry slices in concentric cricles until you reach the middle. Place one whole strawberry in the middle.

Tie a ribbon (color of your choice) around the lady fingers.

And here is a picture of the sliced cake, please excuse the quality – this was the lone post-party slice that was left. It was late, I was tired and more interested in getting in bed than getting a great shot!

strawberryslice

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Chocolate Pudding

chocpud

I had a lot of leftover half-and-half in the fridge so I decided to browse through some cookbooks to look for ideas on what to do with it. I ended up settling on Chocolate Pudding from Joy of Cooking. Brandon is a huge chocolate lover so I thought he’d be happy to have this for dessert.

This is a thick and rich pudding. Brandon commented that the texture was in between pudding and a mousse. It was a breeze to put together before dinner and later that night there was a great dessert waiting for us in the fridge!

Chocolate Pudding
(Recipe source Joy of Cooking)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1/3 cup warm water
1 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (optional but I recommend!)
2 cups half-and-half, divided into 1 3/4 and 1/4 cup
3 tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Directions:

Have ready a 3-cup bowl or 4 to 5 ramekins. If unmolding the pudding, oil the bowl or ramekins.

In a heavy saucepan, mix together sugar, cocoa and salt. Gradually stir in warm water to make a smooth, runny paste. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil over medium heat, then remove from heat. Stir in chopped chocolate until melted. Then stir in 1 3/4 cup half-and-half.

Place cornstarch in a separate bowl. Very gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup half-and-half, making a smooth paste. Stir cornstarch paste into the chocolate mixture. Turn heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to thicken. Reduce heat to low and continue to stir briskly. Bring mixture to a simmer and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Pour the pudding into the bowl or cups. If you don’t want a skin to form on the top of the pudding, immediately press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pudding. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.

If desired, serve with whipped cream and grated chocolate.

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