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Archive for May, 2010

Jake's hand-whipped cream cake with oranges and pineapple

On a recent trip to visit my aunt’s family in Florida, I was amazed to learn that my cousin Jake whips cream by hand.

I guess I shouldn’t really have been so surprised, since my mom’s side of the family has some serious genetic cooking chops. My mom is my favorite chef in the world, and her pies, biscuits, twice-baked potatoes, éclairs and chocolate chip cookies are rivaled by few, and I don’t know who those few are. Her mother, my gram, is a master of a substantial collection of classic family recipes, including chocolate frosting, one-egg cake and blueberry buckle (which I’m making for the next Eat My Blog bake sale). My Florida aunt makes a killer baked ziti with meatballs, and her chocolate chip cookies are usually gone before they’ve even made it in the oven.

So my cousin Jake invented this cake. When he told me that he frosts it with hand-whipped cream, I didn’t believe him, but then I watched him actually him do it. It looked hard. It made me want to take a nap.

He's faster than a speeding bullet!

The rest of the cake is pretty simple, and doesn’t require much fuss, which I guess makes up for the 15 minutes of serious aerobic whisking. The base is a boxed cake mix, and Jake has added crushed pineapple and mandarin oranges. For ultra authenticity, whip the cream by hand, but if you’re like me, and would rather watch hard work being done than actually do it, you can use a hand mixer.

Jake’s Whipped Cream Cake

1 box yellow cake mix
22 oz can mandarin oranges
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
8 oz can crushed pineapple
6 oz heavy cream
2 Tbsp confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp vanilla

If whipping by hand, chill a metal bowl in the freezer for at least an hour beforehand.

Preheat oven according to the directions on the cake mix box for two 9-inch metal cake pans.

Drain oranges and mash into a strainer with a fork to remove any excess liquid. Reserve approximately one-third of oranges (no need to be exact) for frosting. Set strainer aside. Blend cake mix, oil, eggs, water and the rest of the oranges in a bowl. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans. Equally distribute the cake mixture into the two pans. Bake for 30 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool cakes, still in the pan, on baking racks.

While the cakes are baking, mash pineapple in the same strainer (so you don’t have to wash it twice) to remove any excess liquid. Add remaining oranges back into the strainer and press with a paper towel to really really remove the moisture.

Combine cream, sugar and vanilla in the chilled metal bowl and whisk by hand for 15 minutes, or with a mixer, until stiff peaks form, using a towel to keep the bowl in place. (According to Jake, hand-whisking creates smoother whipped cream.) Gently fold the crushed, drained pineapple and oranges into the whipped cream. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap down until it touches the surface of the whipped cream, and keep cold in the refrigerator until the cake has cooled.

Once cake has cooled, invert pans to remove the cakes, and place bottom layer on desired serving plate. Put a dollop of the frosting in the center of the cake and spread outward until it reaches the edge of the cake. Place the second layer of the cake on top. Put another big dollop in the center of the top layer and spread outward. Spread remaining frosting on edges. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Just look at that whipped cream!

Since the frosting is soft and fluffy, icing this cake looked really easy. Which is good, because after hand-whipping the cream, Jake looked like he needed a rest. He presented this beauty to our Easter dinner table, and it was gone in 30 minutes. It was sweet and fluffy with a touch of citrus, but the star really was the frosting. It was so good it almost made me want to try whipping cream by hand back home. Almost.

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Rice Krispies treats: easy bake sale treat, or gourmet dessert? The answer: both!

It’s a sad but true fact: until recently, I’d never made Rice Krispies treats. Crazy, right? They’re so easy, and so good. They’re always the first item I head for at bake sales. Why? Because it’s almost impossible to mess them up, so they’re always consistent, and always full of crunchy, chewy goodness. Except if the person holding the bake sale serves you the Rice Krispies treat in a napkin, and therefore you end up eating little bits of flimsy paper that adhere to the marshmallow (this happened to me, sadly)…then they’re not so good. But otherwise, I love them.

Marshmallows melting in motion...mmmm....

When my friend Emily came out to visit in the spring, we decided that her California trip wouldn’t be complete without making something full of sugar and butter. This recipe, which I found on Smitten Kitchen, fit the bill, so we dove into the realm of bake sales feet first. I say feet first because this recipe involves browning butter, which I’m always nervous about. Burned butter is a terrible, terrible thing, and since we only had one box of Rice Krispies, I didn’t want to mess this up. But like I said before, it’s almost impossible to mess these things up, and as expected, they were easier than pie.

The best stirrer EVER. Thanks, Emily!

I was in charge of worrying about the browned butter, and Emily, for her part, stirred and stirred like crazy. Emily, can I hire you to come cook with me? Please? You are the world’s best stirrer.

These came out like traditional treats, but with a toasty, rich flavor from the browned butter, and a hint of salt to balance the sweetness. The only thing I would do differently next time I make this recipe is sprinkle a bit of sea salt on top of the treats while they’re cooling. I love slightly salty desserts, and I could use a bit more in these, but maybe that’s just me.

Emily dishing out the treats. I need a new camera. Sigh....

Salted Brown Butter Rice Krispies Treats
from Smitten Kitchen

4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus extra for the pan
1 10-ounce bag marshmallows
Heaping 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt, plus extra for sprinkling
6 cups Rice Krispies cereal (about half a 12-ounce box)

Butter an 8-inch square cake pan with 2-inch sides.

In a large pot, melt butter over medium-low heat. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom as you do. As soon as the butter takes on a nutty color, turn the heat off and stir in the marshmallows. The residual heat from the melted butter should be enough to melt them, but if it is not, turn it back on low until the marshmallows are smooth.

Remove the pot from the stove and stir in the salt and cereal together. Quickly spread into prepared pan. I liked to use a piece of waxed or parchment paper that I’ve sprayed with oil to Press mixture firmly and evenly into the edges and corners with a silicon spatula or a piece of waxed or parchment paper.

Let cool, cut into squares and enjoy! Makes 16 2-inch square bars.

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