Ice Cream Cake

My sister gave me the idea for this recipe when my kids were much younger. I liked it because it was a project I could give my kids to do all on their own, when they were still pretty small.

Bundt cake pan
1 store-bought angel food cake, torn into 1-2” pieces
3-4 small containers of your favorite ice cream (my son’s favorite flavors are Chocolate Chip Mint, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, and Cookies n’ Cream; I always add some Strawberry for color)

Scatter some angel food cake pieces in the bottom of the cake pan, then spoon a few scoops of each ice cream flavor over the angel food cake. Repeat this process until the Bundt cake pan is filled with angel food cake pieces and ice cream. Cover the pan with foil and freeze for 4-6 hours or overnight. Before serving, remove cake from freezer and slide a knife around the sides of the cake. Dampen a small towel with hot water and wring towel almost dry. Invert cake pan onto serving platter, and wrap hot towel around base of pan to unmold. Return cake to freezer until ready to serve.

Birthday dessertsIf decorating the cake for a Knight party, break a chocolate Hershey bar into rectangles and insert chocolate pieces into cake so that they look like battlements. Make pennants by gluing a piece of wired ribbon to the end of a bamboo skewer and insert skewers into cake also. Remember to add candles!

Banana Bread Pudding

This is a combination of two superb recipes from two superb cookbooks: The Silver Palate Cookbook and Roy’s Feasts from Hawaii. I used this dessert recipe for a “just-because“ tropical luncheon I had with some girlfriends a year ago. In his cookbook, Roy suggested using his banana bread in bread pudding, so that’s what I did – using the bread pudding recipe from Sheila Lukins’s and Julee Rosso’s cookbook. Because I was looking for a more tropical accent, I substituted spiced dark rum for the whiskey in their recipe. I also served it with a very small scoop of Häagen Daz Macadamia Nut ice cream. It was the best part of the meal!

1 recipe of Roy’s Banana Macadamia Nut Bread, cut into ½” cubes, and allowed to dry overnight in a 100°F oven
1 qt. milk
10 T. unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
4 large eggs
1½ c. sugar
2 T. vanilla extract
1 c. golden raisins, plumped in 1 c. boiling water for 15 mins, then drained well
1 c. confectioners’ sugar
4 T. spiced dark rum

Place the bread cubes in a bowl and pour the milk over it and let stand for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease a 9 x 13 x x2 inch baking dish with 1-2 T. butter.
In another bowl, beat together 3 eggs, the sugar, and the vanilla extract. Gently stir this mixture into bread cubes. Gently stir in raisins.
Pour into the prepared baking dish, place on the middle rack of the oven, and bake until browned and set, about 1 hour and 10 mins. Cool to room temperature.
To make sauce, stir 8 T. butter and confectioners’ sugar in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until sugar is dissolved and mixture is very hot. Remove from the heat. Beat the remaining egg well and whisk it into the sugar mixture. Remove pan from base and continue beating until sauce has cooled to room temperature. Add rum.
To serve, preheat broiler. Pour rum sauce over pudding and run under broiler until bubbling.

Makes 8-10 portions

Snickerdoodles

 

I was feeling nostalgic yesterday – my daughter was traveling with friends on Spring Break, my son was visiting a college with my husband, and I was home alone for a whole day-and-night. Just the concept of cleaning the refrigerator uninterrupted was almost exciting somehow – pathetic, I know. But I also had the time to make something (and finish the process) that was self-indulgent. So, I made snickerdoodles.

cookie jar

These cookies have a history: they hark back to my first Home Economics class in 7th grade with Mrs. Bremer in Room 105. This will date me, but it was the type of Home Ec room that had six fully–supplied, complete kitchens for the class to break up into smaller groups and practice cookery. My first lesson in that class was “Summer Cooler” (basically homemade egg nog with a scoop of strawberry ice cream) and Cinnamon Toast Fingers (toasted under a broiler); but that’s another story.

home ec notebook

Mrs. Bremer gave us a lot of good, old-fashioned American recipes, and snickerdoodles was one of them. Possibly German in origin, they are indigenous to the Northeast. (Hence, I always include them in my New England-style Thanksgiving menu – yet another story.) Yes, they are self-indulgent, but fortunately, my son loves them, too. They are wonderful with a mug of coffee or glass of cold milk! Perfect for mother-son bonding (which we did when he came home from his college visit).cookie crumbs

½ c. unsalted butter
1½ c. sugar
2 large eggs
2¾ c. flour
2 t. cream of tartar
2 t. baking soda
¼ t. salt

Topping: 2 T. sugar and 2 t. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Sift together flour, cream of tartar and baking soda. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture, mixing thoroughly. Roll into balls, using about ½ T. of dough for each ball. Roll cookie balls in sugar-cinnamon mixture and place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

snickerdoodles pan

Bake for about 8-10 mins. or until just lightly browned (but still soft).  Makes about 80 cookies.

Kopenhai

If I had to pick one Greek dessert that I loved above all others, this would be it.  The filling reminds me of cakes made with marzipan, and if it makes me think of marzipan, then it has to be good!  This dessert was created in honor of the Danish prince who, in 1862, became King George I of Greece.  (Kopenhai is named for Copenhagen, the capital of his native Denmark.)  My mother got this recipe from an old family friend from Chicago.  The idea of working with filo can be scary, but it really is easy – especially when you are only using it in layers in a pan.  It is so easy that my daughter demonstrated making this dessert at a local Greek festival, after only one practice session with filo.

cutting filo 

Cake: 6 oz. blanched almonds, ground fine
1/2 lb. melted butter, unsalted
2 c. sugar
1 c. bread crumbs (Panko works well)
1/2 oz. brandy
7 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 lb. filo, defrosted

Syrup: 2 c. sugar
1 c. water
1 t. lemon juice

Make the syrup: Bring the water and sugar to a boil, then allow to simmer, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Add the lemon juice, stir, allow to cool, then refrigerate.

Make the cake: Preheat oven to 375°F.  Separate the eggs; beat the egg whites until the peaks just stand up. In a mixer, beat egg yolks and add sugar slowly until the mixture is fluffy and light. Then add the brandy. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Using a large spoon, fold in the whites, alternating with the bread crumbs and almonds. Mix well.
Butter a large (13″ x 9″ x 2″) Pyrex dish or metal pan. Use half of the filo for the bottom, separately fitting and placing each sheet, and buttering it before layering the next sheet. Pour the mixture on top of the layers of filo. Then continue layering and buttering the remaining sheets over the top of the mixture. Cut the top layers of filo down the middle (the long way) with a sharp knife before cooking. Bake for 30-40 mins. Pour the cold syrup over the hot cooked cake.  For a traditional presentation, cut into diamond-shapes.

Shortbread Cookies

This recipe comes from Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins’ classic, The Silver Palate Cookbook. It’s simple and delicious, and my vanilla-ice-cream-preferring son is crazy about these cookies – especially with a simple butter cream frosting (right off the back of the C&H powdered sugar box). My daughter, on the other hand, who can smell a dish and tell you which spices are included, prefers them with a little sprinkle of sugar – no frosting. These cookies have seen every birthday party I’ve ever given, every Christmas, and every Valentine’s Day, too. This is an amazingly simple but elegant cookie.

¾ lb. unsalted butter, softened
1 c. confectioners’ sugar
3 c. unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted
½ t. salt
½ t. vanilla extract
¼ c. granulated sugar

Cream butter and confectioners’ sugar together until light.
Sift flour and salt together and add to creamed mixture. Add vanilla and blend thoroughly.
Gather dough into a ball, wrap in wax paper, and chill for 4 to 6 hours.
Roll out chilled dough to 5/8-inch thickness. Using a 3-inch long heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out cookies. Sprinkle tops with granulated sugar. Place cut-out cookies on ungreased cookie sheets and refrigerate for 45 mins. before baking.
Preheat oven to 325°F.
Bake for 20 mins. or until just starting to color lightly; cookies should not brown at all. Cool on a rack.
Makes 20 cookies.

(For the record, I skip the initial chilling for 4-6 hrs. It’s easier to roll out the cookie dough on the cookie sheets with a piece of wax paper over the dough. I roll out the dough to about 3/8-inch thickness, cut out the cookies, reroll the scraps, cut out more cookies, and then I pop the cookie sheets in the refrigerator for about 20 mins. Then I bake them, usually for about 13-14 mins. I take them out of the oven just as they are starting to turn golden around the edges – ideally, they hardly turn color at all. When I make these cookies for any Hawaiian-themed or tropical event, I use pineapple- and palm-tree shaped cookie cutters and I sprinkle them with Tropical Flavored sugars – Mango or Vanilla Macadamia Nut – from the Maui Culinary Academy. The extra flavor is subtle but works well with these elegantly simple cookies.)

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

This is a fabulous recipe from Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins’ The Silver Palate Cookbook.  It’s moist, spicy, and dense.  And it comes out perfectly every time.    When I’m feeling very health-conscientious, I substitute light olive oil for the corn oil; I have never been able to tell the difference, and no one has ever noticed!  The Silver Palate recommends baking the cake in two 9” layer pans; this is great if you want a round, layered cake.    And when I want to stretch the servings a little more, I use a 9” x 13” cake pan, and make it single-layer; I’ve included the proportions for either size.

Two 9” layer cakes:Carrot Birthday Cake
3 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
3 c. granulated sugar
1 t. salt
1 T. baking soda
1 T. Cinnamon
1½ c. corn oil
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 T. vanilla extract
1½ c. shelled walnuts, chopped                             1 1/2 c. shredded coconut
1 1/3 c. pureed cooked carrots
¾ c. drained crushed pineapple

One 9” x 13” cake:Single layer carrot cake
4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
4c. granulated sugar
1¼ t. salt
4 t. baking soda
4 t. cinnamon
2 c. corn oil
5 large eggs plus 1 egg white, lightly beaten
4 t. vanilla extract
2 c. shelled walnuts, chopped
2 c. shredded coconut
1¾ c. pureed cooked carrots
1 c. drained crushed pineapple

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease cake pans lined with wax paper.
Sift dry ingredients into a bowl. Add oil, eggs, and vanilla. Beat well. Fold in walnuts, coconut, carrots, and pineapple.
Pour batter into the prepared pans. Set on the middle rack and bake for 30 to 35 mins, until edges have pulled away from sides of and a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.
Cool on a cake rack for 3 hrs. Fill cake and frost sides with cream cheese frosting (recipe below).

Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
6 T. unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 c. confectioners’ sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
Juice of ½ lemon

Cream together cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl.
Slowly sift in confectioners’ sugar and continue beating until fully incorporated. Mixture should be free of lumps.
Stir in vanilla and lemon juice.