Saturday, April 3, 2010

Strawberry Shortcake

Happy Easter everybody!!! I hope your day is filled with chocolate, sunshine and family. Unfortunately I will be spending my Easter morning making dessert for 300 people. I did have the chance to celebrate early with my family and we spent the day reminiscing, dying eggs and eating chocolate candy.
One of my family's all time favorite Easter memory involves my lively and precocious little sister. One year she decided all she would eat the entire day was chocolate and carrot sticks. While everyone else sat down for Easter dinner, she helped herself to a chocolate easter bunny and a bundle of carrots. Of course all that sugar left her with an excess of energy and an inexplicable but undeniable urge to perform 100 cartwheels before bedtime. Much to our amazement she completed this task without falling over or running into any walls. In fact, she seemed pretty much unfazed by her feat. Soon thereafter we all went to bed only to be awoken at 2 in the morning by a screaming and very very sick sister. I had the pleasure of sharing a room with her at this point in our lives and unfortunately received the brunt of her sickness at the foot of my bed. The white carpet in our old bedroom retains hints of the orange and chocolate stains to this day. Needless to say, she did not perform her amazing feat of 100 cartwheels in a row again. I believe she is still off carrots and milk chocolate to this day.

I hope she is not angry with me for sharing this story! To make up for it, I want to give her a shout out for her incredible craftiness. She decorated the beautiful easter eggs pictured above. She very carefully cut strips of origami paper and pieced them together in the beautiful patterns you see here. They are absolutely gorgeous.
Well it wouldn't be a holiday dinner without a little dessert right? I made a strawberry shortcake with cream cheese frosting.

Strawberry Shortcake

Orange Chiffon Cake

1 # cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1# sugar
1# 5oz egg yolks
8 fl oz vegetable oil
8 fl oz orange juice
1 Tbs vanilla
1# 5oz egg whites
1 orange, zest

1. Sift the dry ingredients together and mix with 1/3 of sugar.
2. Combine yolks, oil, juice, zest, vanilla in mixer. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Pour into larger bowl and set aside.
3. Whip the whites on medium speed until soft peaks form (you will see white foam). Increase speed and gradually add the remaining sugar. Continue to whip to create a medium peak meringue.
4. Gently fold 1/3 of meringue into yolk mixture to fully combine. Fold in rest of meringue.
5. Divide into 2 greased 9" round pans and bake at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz cream cheese
1 stick butter
4 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp almond extract

Mix all ingredients together.

To Assemble Cake:
1. Drizzle each layer of cake with Grand Marnier (optional).
2. Spread half of frosting over bottom layer. Layer with sliced strawberries.
3. Place second layer of cake on top. Spread rest of frosting on top and decorate with sliced strawberries.

Brownies with Strawberry Ice Cream

What better way to end a barbecue than with homemade brownies a la mode? Since I've been seeing strawberries everywhere lately, I decided to incorporate some into my go to vanilla bean ice cream recipe. This can be d0ne with most fruits and berries, simply macerate them in a little sugar or sauté them for a few minutes to bring out their natural sweetness. Then you simply fold the fruit into the churned ice cream. I'm going to try this recipe with peaches as soon as I start to see them in the store. I love how easy it is to manipulate a basic ice cream recipe and create new flavors. Feel free to alter the following recipe by infusing the cream with a spice or adding different mix-ins. Have fun and be creative!


8oz dark chocolate
1 stick butter
3 eggs
1 1/4 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1. Melt butter and chocolate together in microwave.
2. Stir in eggs.
3. Stir in flour, sugar, vanilla, and baking soda.
4. Spread into a greased 13X9 inch baking pan and bake for about 18 minutes at 350 degrees.

Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream

1 pint strawberries, chopped
3 tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 whole vanilla bean*
2 eggs
3 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar

1. Sprinkle the first measurement of sugar over the chopped strawberries, mix well. Sauté half of berries in saucepan for 2 minutes. Refrigerate and allow to sit while you prepare the ice cream.
2. Combine milk and cream in saucepan. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds into the pan. Add the pod and bring to a boil.
3. Meanwhile, combine the eggs, yolks, and sugar in a bowl.
4. Whisk 1 cup of the boiling liquid into yolk mixture to temper it. Bring the remaining liquid back to a boil and whisk the yolk mixture into the saucepan.
5. Stir the mixture continually for about 2 1/2 minutes on medium heat.
6. Strain liquid into a clean container and place in fridge until chilled.
7. Pour liquid into ice cream maker and churn until thickened about 25-30 minutes. At this point, stir in the strawberries and place in freezer to set.

*Vanilla beans are much more expensive than vanilla extract, but they impart a richer flavor and are definitely worth the splurge when it comes to real homemade ice cream. Save the pod when you strain the ice cream. Simply rinse it off, dry it out and place it in your sugar bowl. Over the course of the next few days your sugar will take on a light vanilla scent and taste. It's a fun and easy way to enhance your morning cup of coffee!