Friday, December 31, 2010

Icebox Cake - Still a little confused

Garnish with dried cranberries
Looking for a super simple, show-stopping dessert to make for a party tonight? This festive Lemon- Raspberry Icebox Cake is also an opportunity to take pleasure in eating spoonfuls of whipped cream straight-up! I prepared this beautiful dessert from the December issue of Relish Magazine for a Christmas party.

The prep was effortless and almost therapeutic. After whipping the cream and folding in Dickinson’s delicious jarred lemon cream, just smear raspberry jam atop graham crackers and assemble layers within a springform pan. Start now, it has to chill 5 hours.

One note: (And if I could make this “NOTE” enormous and flashing red, I would) You will still have plastic wrap adorning your serving platter – unless you can determine how to remove it. I could not! I read the recipe instructions numerous times: “Gently lift cake by the plastic wrap to remove it from pan bottom and peel away plastic wrap.” How? How do you remove the plastic wrap from beneath the pie without the disassembling the dessert into a messy heap? I found myself wishing I could do that trick you see in cartoons where the guy pulls the tablecloth out from beneath the plates and silverware and leaves the table settings undisturbed! But after reading the many comments about troublesome plastic wrap by Relish’s recipe reviewers, you may become enlightened with a solution. One suggests: Use parchment paper on bottom and spray the sides of the springform pan with cooking spray.  Had read this before making the dessert I would've tried it.

Despite the plastic wrap malfunction, the Christmas party guests somehow managed to enjoy eating sweet-tart lemony whipped cream straight-up almost as much as me.

A few bites of leftovers

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Magical 3rd birthday and Red Velvet Cake

Birthdays are magical. But I do believe that the third birthday is the most magical of all. At three, you awake from beneath your lavender sparkle quilt – just like you do any other day – but this day, you get special birthday smiley-faced pancakes with Wisconsin maple syrup and peanut butter. And for the rest of an entire day, things get better and better! And since you don’t really have any frame of reference for this wonderful day (because you don't really remember your second birthday), it’s like your third birthday just happens on day by magic!

I’ve been concerned that my little ‘Christmas’ baby born three years ago would be slightly traumatized by having a birthday amongst all the bustle of this season. Her birthday might feel forgotten. But this year, as we drove out of town to cut down our Christmas tree on my little girl’s birthday, we saw house after house covered with twinkling lights. If that’s not magical, then it’s got to make her feel festive at the very least.

As you may know, I put a fair amount of thought into my kids’ birthday cakes. I’ve never made a Red Velvet cake, but have always wanted to recreate my Grandmother’s recipe. Just this year she dictated it to me over the phone from Montana where she is a spry 92. I ended up combining Grandma’s recipe and this one that I found for Red Raspberry Velvet Cake from Cooking Light. The Cooking Light recipe notes that Red Velvet cake is said to have originated at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in the 1950’s.

So now I picture my little three-year-old dressed in a mid-twentieth century period frilly dress, white gloves, her golden curls just peeking out from beneath her proper hat...she's having tea and Red Velvet Cake with me in the lobby of the Waldorf-Astoria all decorated for Christmas. Magic!