Friday, January 25, 2013

Ice Cream Cake Roll

"Roll, roll, roll your cake, create a perfect wrap for ice creams, puddings, berries and cream.  In fact, this is something of a family size ice cream wrap!  Once you've mastered the trick of rolling and not freaking out at a crack or two, this is an easy dessert that is yet unique enough to dazzle your guests.  "Mother knows best" and filled her cake with ice cream, sauced with hot fudge and crowned with sweetened whipped cream.  I have added peppermint extract and chips for a festive crunch.  A chocolate cake roll filled with vanilla cream is the base of the luscious and truly spectacular French gateau, Buche de Noel which I make every Christmas.  Based on the jelly roll that was popular in my mother's mother's day, progressive and savvy cooks have since improved it, though jelly might still woo an appetite or two!  Berries, bananas and cream in a vanilla rolled cake is a spring themed variation.

Things I wish  my mother told me: 

 -line rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray to ease the releasing of the cake from the pan

-place a rolling pin sprayed with cooking spray on the long edge of the cake and roll the cake and paper around it.  Let sit 10 minutes or until ready to fill

-you may need to use cans or heavy pans to prop cake to stay in rolled position until it cools.

Ice Cream Cake Roll
3/4 cup flour                            3 eggs
1/4 cup cocoa                          1 cup sugar
1 ts. baking powder                 3/4 cup water
1/4 tsp. salt                              1 tsp. vanilla

  • Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a 15 x 10 inch rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper sprayed with cooking spray.
  • Stir together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt, set aside.
  • In small mixer bowl, beat eggs about 5 minutes until very thick and lemon colored.  Pour eggs into large bowl and gradually beat in sugar.  On low speed, blend in water and vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture, beating just until batter is smooth.  Pour into prepared pan, spreading batter to edges.
  • Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
  • Loosen cake from edges of pan, invert onto parchment paper or waxed paper, sprinkled liberally with powdered sugar. Carefully remove paper; trim off stiff edges of cake if necessary so cake edges are pliable.
  • Let sit 10 minutes then roll cake and paper together from long end. Cool completely on wire rack.
Ice Cream Filling:
For filling, set out 1/2 gallon of peppermint
ice cream, 15-20 minutes at room temperature. Spoon into large mixing bowl and stir until smooth.  (Do not let ice cream melt, just soften). If peppermint ice cream is not available, soften 1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream until you are just barely able to stir it then stir in 1 tsp. peppermint extract, 1/2 cup crushed peppermint candies and red or green food coloring.

To Assemble:  

  • Unroll cooled cake and spread the softened ice cream to within 1 inch of the edges. Beginning at one long edge, roll the cake up again with the ice cream inside, peeling back the parchment paper as you go.
  • Place the filled cake, seam-side down on a cookie sheet with the paper covering the exposed surfaces and place immediately into the freezer.  Freeze at least 8 hours of overnight.
  • Cut cake into 1-2 inch slices and serve with hot fudge sauce. (You may also serve with whipped cream, chopped nuts, cherries, etc.)
Hot Fudge Sauce:
2 tab. butter, 2  squares unsweetened chocolate, 1 cup evaporated milk 3/4 cup sugar, 1 tsp. vanilla extract

-In medium saucepan, melt butter and chocolate over low heat.
-Stir in sugar then add evaporated milk.  Cook and stir over medium-high heat until mixture is thickened and bubbly, about 5 - 8 minutes.
-Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  Serve warm for hot fudge or cool as chocolate sauce.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Marinated Pepper Ribbons

Curling ribbons of red and green tangle atop a bed of creamy mild cheese, dressed in a perky marinade of olive oil and garlic.  How playfully delicious!  Unravel one or an entire knot and place  on crostini for a smoky pizazz of flavor tempered by the velvet of the cheese.  The vibrant colors speak to us before taste confirms satisfaction to the palette, and this appetizer of  Spanish tapas  origin, is a super dipper for crackers, or a crowning jewel to crostini .  The process of roasting and peeling the peppers is a skill that once you've tried and seen how easy it is, will spare you the necessity of purchasing jarred red peppers.  Place the peppers on an oven rack, high in the oven with the heat on broil and char the skins - yes absolutely char them -  until they are bubbly, scorched and blackened, then rotate peppers to another side.  When peppers are charred on all sides, remove them from the oven and place in a plastic bag or into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Let sit and cool about 15  minutes as the skins loosen.  Some recipes recommend peeling the skins off over a bowl to collect any juices that run out to use in your recipe, but if you are not interested in saving the juices, it is much easier to slide the skins off under cold running water.

Marinated Pepper Ribbons
2 green bell peppers
2 red bell peppers
1/4 cup olive oil 
2 tab. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. fresh oregano or marjoram, finely minced
      (or 1/2 tsp. dried and crushed)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
pinch of sugar
1 tsp. capers
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
6 oz. softened goat or cream cheese 

-Wash and dry peppers.  Place on on oven rack under the broiler and broil on all sides until skins are charred and bubbly.  Remove from the oven and place roasted peppers into a plastic bag or into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Allow to rest 15 minutes.

-Under cold running water, rub the skins off the peppers, split open and wash out the pulp and seeds.  Slice pepper flesh into long 1/2 inch wide strips.  Place in a medium bowl.

-Mix all remaining ingredients and pour over pepper slices in  bowl.  Chill 30 minutes or longer.

-Mound softened cheese (cream cheese if you prefer a milder taste) in the middle of a serving platter.  Form into a round disc about 1/2 inch think.  Drain excess marinade off of peppers and place the peppers on top of the cheese.  Serve with crackers or crostini.

-To prepare crostini:  slice a baguette crosswise thinly and place slices on a cookie sheet.  Brush each side with olive oil and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes, until they are dried and golden.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Spanish Pastry

Yes, these members of the bar-cookie family are as beautiful and delicious as the picture suggests! Spanish Pastry bears a resemblance to a Spanish torte, has the airy crunch of a French cream puff and yet the cream cheese frosting is as one would expect, uniquely American! A culinary hybrid perhaps? Regardless of its origin, this is a gem of a recipe and has been a party favorite (and a closet - last feast before the famine goody before starting a diet) choice for many years. My brother once said he would eat anything frosted with cream cheese frosting (we didn't put him to the test) but his wife rode a bicycle 2 miles to purchase the cream cheese for this recipe. Shared with me many years ago by a European woman who may have had her recipe cards clearly marked with the country of origin, these pastries are comprised of a unique pate choux body, layered on a shortbread crust, baked in 6 inch wide strips, cut into finger-sized cuttings, frosted and finally, garnished with almonds. Add some dried cranberries if you want a festive pop of color for either Christmas or Valentine's. Makes 36 servings.

Spanish Pastry
1 cup soft butter
11/2 cups flour
1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp. salt
1 cup flour
3 eggs
1 - 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tab. vanilla extract
sliced almonds

-(Shortbread) In medium mixing bowl, combine 1/2 cup soft butter and 1 1/2 cups flour.  Blend until smooth (add 1 - 2 tab. water if mixture is not smooth.) On cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, pat shortbread into two, 12 by 6 inch strips.

-(Cream Puff Pastry/Pate a Choux) In medium sauce pan, pour water and add 1/2 cup butter and salt.  Bring to boil over medium-high heat until butter is melted.  All at once, pour in flour and stir over heat for 2 - 3 minutes until mixture pulls away from the sides and balls around the spoon as you stir.

-Remove pate a choux dough from heat and place in electric mixture.  Mix for about 2 minutes at medium speed, allowing some of the heat to escape.

-Stir in 1 egg at a time, beating well after each (for about 1 minute on medium-high speed).

-Mound half of pate a choux mixture down the center of each strip and using a knife or cake spreader, cover the entire surface of the shortbread layer with the choux mixture.  Sculpt into peaks.

-Bake in 380 degree oven for about 45 minutes, until puffed and golden.  Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature. (The pate a choux layer may collapse some upon cooling.)

-In a mixing bowl, combine butter and cream cheese until smooth and well blended.  Stir in powdered sugar and vanilla extract.  Frost cooled pastry and garnish with almonds.  Allow to sit for an hour or so or chill, then cut crosswise into finger length strips.  Makes 36 servings.