Sunday, October 28, 2012

Halloween Dessert: Orange Jell-o Dream

Last weekend a friend gave me a book of Halloween recipes. I quickly picked out this dessert for a family dinner. The kids loved it. To the chagrin of my sister-in-law, they chose my dessert over the leftover birthday cupcakes she brought.  Sorry! But who can resist Cool Whip and Halloween sprinkles?

This is the book I received in case you're looking for more Halloween recipes. I made only slight changes to their directions.

Halloween Dessert:
Orange Jello Dream

2-1/2 cups of crushed Oreo cookies (I used the majority of a bag)
1/2 cup sugar, divided
1/2 cup (1 stick) margarine or butter, melted
8 oz. cream cheese, cubed and softened
1 tub Cool Whip
1-1/2 cups boiling water
1 large (8 serving size) package orange Jello
1/2 cup cold water
ice cubes
Halloween sprinkles or candy

Set aside 1/4 cup crushed Oreos. Mix remaining 2-1/4 cups crushed Oreos, 1/4 cup sugar, and melted margarine with fork. Press firmly into bottom of 9x13 glass pan. I used a buttered spatula to help press the cookie mixture down. Place pan in refrigerator.

Beat softened cream cheese and 1/4 cup sugar until smooth. With a wire whisk, blend in half of the Cool Whip. Spread evenly over cookie crust. Return to refrigerator.

Stir boiling water and orange gelatin mix until completely dissolved. 

Fill a large measuring cup with 1/2 cup cold water. Then add ice until you have about 1-1/2 cups total combined water and ice. Add to gelatin mixture and stir until slightly thickened. If any ice remains, remove it from the mixture. Spoon gelatin over cream cheese layer.

Refrigerate three hours or until firm. Spread remaining Cool Whip over Jell-o. 

 Sprinkle with remaining crushed Oreos and candy. The original recipe used candy corn and candy pumpkins. Then they decorated oval-shaped cookies to look like tombstones. I decided simply to use Halloween sprinkles with little pumpkins.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Muppet Baby Shower Cake for a Science Teacher

When I told one of my sisters-in-law my idea for this baby shower cake, she looked at me with a raised eyebrow as if I were crazy. 

However, cake baking is a lot like writing: you've got to know your audience. This would not have been the right baby shower cake for any of my sisters-in-law. However, this cake wasn't for them. It was for the male science teacher at my school. I'll admit I was a little worried about what his wife would think, but it turns out she's an elementary school teacher and enjoys the Muppets, too.

I got one of the best compliments ever on this cake. The day after the shower, the science teacher told me it reminded him of the cakes from Jarosch Bakery. If you're not familiar with this bakery, let's just say this is a high compliment indeed!

Muppet Baby Shower Cake
(Congratulations on your latest creation!)

To make this cake, I stacked two 9x13 chocolate cakes on top of one another and used a raspberry mouse filling (see basic recipe here).

Then I used the frozen buttercream transfer method for the design. Here's a quick recap.

First, find a picture of your chosen image. I find coloring books, greeting cards, and the internet very helpful.

Next, flip your picture over so that you're looking at the reverse side and trace over the pattern with a black marker. You'll want the reverse side because you'll be flipping it over onto your cake later.

Tape the picture onto a cookie sheet (or other flat surface). Tape a sheet of waxed paper over this. With black icing and a small decorating tip (#4 or #5 is fine), outline the entire picture.

Using colored icing and more small tips, fill in the outline until you've covered every bit of the image.

Fill a decorating bag with whatever color icing you will use for the background. In this case, I used white. Pipe a layer of this icing over the entire image.

Freeze for several hours or overnight. After you've baked, cooled, and iced your cake, take your decoration out of the freezer. Flip it onto the cake and carefully peel off the waxed paper.

I must have used some pretty strong colors on this cake because the icing left a nice ghostly image on the waxed paper after I pulled it off. Kind of cool, huh?

After you've moved your frozen buttercream transfer, you can add writing and borders to your cake. I also piped a series of small dots around the edge of the image to make it look a little like a picture frame.

My favorite part of this design is that it looks a little like Beaker is horrified at the idea of having a baby, and Bunsen is laughing over what the expecting couple has to look forward to. :) All in good fun, my friends, all in good Muppet fun.

The next day I received a lovely thank you card from the science teacher. He even used a card created by his very talented mother. Isn't this a lovely fall card she made?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Chocolate Raspberry Brownies

Warning! These turned out super rich. Consume in small quantities.

Chocolate Raspberry Brownies

4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, divided
1/2 cup butter
1-1/3 cups sugar
2 eggs
2/3 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup flour
1 can raspberry cake and pastry filling
4 oz. semisweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 9x9 pan with foil, leaving enough to hang over the sides. Lightly coat the foil with cooking spray.

Microwave three ounces of the unsweetened chocolate with the butter about two minutes. Stir until smooth. Add sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Mix well. Add flour into mixture and pour into prepared pan.

Bake 30 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

Spread a thin layer of the raspberry cake and pastry filling over the cooled brownies.

Chop the remaining unsweetened chocolate and semisweet chocolate. In a small bowl, microwave the whipping cream until it boils. Add the chopped chocolate and stir until smooth. Spread over raspberry layer.

Refrigerate one hour. Place a few tablespoons of the remaining raspberry cake and pastry filling in a decorating bake with a small piping tip. Drizzle raspberry filling over brownies. Cut into small pieces.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Lemon Coconut Cake

I made this for a work party, and it turned out really yummy. Two of my coworkers said they dreamed about it afterwards. Definitely on the "keep this recipe" list.

Lemon Coconut Cake

Ingredients for cake:
one Duncan Hines Lemon Supreme cake mix
1-1/3 cups water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs

Ingredients for lemon filling:
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup water
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1-1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
6 tablespoons butter
shredded coconut (optional)

Ingredients for icing:
1/2 cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon zest
5 tablespoons lemon juice
about two cups shredded coconut

Bake the cake according to package directions. However, if you want to torte it into three layers as I did, you can either bake it in three eight-inch cake pans or use one 8x3-inch cake pan. I used an 8x3-inch cake pan that Wilton makes. The cake took about 55 minutes to bake, and then I used my cake leveler to split it into three layers.

As your cake cools, make the lemon filling. In a small bowl, blend two tablespoons cornstarch with 1/4 cup water until the cornstarch is dissolved. Whisk in 2 eggs until blended. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1-1/4 cup sugar, 3/4 cup water, and 6 tablespoons butter. Bring to a boil. Whisk in the egg and cornstarch mixture and return to a boil. Continue whisking and boiling until mixture is thick. Remove from heat and cover with plastic wrap.

At this point, your cake should be cool enough to cut into layers if you chose to use the 8x3-inch pan instead of three separate eight-inch pans. When the filling has cooled, spread half of it onto the bottom layer. Sprinkle with some shredded coconut, if desired. 

 Place the middle layer on top, and spread it with the second half of the filling and more coconut. Add the final layer of cake on top.

To make the icing, beat 1/2 cup butter until smooth. Add two cups of powdered sugar, 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest and 5 tablespoons lemon juice. Beat until smooth. Ice the cake and cover with a layer of shredded coconut.