Icebox Cake Makeover

IMG_2852I am a closet icebox cake eater.
I love them.

Do you remember them from years and years ago? You know, the ones that were made from chocolate wafer cookies stacked on their side, and then those stacks would be placed side by side to create a log…all with whipped cream in between them to act as a binder? Then the whole log of wafer cookies would be frosted in whipped cream, and then when sliced, you had stripes of chocolate and whipped cream. The chocolate cookie wafers would soften, so it was just like eating a rich fudge cake. Delicious.

Back in the day, it was a gorgeous dessert….and I still love it today. But because it’s not “pretty” or up to today’s culinary “snobbishness”, I’ve been a closet icebox cake eater, first of all, because I love it, and second, I personally don’t care what it looks like….

But today, with the standards of desserts set so high… it would be considered a train wreck at any fancy dinner party.

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Ok, maybe I exaggerate, maybe not a train wreck….but I’m keeping it real here…that old time dessert isn’t something that I’d bring to a fancy dinner party. I’m sorry, I just wouldn’t. Instead, I’d spend all of my time stressing over what to bring, stressing that it had to be the fanciest, and the prettiest dessert, because I’d want to please the hostess of the party. I’d want her to be proud to put it out on her table for all of her guests. Most likely, I would order something from a bakery.  Nope…not “most likely”… I would definitely would order from a bakery.

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But no more. I’ve decided to give that old fashioned icebox cake a makeover. One that I’d be proud to bring to a dinner party, and confident that the hostess would be pleased to serve to her guests.

And this one is so simple to throw together…it’s one of those desserts that you can throw together about two hours before the party…minimal time…minimal effort. Perfect for a hot summer’s day when you don’t feel like firing up the oven, or spending a fortune at a bakery!

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And…it’s delicious. The raspberries, whipped cream, and chocolate were just made for each other. Not fond of raspberries? Use any fruit that tickles your fancy! It is truly that versatile. Just make sure that the fruit that you choose can be sliced through easily!

I’ve shared this with my lovely friends at The Novice Gardener’s, Angie’s Fiesta Friday…. and with my lovely friends at Love in the Kitchen’s Tuesday’s Table. …. And I’m proud to say that it was my very first feature on Food gawker!

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Life is good, it’s a “Throwing together a dessert in less that an hour, but it looks like you slaved all day” kind of good!

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Icebox Cake
Serves  10 to 12 People

Just a quick note:  Keep in mind that this does need to be refrigerated for at least two to three hours (or more) before you serve it, so that the wafers have time to soften into a cake like texture.  I let this particular cake refrigerate for three hours before I couldn’t stand it any longer, and had to slice into it!

And honestly, use whatever type of fruit you’d like.  Just make sure that it’s a fruit soft enough to slice through, otherwise, you won’t get perfect slices.

Choosing the right plate is important. I’ll pick a couple of plates, and then place the cookies around the outer edge in a circle to see if they’ll all fit around the plate perfectly. If they do, then that’s the plate you want to use!

If you’re not familiar with the chocolate wafers, here is a photo of the box:

chocolate wafers2 boxes Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers
1 quart heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 to 1/3 cup of sugar (or more, depending on your desired sweetness)
3 pints fresh raspberries (or your favorite fruit)

Begin by whipping the heavy cream in a stand mixer (or in a large bowl with a hand mixer). Let it whip until it hits that point just before it starts to turn to butter. You don’t want it too soft, because you want it to be able to hold up the cookies and raspberries. Add the sugar and vanilla, and whip for another minute or so, until they’re fully combined. Don’t worry if the sugar isn’t dissolved at this point. It will continue to dissolve as the cream sits.

On your favorite plate or cake plate, spread a small amount of whipped cream over the plate. This will act as the glue to keep the base cookies in place. This is kind of important because the cake will fly off the plate the minute you try to carry it, and if you’re trying to make a grand entrance with it… let’s just say.. it will be grand alright, all over your floor!

Place the  cookies around the plate in a circle. You don’t want them to overlap. Fill in the middle section with about three or four cookies. It doesn’t matter if the cookies in the middle overlap. Place a second row of cookies on top of the first row.
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Using a pastry bag, and Ateco tip #824, begin making rosettes all around the top of the cookies. Gently place one pint of raspberries on top of the whipped cream. Make whipped cream rosettes on top of the raspberries. You want to be very gentle with this, so that each layer doesn’t get mashed down. You should be able to see each layer as separate layers.
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Repeat with another layer of cookies, whipped cream, raspberries, and whipped cream. And then finally repeat a third time, ending with the raspberries on top of the cake.
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Refrigerate for at least two to three hours, or overnight.
This is best when served cold. Keep any leftovers refrigerated. It will keep for a day or two in the fridge.

Enjoy!

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Raspberry Rose Sorbet: My Guest Post for Frugal Foodie Mama!

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I had the honor of writing a guest post for my friend Carrie at Frugal Foodie Mama today! I was so thrilled when she asked; it took me a matter of a millisecond to say “Yes!”   And it was another millisecond before I knew exactly what I wanted to make!!

I think it’s safe to say that we are officially in the heat of the summer….and what better way to cool down, than with raspberry rose sorbet?

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Seriously…this sorbet made with fresh raspberries and a hint of rose is so, so delicious….and it’s just one of those things that makes you feel happy to serve to your very surprised guests when they see the floral ice bowls that you made! Just sit back and listen to the “Ooh’s and Aah’s” while they proclaim you to be the master of desserts for the day!

But only you know the truth…and that’s just how easy this pretty dessert was to make!

It’s posted today, so if you’d like to see more photos and get my recipe, please visit Carrie at Frugal Foodie Mama! While you’re there… browse through Carrie’s beautiful blog…I know that you will love her, and her many wonderful ideas and recipes…

….such as Carrie’s:

Roasted Balsamic Strawberry & Ricotta Ice Cream

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… or her

Frozen Strawberry Key Lime Margaritas 

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Seriously…Crazy delicious!

A special thank you to Carrie for giving me this wonderful opportunity. It has been a pleasure. Truly a pleasure.

Life is good… it’s a “raspberry rose and flowers in ice” kind of good…

Mushroom Pizzas and Raspberry Sangria

Spring is nature’s way of saying, “Let’s party!”  ~Robin Williams

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Today was the first full day of spring, and it’s Fiesta Friday at Angie’s blog, The Novice Gardener!  It must have been nature’s way of saying it’s time to party!

It was such a gorgeous day today…perfect for the first full day of spring! I checked the weather channel on my phone around 2pm, and it said that the temperature was 35, and that, paired with the sunshine… is a beautiful thing… truly good for the soul..

I know I’ve said this before, but it always amazes me when the temperature has been below zero, and all of a sudden it hits 35 degrees, everyone walks around with no coats, thinking it’s a heat wave…. but…. when the temperature has been 85 degrees, and all of a sudden it goes down to 35, it feels unbearably cold, and everyone is bundled up in heavy coats, scarves and mittens!

The beautiful weather today made me feel like summer. I didn’t feel the cold in the air, I only felt the sunshine on my face.. and it made me think of warm evenings and friends.. parties with fruit drinks and finger foods…

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I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate this beautiful day, than with a pitcher of raspberry sangria and individual mushroom pizzas! In my mind, a perfect meal to share with friends on a warm evening…or for Fiesta Friday at Angie’s place!

The oyster, shiitake, and baby bella mushrooms, along with the sautéed onions and garlic were delicious with the Boursin cheese….and the freshness of the zesty sprouts tied it all together in a pretty delicious little package..

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And the sangria? I mean, is there ever a bad time for sangria? It was so refreshing and delicious with all of the different fruit, and the liqueur gave it a wonderful raspberry aftertaste, the flavor of summer!

I’m on my way to Angie’s party, and I hope to see you there!  A special thank you to Angie for hosting such a wonderful party!

Life is good… it’s springtime fiesta party good… 

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Mushroom Pizzas
Serves Four

Just a quick note.. you’ll only be using 1/2 of the bread dough. I’ll usually use half for the pizzas, and with the other half, I’ll make into a small loaf of bread.

1/2 of a store bought pizza dough
2 – 5.2 oz pkgs of Boursin Cheese (your favorite flavor, I used shallot and chive)
1 onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 lb block mozzarella cheese, shredded
8 oz mushrooms (your favorite type, I used oyster, shiitake, and baby bella), sliced
Sprouts, such as clover, radish sprouts, zesty sprouts, pea shoots
Flavored Olive Oil, I used Tuscan Herb (for drizzling)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease two baking sheets.

Divide the pizza dough into fourths, and flatten each one out into small ovals, placing two on each baking sheet. Crumble the Boursin cheese onto each pizza. Layer the mozzarella on each pizza.

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In a large frying pan, saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil until browned. Remove from the pan, reserving the oil. Saute the mushrooms in the reserved olive oil for about five minutes, or until golden brown.

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Layer the mushrooms on top of the mozzarella cheese. Layer the onions on top of the mushrooms. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Garnish with sprouts, and drizzle with flavored olive oil.

Sangria
1 bottle sweet white wine
1 cup raspberry liqueur
1-1/4 cups raspberries (1 cup for sangria, 1/4 cup for garnish)
1/2 cup blueberries + a few extra for garnish
1 small orange thinly sliced
1 small lemon, thinly sliced
3 tbsp granulated sugar
Fresh mint or basil for garnish

Mix the wine, raspberry liqueur, raspberries, blueberries, orange slices, lemon slices, and sugar together. Pour into a covered jar and refrigerate for about six hours or overnight.

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To serve, pour into a pitcher, and serve in stemmed glasses with ice. Make sure you add some of the fruit into the glasses, and garnish with fresh raspberries, blueberries, mint or basil.

Enjoy!

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February Calendar Fun: Bakewell Tart

Sometimes things just don’t taste the way you “see” them in a picture…

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Here we are in March already, and if you remember, I talked about the recipe calendar that I have at my desk, and my plan to prepare the recipe of the month, at the end of each month… At the end of January, I made these cookies, which were absolutely delicious..

February’s recipe featured this Bakewell Tart. I was a little bit excited to try this tart, because in my mind, I was expecting a pecan pie type of deal, but with almonds and raspberry instead, and expected it to be delicious..

As described in the calendar, this tart originated in the English village of Bakewell, as Bakewell pudding. Digging a little more online, I found that there is a Bakewell Tart Shop in Bakewell, and the the tart has been baked in puff pastry since the 1870’s.

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Whether this is true or not, the story starts with a customer ordering a strawberry tart from Mrs. Greaves, who was the landlady and cook of the White Horse Inn, in Bakewell. Supposedly, the cooking assistant forgot to add the strawberry jam to the filling, and at the last minute, spread the jam onto the bottom of the pastry shell and then covered it with the cream filling. Apparently, there is a secret ingredient that only one person knows. Before Mrs. Greaves died, she passed the recipe including the secret ingredient to a Mr. Radford, who before his death, passed it to Mr. Bloomer. I guess the Bloomer family owns (or did own) the Bakewell Tart Shop (wisegeek.com).

And..because it’s a myth, I can’t confirm the story. Sometimes it’s just fun to keep history as is…myth or not.

I just wonder why the cooking assistant didn’t mix the strawberry jam into the filling before she poured it into the pastry. It seems that if she had time to spread it over the bottom of the pastry, there was time to mix it into the filling. But what do I know? Maybe she had a grudge against the customer!

So…the Bakewell Tart..it definitely wasn’t what I was expecting. I didn’t care for the texture, which is a surprise to me, because texture in food isn’t usually a negative factor for me. I’m not exactly sure what the true texture should be, and this could be due to this cook’s error, but it was a little on the thick jelly side. The taste was bland, and quite boring to be honest.   

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With all due respect to those who might love this Bakewell Tart, I just didn’t love it, and was disappointed for sure. I think that this is one of those recipes that you really need to grow up with in order to love it.  Or maybe I was disappointed because I was expecting one thing, but got another..

On a positive note, it’s a very pretty pie, the fresh raspberries and whipped cream were delicious!

Would I make it again? Most likely not, unless I were to come across another recipe that had a little “oomph” to it..

So, what would I do differently? I wouldn’t use puff pastry, but would use a buttery, chopped almond cookie crust instead, and I would bake it in mini tartlet pans rather than a pie plate. I think I’d use more jam, and less of the almond filling, and then top it with chopped toasted almonds. I’d still serve them with whipped cream and fresh raspberries. Maybe a drizzle of chocolate…you know, just because chocolate makes everything better…

Stay tuned… I think I’m on to something here!

I’m sure that there is someone who is familiar with this tart, and I’d like to know your thoughts!

Just a quick note: This recipe called for a 7” pie plate. I didn’t have one, so I used a 9” instead, and doubled the recipe. It called for a 30 minute bake time, but I doubled that too, and lowered the temperature from the suggested 400 degrees to 350 degrees. It browned and set beautifully in one hour.

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Bakewell Tart
(As written on my calendar)

225g/8 oz puff pastry
30ml/2 tbsp raspberry or apricot jam
2 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
115g/4 oz/ 1/2 cup (caster) superfine sugar
115g/4 oz/1/2 cup butter, melted
55g/2 oz/ 2/3 cup ground almonds
A few drops of almond extract
icing (confectioners’) sugar, for dusting
double (heavy) cream, or ice cream, to serve

Preheat the over to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and use to line an 18cm/7 inch pie plate. Trim the edge of the pastry with a knife.

Re-roll the pastry trimmings and cut into strips. Use these to decorate the edge of the pastry case by gently twisting them around the rim, joining the strips together as necessary.

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Prick the pastry case all over, then spread the jam all over the base.

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Whisk the eggs, egg yolks, and sugar together in a bowl until the mixture is thick and pale.  Gently  stir the melted butter, ground almonds, and almond extract into the whisked egg mixture.

Pour the mixture into the pastry case and bake for 30 minutes, or until the filling is just set, and lightly browned.

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Decorate the tart with a little bit of icing sugar before serving it warm or cold with generous dollops of double cream or ice cream.

For those of you who love it… Enjoy!

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