Archive for March, 2008

Pride Goeth before a fallen cake

This Easter, though having intended not to have to make a dessert (I in fact bought a dessert from a local bakery, namely St. Joseph’s Pastries, a seasonal delight here in NYC) but with about a cup of strawberries going soft (the sad truth is that if you buy a box of strawberries and stick ‘em in the so-called “crisper” drawer for a few days everybody in the family forgets about ‘em, nobody eats ‘em, and when finally confronted with them, nobody wants them.  Yet a hue & cry arose from the family when I decided to bake with ‘em). I had to do something with ‘em, and I was just itching to try the “light strawberry cake” recipe posted below on the grounds that it would be both delicious and low cholesterol.  So, acting on an impulse, and realizing that it was an incredibly wonderful coincidence that I had a spare box of strawberry-flavored gelatin and an angel-food cake mix that had passed its expiry date late last year, I threw it together before any one could effectively stop me, and was proud to pull from the oven a light, airy cake that was a deep rich pink inside.  I was proud that I had been lucky and the cake had been browned and risen fairly evenly and had not fallen during baking.  However, the top of one of the layers “deflated” upon exposure to the cold air (it could have been far worse considering the dire warnings they give you not to bake Angel Food cake batter in layer pans and NEVER to grease the pan (both pans were greased & floured).  Alas, this happy outcome was not to last.  Having greased & floured my shallow round layer pans thoroughly, I gave a vigorous “shake” to each to help move the cake out.  The cakes came out of the pans with no trouble, but you know how they say “if something seems too good to be true it probably is”.  That was precisely the trouble: the cakes came out of the pans a little _too_ easily. My shaking of the second pan must have been too vigorous, because layer #2 not only ended up breaking apart, but on the floor.  The remaining cake, though not looking as good or as “polished” as I had hoped tasted better than store bought mixes for pink strawberry cake and I think it was more moist.  I’ll probably make this again for Mother’s Day.


Light Strawberry Cake

Light strawberry cake is beautiful, delicious

Dear Jeanne,

I love this cake, but a cup of oil is a lot. Can you make it just as delicious with less oil?

— Jo Ann, Dallas


1 box white cake mix

3 tablespoons flour

1 box strawberry gelatin

½ cup water

1 cup oil

4 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup frozen strawberries, thawed


¼ pound butter or margarine

1-pound box powdered sugar

Strawberries, thawed

Preheat oven to 350 F. With an electric mixer, combine the cake mix, flour, gelatin, water and oil. Beat well. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and strawberries. Divide the batter between 2 or 3 round layer pans. Bake 25-30 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the icing ingredients, adding as many strawberries as needed to make the icing spreadable.

Makes 12 servings.

Dear Jo Ann,

This is a delicious and beautiful pink cake. I find that reducing the fat in cake mixes works very well, and the strawberries added to this one really add a lot of flavor, moistness and color. If you wish to reduce the amount of icing, use only two layers of cake and put the icing only on the tops, not on the sides. This method adds plenty of icing, and looks very nice. Adding fresh berries on top of the cake or on the serving plate adds extra nutrition and beauty.


1 box white or yellow cake mix

1 small (4 servings) package sugar-free strawberry gelatin

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup strawberries, thawed if frozen, pureed if fresh

½ cup water

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 egg whites


2 tablespoons butter, softened

4 ounces fat-free cream cheese, softened

3 cups powdered sugar

Strawberries and juice to moisten (about 2 tablespoons)

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray 2 cake pans with nonstick cooking spray and dust lightly with flour. Set aside.

Place the cake mix, strawberry gelatin and flour in a large bowl, and mix together. In another bowl, combine the strawberries, the water and the vegetable oil. Pour wet ingredients all at once over dry ingredients and combine. Add the egg whites, one at a time, beating after each addition. This should take several minutes.

Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for about 25 minutes. Remove from the pans and cool on a rack.

For frosting: In a large bowl, mix together the butter and cream cheese. Add the powdered sugar and beat well. Add the strawberries a little at a time until the icing is a good spreading consistency.

Place the first layer rounded side (top) down on a serving plate. Spread with about ½ cup of icing. Put the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread it with another half-cup of the icing. Spread the rest of the icing on the sides if using, then refrigerate.

Makes 12 servings.

Each serving contains approximately:

Original Recipe: 623 calories; 31 gm fat; 83 mg cholesterol; 296 mg sodium; 84 gm carbohydrates; 5 gm protein; 1 gm fiber.

Revised Recipe: 311 calories; 8 gm fat; 6 mg cholesterol; 289 mg sodium; 57 gm carbohydrates; 4 gm protein; 1 gm fiber.

For more information, go to Send your recipe for revision to: Cook It Light (Pocono Record), P.O. Box 1212, La Jolla, CA 92038. Please include a stamped (63 cents), self-addressed envelope.

1 comment March 29th, 2008

Tea Sweets Tea Cookies good idea-in theory

Since I had some powdered matcha (Japanese green tea) at home, I decided to try making these babies, though the original poster of the recipe had decided that they were better with ground powdered oolong tea as one of the ingredients (I’m going to have to try that as a variant because I believe it will taste better). I took the recipe’s advice and saved the egg whites that were not used in the recipe, they ended up as an emergency substitution in another recipe when I ran out of eggs. The cookies themselves came out to be a lovely shade of green (in a whimsical mood, thinking of St. Patrick’s Day’s impending arrival, I had used a four-leaf clover cookie cutter and rolled ‘em in green colored sugar, so they are not the little hearts in the picture of ‘em Gothamist shows).

Tea Cookies w/real tea (“Amai’s tea sweets”)

Tea Cookies
(adapted with very minor variations from Lovescool/Amai Tea & Bake House)
3/4 C (2.25 oz) confectioners sugar
5 oz unsalted butter (5/8 C, or 1 and 1/4 stick), straight from the fridge, cut into 1 tbsp slices
1 3/4 C (8.5 oz) all-purpose flour
3 large egg yolks (save the whites to make tuiles or macarons)
1 1/2 tbsp ground tea of your choosing
1 C granulated sugar (for coating)

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, mix the sugar and ground tea together. Add the butter and continue mixing until smooth and pale.

Add the flour and mix until well combined.

Add the egg yolks and mix just until the eggs are fully incorporated and a mass forms.

Form the dough into a disk and chill in the refrigerator until firm – the original recipe calls for at least 30 minutes, but with our fridge we prefer to let dough chill for at least a couple of hours before rolling it out.

Which is what you’re doing next, of course – rolling it out. To about 1/2″ thick, which will feel surprisingly thick to those of us more used to rolling out pie crusts.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Cut the dough with small cookie cutters of whatever shape you like. Ours were about 1″ diameter.

Toss each cut cookie in a bowl of granulated sugar to coat.

Place the sugar-coated cookies onto a parchment lined baking sheets, about 1″ apart. Bake for 12-15 minutes, rotating from top to bottom and back to front halfway through the baking time. When they are done, they will be slightly golden around the edges.

There was only one problem: I didn’t really like how they tasted! I’m planning to fob ‘em off on my womens’ club meeting….

Add comment March 8th, 2008

Brasserie’s Orange French Toast will be a dish I make again…

…and again, and again… it really went over very well with my family, who usually take a dim view of some of the “fancy stuff”. I had halved the recipe when I made it a couple of days ago (using only one baguette and half the proportions of the other ingredients). *Warning: this is one of those recipes which requires the main part of the prep be done the night before.* Halving the recipe was a decision that turned out to be for the best. Since I didn’t have any orange juice handy, I squeezed my own from the orange that provided the zest (a hint: the juice one can extract by hand from a large seedless naval orange does equal exactly a half cup!)
Without further ado, I searched for & found a copy of the recipe online (warning Google Books page, may take a while to load if you have an older system), I had originally found it printed in my local newspaper.

Orange French Toast online version

Add comment March 8th, 2008

substitutions may carry penalties…

Last month (February) I made a couple of new recipes from the then-current Woman’s Day magazine. The Cocoa Oatmeal jumbles (basically oatmeal raisin cookies with a healthy dose of cocoa powder mixed in…I must say it tastes better than it sounds) I sent to my 7-year old twin cousins in California as part and parcel of their birthday present parcels. However, I got ambitious and made the Tropical Tart for consumption at home. I made two substitutions: #1: I substituted a pre-made chocolate crumb pie crust for the crushed Chessmen cookies rather than doing it myself (this went well) #2: I listened to my mother’s plea for a low-fat dessert and substituted whole milk where the recipe called for cream. (This went horribly). All seemed to be going well enough as I mixed the ingredients, but the chocolatey substrate in which were embedded the chopped macadamia nuts failed to completely firm up in spite of my following the other directions to the letter, so when I cut into it in front of my my family, it was literally a flop, as the bottom layer which was supposed to be a firm base for everything else turned out to be a runny mess. The next day I found that the extra time the leftover remaining tart spent in the fridge did not improve the runny bottom situation by much. Does the extra fat in cream _really_ help that much to hold it together? Please, home economists and food scientists, write in and answer this for me!

The Tropical Tart Recipe

  • Crust: 1 pre-made chocolate crumb crust
  • 1bag (7.25 ounces; 24 cookies) square chocolate cookies (such as Pepperidge Farms Chessmen)
  • 6tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1tablespoon sugar
  • Filling:
  • cup dried pineapple, chopped
  • cup coconut-flavored rum (such as Malibu) or pineapple juice
  • ¾ cup heavy cream whole milk
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup macadamia nuts, chopped
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sweetened flake coconut (they said toasted cocoanut, but how and where am I supposed to toast it when the idea is to avoid turning on the oven?)
  • 1envelope (from a 2.6-ounce package) powdered dairy topping mix (by this they mean Dream Whip-at least that’s what I used)
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Crust: Set aside one cookie. In food processor, crush remaining cookies until crumbs are even in size. Add butter and sugar; pulse to blend. Press into a 9-inch tart pan. Refrigerate while making filling.

2. Filling: Combine pineapple and rum or juice in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH power for 45 seconds. Let stand 5 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, heat cream whole milk in a small saucepan over medium-high heat just until bubbly around the edges, abut 3 minutes. Place chocolate in a bowl and pour hot cream over chocolate. Let stand 1 minute, then stir or whisk until smooth.

4. Drain pineapple (discarding liquid) and stir into chocolate mixture, along with nuts and ½ cup of the coconut. Spread into crust. Refrigerate 1–½ hours.

5. Combine topping mix, milk and vanilla in a medium-size bowl. Beat on low speed until blended, then on high for 4 minutes. Spread over chocolate mixture. Toast remaining 2 tablespoons coconut; sprinkle over tart. Crush remaining cookie; sprinkle over coconut and serve.

Add comment March 4th, 2008


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