Food quote of note

"The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience"…Eleanor Roosevelt

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Celebrating Mom - and Cool Whip

     My mom is a pretty darn good cook - she's the oldest of 8 siblings, and was always the one hosting holidays and birthdays/celebrations for this large group at our very small house.  My love of entertaining  started with her and with the many meals we made together.  Over the past few years, as I've gotten increasingly into food and cooking, I've become more exposed to professional techniques and approaches.  As a matter of fact, sometimes my family teases me a little bit about my "fancy cooking" - as only your family can do.  Although I do love conquering a complicated recipe or understanding the details about how to make something from scratch - I have to admit that some of the yummiest treats I've eaten and some of my fondest memories revolve around the dishes my mom made for those family gatherings -- in a small kitchen, no double oven, no warming drawer and very few of the essential cooking tools I own today.  So - today's blog is to honor our Moms and some of these "homemade" specialties - all made with love, and usually including one of the following pivotal ingredients - Cool Whip, Dream Whip or Jello.
     At our house the dessert of choice for any holiday was something called Cherry Dream Pie - a layered treat which features a white, fluffy layer of cream cheese/sugar/Dream Whip mixture, poured over a graham cracker crust and topped with canned cherry pie filling.  I cannot tell you how many of these I have made/helped make over the years - and, quite frankly, how many spoonfuls of this white wonderful filling I have snuck out of the bowl and tasted during the making.  Of course, I had to fight my brother for these stolen tastes - this is his favorite dessert as well.  This last week I travelled to Ohio to visit my family - so my brother and I made this dessert together to share with my mom.  As usual, we fought over the extra filling - but both managed to eat our share and still leave enough for the dessert.

The building blocks for Cherry Dream Pie. 
By the way - does anyone really know what is in Dream Whip?

Graham cracker crust forms the base for this layered treat

Here's the good stuff - the fluffy white layer that combines sugar, cream cheese,
milk and Dream Whip.  OMG - pure heaven on a spoon!
THE dessert of my childhood - Cherry Dream Pie.

My Mom Fran, enjoying a piece of Cherry Dream Pie
at my brother's house in Ohio

     Another wonderful woman I need to highlight for this blog is my sweet mother-in-law, Mary.  Mary is your quintessential midwestern farm gal - practical, honest, hard-working, and alot of fun.  When I joined their family, I got a few Leach specialties to add to this list of homey favorites - again, all including the key ingredient - Cool Whip.  When I asked for these recipes, I had to laugh at the names - Pink Salad, Chocolate Dessert.  In her typical no-nonsense style, Mary called these treats exactly what they were, no fancy names (for example, I have seen this same recipe for her Chocolate Dessert also labeled as Chocolate Delight, Chocolate Cream Cake, etc - but not our gal Mary - Chocolate Dessert is just fine).  Pink Salad combines Cool Whip, bananas, sugar , cream cheese, frozen strawberries and canned pineapple into a whipped treat that can double as either a salad or dessert - one of my husbands personal favorites.  Chocolate dessert is a layered treat of nut crust, chocolate instant pudding, cream cheese and Cool Whip deliciousness.  Both of these are at every holiday dinner with Guy's family in Michigan - and, I definitely eat more than my share!

     As I was thinking about this blog, I shared the idea with  several of my friends - wouldn't it be fun to highlight all of those special treats our moms had made all of our lives that included Cool Whip, Jello or some other "packaged" ingredient.  As soon as I brought it up, the stories started to fly - the memories made us all laugh and smile as we thought about family dinners and cooking with our moms.  So - in honor of the great women who raised the great group of women I have for friends - I have several guest authors on the blog who are going to share their stories and recipes: 

My friend Patti polled her sisters on which of their family traditions to highlight - here's their selection:

     "When I asked my sisters the dessert that they remembered my mom making, a few 'creations' came to mind. I must add that a few of these desserts did involve some flavor of jello. But one creation was repeated by all and this dessert would be a spice cake made with her pudding icing. No special recipe for the cake, as it was your favorite Betty's creation, yes, Betty Crocker. You see the pudding icing did not only have pudding, confectioners sugar and butter, but wait, the secret ingredient is crisco....yes, this is not a typo, I did type crisco. By request of my sisters, I purchased the box spice cake (just as my mom would have made for us) and topped off that 9 x13 cake (again, Mom only made cakes in a 9 x 13 pan) with that pudding icing.
     Crystal, thank you for asking me to pass along the memory of desserts of my childhood as this Mother's Day we recreated a few of my mom's desserts. We shared memories with my nieces and found that these long lost desserts are now part of their memories, too."

My friend Patti with her sisters and Mom - of course, featuring the star
  of the day - spice cake with pudding icing.
(Left to right - Stephanie, Julie, Mom and Patti).

Most of you know my friend Rosie - she's been making cakes along with me for The Year of the Cake.  Of course, she has a great entry for this blog - one of her mom's favorites followed by one of her own:

     "My Mom loved nuts and she loved pineapple. She also loved desserts that were quick and easy to put together, yet tasted really yummy! If you combine all that, it’s no wonder this recipe became one of my Mom’s favorites! We had this throughout the year, but it was always a MUST HAVE at Thanksgiving and Christmas!
     What is also nice about this recipe is how flexible and forgiving it is. You can make this totally from scratch, or you can make it with prepared products – bottled lemon juice, already chopped nuts, prepared graham cracker pie shells, etc. And if you are crazy, you can make it low fat using low fat Cool Whip and/or low fat condensed milk.
     My Dad could not eat nuts and coconut, so Mom always made two small pies – one for Dad without nuts or coconut, and one for us - she often added coconut to the filling for our pie. You can easily adapt this recipe by adding other fruits to the filling, or trying different crumb crusts."

Rosie's Mom's Cool Whip Pie

A slice for me - I love it when Rosie shares! 
I can attest - this is a rich but yummy treat!

Cool Whip Pie
1 ¼ cups graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup sugar
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 8-oz. container Cool Whip
1 20-oz. can crushed pineapple in 100% pineapple juice, pressed and well drained
1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup finely chopped nuts (we normally use pecans)
½ cup lemon juice
Shaved or shredded coconut

In a medium bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter together until well blended. Using the back of a spoon, press crumb mixture firmly into the bottom and up side of a large or deep dish pie plate, or 2 small pie plates. Place in refrigerator to chill.
Using a hand mixer, in a large bowl whip Cool Whip, pineapple, condensed milk, nuts and lemon juice until well blended. Spread into graham cracker shell. Sprinkle top with coconut. Refrigerate 1-2 hours until firm before serving.
Makes 1 large or 2 small pies. Keep refrigerated.

     And since I’m a mom, here’s a favorite recipe I used to make all the time. It was great in the summer and was always a hit at my daughter’s birthday parties when she was young!
Lemon – Lime Refrigerator Cake
1 package lime jello
1 package lemon cake mix
3 eggs, 1 ¼ cup water, 1/3 cup oil (or as directed on lemon cake box)
1 envelope Dream Whip
1 package lemon instant pudding
1 ½ cup cold milk

Dissolve lime jello in ¾ cup boiling water. Add ½ cup cold water. Set aside.
Mix and bake cake according to box directions in a 9 x 13 glass or decorative pan. Cool cake for 20 minutes. Poke cake all over with large fork. Pour lime mixture over cake.
Whip Dream Whip, milk, and lemon pudding until stiff. Frost top of cake.

Keep refrigerated.

My friend Kim sent me one of the best notes about her Mom - and, even though there isn't a recipe attached, I think you will all agree that this sentiment is a true honor to her Mom and an inspiration to us all:

     "Due to the fact that my mom didn't cook because of her blindness, I must tell you that her favorite dessert was Pav's custard stand!  I have many fond memories of going to get ice cream with her on a hot summer night.  If I could share with you any "recipe" from a mom, it's to enjoy the time you have to spend with her.  My mom left me not with great recipes, but with the gift of laughter and friendship and lots of love, and for that, I am very thankful".

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

My Surreal Period

     So - three more days to go at KC - how crazy is that?  I don't know what I thought I would feel - all I can say is that this is just bizarre.  It is exciting, liberating and terrifying - all at the same time. 
  I spent most of Friday and today cleaning out my office - WOW - it's amazing how much stuff a girl can accumulate in 18 years.  As I sorted through books, files, papers, and pictures, I tried not to get too caught up in a trip down memory lane - but, to no avail.  It's impossible to be surrounded by packing boxes without pausing to reflect on the things that get saved - and those that get thrown away.  I've had the opportunity to do lots of fun things and meet lots of great people during my time at KC and I am truly thankful for that.  While there have certainly been many things that have frustrated and challenged me during my years in corporate life,  I must admit I am better for the journey. 
     Right now I am taking it day-by-day - trying to take a breath, enjoy things, say goodbye to the folks I care about and not be overwhelmed by how little I really know about the road ahead.  I must admit, I was close to losing it this weekend - I was suddenly overcome by all the decisions that still need to be made, all the changes that are going on in our lives and all of the things that have to happen in the next 30 days.  Even though I had been planning on this change for some time and actually counting down the years/months/days - it seems to be so unsettling now that the time is actually here.  As usual, my husband can be counted on to ground me and support me when I am "on the verge" - pulling me back from the meltdown with calm reassurances and helping me regain my perspective and recover my excitement.  After all - this was my idea - scratch that - my dream!  (Jennifer - THIS IS DINNER).

Packing my office

18 years of stuff - YIKES

Trading in my safety shoes for chef clogs!

Flowers from G help me make it through my last week at KC

     Many people have asked me "how does it feel to be leaving/changing/starting a new chapter in your life" and the one word that keeps coming to my mind is "surreal", which is defined as - having the disorienting, hallucinatory quality of a dream; unreal; fantastic.  That sounds about right! 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Cinco de Mayo

     It's hard to believe it's May already - but, it's here, so time for another cake!  From the time I first conceived of my crazy plan to bake a new cake every month, I was thinking ahead to May.  I knew I wanted to make a Tres Leches Cake, and it seemed like this would be the perfect cake for celebrating the month of May and Cinco de Mayo. 
     My anticipation was accompanied by a slight bit of apprehension - not because this is an especially challenging cake to make, but because there is a local Atlanta restaurant that has an AMAZING Tres Leches cake on the menu.  For years, this has been my husband's favorite restaurant cake (not to be confused with his favorite homemade cake - the chocolate boxed cake from April's blog posting).  To say Guy likes the Tres Leches cake from Tierra is an understatement - he loves this cake, pines for this cake and worships the very fiestaware plate it sits on - and, quite frankly, I don't blame him - it is a sweet, white, milky square of nirvana.  To make it even worse, Tierra recently closed (a moment of silence, please), so now this perfect cake is but a beautiful and delicious memory - it's been placed in dessert "sainthood".  So - you understand my trepidation in trying to recreate this cake at home - could I make one that lived up to the restaurant gold standard?
     Tres Leches (three milk) cake is a sponge cake soaked in three kinds of mik (evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and heavy cream).  Because butter is not used, the sponge cake is a very light cake with many air bubbles - this distinct texture is why it does not have a soggy consistency, despite being soaked in several cups of the three milk mixture.  This cake has a unique velvety texture - a balance between cake and custard - and a sweet, vanilla, creamy taste.  It was a relatively simple cake to make - and, much to  my delight, it turned out PRETTY DARN close to the Tierra version - the only difference being that their frosting is slightly sweeter (I'll have to try adapting the frosting next time I make this).

Once the sponge cake has cooled for 10-15 minutes, begin pouring the three milk mixture over the cake (don't forget to poke holes in cake with a toothpick or fork to help milk mixture absorb).   I know it's hard to believe, but the cake will get soaked with flavor, but will not get soggy.

My version of Tres Leches cake - sweet, creamy and delicious (and almost as good as Tierra's).

     I would definitely recommend this cake - it's fairly easy to make, can easily be prepared ahead, stores well for days in the fridge, and is a cool, creamy delight.  So, in honor of Cinco de Mayo, I suggest you grab a margarita and make a Tres Leches cake!

Tres Leches Cake - slightly adapted from Emeril LaGasse

  • 1 cup All-purpose Flour
  • 1-½ teaspoon Baking Powder
  • ¼ teaspoons Salt
  • 5 whole Eggs
  • 1 cup Sugar, Divided
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • ⅓ cups Milk
  • 1 can Evaporated Milk
  • 1 can Sweetened, Condensed Milk
  • ¼ cups Heavy Cream

For the icing:
  • 1 pint Heavy Cream, For Whipping
  • 3 Tablespoons Confectioner's Sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 inch pan liberally until coated.
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
Separate eggs.  Beat egg yolks with 3/4 cup sugar on high speed until yolks are pale yellow. Stir in milk and vanilla, stir until just blended. Pour egg yolk mixture over the flour mixture and stir very gently until combined.
Beat egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. With the mixer on, pour in remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until egg whites are stiff but not dry.
Fold egg white mixture into the batter very gently until just combined. Pour into prepared pan and spread to even out the surface.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until cake springs back or a toothpick comes out clean. (Note - if using a metal cake pan, will cook quicker - likely only need 30-35 minutes).  Allow cake to cool ~10-15 minutes in pan.
Combine condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream in a small pitcher.
Pierce the surface of the cake with a fork several times. Slowly drizzle all but about 1 cup of the milk mixture onto the cake —try to get it as evenly dispersed as you can, including getting some around the edges of the cake.
Allow the cake to absorb the milk mixture for 30 minutes. Pour the remaining 1 cup milk mixture over the cake. 
To ice the cake, whip 1 pint heavy cream with 3 tablespoons of sugar until thick and spreadable.  Spread over the surface of the cake.
Refrigerate cake at least 4 hours - does fine if let set in fridge overnight.  (Note, cake can be refrigerated and whipping cream added right before serving if desired - does fine either way).

Friday, May 4, 2012

Bakery Crawl

     So, the days are racing by - I will start my last real week at KC on Monday - it seems hard to believe.  One of the nice benefits of announcing my decision to leave several months in advance is that I have had plenty of time to spend with many of my friends and colleages to say a proper "good-bye".  While I've thoroughly enjoyed the coffees, lunches and cocktails I've been sharing, I might need to slow it down this last week or I will need to start wearing my "stretchy pants" to work every day!
     While each of these connections has been great in its own way, I must tell you about one that struck a special chord with this aspiring baker/pastry-chef - this week my friend Stephanie organized a "bakery crawl" for the two of us and several of her team members.  Seriously - how fun is that?  We headed to downtown Roswell for lunch and dessert(s - make that plural).  We started out at a place called Party Chic - a quaint lunch place that features KellyKakes. 

We politely but quickly ate our sandwiches and salads, saving space for the real star of the meal - Jumbo Cupcakes.  The cupcakes were amazing - big, fresh, tender and tasty, topped with creamy swirls of vanilla/cream cheese frosting composed of just the right ratios of these two ingredients.  We did have the decency to split two cupcakes (strawberry and chocolate) between the four of us, since we knew this was just the first stop on our bakery crawl.

Chocolate and Strawberry Cupcakes at Party Chic - stop #1 on The Bakery Crawl

   Even though we were feeling pretty full, we "crawled" down Canton Street for yet another dessert - heading to a great place called Pie Hole.   This homey establishment is a prime example of  doing one thing and doing it really well - it's all about Pie, and only Pie.  Pie Hole had about 10 different pies available by the slice (of course, you could also take a whole pie home if you so desired).  It's a simple, rustic establishment that revolves around a case of pies that are freshly made and oh-so-tasty, often featuring seasonal ingredients.  It has an interesting business model - does all of its' advertising on Facebook - so, log in and check out the pies-of-the-day, then crawl on over for a slice or two. 

     I selected coconut while my friends chose key lime and chocolate derby - we were all blissfully satisfied and incredibly full!  I like to think of myself as somewhat of a pie afficionado - and I am totally smitten with Pie Hole - great flaky crust, lots of variety of flavors, fresh and homemade - what more could you want?

Pie Hole - stop #2 on the Bakery Crawl (oops - got so excited I dug into my coconut pie before I remembered to take the pic)

An amazingly homey apple pie - God Bless America and God Bless the Pie Hole

This breathtaking apple pie contains 3 pounds of apples - now that's a pie!
     So - I highly recommend a Bakery Crawl - grab a few friends, pull on your stretchy pants and head to a few different places for dessert - it's great fun.  Thanks Steph, Dave and Marianne for a fun lunch - I will miss you guys!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

OMG - Oh My Ganache!

     You know, you just can't get too much chocolate - and, I think I have proof that I am not the only one who feels this way.  Two of my friends recently made some beautiful cakes that highlighted one of our all-time favorite things - chocolate.  Each of these creations was covered with a shiny, luxurious layer of chocolate ganache.  While ganache is a relatively simple thing - heavy cream heated and poured over chocolate to melt it - it's amazingly elegant and, quite frankly, a lot of culinary bang-for-your-buck.  Anything covered in chocolate ganache is guaranteed to get the reaction every baker longs for - you know, the one where people "ooh and ahh" and begin salivating the minute you unveil dessert!
     So - here's a couple of ganache-covered treats that look amazing - and, knowing the two talented ladies who made them, I'm sure they tasted just as good as they look!  And, if you want a guaranteed great reaction - make one of these beauties and serve it at your next dinner party - I promise you it will be a crowd-pleaser.

     First - Tunnel of Fudge Cake.  I've come across a food blog that I absolutely love - Annie's Eats.  I've attached the link - check it out, I think you'll really enjoy it!

     Annie is an interesting woman (physician, mother, foodie) who takes beautiful pictures and makes food that I really like!  Her blog is beautiful to look at and interesting to read - so, of course I have passed it on to all my friends.  One of her recent posts featured a tempting chocolate confection called a "Tunnel of Fudge Cake" - check out her blog for the complete recipe.  My friend Patti took the Tunnel of Fudge Challenge - and how gorgeous is that cake!  I can't help it - I am "oohing and aahing" from afar - only wish I had been home in Akron to give this one a try!

Patti B makes a beautiful, ganache-covered treat - the Tunnel of Fudge Cake
     Our second tempting ganache-covered delight was Jennifer McClish's Boston Cream Pie, which she made for her husband Matt's birthday cake.  Mrs. McClish is an amazing cook - so, it's no surprise that this birthday treat tasted great.  Lucky for me this cake was within driving distance - so I actually got to enjoy this one.  Because she is who she is (and, we love her for it) - Jennifer didn't simply pick a Boston Cream Pie recipe - she sought out the best recipe for all three elements of this dessert and put them together to make "the ultimate Boston Cream Pie". 

A thing of beauty - Boston Cream Pie for Matthew's birthday

Here's her recipe - in her own words -- "This cake is comprised of three separate recipes because I am constitutionally incapable of keeping it simple...apparently"

Buttermilk Country Cake - adapted from Rose Levy Berenbaum's The Cake Bible

4 large egg yolks
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups sifted cake flour (I used all-purpose because frankly I know now that none of my fans can tell the difference)
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

In a medium bowl combine yolks, 1/4 of the buttermilk, and vanilla.
In large mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients--this includes the sugar, btw, for some reason that threw me. Blend for 30 seconds. Add softened butter and remaining buttermilk. Mix on low until dry ingredients moistened. Increase speed to medium and beat for 1 1/2 minute to aerate, etc. etc. Add egg mixture in 3 batches, beating 20 seconds after each addition.
Scrape batter into prepared pan (I spray it and put parchment in the bottom). (This is enough for a 9 x 2 inch pan but I used an 8 x 2 inch pan so it would turn out taller.) Bake in preheated oven on 350 for 30 - 40 minutes (more like 45 for the 8 inch pan). When cake is cool, slice it in half horizontally with a serrated knife--lazy susan works well here. Fill with cooled cream custard and glaze.
Vanilla Cream Custard - adapted from Fannie Farmer

1 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 egg yolks
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Add sugar, flour, and salt to cold pan. Add just enough of the cold milk to make a slurry and press out any lumps. (Grandma method) Add rest of cold milk. Whisk over medium heat until steaming. Pour a little of the hot milk into the bowl of egg yolks. Whisk to temper then add the tempered egg yolks into the pot of steaming milk mixture. Stir constantly for 4 -5 minutes. Take off heat and add vanilla. Cool completely.

Velvety Ganache Glaze - adapted from Shirley Corriher's Bakewise
I got the idea of this glaze from Shirley, but she likes A LOT of glaze, so i used the proportions from another glaze recipe I have used on a chocolate bundt cake.  It chills well.
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (that’s right, I used chocolate chips!)
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 tablespoon water

Melt all ingredients in pot over low heat on the stove--stirring constantly--or in bowl in microwave. You can also use milk chocolate if you like a milder chocolate taste or bittersweet if you like it strong.

Champagne and Chocolate

     It's that time of the month - CAKE TIME!  It's time to unveil April's entry for The Year of the Cake.  An unexpected pleasure of this blog has been that several of my talented "foodie friends" have decided to bake along with me - how fun is that?  My dear friend Rose has also embraced 2012 as The Year of the Cake and has joined me in my quest to bake a new cake every month.  So, this post will actually be a double feature - I'll share the stories, pictures and recipes of both of our April cakes - which is only appropriate, since we actually shared the cakes with each other as a double feature dessert for last week's Sunday Supper.   
     Champagne and chocolate - what a great combination!  Rosie and I each selected a cake to honor one of these delicious ingredients. 

     Let's start with the bubbly - Rosie's Pink Champagne Cake.  For her birthday last month, Rose recieved a cookbook with a very intriguing name - Booze Cakes: Confections Spiked with Spirits, Wine and Beer.  Now, come on - who can resist that?  We raised our proverbial glasses to the Year of the Cake with a Pink Champagne cake.  This recipe includes champagne in both the cake and the frosting - again, who can resist that?   

Rosie's Pink Champagne Cake - looks as lovely as it tastes

Rosie joins me in celebating "2012 - The Year of the Cake"

     Now for the chocolate - for this I had to think "outside the box".  My husband's birthday is in April - so, he had the honor of selecting this month's cake.  What most of you don't know about my husband is that he has had a long-standing love affair with another woman - her name is Betty - Betty Crocker!  As much as it pains me to acknowledge this, my husband loves boxed chocolate cake - he craves a 9X13 pan of Betty's finest, topped with Chocolate frosting out of a can.  As you can imagine, I can't help but roll my eyes when my question "what cake would you like for your birthday, dear" is met with the same response year after year..."chocolate boxed cake".  While I am certainly not above making a cake from a mix and have done so many times, I worried that it wouldn't really be true to the intent of "The Year of the Cake".  So - I started my search for "the best chocolate cake" - hoping I could find a recipe that could banish all thoughts of Betty and her boxed treats from his mind. 
     For me, a really good chocolate cake means one thing and one thing only - MOIST!  No dark chocolate flourless torte or mocha mousse confection - I needed a homey, moist, rich chocolate cake that cried out for a big glass of whole milk, one that evoked thoughts of Grandma's kitchen table and made you begin to hum God Bless America.  As usual, when I'm looking for a recipe that won't let me down, I turn to our gal Ina - the Barefoot Contessa's Beatty's Chocolate Cake seemed like just the kind of chocolate cake that could go head-to-head with the beloved boxed tradition.  This cake uses buttermilk for moisture, a mix of cocoa and melted chocolate for a rich chocolate taste and a cup of coffee to deepen the flavor.  It was easy to make and turned out just like the picture in the cookbook - and most importantly, it tasted great.

Homemade chocolate cake - hopefully it compared with the boxed tradition.
     As you can imagine, we were all stuffed after each having a piece of both cakes.  But - I must admit, chocolate and champagne do go very well together! 

Pink Champagne Cake -- from Booze Cakes: Confections Spiked with Spirits, Wine and Beer

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • egg whites
  • A few drops red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups Champagne
Pink Champagne Frosting
  • 3/4 cups (1 1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 4 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup champagne
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract 
  • A few drops red food coloring
     Preheat oven to 350  F.  Grease and flour two 9" round cake pans.
     In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.  In a mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar 3-5 minutes, or until light and fluffy.  Add vanilla and beat in egg whites one at a time.
     Mix in food coloring.  Beat in flour mixture and Champagne in three alternating additions, starting and ending with flour to prevent curdling.  Pour batter into pans and bake 35 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool on rack.
     For the frosting:  In a mixing bowl, beat butter 1 minute.  Gradually add the confectioner's sugar, Champagne, milk vanilla, and food coloring - beat until smooth and creamy.  (Note - Rosie had to add more sugar to get a spreadable consistency)

Beatty's Chocolate Cake - slightly adapted from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa at Home    
  • Butter, for greasing the pans
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups good cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, shaken
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
  • Chocolate Buttercream, recipe follows
      Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8-inch x 2-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.
     Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
     Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:
  • 6 ounces good semisweet chocolate
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
      Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.
     In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners' sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy.  On low speed, add the chocolate and to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Don't whip! Spread immediately on the cooled cake.