Friday, May 14, 2010

S'mores Cake

So we went over to see Mom & Dad for Mother's Day, and Tim's mom had cruelly left the holiday issue of Taste of Home on her counter. And on the cover was this stunning chocolate cake with strawberries on it, with a tag line that read "It's so easy!" So I picked it up and flipped through it, and then flipped through it again. And then put it away. And flipped through it again as were were putting the finishing touches on dinner (my sister-in-lawesome and I made boeuf bourguignon for Mother's Day dinner--it was excellent). And then I picked it up again before Sunday breakfast. And then I flipped through it again after breakfast. And then I smuggled it home with me.

There are ten recipes in there I want to try, including the aforementioned chocolate strawberry cake, and on the drive home, Tim and I decided to make the s'mores cake that night. (I say "we" decided--I mean asked Tim to pick between chocolate and non-chocolate cake, and then pick between s'mores cake and lemon cake). And then I bought the ingredients and made a cake! Voila!

"Give Me S'more" Cake
adapted from the January 2010 issue of Taste of Home magazine

Half a cup of shortening
One-quarter cup butter, softened
One cup sugar
Three eggs
One teaspoon vanilla extract
Three cups graham cracker crumbs
Three teaspoons baking powder
One can (12 oz.) evaporated milk--not condensed

Line two nine-inch round baking pans with waxed paper. Grease and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream the shortening, butter, and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add eggs one at a time, beating very well after each addition. Preheat your oven to 350F.

Beat in vanilla. Combine cracker crumbs and baking powder, and add in two additions, alternately with the milk. Beat very well after each addition. (My brother was helpful and made the graham crackers into crumbs while I was adding the eggs. He's a good boy!)

Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake 18-22 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. (A note about bake times: one of my layers took 25 minutes, the other wasn't done until 30 minutes. Check your layers at 20 minutes, I think, and then every two or three minutes after that.) Cool in the pan for ten minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make sure the cake is not warm at all before frosting. I actually made the cake on Sunday and frosted on Monday.

About the frosting--there is an accompanying frosting recipe that I'll give you, but I frankly didn't trust it. So I bought two jars of marshmallow fluff, and that's what I used. So anyway...

For the frosting:
Four egg whites
One cup sugar
Half a teaspoon cream of tartar
One and a half teaspoons vanilla extract
About half a bag of mini chocolate chips--use your best judgement.

In a large heavy saucepan, combine the egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar over low heat. With a hand mixer, beat on low speed for one minute. Continue beating on low speed over low heat until frosting reaches 160F, about 8-10 minutes. Pour into a large bowl, add vanilla. Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form, about 7 minutes.

Or, you know, buy marshmallow fluff. And if you do, nuke it for 20 seconds before you try to frost your cake; it makes it slightly easier to manage.

So, plop a dollop of frosting onto your serving plate to anchor the bottom layer. Stick a few strips of waxed paper or parchment paper under the edges of the cake to preserve the beauty of your serving platter, and plop about a third of the frosting on top. Spread it to the edges, and sprinkle liberally with chocolate chips.

Plop the other layer on top, cover with more frosting, and frost the top.

Use the remaining frosting on the sides, and sprinkle generously with chocolate chips. Enjoy!

Takes about 50 minutes of prep, plus about 20 minutes of bake time, plus cooling.
Makes one cake.
Difficulty: 2.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Chicken Casserole-ish

So. About this "casserole"--it was less a casserole and more a soup with topping. But hey, it was tasty!
Chicken & Biscuit "Casserole"
4 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 stick butter
3 cloves minced garlic
1 whole small yellow onion, diced
3 stalks celery, sliced (I didn't have celery, so I used carrots)
2 tablespoons flour
1 can chicken broth
1 can cream of chicken soup
Salt & pepper
2 cups Bisquick mix
1 cup shredded cheddar
cups milk
Preheat oven to 400F degrees.
Melt half the butter with the garlic in your microwave in 15-second intervals. Place the shredded chicken into a casserole dish.

In a saute pan, melt the remaining butter. Saute celery and onions for approximately 4 minutes.

Lower the heat, add flour, and then chicken broth. Simmer for 2 or 3 minutes.

Take off heat and add cream of chicken soup, add salt and pepper to taste.

Pour over shredded chicken and mix in well.

In a bowl, mix Bisquick mix, milk and shredded cheese. You might need a little more milk--I used about a cup. Drop this by rounded spoonfuls onto the chicken.

Baste the biscuits with the previously-made garlic butter and cook in the oven for 22-25 minutes.

Difficulty: 2
Takes about an hour.
Feeds 6.