American Flag Cake

Okay, I’ve officially been off the blogging radar for a month and I’ve missed it dearly.  A lot has happened since my last post, including moving into a new house.  For anyone that has ever done that, you know it’s lots of work and doesn’t seem to end for months to come.  I still have boxes to unpack and things to hang on the walls, but it’s slowly feeling more like home everyday.  What better way to celebrate than to make a cake for our country’s birthday!!

I am very happy to post this flag cake in celebration of Independence Day.  The summer berries are just so festive and I love the combination of whipped cream frosting with berries.  Here I made a chocolate sheet cake and it was the perfect size and shape for our flag.

The field of blueberries with white whipped cream stars.

I realize that I have the wrong number of stars, but that’s okay.  This is a cake, not a history lesson!

The strawberry stripe.

Try making this on Monday for your 4th of July barbeque and I guarantee people will LOVE it!!  There really is no other food that’s more patriotic than this, right?  And besides, it tastes amazing!

Chocolate Flag Cake with  Whipped Cream Frosting

From Hershey’s Kitchens

2 cups sugar

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup boiling water
Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pan.
Grease and flour 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Heat oven to 350° F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes.

Whipped cream

1 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

Assemble Cake

When cake is cooled, place on platter and cover cake with whipped cream evenly.  Start by placing the blueberries on the top left of the flag.  You do not need to be precise, just eyeball it.  Wash and cut strawberries and place them in line.  Spoon the remaining whipped cream into a piping bag fitted with a start tip and pipe the white stripes in between the strawberry stripes.  Then finish with white stars on the blueberries.

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Edible Chocolate Cups with Vanilla Cream

 

I was planning a baby shower recently and decided to challenge myself and not make the same old desserts. I saw these chocolate molds with beautiful sample pictures on the cover and thought, “I can do that!”  Little did I know that for the first time in my life I would be cursing the name of chocolate.

I read and re-read the instructions on the packaging and was confident that I could follow them.  Instead, I wasted an hour of my life standing in my kitchen with chocolate every where and every how, except in the way that I wanted it!! A phone call to a friend to vent about my predicament ended in me remelting the faulty chocolate cups and starting all over again.

So, it turns out you should NOT fill the molds completely with chocolate, put them in the fridge and hope they solidify from the outside inward, then pour out the liquidy middle, thereby leaving you with a lovely hole in which to pipe the beautiful vanilla cream. I followed the instructions and ended up popping out solid chunks of rock hard chocolate. These were not the delicate chocolate cups I wanted, instead I got a homemade chocolate candy shape with no filling. I need a home for my filling!!

The proper way to do this is below:

Edible Chocolate Cups with Vanilla Cream

2 trays of chocolate cup molds (each will make 8 cups)

1 package chocolate candy melts

1 box Jello instant vanilla pudding mix

1 cup heavy cream

berries

 

Chocolate cups:

Melt your chocolate in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring each time.  Meanwhile, line a half sheet baking pan with parchment paper and lay a cookie wire rack inside.

Make chocolate cups by filling chocolate in each mold and wait about 2 minutes.  Pour out extra chocolate back into bowl, cleaning the top of the mold tray with a spatula.  Turn each mold tray upside down over wire rack to let excess chocolate run out. If the sides of the mold don’t look thick enough, redo the previous step.

Once the molds are your desired thickness, place in the freezer to harden.  When hardened, pop the cups out and place on a plate in the refrigerator to be filled later.

 

Vanilla cream:

Make the vanilla pudding according to package instructions.  Wisk your heavy cream into whipped cream and add to the pudding, folding with a spatula until incorporated.  You can spoon the cream into the cups or pipe them with a bag.  Place a berry on top of each cup.


 

Whipped Cream Filled Profiteroles

For the longest time I’ve been buying those frozen cream puffs in a white tub at the mega mart.  They’re so fluffy and light and filled with the creamy cream stuff.  I know that you know what I’m talking about.  You have them at baby and bridal showers and they just seem way too difficult to ever make yourself, right?  Wrong!!!!

The fancy French name for this dough is called pate a choux, (pronounced “pat a shoe”).  It’s the same dough you use for eclairs, crullers, and beignets.  So really, I’m giving you the recipe to four wonderful pastries, not just one.  I know, I’m generous like that!

I think the French like to name their pastries so that we’re too intimidated to think we can make them ourselves. Turns out the word choux means cabbage in French.  I guess that’s not as appetizing, so I get why they kept the French name. Forgive me, I love the French! They gave us croissants and baguettes.  And, where would Julia Child have been without them?

 This post made it to #1 on Foodbuzz’s Top 9 on April 11, 2011.  Check it out!

So back to this choux dough.  Can you believe it’s only four little ingredients?  I bet you have them in your house right this second.

It’s butter, flour, eggs and water……..really?!  Raise your hand if you have these items.

I would, but then I couldn’t type at the same time, so pretend I’m raising my hand right now.

I’ve found the easiest way to make these into to pipe them out of a bag.  Notice I only have a coupler on the tip.  That’s the white plastic thing on the end there.

It gives you a good rigid round tip to pipe out of.

This is what you end up with.  They kind of look like those cartoon honeycombs, huh?!  So cute.

Make sure you push the tips down so that they don’t burn in the oven.

And besides, my mother always told me it’s not polite to point, heehee!

When you make these, you’re going to say to yourself, the same thing I did.  “Why didn’t I learn how to make these sooner?” and “I’m never going to buy those frozen ones in the tub anymore!”  So satisfying.  Okay, I’m down off my soapbox.  Go and make them already!

Here’s a variation on the profiterole filling.  Here I used a box vanilla pudding mix.

Here’s one of the reasons why I love to bake.

To see this face light up!!

Whipped Cream Filled Profiteroles

adapted from Ina Garten

Profiteroles

1 cup milk

1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter

Pinch kosher salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

4 extra-large eggs

powdered sugar for dusting

Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Heat the milk, butter, and salt over medium heat until scalded. When the butter is melted, add the flour all at once and beat it with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together and forms a dough. Cook, stirring constantly, over low heat for 2 minutes. The flour will begin to coat the bottom of the pan. Dump the hot mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with blade. Add the eggs until they are incorporated into the dough and the mixture is thick.

Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a large plain round tip. Pipe in mounds 1 1/2 inches wide and 1-inch high onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. You should have about 18 puffs. With a wet finger, lightly press down the swirl at the top of each puff. (You can also use 2 spoons to scoop out the mixture and shape the puffs with damp fingers.)

Bake for 20 minutes, or until lightly browned, then turn off the oven and allow them to sit for another 10 minutes, until they sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Make a small slit in the side of each puff to allow the steam to escape. Set aside to cool.  After they are filled, dust with powdered sugar.

Whipped Cream

In a large bowl, whip cream until stiff peaks are just about to form. Beat in vanilla and sugar until peaks form. Make sure not to over-beat, cream will then become lumpy and butter-like.  Put into a piping bag fitted with a small round tip and squeeze them into the empty middles of the profiteroles.