Monday, September 19, 2016

Strawberries and Cream Ice Cream Cake

Summer is almost over and I'm almost out of time to share this ice cream cake recipe, but today was in the 90s, so it's most definitely still feeling like summer for a little bit longer around here.  Every summer, I make an ice cream cake, usually somewhere around my birthday in July when it's too hot to turn on the oven and I just want something cold, creamy and sweet.

Being that this one uses store-bought ice cream and packaged strawberry cake rolls, it's incredibly easy to put together, and, like any ice cream cake, very customizable to your own taste.  Strawberry cake rolls were a favorite sweet treat of mine when I was a kid, so I used them for nostalgic reasons, and while I don't particularly love eating them now, pregnancy cravings this summer made them pretty appealing to me once again.  Plus, I just love how the swirled rolls look bordering this pretty cake.

For a chocolate version, how about a border of chocolate Swiss cake rolls filled with chocolate and peanut butter ice cream?  It's too bad I only make one ice cream cake every summer...

Strawberries and Cream Ice Cream Cake
  • 2 boxes Strawberry Shortbread Rolls
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons strawberry jam
  • 1 quart vanilla bean ice cream, softened at room temperature for 10-15 minutes
  • Strawberry Buttercream
Note:  Instead of the cream cheese layer, you could simply use strawberry ice cream.

Cut the strawberry rolls into fourths, enough to stack two layers around the sides of an 8-inch spring form pan.  Take a few more strawberry rolls and cut them a little thinner to fill in the bottom of the pan for the base of the cake.

In a bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth.  In a separate bowl, whip the cream until soft peaks form.  Beat the cream, cream cheese and jam together until smooth; if you like, add a little pink food coloring.  Spread the cream cheese layer over the strawberry roll base.

Spread the ice cream over the cream cheese layer, all the way to the top of the pan, and smooth out the top.  Freeze for several hours, and pipe the buttercream on top.

Freeze for 6-8 hours before serving.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Snickerdoodle Shortbread Bars

This feeling of waiting is palpable this week.  Having organized, cleaned, crossed items off lists, shopped, sewed, baked and prepared as much as seems possible, I'm so ready for our baby boy to join us.  It could happen any day now... or we could still have a few weeks of waiting.

Last weekend was restful with lots of sleeping in and a little baking.  The days are still hot, but the nights are almost cold, and the first signs of fall are visible in the purple leaves just starting to appear on our maple tree.  And since fall is on its way, I had to bake something snickerdoodly.

These snickerdoodle bars begin with a buttery shortbread cookie layer, and then a creamy, tangy filling of cream cheese and brown sugar, with cinnamon, bourbon and vanilla.  More of the shortbread is sprinkled over the filling as a crumb topping, and finally, a dusting of cinnamon and sugar brings it all together.

I can't wait to have a little helper in the kitchen to bake with me...

Snickerdoodle Shortbread Bars

Crust and Topping.
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar + 1 teaspoon cinnamon (for sprinkling over the bars before serving)
Preheat the oven to 350 and spray an 8x8 baking dish with non-stick spray.

In your food processor, or with a pastry cutter, combine the crust/topping ingredients until pea-sized pieces of butter remain.  Reserve one cup of the crumbs for the topping, and press the remainder of the crumbs firmly against the bottom of the baking dish.  Bake crust for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, beat the filling ingredients with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy.  Spread the filling over the hot crust, sprinkle the reserved crumbs over the filling and bake for 35 minutes until the topping is a pale golden.

Cool on the counter completely, then sprinkle with the cinnamon/sugar mixture before cutting into squares and serving.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen

Sunday, September 11, 2016

White Chocolate Coconut Cake

Last weekend was the 2nd anniversary of our wedding, and we spent a quiet Saturday at home, finishing a few projects to get ready for the baby, such as reorganizing the kitchen cabinets to clear some space for baby things, and I don't even remember what else.  That afternoon, we went grocery shopping at our favorite Asian market, which we used to visit quite frequently when we first started dating, and made homemade sushi for dinner (cooked fillings for me, of course, since it's still a few weeks before I can eat raw fish...).  It felt like one of our early dates, except for the baby bump, of course.

The next day we went for a drive to the mountains and a picnic, which ended up being a colder adventure than we anticipated.  Even in early September, the higher elevations can get pretty chilly.  But in spite of the cold, it was a fun time walking through the woods and using the new picnic pack that Jamie gave me for our anniversary.

There was cake, too, of course, this white chocolate coconut cake covered in fluffy buttercream and toasted coconut.  This is my favorite pound-cake-as-a-layer-cake recipe, which is more dense, rich and buttery than one might expect, but works exceptionally well with the addition of white chocolate chips and toasted coconut.  With cream cheese and coconut milk in the cake batter, it's a luscious cake recipe that's worthy of a celebration.

White Chocolate Coconut Cake

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon coconut extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 can (14 ounces) full-fat unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 5 ounces white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon meringue powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2-4 tablespoons milk
  • 2 cups sweetened coconut, lightly toasted
Preheat the oven to 350.  Grease two 8-inch and two 6-inch pans for a 2-tier cake with non stick spray (or, you can use three 8-inch pans for a 1-tier cake).

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, butter and sugar for about 5 minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then the extracts.  Scrape down the bowl and beat for another minute.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.  With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with the coconut milk, starting and ending with the flour.  Stir in the white chocolate chips.

Divide the batter between the pans.  Bake until done, about 20 minutes, then set the pans on a wire rack, covered loosely with a clean kitchen towel, until cooled completely.

In a double boiler, or in a metal bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water, melt the white chocolate until smooth.  Set aside to cool slightly so that it is no longer warm, but not so cool that it re-hardens.  In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the melted white chocolate with the butter and shortening until smooth.  Gradually add the powdered sugar, then the meringue powder and salt and mix on low to combine.  Add the vanilla, and whip the buttercream on medium high, adding the milk as needed, for about 5 minutes until very light and fluffy.

Stack and fill the cake layers with the buttercream, then frost with a thin crumb coat of buttercream.  Chill for 15-20 minutes, then frost all over with a final coat of buttercream.  Press the toasted coconut all over the cake.

Recipe by Curly Girl Kitchen

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Our Maternity Photo Shoot

A few weeks ago, our good friend Katie, photographer at Kathleen Rose Photography, came to our house for a fun little maternity photo shoot.  Being in our own home, just having fun in the kitchen frosting a cake, and then taking pictures in the nursery, it felt like us.

I had so much fun decorating the nursery, filling it with maps of Hogwarts and Middle Earth, some canvas artwork I made, an old photo of my husband on a dirt bike when he was little, my old childhood dresser that I repainted, vintage books from a used bookstore arranged on an old bookcase, blankets and quilts made by my mom and husband's aunts, and old trucks and toys from my in-laws.

I love these photos so much, and can't wait for this little boy to join us in just a couple more weeks!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Our Wedding Quilt

When I was little, my mom had a patchwork quilt made by her grandma that we referred to as "the sick quilt".  Whenever my brother or sister or I were sick, my mom would make a bed for us on the couch to watch TV while she kept busy sewing, and that quilt magically kept us warm when we were chilled and cool when we had a fever.

Over time, somehow she lost the quilt, and it was missing for quite a few years, until they were packing up their house in Colorado to move back to South Carolina.  On moving day, I was sorting through boxes in the garage to be loaded onto the truck, when I came across a stack of old blankets, and there, of all things, was the sick quilt.  I went upstairs to one of the bedrooms where she was packing, and when I showed her the quilt, she gasped with surprise and started crying.

My husband and I just celebrated our two-year wedding anniversary, and ever since our wedding, I've been wanting to make a quilt out of the cloth napkins that I sewed for the reception.  If you remember from my posts about all the things I made for our wedding, one of my projects was to hem a hundred napkins for the reception.  They looked so beautiful on the tables, along with all those little jars of jam for the guest favors.

Of course, no one needs a hundred cloth napkins to use at home, so I've had an idea in my mind to turn them into a quilt, it was just a matter of when and how.  Finally, a couple months ago, I began with a sketch, and started cutting out hundreds of little rectangles to be sewn together into blocks.  My 63-year old Singer sewing machine must have an amazingly well-built engine, because it kept steadfastly humming away through all the nights and weekends I put it through of turning out seam after seam.

There was no rhyme or reason to how I put all the fabrics together, I just cut and pieced and sewed and watched it all take shape.  Never having made a quilt before, I knew the basic concept but really had no idea of how to finish, so every few steps I would watch tutorials to see what I was supposed to do next, and somehow, it all turned into the prettiest quilt I've ever seen.  I'm not the most skilled seamstress, and this quilt is not perfect, by any means, but I like the flaws and imperfections, too.

I was so happy to finish it with just a week to spare before our anniversary, and my husband has already given it a test run for a nap on our couch this weekend.  All the different fabrics are just so pretty - there is the fabric from the napkins, as well as leftover pieces from decorating the jam jars and also the groomsmen's ties.  I just love all the memories, and I hope that someday, our kids will love what it represents and cherish it like I do.