There are days when I feel like baking and in my head I picture elaborate layered cakes with glossy frosting or perfect pastries with melt in the mouth creme patissiere. The reality is I’d rather get the baking done quickly so I can sit in front of the TV and stuff my face with cake. The sooner done, the better. And who am I kidding? Elaborate layered cakes only live somewhere in my head probably from a snapshot of someone else’s hard work on the web or in cookbooks.
So at times like these, I could pop around the corner to the mini supermarket and get a loaf of factory made shrink wrapped madeira cake (triple yuck) or I take out my cake tray, pause the TV and get cracking on this.
Red velvet cake and cream cheese frosting are like BFFs. So when I discovered that cream cheese which I thought was in my fridge didn’t really exist, I resorted to cream cheese frosting’s much lighter and healthier cousin – meringue frosting. Sweeeeeet.
Red Velvet Sheet Cake with Meringue Frosting
Cake recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman and Smitten Kitchen
- 1 cup canola oil (instead of shortening which was in the original recipe)
- 1-3/4 cup Sugar
- 2-1/2 cups Cake Flour
- 1-1/4 teaspoon Salt
- 2 whole Eggs
- 1 cup Buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
- 1-1/2 teaspoon Vinegar
- 1-1/2 ounce, fluid Red Food Coloring
- 1-1/2 teaspoon Cocoa Powder (not Dutch processed, just the regular stuff)
Preheat oven to 180 C (350F) degrees. Thoroughly spray a large sheet cake pan with baking spray, be generous with the spray.
Whisk cake flour, cocoa and salt in a bowl.
Place oil and sugar in bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium speed until well-blended. Beat in eggs one at a time. With machine on low, very slowly add red food coloring. Add vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk in two batches. Scrape down bowl and beat just long enough to combine.
Place baking soda in a small dish, stir in vinegar and add to batter with machine running. Beat for 10 seconds.
Pour batter into prepared sheet cake pan. Even out the surface. Bake for 20 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Remove pan from oven and allow cake to cool completely before icing.
Italian Meringue Frosting
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
3 egg whites (room temperature)
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla or other flavoring
2 tablespoons sugar
Mix 2/3 cup sugar and water together and bring to a boil until a temperature of 275 is reached on a candy thermometer.
As the syrup reaches its temperature, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, 2 tablespoons sugar until the whites form soft peaks.
Remove syrup from heat add the syrup in a small stream while continuing to beat the mixture with the electric mixer.
Beat about 3 more minutes. The mixture will form glossy peaks and thicken.
Add the vanilla and mix a bit more.
Frost the cake immediately.
*Although this frosting is super easy to make and is much healthier than cream cheese, it doesn’t keep as well. Maximum two days refrigerated – that is if your cake lasts that long to begin with!
Christmas is a time for caring and sharing. The best way to brighten someone’s season is to share some sugar. Add touches of sweetness to the last few crazy days before the Christmas holidays. I started making cookies last year as Christmas cheer and gifting them to close friends and colleagues. This is a tradition I’d like to keep for as long as it gives me joy to bake and share.
I saw this gorgeous creation on one of my favourite blogs and I knew straightaway that it would be my 2011 Christmas cookie. To make it an even sweeter deal, it’s a shortcut recipe using box cake mix! Bliss. You can’t imagine how much time that saved me.
There’s something about red velvet cake or cookies that is deliciously beautiful. The white chocolate drizzle set against the rich red cookie is a perfect Christmas picture.
The cheesecake part of the cookie is really the filling in the cookie. It’s like a pleasant surprise to an already yummy cake-like cookie. I love how easy it was to make these, and how much more satisfying it was to bring a smile to those who received them.
Add a few pieces of string, a plastic bag, a cardboard with pretty words and voila! A package of Christmas cheer.
I’m off to Tasmania with the hubs and I’m looking forward to a week of sunshine, hiking, beaches and catching up with old friends over good food and drinks.
Have a safe and happy Christmas everyone! Thank you for your support and encouragement for droolfactor this year. See y’all in 2012 for more yummy goodness!
RED VELVET CHEESECAKE COOKIES
Adapted from Two Peas & Their Pod
Makes 10 giant cookies
For the cookies:
1 box red velvet cake mix (I used White Wings Devilish Red Velvet)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the cheesecake filling:
110g cream cheese, at room temperature
65gm icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the white chocolate drizzle:
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips, melted
In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together cake mix, flour, eggs, oil and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap.Refrigerate for at least two hours.
For the cheesecake filling, using a mixer, combine cream cheese, icing sugar, and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth. Using a teaspoon, scoop out cheesecake filling and place on a plate. Continue scooping out cheesecake filling into teaspoon balls until you have 10. Place plate in the freezer and freeze for at least two hours.
Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Divide the dough into ten equal portions. On a piece of cling film, roll a portion of the dough into a ball, flatten it (I found it easier manipulating the dough using the cling film as it sticks to the hand and fingers and not on the cling film).
Place a teaspoon of cheesecake filling in the center and wrap the cookie dough around the filling. Gently roll into a ball and place on prepared baking sheet and flatten it slightly till it becomes a thick even disc. Note: Original recipe did not require flattening of the dough into a disc which resulted in a thick cookie. I believe the spreading of the cookie will vary depending on the cake mix. Test bake one cookie first just to be on the safe side.
Only bake 3 or 4 cookies at a time. The cookies are large and will spread. Bake for 11-13 minutes or until the cookies begin to crackle. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Remove from baking sheet to a wire cooling rack and cool completely.
Melt the white chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl or over a double-boiler. Drizzle the white chocolate over the cooled cookies. Let the cookies set until the chocolate hardens.