Strawberry Mango Trifle

“Trifle” means something of little value. To me, “A Trifle” is of great value. Traditionally, this European dessert is layers of cake soaked in an alcohol of some kind, jam, custard and whipped cream. Of course, here in The States we’ve bastardized it. Anything that is layered cake (or even brownies or cookie chunks) with a pudding or whipped cream is called a “trifle”. We also tend to use fresh fruit in our “trifles” here in the U.S. But, hey, who cares if it’s traditional or not, whatever you call it (Capulet or Montague), it’s dang tasty, and the perfect dessert for warmer weather.

In this trifle, I avoided the alcohol, and instead use the natural juices from the strawberries and mangoes to drench the cake. Instead of custard I used a sweet lime cream cheese folded with whipped cream for a light filling that perfectly compliments the mangoes.

STRAWBERRY MANGO TRIFLE

4 large mangoes, chunked
2 cups strawberries, halved
1 cup sugar, divided
1/2 pint heavy whipping cream
8 ounces cream cheese
4 TBS fresh squeezed lime juice
1 angel food cake

In a large bowl, combine mangoes, strawberries and 2/3 cup sugar. Let sit for at least 20 minutes to create juices. Meanwhile, whip the cream until very thick. See this post if you need help on this part. Scrape whipped cream in to a separate bowl. In your mixer bowl, combine cream cheese, lime juice and 1/3 cup sugar. Whip until smooth and fluffy. Fold the whipping cream into the cream cheese mixture. Folding is a method where you softly and slowly cut through the mixture, and “fold” it over, until it is mixed. It allows the whipped cream to stay as fluffy as possible. If you stir it in, it will turn liquidy. Here is a good video that shows the method.

Cut or break your angel food cake into chunks. In a trifle dish or large bowl, lay down a layer of cake. Top that with fruit, then the cream mixture. Repeat. Be sure to include the juices with the fruit so it can soak down into the cake. Finish it off with the whipped cream mixture, and garnish with fresh fruit.

REAL food alert: A store bought angel food cake will be full of all sorts of additives, including chemical preservatives and artificial flavors. You may be able to buy a more natural one at a store like Trader Joes or Whole Foods. Making one yourself does take a special pan, and a bit of work, but they are SOOOO much better tasting. Eventually I’ll post a recipe. Meanwhile, try this one. Whipping Cream: check for additives and artificial flavors in your whipping cream. For more info, check out this post.

check out all that nice juice…mmm…

Baked Valentine’s Donuts

Valentine’s Day is one of those holidays that you either love or hate. I have found, since having kids, that even the most commercialized, purposeless holidays can be fun when seen through the eyes of a five-year old. Now if we can just get congress to ban the Kay Jewelry “Open Heart Collection” commercials, life would be great.

This year, I decided that baked heart shaped donuts, filled with strawberry filling would be a fun and tasty way to celebrate with the family. And, no…Jane Seymour is NOT getting any.

BAKED VALENTINE’S DONUTS

Donuts:

3/4 cup warm milk
2 1/4 tsp (1 packet) active dry yeast
1 TBS unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg, whisked
1/2 tsp salt
2 -3 cup flour

Combine yeast and warm milk in your stand mixer bowl, or in a large mixing bowl. Let sit for 5-10 minutes. Gently mix in butter, sugar and egg (make sure egg is well blended before adding). Add flour, 1/2 c at a time. Add salt in with the first batch of flour. Mix thoroughly after each flour addition. Stop adding flour as soon as the dough sticks together. You definitely want as little flour in your dough as possible. using your dough hook, or hands, if you’re more traditional, knead for 5 minutes. Watch the dough. If it starts to stick to the sides, sprinkle a little bit of flour as needed to coax it back into a ball. Again, use as little flour as possible. When I make this, I typically only use 2 cups of flour.

Remove bowl and place in a warm place to rise until double (about an hour, but this can drastically vary depending on all sorts of factors).

Once it has risen, dump it onto a counter that has been lightly dusted with flour. Roll it out to about 1/2 inch thick. Use a heart cookie cutter to cut the dough into hearts. Use as much of the dough in the first cut as possible, then collect the scraps and recut. If you must, you can do it a third time, but the resulting donuts will be tougher than the first.

Place the hearts on parchment-covered baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Let rise again until double, another 45 min- 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake for 5-7 minutes. Remove when they are light brown on top. Immediately slide to a cooling rack.

Strawberry Filling:

3 cups strawberries (fresh or frozen)
1 cup sugar
1 TBS cornstarch
2 TBS cold water

Puree the strawberries in a blender or food processor (be sure to thaw them first if you are starting with frozen). Add the sugar. Pour into a saucepan and heat over medium heat. Combine the cornstarch and cold water in a small bowl. Stir the strawberry mixture until sugar is fully dissolved. Add the cornstarch mixture and stir over medium heat until thick and jelly-like. Pour into a container and refrigerate until chilled.

To assemble:

Take a donut and poke a hole in one side with a small knife or skewer. Carefully move the knife/skewer around the inside of the donut to allow room for the filling. (A clean finger does this well, if that doesn’t gross you out)

Scoop some filling into a zipper-topped bag. Cut a small portion off the corner, insert into the donut and squeeze the filling into the donut.

Spoon some powdered sugar into a fine-mesh strainer, lightly dust the donuts by tapping the side of the strainer as you pass over them.

printable version

Mini Hootenanny Pancakes

Hootenanny…hootenanny..hoot, hoot, Hoot!

That’s what we say when eating these pancakes. I’m not sure where that came from, I think I read someone else’s story that their family did it growing up, and it kinda stuck. These are also called “German Oven Pancakes” or “Dutch Babies”. I am not biased against various European countries, so we’ve stuck with Hootenanny Pancakes.

There are also various ways to eat them. Traditionally, they are made in a pie tin, then sliced up kinda like a pizza. My husband likes it with syrup, butter and powdered sugar. I prefer it with fruit of some sort and whipped cream. One thing I love about breakfast is that it’s an easy excuse to eat dessert as a meal without feeling guilty.

This recipe uses a large muffin tin (the kind that makes six muffins, not twelve) to create cute little individual cups to be filled as your heart desires. The optimum fill portion for the best cups is about 1/3 full. if you fill it 1/2 full, they will be thick and not quite form into cups.

HOOTENANNY PANCAKES

6 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
3 TSP butter, melted

additional melted butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Blend all ingredients in a food processor, blender, or with an immersion blender.  You want to make sure all the flour is well incorporated and the batter is smooth. Put a tablespoon of melted butter in each of the six muffin divots. Fill each 1/3 full with the batter. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until puffed up and golden brown. Invert onto a cooling rack.

Fill with your favorite fruit, syrup, Nutella (ooh, that’s a great idea!), or whatever you please. I filled these with Easy Strawberry Topping.

EASY STRAWBERRY TOPPING

3 cups strawberries
1/2 cup sugar

Combine the strawberries and sugar. Let sit for 30 minutes. Mash with a potato masher, or puree.

printable version

ALLERGY alert: These can easily be converted to gluten-free by using gluten-free flour. They can be made dairy-free by subbing an alternative milk, and using 100% vegetable margarine or oil in place of the butter.