Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Most Obvious and Glorious of Valentine’s Day Cakes

Plus a Cute Craft That Slips Into Your V-Day Cards—and P.S. There’s Still Time!

Red Velvet cake is a showstopper. We all love its famous juxtaposition of color: like apples in the snow. Some elite bakers admit that red velvet is their guilty pleasure, considering its use of…GASP…food coloring!! Some confectioneries boil beets to achieve that famous red—but it doesn’t usually work for them. If you’re looking to make a red velvet cake that’s high voltage lava in color, do it by patronizing a gourmet food shop for coloring paste, rather than liquid. You’ll see that creativity goes a long way with this dessert. You can bake my red velvet cake, deemed more simply Valentine’s Day Cake, in a heart shaped pan—or better yet, offer it as individual cupcakes.

Tips For Bakers Who Are Extra Ardent About this Holiday

Chefs can shop for cake tins to their hearts content on cheftools.com—any of these pans work fantastically with my Valentine’s Day Cake. If you want an even more over-the-top February 14th statement, add a layer of sliced fresh strawberries, topping each filling layer of cream cheese with berries. Garnish the cake with a whole strawberry in the center, and a layer of sliced berries around the base. Now, that’s a Red Velvet Cake!

National Red Velvet Cake…It’s History is 100% American, and Fascinating Too…

Did you know there’s a blurry line between Red Velvet Cake and Devil’s Food? Before Dutch Processed cocoa became widely available, the use of unrefined cocoa in Devil’s Food reddened the finished product to a point where bakers started calling it “red velvet” instead—and the result took taste buds by storm around the turn of the 20th Century, when the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel started a curious and tasty rumor: a woman—the first guest of the hotel to ever taste the cake—asked for the recipe and was told it would cost her $100; so, she passed the recipe on to everyone she knew as sweet revenge. Well…I don’t know about that, but I was inspired by The Waldorf-Astoria Cookbook’s version of cream cheese frosting for my red velvet cake. Once you taste it, you’ll understand why this cake is still a featured dessert for Waldorf room service.

Moving Past the Decadence and Into The Crafts!

“Decadent” is a word foodies throw around a lot, but how would anything else apply when your frosting calls for THREE packages of cream cheese? Don’t look back, Nanas! While your heavenly Valentine’s Day cake is baking (it takes just 25 minutes in the oven), sit and make a pair of little love-bug pins to present to your granddaughters on V-day. It’ll be a special insert to your Valentine’s Day greeting cards, the recpients won’t soon forget.

What you need to make your love-bug pins:
--Plastic spoon
--Plaster of paris (romatic sounding ingredient for V-Day, don’t cha think?)
--Small wiggle eyes
--Paint (assorted colors)
--Pin back
--Clear acrylic spray or glaze
--White craft glue
--Pin backs (click on link to see where they’re sold at Amazon)

Love-bug Pin instructions:
--You will need one plastic spoon and pin back per pin.
--Lay out the plastic spoons on the newspaper.
--Mix the plaster of paris in a small bowl per instructions on the container. (See image.)
--Place the plaster into the well of the spoons and level with a butter knife. (See image.)

--Let them stand for a minute or two, then gently press/place pin back (or magnet) into the plaster. Let dry completely (a minimum of 30 minutes, longer is better). (See image.)
--Pop plaster out of spoons by pressing the outer edges of the spoon. With butter knife, smooth the edges of the form. Place on to the newspaper.
--Paint bugs however you like and let dry.
--Glue wiggle eyes on to your bug, let dry.
--Spray with acrylic sealer or glaze and let sit for several hours or up to 1 full day.

Happy crafting and happy eating, but most of all, Happy Valentine’s Day!


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