Posts Tagged 'party'

So Totally Creative: A Lion King Skit + South African Fruit Pizza


We had this thing for work. It was a wine and cheese tasting event, and each department had a theme. I’d like to say it was this cookie cake that won us the ‘Most Creative’ award, but actually, it was likely the giant, homemade elephant that poured wine out of its trunk and the artful rendition of the christening of Simba that did it. I mean, it was complete with theme music.

It was kind of difficult to come up with truly South African things with which to theme our table. I mean, do you know anything that defines South Africa? Besides the innumerable spoiled princesses who live there vacationing off their diamond-mining fortunes (a fact I know because of five years of Alias storylines, no doubt). So we resorted to a Lion King skit (the most authentically African thing Americans know about) + a cookie pizza decorated with the South African flag.

Here’s the thing: If you’re going to make a South African flag, you might as well make it in the form of a classic Midwestern dessert. I mean, why not? The “fruit pizza” is an old classic in these parts due to its simple preparation and delicious consumption. It is highly transportable and a cinch to do for a crowd, so it shows up at grad parties and potlucks more often than Lil’ Smokies.

Here’s the procedure:



Slice up ya dough and press it into the bottom of a lined 9 x 13″ pan. Bake according to package directions. I didn’t even make my own sugar cookie dough. Woops. Nope, actually I feel fine about that.



Whip up your cream cheese with some sugar. This is the reason this dessert is so heart-stealing. Spread this on the cooled cookie just prior to serving.




Then, fruitify. You can use any fruit you want, and I would . Berries work nicely, kiwis add color. For some reason, I feel like people only use kiwis on this dessert. Where else do you see people use them? Maybe they do in South Africa.


May you be the winner of every creativity contest you enter into with every unoriginal idea you’ve ever had. This is dramatic. Go forth and enjoy!


Midwest Fruit Pizza

A word of mouth classic

1 16.5 ounce roll of refrigerated sugar cookie dough (though you could make your own, or use a box mix too)

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

assorted fruit (berries, mandarin oranges, kiwi, etc.)

Line a 9×13″ pan or a 12″ pizza pan with parchment paper. Slice up the sugar cookie dough, and press it into the pan, covering the bottom with an even layer of dough. Bake according to package directions, something like 11-13 minutes at 350 degrees F. Let cool.

While the cookie layer bakes, beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla together until well-blended. Spread the cream cheese over the cooled cookie layer and top with the desired fruit just before serving.

Pipe Dream #170: To Be Meant – Chai Tea Cakes

chai cakes 4
I like to make things that people like to eat. OBV statement of the century, but seriously, I’m always looking to entice people with something that they would really like. So when people suggest recipes to me, I’m all about it. My dad has figured out that suggesting recipes to me is practically a love language, so I will get random texts at work from him, like, “Pls make this for me? I’ll get the ingreds 4 u if you want,” and then he’ll link to a blog.
But sometimes, he just thinks of ideas on his own, which was the case with these cakes. The text in this case said, “If u are looking for a recipe idea for this weekend, I would like some kind of little cakes infused with chai tea or at least chai spices with a vanilla glaze.” Which I interpreted as Chai Tea Cupcakes.
Funnily enough, that same week, I received a message from a long lost friend that she was coming home for Christmas and wanted to bake with me. She suggested Chai Tea Cake! So I figured it was meant to happen, had a couple of friends over for a baking party like in the old days, and we had a grand old time.
chai cakes 6
The recipe I used was from the same book that this cake and this cake came from. It is a nice cake recipe, but if you make it, you might want to stick to layer cake form, as it was pretty delicate. This was especially bad because I didn’t line half of my muffin tins, because I am unindustrious and silly. I also overfilled the liners, and I knew it, so you see the picture above? Don’t do that when you make these.
chai cakes 1
Everyone decorated their own, a delightful thing to do at baking parties. Bust out the sprinks.
chai cakes 2
And the arils. Sew pritty.
chai cakes 3
Perhaps the best part of all the mistakes I made in this recipe was that I knew about all of them as I was making them and didn’t care. I meant to make them, and these cupcakes were meant to be made. There is a lot of meant-ing going on in this paragraph. I’m going to sleep now.
Chai Tea Cakes
2/3 cups of milk
3 chai tea bags, without added sweetener, such as Tazo
2 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 and 1/3 cups cake flour
1 cup sugar
2 and 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1.2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners.
In a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup, heat the milk in the microwave until super hot. Add the tea bags, and let steep for at least 5 minutes. Remove the teabags and squeeze out the milk. Let the Chai milk cool completely.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, and 1/3 cup of the Chai milk.
Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, cardamom, and salt in the bowl of a mixer. Beat on low for 30 seconds. Add the butter and the remaining chai milk, on medium-low speed.
Raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg mixture in 3 additions on low, scraping dow. the bowl  between additions. Beat until just combined. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin, filling each about 2/3 full. Don’t overfill! You will probably have a bit of extra batter.
Bake the cakes for about 18 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Frost as desired.
Honey Vanilla Frosting
8 ounces butter, room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
pinch salt
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons milk
Beat butter at high speed in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy, about five minutes. Add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, on low speed until blended. Add honey, vanilla, salt and milk. Beat on high speed for another 5 minutes, scraping down the bowl at the halfway point. If the frosting is too thick, add some more milk or honey.

Pipe Dream #130: To Savor a Rich Evening – Bumble Berry Napoleons

This dessert came to me at a well-timed moment. It was one of those rare, glowing summer evenings.

Picture it! It’s a balmy July dusk; the sun is nearly below the horizon. You’ve just had a meal full of grill marks and witty conversation. You’re not wearing any blue clothing, so there are no mosquitoes pestering you (double bonus). As you pour yourself a glass of sweet red wine by the fire, a delightful concoction of flaky pastry, jumbled berries and creamy filling is presented. The flavors and textures contrast and meld together in a  creamy symphony of flavor, fulfilling all of your wildest dreams about how life should be.

It was ideal. But because nights like these are few and far between, I do my utmost to appreciate them to the full.

Thus, this dessert has stuck with me. This is the reincarnated version of the dessert my mum made a few years ago. Frozen puff pastry makes it easy-schmeasy. Because we were feeding a crowd, we cut the pastry into 12 parts, rather than six. It went further, and really, it was a better portion size than the original recipe suggests, I think. Unless you are feeding tha men. Size at your discretion. We also used cream cheese this time around, because I was too lazy to run to the store and get mascarpone. It was still, great, but hey, if you wanna be cheesy and elegant, you go for it, man.

P.S. I hope I haven’t been overwhelming you with berries. I mean, there was The Trifle, not to mention the various lessons in fake frugality I have been obligated to share, all of which include berries, fresh or otherwise. I think this speaks to the fact that I have been somewhat overwhelmed with berries this summer. Not that I’m complaining. These bright bulbs of goodness are in season, after all.

Enjoy these Havana nightttts,


Bumble Berry Napoleons

Adapted from Rachael Ray Magazine

1 sheet  frozen puff pastry, thawed and cut into 6 equal rectangles (or 12)
1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced
2 cups fresh blueberries
2 cups fresh raspberries
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons ruby port
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup (4 ounces) Mascarpone cheese (or cream cheese)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees . Arrange the puff pastry on a baking sheet and bake until golden, about 15 minutes. Let cool on a rack for 5 minutes; split each piece into 2 layers.
In a large bowl, combine the berries. In a large, nonreactive skillet, combine 3 cups berries, 1/4 cup sugar, the lemon juice and port over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until cool.
Using an electric mixer, beat the heavy cream, mascarpone, vanilla and the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar until stiff, about 2 minutes. Fold in 3/4 cup berry compote.
Spread the remaining berry compote on the pastry bottoms. Top them with some berry cream, the remaining fresh berries and the pastry tops. Dollop with the remaining berry cream before serving.

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