Baking Tips: Angel Food, Chiffon and Sponge Cake

When you are looking for a lighter, fluffier sweet treat to make at home, you may want to direct your attention to the beauty of angel food-, chiffon-, and sponge cake recipes. While not everyone will enjoy the lightness or texture of this dessert, there are many different ways to enhance the taste by experimenting with spices, nuts, and flavored glazes.

What’s the Difference?

Angel Food Cake – This sponge cake is described as delicate, light and airy. Since egg whites are used instead of the entire egg, the dessert is low-calorie and virtually fat-free. The typical one-ounce piece of angel food is a little over 72 calories.

Chiffon Cake – Vegetable oil, eggs, sugar, flour, baking powder, and flavorings are used to make a rather light cake. A high oil and egg content produces a very moist cake.

Sponge Cake – A combination of flour, sugar, eggs and sometimes baking powder creates a firm, yet well aerated baked good.

Baking Tips

When making a light and airy dessert, most of your success will come when beating the eggs and mixing all the ingredients in the right manner. A few baking tips when making chiffon cake, angel food cake, and sponge cake include:

  • If your cake shows poor volume, you may not have beaten the egg whites long enough. You should beat the egg whites until they stand in straight peaks. When the beaters are removed, your egg white should look moist and glossy.
  • Do not overmix your cake batter when you add the flour – make sure to gently fold in the ingredients and combine well until the batter is just smooth.
  • Heavy frosting on your angel food cake will compromise the light texture and flavor of the cake. Instead, opt for a flavored glaze, such as lemon, orange or chocolate.
  • A chiffon cake with yellow streaks means that you added the yolks directly to the dry ingredients without making a “well” in the center of the dry ingredients. Oil should be added first – followed by the egg yolks.
  • Over-beaten or under-beaten egg whites will cause a layer to form in your chiffon cake. Only beat the egg whites until they are stiff and have a moist, glossy appearance.
  • Sponge cake that forms layers means that you did not beat the egg yolks long enough – remember that you should beat the yolks until they are thick and lemon-colored.
  • Blend your ingredients only until they are mixed or you run the risk of producing a tough cake from overmixing the batter when the dry ingredients are added.
  • Cakes that shrink or fall are a sign that the egg whites were beaten too long.

7 Pie Crust Tips for the Holidays

From crisp apple to seasonal mincemeat, thousands of holiday cooks will scramble to create the perfect pie for the dinner table. Thanksgiving and Christmas are popular occasions where pies become an important part of the festivities. To enhance the look and taste of your pies, consider the following tips for the holidays.

1. For a Flaky Crust

Thanks to pockets of fat in the dough, a pie crust develops its flakiness. A pastry blender or two knives that cut into the fat will help achieve these results. The dough should still have some pea-size pieces. It is important to handle the dough as little as possible with your hands. Another way to create a flakier crust is to substitute ice-cold sour cream or heavy cream for the water in your recipe.

2. Buttery and Tender Crusts

If you are interested in making a tender pie crust, use lard and shortening. If you want a buttery flavor in your crust, use half lard or shortening, and replace the other half with butter.

3. Refrigeration

For the best results, try refrigerating all of your ingredients (even the flour) before making the dough for your pie crust.

4. Easy Rolling

To make rolling the pie crust dough easier, chill for 30 minutes.

5. Spice Up Your Pie Crusts

Adding nutmeg, ginger, or cinnamon to pie crust dough will enhance the overall flavor.

6. Choice of Baking Dish

The baking dish you select for your pies will affect the end result of your pie crust. Pyrex glass pie plates are a good choice because it evenly conducts heat and lets the bottom crust of the pie bake all of the way through. When using a glass pie plate, reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees. Also, do not oil or grease your pie plates. Aluminum pie pans do not cook evenly and if you must use – try using two.

7. Egg Washes for a Better Appearance

When you’re looking for a shiny crust, use a pastry brush to apply an egg wash to the tops of your pies. For every egg, only one teaspoon of liquid is required. A few combinations to consider include combining a whole egg and salt for a shiny crust; egg yolk and cream for a shiny, dark crust; and just plain ol’ egg white to achieve a pale, crisp crust.

Seasonal Ice Cream for Fall/Winter 2011

Edy’s ice cream offers an assortment of holiday-inspired flavors for the fall and winter season, including the creamy flavor of Eggnog and the refreshing cool of Peppermint. The holiday flavors are also offered in Edy’s line of Slow Churned ice creams, which are made with fewer calories and less fat content. To enhance the use of the holiday ice creams, Edy’s also offers a range of easy recipes – perfect for people that like to incorporate ice cream into their sweet treat recipes.

Edy’s Limited Edition Peppermint

The Edy’s Peppermint flavor is made with creamy peppermint ice cream with crushed pieces of peppermint candy that oozes a colorful sweetness. There is a bit of a crunch with the candy, which increases the versatility of the flavor. To use the peppermint ice cream to make a dessert for the holidays, consider serving the following treats for Christmas:

  • The Peppermint Pie has a crust of crushed chocolate cookies.
  • Upside Down Peppermint Ice Cream Cake requires a box of chocolate cake mix and chocolate frosting to make.
  • Peppermint Espresso creates a tasty drink – ideal for entertaining adults during the holiday season. This drink recipe also calls for brewed espresso, and Kahlua or Amaretto that is topped with whipped cream.

This flavor is available until December.

Edy’s Limited Edition Eggnog

Why sip your eggnog when you can enjoy a frozen, melt-in-your-mouth treat with Edy’s Limited Edition Eggnog ice cream? The flavor of this ice cream mimics the popular seasonal beverage. Drop a scoop for a holiday Root Beer Float or consider one of Edy’s recipe suggestions.

Put your jelly roll pan to good use by making Buche de Noel with eggnog-flavored ice cream and a chocolate cake base. The surrounding layer is made with heavy cream and dusted off with cocoa.

This flavor is only offered for the months of November and December.

Edy’s Limited Edition Pumpkin

There’s still time to grab the last of the holiday Pumpkin flavor, which was offered until October. The Pumpkin flavor of ice cream tastes like a slice of pumpkin pie with the distinct taste of cinnamon and nutmeg. The added ginger also offers a welcomed flavor. The flavor is perfect to cap off a delicious Thanksgiving spread – served in dessert bowls topped with whipped cream or used as a sweet side for a slice of pie.

Ideas for Pineapple Desserts

Whether you’re planning a luau party or feeling a little tropical, the pineapple is an ideal fruit choice for dessert. With a great deal of juiciness, pineapples provide a flavorful balance of sweetness and tartness. Pineapples are available all year round in the grocery store, but the peak season runs from March through June. To enjoy a tropical sweet treat, you can start by adding pineapple topping to a banana split or consider one of the following ideas for pineapple desserts.

Pineapple Cakes

A favorite cake for pineapple lovers is the Pineapple Upside Down Cake, which is made in a pan with a curved bottom. After cooking, the cake is turned over and left to set, where it is later eaten in an upside-down position. Typical ingredients include butter, brown sugar, yellow cake mix, vegetable oil, eggs, and of course, sliced pineapple. Some people will drizzle on a caramel sauce afterwards, sprinkle on brown sugar, or decorate with maraschino cherries. Pineapple and coconut often make an ideal combination for desserts, including cake. One approach is to use a can of coconut frosting to top a cake baked with crushed pineapple.

Coconut Pineapple Ice Cream

Preheat your over to 350 degrees and have a greased baking dish on hand. In a saucepan, combine two tablespoons of margarine, ¼ cup of brown sugar, and ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon. Stir the ingredients over low heat until the mixture starts to boil. Add one 8-ounce can of drained pineapple chucks and ½ cup of coconut. Stir until coated, and then pour into the baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and cook for five minutes. Spoon the mixture into bowls and place a scoop of vanilla ice cream as a topping.

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Syrupy Pineapple Slices

Drizzle maple syrup over pineapple slices, and broil until they start to brown. You can eat as is or in addition to a cup of yogurt.

Pineapple Cheesecake

Cheesecake is a popular dessert in the United States that comes in an array of unique flavors. To make pineapple cheesecake, you may drain crushed pineapple and add to the cream cheese mixture before transferring to the crust. Some people will decorate the finished product with sliced pineapple rings.

Grilled Pineapple

Grilled pineapple is a dessert on its own. Some people dip grilled pineapple rings in chocolate or add to a fruit kebob with grapes, peaches, strawberries, cherries, and apple slices. You can brush the fruit with honey during the last few minutes of grilling to enhance the sweetness.

5 Very Cherry Dessert Ideas

Cherries aren’t just for topping ice cream sundaes – the colorful burst of red that the fruit delivers can create deliciously eye-catching desserts. Yes, cherry desserts go beyond the vibrant hue that peeks through a slice of cherry pie, as you will see with the following dessert ideas for cherries.

1. Cherry Clafoutis

Bring the taste of the French country to your table with cherry clafoutis (or clafouti). Tradition calls for the first cherries of the season with fruit that is left unpitted. This way, the natural almond flavor is released when baking. Today, using pitted cherries makes it easier to bake and eat the dessert. Clafoutis is a pudding dessert with sweet cherries that are covered by a thin batter (similar to pancakes) that is baked in the oven. When the batter sets, the edges become slightly puffed and browned. When serving the dessert, dust with confectioner’s (powdered or icing) sugar.

2. Cherry Turnover

Turnovers are the fruit-filled pastries you often see at the local bakery. Cherry is one of the most popular flavors for this dessert. You can make a quick version with one (8-ounce) package of refrigerated crescent rolls, one cup of cherry pie filling, ½ cup confectioners’ sugar, and one tablespoon of milk. Unroll the dough and separate into eight triangles. Create four squares by pressing the seams of two triangles together and rolling into shape. Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet. Spoon ¼ cup of pie filling in one corner of each square, and then fold to make triangles. Pinch to seal. Bake the dough at 375 degrees F for 10 to 12 minutes (or until they turn a golden color). Mix the sugar and milk together, and drizzle over turnover once they are out of the oven. Serve warm.

3. Cherry Tart

The Joy of Baking offers a recipe for a Cherry Tart made with frangipane (almond cream) that combines granulated white sugar, unsalted butter, egg, pure vanilla extract, and almond meal (flour). The creamy combination of sugar, butter, eggs, and almond meal creates a tasty flavor with the cherries that is placed in a crisp yet crumbly pastry crust. The recipe calls for pitted sweet Bing cherries. When buying the fruit, seek out plump, shiny fruit with a deep red (almost black) color. Stems should still be attached and the fruit needs firmness with no soft spots.

4. Sour Cherry Soup

For a cherry dessert with European flair, you may combine sour cream (or sweet cream), sugar, and whole fresh sour cherries to create a sweet soup. Served chilled, usually people make this sweet treat during the summertime when cherries are ripe. There are also variations that include different wine or sherry.

5. Cherries Jubilee

Liqueur is used to make this cherry dessert that is traditionally flambéed (set afire), and then served as a sauce over vanilla ice cream.

Other cherry desserts:

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6 Ideas for Soul Food Desserts

Soul food cuisine usually incorporates the cooking techniques and traditions of African Americans and highlights dishes associated with the southern United States. When it comes to sweet treats in the South, there are certain state gems that truly shine. For example, Georgia desserts make good use of their peaches and pecans. Examples of soul food desserts include:

1) Peach Cobbler: A fruity filling of peaches is poured into a large baking dish that is then topped with batter, biscuit or piecrust to create a cobbler. The dessert is then baked like a pie with a difference that  cobblers never have a bottom crust. Other popular Deep South cobbler flavors include blueberry and blackberry.

2) Coconut Cake: Covered in white frosting and dressed in coconut flakes, coconut cake typically uses white or yellow batter instead of a coconut-flavored cake base. Some recipes will replace the milk with coconut milk or include coconut extract. The shredded coconut is often toasted or sweetened. Another Southern variation of the coconut cake is to add lemon curd as a filling to produce a tart flavor.

3) Sweet Potato Pie: Although it shares similarities with pumpkin pie, sweet potato pie is a Southern classic for Thanksgiving and other holidays. Made with mashed sweet potatoes, milk, sugar and eggs, the pie uses nutmeg to create a distinct holiday flavor. Topped with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, Northerners may add marshmallows as a topping.

4) Pecan Pie: Primarily comprised of corn syrup and pecan nuts, this pie is a popular choice for holiday meals and often showcased as a Southern specialty. In New Orleans, Louisiana, pecan pies are quite popular and may include bourbo n whiskey in their recipes.

5) Red Velvet Cake: Behind the creamy white or cream cheese icing of the layered Red Velvet Cake is shades of dark red, bright red, or reddish browns. Usually, the color is achieved by adding red food coloring or beetroot. Despite its hue, the cake is flavored vanilla or chocolate.

6) Banana Pudding: Repeated layers of Vanilla Wafers, sweet vanilla custard (or pudding), and sliced bananas create a tasty dessert topped with whipped cream. Depending on the recipe, the pudding is made using a baked or the more popular refrigerated method. Sometimes, ladyfingers are used instead of wafers.

3 Ideas for Easy No-Bake Desserts

From Rice Krispie treats with M&Ms to chocolate mousse, no-bake desserts come in handy because they are usually quick and easy to make. Whether you need a spur-of-the-moment sweet treat or can’t bear to turn on the oven in the summertime, consider the following ideas for no-bake desserts:

1) Ice Box Cake

It doesn’t take much to make this old-fashioned no-bake cake that puts your refrigerator to good use. Start off with 1 ¾ cups chilled heavy cream, ¼ cup sugar, ¾ teaspoon mint extract, one 9-ounce package chocolate wafers, and 1 cup miniature chocolate chips.

To make an easy ice box cake, use an electric mixer to make mint cream – beating the heavy cream, sugar, and mint extract until stiff peaks form. Place two sheets of wax paper side by side as a liner for a serving platter. To assemble the cake, spread each chocolate wafer with around ½ tablespoon mint cream to form stacks. Lay the stacks horizontally along seam of paper. Press gently to form a log. Use a small spatula or knife to cover the log with remaining mint cream.

Refrigerate the cake for at least four hours or up to two days. When serving, gently remove the wax paper from underneath cake. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top. Use a serrated knife to diagonally slice the cake.

2) No-Bake Cheesecake

You don’t have to pay a visit to Cheesecake Factory to enjoy the deliciousness of your favorite dessert. There is a simplified, traditional way to enjoy this classic sweet treat with many different variations. A sample list of ingredients for a basic recipe may include two packages of graham crackers, unsalted butter, sugar, cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, fresh lemon juice, and vanilla extract.

Place graham crackers in a large resealable plastic bag. Use a rolling pin to crush into very fine crumbs. Pour the crumbs into a medium bowl and stir in sugar. Add butter and stir until ingredients are well combined. Press the crumb mixture into a 9-inch springform pan, making sure to spread it about 2 inches up the side of pan. Press flat and allow the crust to chill in the freezer for at least 10 minutes.

To make the filling, set an electric mixer on medium-high speed, and beat the cream cheese in a large bowl until it becomes smooth. Gradually add and beat in small amounts of the condensed milk – scrape the sides of the bowl when needed. Beat in the lemon juice and vanilla. Transfer the filling into the crust and use a rubber spatula to smooth over the top. Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and put into the refrigerator until firm (about 2 ½ to 3 hours).

3) Banana Pudding

The layered effect of banana pudding is a traditional favorite of families across the United States. Different variations exist, which could use sweet vanilla custard, instant vanilla pudding, instant banana pudding, Vanilla Wafers, freshly sliced bananas, ladyfingers, whipped cream, and meringue. The pudding can be baked, but many choose the refrigerated version to save time and energy. Also, while some people enjoy making banana pudding from scratch, there is also an easier, quicker method that involves a box of instant pudding. A basic recipe uses:

1 box instant Jello vanilla pudding
2 small containers Cool Whip
1 box Vanilla Wafers
3-5 bananas

Prepare the banana pudding according to the directions on the box. Chill the pudding and add in one container of Cool Whip. Layer the wafers, pudding, and thinly sliced bananas. Continue to layer until all of the ingredients are gone. Pudding should make up the last layer. Top with extra Cool Whip. You may also decorate with a drizzle of crushed cookie crumbs, almond slivers or chocolate sauce. Keep chilled in the refrigerator before serving.

Sweet Inspiration – 8 Chocolate Easter Treat Ideas

When it comes to seasonal candy, chocolate is one of those must-haves for an Easter basket. Whether you take pleasure in nibbling on the ears of a sweet bunny or cracking open the goodies found inside of a filled egg, the following Easter treat ideas could become your new favorite obsession:

1. Flavorful Easter Bunnies – Exotic-flavored chocolate treats emerge during the Easter season for the more mature palate. Consider the solid chocolate creatures from Vosges-Haut Chocolates, which offers the Barcelona Bunny made with hickory-smoked almonds and gray sea salt, and the Toffee Bunny with butter toffee, pink Himalayan salt, and deep milk chocolate.

2. Eco-Friendly Easter Treats – Whether they abide by eco-friendly business practices or offer organic products, eco-conscious loved ones will enjoy the fact that you took the time to locate treats that fit into their lifestyle. For example, the certified organic Easter bunnies (Organic Chocolate Hopp’n Bunny) from Lake Champlain Chocolates are a real winner. Available in milk or dark chocolate, the planet-friendly rabbits are organic and free of preservatives. They come wrapped in a compostable cellophane bag tied with ribbon made from recycled plastic bottles.

3. Easter Bunny with Personality – Talk about personality…Christopher Norman Chocolates makes the Racer Bunny, which is a hand painted hollow rabbit that sits inside of a convertible.

4. Stylish Easter Bunny – Courtesy of Saks Fifth Avenue, this stylish Easter bunny is made out of rich milk chocolate with white chocolate accents. Wrapped in clear cellophane tied with a ribbon, the hollow bunny is hand-decorated and weighs 7.7 pounds. The Charbonnel et Walker Giant Chocolate Easter Bunny actually costs $370.

5. Decorative Springtime Chocolate Cups – Pastel colors and spring-related imagery are a common theme for Easter treats. You can use light blue, light purple, yellow, and light green to liven up a basket for loved ones. There are plenty of gourmet chocolate treats to consider. For example, Savorique offers the romantically decorated Spring Dark & White Chocolate Cups – dark chocolate and white chocolate cups made with a layer of salted butter caramel, handmade vanilla marshmallow and dark chocolate ganache. The outside is decorated with vintage flowers.

6. White Chocolate Bunny – Who says all Easter bunnies have to be brown? A white chocolate bunny makes a delightful addition to any Easter basket.

7. Miniature Easter Bunnies – Perfect for family and friends on a diet, choose the Easter treats that come in bite-sized portions. Cute and cuddly, Leonidas Belgian Chocolates creates a set of six hollow mini-bunnies in milk, dark and white chocolate. Each weighs 40 grams and is 3.25 inches tall.

8. Homemade Chocolate Bunny Lollipops – Pay a visit to the local crafts store and purchase an Easter-themed mold to make your own chocolate bunny lollipops.