Baked Oatmeal

Baked Oatmeal

I started calorie counting again a few weeks ago, and I quickly realized that the scrambled egg sandwiches at the cafeteria probably weren’t the healthiest things to start the day off with. Given how much oil they spray on the griddle, and the fact that their eggs look orangey out of the carton, I knew I could do better. My only obstacle was that I don’t have time to cook in the morning.

Yes, I know. I could wake up earlier and that would give me time but honestly, I’m not a morning person. I press snooze 5-6 times every morning. It drives my husband batty, I’m sure. So yeah…I definitely want something that I could grab out of the fridge and eat at work.

I’ve been curious about the baked oatmeal that has gotten popular on the blogs in the past year. My only issue of concern was that I HATE hot standard oatmeal. It’s way too mushy to me. However, in pictures, this recipe looked a little more dry and possibly something I could like. So, I decided to give it a try this weekend. If it worked out, I could scoop out a piece for work every day. At 180 calories a serving (since I omitted nuts), this would be the perfect foundation for breakfast. :-)

The verdict? This baked oatmeal is awesome, y’all. It’s even better the next day, in my opinion, because it dries up a good bit, almost to a cake or bread pudding-like consistency. (I’m not saying it tastes like bread pudding…that would be a lie.) I think for this particular recipe, the cinnamon and bananas really make this dish. :-) If you hate mushy oatmeal like me, but WANT to like oatmeal (really, you do), give this baked oatmeal a try. It comes together super quickly, contains no refined sugar and it’s calorie friendly!

Baked Oatmeal
Source: Skinny Taste

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium ripe bananas, sliced into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/4 cup honey (or agave…I used honey)
  • 1 cup uncooked quick oats
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly spray an 8×8 inch ceramic baking dish with baking spray.
  2. Arrange the bananas in one layer on the bottom of the baking dish. Add half of the blueberries on top. Then, sprinkle 1/4 tsp. of the cinnamon and drizzle 1 tbsp. of honey on the fruit. Cover the baking pan with foil and bake for 15 minutes.
  3. While the fruit is baking, in a medium sized bowl, combine the oats, baking powder, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and salt. Stir the dry ingredients together until well-mixed. In another bowl, add the honey, milk, egg and vanilla extract and whisk together until the mixture well-combined.
  4. Take the fruit out of the oven. Pour the dry oat mixture over the fruit and spread it to an even layer. Then, add the milk mixture over the oats, making sure to distribute the liquid evenly.
  5. Bake the oatmeal for 30 minutes (uncovered), or until the oats on top are a golden brown color and the oatmeal is set. Let the oatmeal cool for a few minutes before serving. If you are eating leftover baked oatmeal, just heat it in the microwave for about a minute. Add a splash of skim milk if desired.

 

 

 

 

Fresh Strawberry Pie

Fresh Strawberry Pie

Happy May Day! I can’t believe it’s already May, y’all! Wasn’t it just December? I swear I’m still humming “Let It Snow” around the house…wishful thinking, I guess. Although, I’m currently getting a real kick out of this Justin Timberlake meme, which makes bringing in the month that much more awesome. :-P Hello fellow *NSYNC fans…I know you’re out there laughing and singing along with me!!

Now, let’s talk about this pie, y’all. When it comes to baking, pie is one of those things I just don’t make that much. For some reason, pie always seems like a ton of work. I used to buy crusts in the freezer section, and when I first attempted homemade pie years ago, it just ended up taking a while for it to come together. After all of that work, the crust was a crumbly mess. UGH. I just sort of mentally blocked the idea of making pie, unless there was a pre-made crust involved.

Sometimes I forget that I have a stand mixer that happily does all of the work for me…..

I had a flat of strawberries in the house, and since I promised to bring a dessert for a lunch we were going to, I decided that I had to bring something involving strawberries. I didn’t want to bring the typical shortcake, so I went to Pinterest to help me brain storm. (Don’t you just love Pinterest?!) That’s when I saw this fresh strawberry pie. I clicked on the post, and thought about pie crust. Ugh. Then I saw that the directions involved the stand mixer. Oh heck yes! My pastry cutter can stay in the drawer? SA-WEET!

So, I made this pie. With the sweet, ripe local strawberries and the light, buttery crust, this pie was just a wonderful, refreshing dessert. It wasn’t too heavy, which really allowed the strawberries to shine.  It was a real winner at lunch. I didn’t end up bringing any of this home!

Fresh Strawberry Pie
Source: Annie’s Eats (originally from Williams-Sonoma and Cooks Illustrated)

Ingredients:

For the crust:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 8 tbsp. cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3 tbsp. very cold water

For the filling:

  • 4 pints (about 3 lbs.) fresh strawberries, gently rinsed and dried, hulled
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Sure-Jell for low-sugar recipes (don’t use the regular Sure-Jell)
  • Generous pinch table salt
  • 1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Directions:

  1. To make the crust, add the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix everything together just to blend it. Add the butter pieces and mix together on medium-low speed to cut the butter into the flour until the butter pieces are no bigger than peas and the rest of the mixture resembles a coarse sand. Turn the mixer on low and add the cold water. Mix until the dough just comes together.
  2. Mold the dough into a ball, wrap the dough in plastic wrap and allow to chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Roll out your dough on a lightly floured surface into a 12 inch circle. Then transfer the crust to a 9 inch pie pan and crimp the edges. Cover the pie pan with saran wrap and freeze for 30 minutes. In the meantime, preheat your oven to 375 degrees and adjust an oven shelf to the lower middle slot. Take the pie pan out of the freezer and line the top of the pie crust with foil. Add pie weights on top or balled up foil pieces to prevent the dough from bubbling up and rising. Bake the pie crust for 20-25 minutes, until the dough no longer appears wet. Remove the pie weights/balled up foil and other foil. Then, bake the pie crust for 10-12 minutes more until golden brown. Place the pie pan on a wire rack and allow to cool fully.
  4. To make the filling, weigh out 6 oz. of weird shaped, under-ripe or unattractive berries, halving those that are large. In the end, you should have about 1 1/2 cups of berries. Using a food processor or blender, blend the berries to a puree for about 30 seconds. Measure out the puree; you should have 3/4 cup.
  5. Using a medium sized saucepan, add the sugar, cornstarch, Sure-Jell and salt and whisk the mixture to combine. Stir in the berry puree and cook the mixture over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Bring the mixture to a full boil and boil for two minutes, ensuring that the bottom and sides of the pan are constantly scraped with a silicone spatula or spoon. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the lemon juice; allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.
  6. Look through the remaining berries and weigh out 2 pounds of the most attractive berries. If the berries are very large, halve them. Add the berries to the bowl with the glaze, and fold the mixture gently with a spatula or spoon until the berries are well coated with the mixture. Add the berry mixture on the pie crust, piling the berries into a mound. If you’d like, turn down the berries that are cut side up for a prettier presentation. Chill the pie for about two hours and serve immediately (at the most, within 5 hours of making the pie since berries are extremely moist and will make your pie soggy). Optional: serve with fresh whipped cream.

 

 

 

Homemade Strawberry Lemonade

Homemade Strawberry Lemonade

The first time I ever tried Strawberry Lemonade was at Chilis. I went to dinner once with friends, and in the many times we went there as college students, I never noticed the drink before until the waitress mentioned it. I really thought it would be a disgusting Hi-C drink, but when the waitress bought it out, it contained strawberry puree. I was in love. I’m sure it had 900 calories a glass, but it was just SO good and sweet! Now, I don’t go to Chilis as much anymore, but whenever I end up there, I have to have it! I’m sure some of y’all are judging me for liking something at Chilis, but just give me a little slack here. :-) I think the last time we ate at Chilis was several months ago…it’s definitely not a place we frequent.

A while back, I saw this recipe for homemade strawberry lemonade. I waited until strawberry season came around, bought a bag of lemons, and made a pitcher of the stuff. Let’s just say I had three glasses of this in a row that evening. This stuff is GOOD and super easy to make!

Homemade Strawberry Lemonade
Source: My Baking Addiction

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups of water, divided
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 8-9 small lemons)
  • 4-6 cups cold water (I used 5 cups)

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Make a simple syrup by heating and occasionally stirring the mixture on medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Allow the mixture to fully cool before doing the other steps.
  2. Puree the strawberries in a blender or food processor with 1/2 cup of water.
  3. In a large pitcher, add the strawberry puree, cooled simple syrup and lemon juice. Stir the mixture until everything is well-mixed.
  4. Add 4 cups of cold water and taste. If you feel the lemonade needs more water, add it a cup at a time until the lemonade tastes great to you!
  5. Stir the lemonade really well and serve it over ice.

Note: It lasted about 2 days in the fridge (since I finished the pitcher by then), but it may last longer.

Strawberry Freezer Jam

Strawberry Freezer Jam

I’m fairly sure I mentioned before that when I was a kid, I had a terrible allergy to strawberries. It was an absolute bummer for years, because there’s nothing like a good strawberry, especially when they’re local strawberries. I ended up purchasing a flat this past weekend, and just couldn’t wait to dig in and make something fun.

I’ve been craving a good peanut butter and jelly sandwich (I know…I’m totally 6 years old right now.), but I just wasn’t in the mood to make shelf-stable jam. I’ve always been curious about freezer jam, though, since people insist it’s so much better & fresher tasting than the cooked/shelf stable jam. Freezer jam doesn’t require canning supplies, except for freezer safe jars, which they sell near the mason jars. No need to violently boil the cans and hope/pray that the lids “pop” revealing that you canned everything perfectly. You just cook the pectin, add it to your fruit/sugar mixture, let it set up and freeze/enjoy! It’s pretty darn fantastic and it really is much fresher tasting..if you want to make homemade jam easily, this is the way to go. :-)

Strawberry Freezer Jam
Source: Kraft Foods

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups crushed strawberries (about 2 pints of ripe strawberries)
  • 4 cups of granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 box Sure-Jell pectin (in a yellow box)

Directions:

  1. Wash and rinse 5 (1 cup) freezer safe plastic containers and lids with boiling water. Dry the containers and lids thoroughly and set on a clean towel.
  2. Hull and crush strawberries really well with a potato masher or two forks, 1 cup at a time. Make sure to measure out 2 cups of crushed berries into a large bowl. Add the sugar and stir until well-mixed. Allow the mixture to stand for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally during that time.
  3. In a small sauce pan, mix the water and pectin together with a whisk. Heat the mixture, stirring often, until boiling, Keep stirring and allow the mixture to boil for a full minute. Remove the pan from heat, and add the pectin mixture to the sugar mixture. Constantly stir for 3 or so minutes, until the sugar is completely dissolved and everything is well-mixed.
  4. Working quickly, fill all containers with the jam, leaving a 1/2 inch head space. (The great thing about freezer jam containers is there is a line drawn in on the jar to show where to stop pouring.) Wipe the edges of the containers and cover with the lids. Let the jam stand at room temperature for 24 hours to set up, and then place the jars in the freezer or fridge to use.

Note: You can store the jam in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks or in freezer up to 1 year. Thaw in refrigerator before using.

 

Favorite Party Recipes

Part of me cannot believe that the Superbowl is Sunday. I mean, that’s the end of football season until next Fall. I have to wait at least six months to watch another game after this. Sad.  (If you know me, you know I’m being dead serious about how sad this is to me. Crazy football fan here!) A perk of Superbowl Sunday? Watching Millie run up to the TV when I randomly switch over to the Puppy Bowl.

To mourn celebrate the end of another football season, here’s some great recipes that will definitely disappear if you serve them at your Superbowl parties.

Queso Blanco
Restaurant Style Queso Blanco

Restaurant Style Salsa
Restaurant Style Salsa


Crawfish Pies


Crawfish Cheesecake

Jambalaya
Pork and Sausage Jambalaya

Berry Mash Bruschetta
Berry Mash Bruschetta

Sugar Cookie Bars
Sugar Cookie Bars

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownies
Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownies

IMG_4426
Oreo Cupcakes

Oh, and if you have an occasional puppy bowl break, I’m pretty sure the dogs at your party would love you for these!

Peanut Butter and Pumpkin Dog Treats

Pumpkin PB Treats

Pain Perdu with Louisiana Strawberry Sauce

Pain Perdu with Louisiana Strawberry Sauce

::lifts pinky::

Doesn’t pain perdu just sound so fancy? It feels like one of those breakfast dishes that just screams “I’m fancy! Order me!” when I see it on a menu. But really, pain perdu isn’t that fancy. It’s french toast made using day-old french bread (rather than sliced bread). Now that I wrote that out, I no longer feel fancy after eating that on Sunday morning. Oh well.

The last time I enjoyed some pain perdu was at the Ruby Slipper in New Orleans. Their pain perdu is not just your average pain perdu….it’s BANANAS FOSTER pain perdu. If you’re ever in New Orleans, I highly recommend this place for a delicious brunch. It’s one of those places that you want to get there early for, though. We locals (well for me, former local since I live an hour away from NOLA now) know about this place, so it’s always packed as the morning goes on. :-)

Since we had some leftover french bread from dinner the day before, I thought it would be a great start to our Sunday to enjoy some pain perdu. Also, it’s strawberry season out here, so there’s always a pint of local strawberries in the fridge. It was completely meant to be.

This pain perdu was just awesome. Next time, I might add more cinnamon and nutmeg though, but otherwise, this was delicious. It’s also a Cooking Light recipe which to me, made this dish even better.

Pain Perdu with Louisiana Strawberry Sauce
Source: mildly adapted from Cooking Light

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
  • 2 tbsp. sugar, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. grated whole nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 8 (1-ounce) slices diagonally cut day-old French bread (about 1 inch thick)
  • 2 cups of sliced strawberries
  • 2 tsp. orange rind
  • 4 tsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. confectioner’s sugar

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, add the milk, 1 tbsp. sugar, cinnamon, vanilla extract, nutmeg, salt and beaten eggs. Stir well with a whisk. Place the bread slices in a 13×9″ pan and pour the wet mixture evenly over the bread slices. After a minute or so, turn the bread slices to coat the other side with the wet mixture. Allow the bread to sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes, turning the slices a couple of times, until all of the wet mixture is absorbed in the bread slices.
  2. Place the strawberries, remaining 1 tbsp. sugar and orange rind in a small pot over low heat. Cook the strawberry mixture for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. In a large non-stick skillet, melt half of the butter over medium heat. Place 4 of the bread slices on the skillet and cook for about 3 1/2 minutes on each side (or until the bread is golden brown). Remove from the pan, melt the remaining 2 tsp. butter and cook the other 4 slices the same way.
  4. To serve, sprinkle each serving with confectioner’s sugar and top with the strawberry sauce.

 

Top 10 Recipes of 2011

Am I the only person who is shocked that Christmas just passed? I can’t believe it. Neighbors are taking down lights, and our tree looks SO empty without gifts under it. My favorite holiday is over, and crazy enough, it’s time for a new year. 2012.

Time to take the shrink wrap off of the new planner and get used to writing “2012″ on papers/emails/etc. This is just crazy.

Also crazy…sometime in 2012, my 4 year blogiversary is happening and my 3 year wedding anniversary is happening too. WHAT?

It’s a lot to look forward to, but before everyone rings in the new year, I just wanted to share with y’all the top 10 posts of 2011. :-)

Yellow Cupcakes w/ Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

10. Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream – This was my first time making SMBC, and I swear, if you haven’t tried SMBC before, just do it. Please?

Pecan Pie Macarons

9. Pecan Pie Macarons – Gotta love macarons. These were really a huge favorite for Thanksgiving, and the star shape (which was a happy accident) made them super cute and festive!

Queso Blanco

8. Restaurant Style Queso Blanco – This is it. The ultimate queso blanco. If you’re as addicted to queso as me, you’d understand how wonderful it is to FINALLY have a recipe for this!

Strawberry Cream Cake

7. Strawberry Cream Cake – I’m actually glad I compiled this top 10, because I sort of forgot about this cake. Since it’s currently strawberry season in Louisiana, I think I MUST make this cake again. Yum!

Peppermint Bark Cheesecake Truffles

6. Peppermint Bark Cheesecake Truffles – This is the recipe that made my year, basically. I still can’t believe I won that recipe contest, and I’ve been told by a few friends who made this that these little truffles were a hit at their holiday parties! So happy to hear that!

Banana Nutella "Ice Cream"

5. Banana Nutella “Ice Cream” – Two ingredient “ice cream”. It’s basically awesome and couldn’t be any easier. Your food processor does all the work!

Corn Grits

4. Grilled Corn Grits – I can’t be from the South, and not have a post about grits. I promise you if you make this, your hips may never be the same again, but your taste buds will tell you it’s completely worth it!

3. Easy Pasta Salad – My first (and so far, only) vlog. I might get the courage to make one again, since you guys seemed to like it so much!

Diet Cupcakes

2. Cooking For Kids – The infamous post. Yup, who’da thought that a soda cupcake would get so much response from you guys (both good and bad)…yikes!

Homemade S'mores

1. S’mores for a Shower – Nutella S’mores. I can see why you guys loved this one so much. I’m sort of craving s’mores right now, actually. :-P

I hope you have a wonderful New Year with your family and friends, and thank you so much for reading The Nifty Foodie! See y’all in 2012!

Meyer Lemon Bars

Lemon Bars

One of the last things you think about in December is citrus. To me, citrus screams bright colors and summery flavors, but in Louisiana, the end of the Fall/beginning of Winter is our citrus season. Satsumas and Louisiana Navels and Meyer Lemons…oh my! I’m crazy about the local citrus, for sure!

A couple of years ago, my husband bought a Meyer Lemon tree for our little backyard, and I couldn’t have been more thrilled! Meyer Lemons are a special lemon…they are a lot sweeter and way juicier than your average lemon. They just scream, “Make me into a dessert, woman!” When our tree made 10 lemons this year, I was more than happy to make these into a dessert!

When I think about lemon desserts, I think about lemon bars. Since I’m personally not a fan of lemon desserts (I know, I’m a weirdo!), I made a batch of these for my husband and his coworkers. My husband told me that his coworkers absolutely loved them, and I need to send desserts more often! (In case they’re reading this, that’s definitely not the last of the desserts that I’m sending him with!)

Meyer Lemon Bars
Source: Ina Garten

Ingredients:

For the crust:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

For the lemon filling:

  • 6 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons grated meyer lemon zest
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed meyer lemon juice
  • 1 cup flour
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

  2. To make the crust: Cream the butter and sugar in your mixer for about 2 minutes, until fluffy. In another bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Turn the mixer to low and slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until the crust is just mixed. Take the dough out of the mixer and roll into a ball on a well-floured surface. Pat some flour on your hands and flatten the dough. Then, press it into a 9×13 cake pan and make sure there’s about a 1/2 inch edge of crust along the edges of the pan. Chill the dough in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

  3. Bake the crust in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until it just starts to brown. Allow the pan to cool on a wire rack, and keep the oven preheated.

  4. To make the filling: whisk the eggs, sugar, lemon zest/juice and flour in a bowl until well combined. Pour the mixture over the crust once it has cooled, and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the filling has set. Place the cake pan on a wire rack and allow to cool. Before serving, lightly dust the bars with confectioners’ sugar.

Cupcakes with Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Yellow Cupcakes w/ Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

When I started my food blog almost 4 years ago, I never expected that I would make so many friends through this. While I’ve only met a handful of bloggers in real life, I consider so many of them to be dear friends of mine. When my friend, Amy of Sing For Your Supper announced that she was pregnant, I smiled and felt like I needed to run to Texas and give her a huge congratulatory hug. I know that sounds absolutely crazy, but I just feel like my friendships online are just as real as the ones I have face-to-face. I was absolutely flattered when Kelsey of Apple A Day asked me to contribute to Amy’s (all sweets) virtual baby shower! I knew that my contribution had to be pink, since Amy is expecting a little girl, so I decided to make cupcakes with a (super pink) strawberry swiss meringue buttercream!

I was actually slightly intimidated here, because this was my first official swiss meringue buttercream. I was armed with online pointers about what to do if everything goes wrong, since sadly, if something can go wrong with a recipe, it usually goes wrong for me.

Much to my surprise, though, the buttercream came together perfectly. I was waiting for the separation, the curdling, the “Oh dangit, I did it again!”, but no. It whipped up beautifully and tasted so so good! As in, I want to make all of my birthday cakes with swiss meringue buttercream from now on. Seriously. If you’ve never made a swiss meringue buttercream (also fondly known as SMBC) before, just try it. If you’re like me, and you’re scared of all of the things that can go wrong, read this awesome blog post by Confessions of a Foodie Bride to be a little more prepared.

As for the cake, this was actually a recipe I’ve made before, which is absolutely fabulous. I think it’s my favorite from-scratch cake recipe to date. The whipped egg whites just make the batter so light and perfect. It’s a good standard cake recipe to try.

If you want to check out what everyone else made for Amy’s baby shower, check out the round-up posts at Kelsey’s blog (the hostess for the baby shower) and Amy’s blog (go congratulate the momma-to-be)!

Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Source: Martha Stewart

Ingredients:

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into tablespoons
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of fresh strawberries, pureed in a food processor (using part of the adaptation mentioned on Martha’s website)

Directions:

  1. In the heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, combine the egg whites and sugar. Cook, whisking constantly, until sugar has dissolved and mixture is warm to the touch (about 160 degrees).
  2. Pour the mixture into your stand mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat the egg-white mixture on high speed until it holds stiff (but not dry) peaks. Once it reaches that point and the mixture isn’t cool yet (just feel the sides of the bowl to find out), continue beating on low until the mixture is fluffy and cooled, about 6 minutes.
  3. Switch to the paddle attachment. With mixer on medium-low speed, add butter several tablespoons at a time, beating a minute or so after each addition of butter. (If frosting appears to separate after all the butter has been added, beat on medium-high speed until smooth again, 3 to 5 minutes more.) Add in vanilla. Beat on lowest speed to eliminate any air bubbles, about 2 minutes. Stir in strawberry puree with a rubber spatula until frosting is smooth. If your frosting isn’t pink enough to your liking, add a touch of pink food coloring. :-)

 

Strawberry Cream Cake

Strawberry Cream Cake

Strawberry shortcake is one of my favorite desserts. You can’t go wrong with pound cake, whipped cream and fresh, juicy berries. Sadly, this dessert has to be assembled right before serving, because the juices from the berries usually makes the cake soggy and the whipped cream deflates fairly quickly.

However, leave it to Cooks Illustrated to come up with a way to solve the common problems that strawberry shortcake presents. This whipped cream contains cream cheese, which keeps the whipped cream from deflating, and after macerating the berries, the recipe calls for you to reduce the juice to a syrup to avoid the standard soggy shortcake.

The results? This dessert ended up tasting fantastic. I brought it to a BBQ, and it wasn’t served until a few hours later, and it still tasted just like freshly assembled shortcake. Perfection. I wish I made this back when it was strawberry season out here. As you can see in the picture, the strawberries definitely were not local. :-(

Strawberry Cream Cake
Source: Cooks Illustrated

Ingredients:

Cake:

  • 1 1/4 cups cake flour (5 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup sugar (7 ounces)
  • 5 large eggs (2 whole and 3 separated), room temperature
  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter , melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

Strawberry Filling:

  • 2 lbs. fresh strawberries (medium or large, about 2 quarts), washed, dried, and stemmed
  • 4 – 6 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tbsp. Kirsch (Note: I didn’t use this ingredient and the cake came out fine)
  • pinch salt

Whipped Cream

  • 8 oz. cream cheese , room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups heavy cream

Directions:

  1. For the cake, move the oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a round 9 by 2-inch cake pan or a 9-inch springform pan and line with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, and all but 3 tablespoons sugar in a mixing bowl. Whisk in 2 whole eggs and 3 yolks (reserving whites for later), butter, water, and vanilla; whisk until smooth.
  3. In clean bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat remaining 3 egg whites at medium-low speed until frothy, 1 to 2 minutes. With machine running, gradually add remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, increase speed to medium-high, and beat until soft peaks form, 60 to 90 seconds. Stir one-third of whites into batter to lighten. Then, add remaining whites and gently fold into batter until no white streaks remain.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then invert cake onto greased wire rack; peel off and discard parchment. Invert cake again; cool completely, about 2 hours.
  5. For the strawberry filling, halve 24 of best-looking berries and reserve for later. Quarter remaining berries; toss with 4 to 6 tablespoons sugar (depending on sweetness of berries) in medium bowl and let sit 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  6. Strain juices from berries and reserve (you should have about 1/2 cup). In a food processor fitted with metal blade, give macerated berries five 1-second pulses (you should have about 1 1/2 cups). In small saucepan over medium-high heat, simmer reserved juices and Kirsch until syrupy and reduced to about 3 tablespoons, 3 to 5 minutes. Pour reduced syrup over macerated berries, add pinch of salt, and toss to combine. Set aside until cake is cooled.
  7. For the whipped cream, when the cake has fully cooled, place the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and salt in bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Whisk the mixture at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Reduce speed to low and slowly add in the heavy cream. When almost fully combined, increase speed to medium-high and beat until mixture holds stiff peaks, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes more, scraping bowl as needed (you should have about 4 1/2 cups).
  8. To assemble the cake, using large serrated knife, carefully slice cake into three even layers.
  9. Place bottom layer of cake on a cardboard round or cake plate and arrange ring of 20 strawberry halves, cut sides down and stem ends facing out, around perimeter of cake layer. Pour one half of pureed berry mixture (about 3/4 cup) in center, then spread to cover any exposed cake. Gently spread about one-third of whipped cream (about 1 1/2 cups) over berry layer, leaving 1/2-inch border from edge. Place middle cake layer on top and press down gently (whipped cream layer should become flush with cake edge). Repeat with 20 additional strawberry halves, remaining berry mixture, and half of remaining whipped cream; gently press last cake layer on top. Spread remaining whipped cream over top; decorate with remaining cut strawberries. Serve, or chill for up to 4 hours.