Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Alfajore Lamingtons

Not a birthday, but another special occasion at the office... Heather, one the students I have worked with the past couple of years, is going on an LDS mission to Australia. Today, she goes into the Mission Training Center.

Heather was stopping by the office for one last goodbye, and I wanted to bring treats–something Australian. Even though I've never tried an Australian dessert, I recently read on a food blog about Lamingtons, an Australian dessert consisting of cubes of cake with some sort of filling covered in chocolate and coconut. Mr. P, the author of the blog, was holding a competition to come up with new and creative versions of the dessert from down under. I originally thought of entering, but never got around to it. You can check out some of the entries here.

Since I had recently made one of my favorite cookies, Argentine alfajores, I immediately thought Lamingtons with a dulce de leche filling sounded pretty incredible. Actually, anything with dulce de leche sounds pretty incredible. For the cake, I decided to go with pound cake. For the glaze, good chocolate is a must since I personally can't stand that waxy fake stuff. And when it comes to shredded coconut, I prefer toasted.

Once I finished, chocolate and coconut was literally everywhere, but my Lamingtons looked every bit as good as the ones I saw online. And how did they taste? Well, one of my students gave it this review: "It's heaven on a plate!" And do you know what? I completely agree.

So, give these a try. They're worth it.

I think I might try some of the other inventive Lamingtons on Mr. P.'s blog. Or, maybe I'll come up with some new combinations. I'll keep you posted.

Good luck in Australia, Heather! And may
you enjoy many wonderful Lamingtons!
pound cake + dulce de leche + chocolate + toasted coconut = heaven on a plate
Now, that's math I understand!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Cocoa Fudge Cake Truffles

Have you noticed that cake truffles (or cake balls) seem to be the rage lately? I have and thought I'd give them a try. I looked on several  blogs and compared. The recipes all seemed to be the same—one cake mix, one can prepared frosting, and chocolate or almond bark. And the instructions are simple enough—bake cake, crumble cake in a bowl, mix in frosting, form into balls, dip in coating. No problem, right?

Well, so I thought.

For my first attempt, I bought a strawberry cake mix (it's close to Valentine's Day), a can of cream cheese frosting, and some chocolate coating. I whipped them up for Family Home Evening treats. I brought them to the table. They looked great. We all grabbed a ball and popped them in our mouths. The reaction was instantaneous. Ooooh, yuck! The insides were like slimy Play-Doh and they tasted like cheap perfume.

What did I do wrong? I went back to the internet. It looked like I followed the recipe correctly. I even followed some of the helpful hints like crumbling the cake while still warm and incorporating the frosting well.

I hate failures in the kitchen, and I new I had to try again. Plus, there was another birthday at the office.

After thinking about it for a while, here's what I came up with. And the result? Amazing!

Here are my tips:
  • Do not crumble the cake while warm. It's best to let it cool completely. I even prefer to bake the cake the day before. You get a much better texture if the cake is a little bit dried out.
  • Maybe I'm a cake snob, but if you've got the time, make it from scratch. Homemade cake has much better texture. If you are short on time, at least make the frosting from scratch. Canned frosting is disgusting.
  • Use a 1-in. cookie dough scoop. It helps a lot, and makes for uniform sized balls.
  • Put the balls in the freezer for about a 1/2 hour. This makes them easier to dip and coat. You can also store them at this point in a ziplock bag to do later.
  • Use real chocolate. It just tastes better. Really.
If you follow these tips, I promise your taste buds will be in heaven. I promise. People at work were ooohing and aaahing all afternoon.

So, the next time you need to make a treat. Try these. I already know this recipe works, but what other cake, frosting, and coating combinations can you come up with. I've already thought of some exciting possibilities. And you can bet I'll post them.

Happy birthday, Kristen! The hardest part of making the 
cake truffles was stacking them.

Warning: Once you start snarfing, it will be hard to quit!