Homemade Ice Cream Cake

Although it has only been four days since my last post, I feel like its been weeks.  It has been an incredibly busy week for me and, as per usual, I’m using blogging as a way to procrastinate from schoolwork, namely my art history midterm tomorrow morning.  While I’ve had a jam packed schedule, I’ve gotten to do some AMAZING things this week.  I don’t usually plug all my other blogs here, but if you go to the blog I made for my multimedia class, you can see a photo essay on my adventures going up in a Cessna-172 at the Rockcliffe Flying Club.  SO COOL AND SCARY.  That was one journalism adventure (a second was filming a flash mob, but that’s another story…).  Another wonderful thing that happened this week was meeting with Shakira, the co-owner/baker of Little Cakes. She drove in all the way from Stittsville to feed me cupcakes (and six of them with that!) so that I could judge them as part of my search for Ottawa’s perfect cupcake on the Local Tourist Ottawa blog.  You can check out that review this Monday :).

Alright, made it through hyperlink central?  Good.  Now on to the actual post…

This was by far the second most awesome cake I’ve ever made, losing out only to the pool party cake I made in the summer (it is my ultimate challenge to make a cake more impressive than that).  It all started when I was bored in class last week thinking about how much I was craving birthday cake.  From this boredom sprung the insane idea to make my very own ice cream cake.  Grabbing a piece of paper, I quickly sketched out the cake diagram you see below, detailing my plans for each intricate iced layer.  Some people doodle their name in multi-coloured ink, I doodle cakes.

Now you need to understand that I very rarely know what I’m doing.  Making this cake was no exception to this rule, and I figured I ought to do some research on said cake type before attempting to smush together dairy in a disastrous way.  I decided to make the cake in my beloved spring form pan, so I wouldn’t have to experience any sort of removal-from-pan challenges.  I lined it with plastic wrap and just sort of went from there.  My recipe can be found below the gadgillions of pictures, but in the meantime, let me break down the anatomy of this cake for you:

Layer 1: Chopped brownie
Layer 2: Strawberry ice cream
Layer 3: A homemade fudge thing, basically oreo crumbs and white chocolate chips mixed with chocolate sauce
Layer 4: Vanilla ice cream
Layer 5: Whipped cream

Now, since I’m speculating that many of you have never made an ice cream cake before, let me warn you that it is a time consuming process.  In preparation for our house Valentine’s Day party on Sunday night, I started making this cake on Friday.  Albeit it was so that I could take my sweet sluggish time making it, each layer does need to be frozen solid before you add the next.  For those of you hoping to make this cake in one day, it means that you’re going to have to wake up pretty damn early, unless you have some sort of state-of-the-art instant free liquid nitrogen machine.

The cake turned out awesome and I’m so proud I can finally check this one off my foodie bucket list.  It was a hit with the roommates and was the first of THREE dessert courses we had for dinner that night.  By the end I didn’t know whether to jump around in a sugar buzz euphoria or fall down in a food coma.  It turns out that latter won.

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Pink Chocolate Surprise Cookies (also known as the cookies that can’t be “beet”)

Sorry if the title of this post made you groan, I can never resist the opportunity to insert a bad food pun.

Since Valentine’s Day is officially in…3 minutes, I figured I’d better keep blogging about all my holiday-themed treats in what appears to be a V-Day baking post marathon.

These cookies.  Wow.  Earlier this week I was perusing the pages of Tastespotting trying to get inspired for my Valentine’s Day baking.  I stumbled on a picture of these cookies, and was immediately drawn to the vibrant hue of the dessert.  Now you must understand that in my baking this week I challenged myself to one task: using beets as a natural dye in a dessert.  You see, I’d been considering making red velvet something-or-anothers for a few weeks, but had always been turned off by my memories of awful tasting red artificial colouring.  When I read that beets were a great replacement for all that fake stuff, I was a little hesitant.  Sure, beets are great in borscht and in other main meal things, but could they really be used in a dessert?

The answer was an overwhelming “yes.”

When I found this recipe I decided I was going to go all out with the beet colouring.  Remember, I’m trying to be brave with this food exploration thing, and this was another big step for me.  Since I was going to make my own beet puree to use in the cookies, I decided the easiest thing for me to do would be to buy canned (but NOT pickled, this is very important!!) beets at the grocery store.  This way I could smartly avoid any time wasted chopping, peeling, and dying my hands a bright shade of magenta.  In the end, it was kind of fun to make my own puree in our food processor.  It turned out looking like some sort of blood-red applesauce, and added the best natural colouring to these cookies.

So how did they turn out?

Well they were AWESOME!  Okay, I know cookies are never healthy, but think about it.  These have vegetables in them and no butter (normally a bad thing, but it worked out in this case).  I guess I’m in a “put vegetables in my desserts” phase after my chocolate zucchini cake, but the trend seems to be working out for me.  My cookies actually turned out to have more of a cake-like whoopie pie consistency, which gave them a perfect chewable quality.  Even my roommate Amanda who is the pickiest eater EVER liked them, although she did initially wrinkle her nose when I told her about the “surprise ingredient.”  I found the beets added almost a sweet after taste to the cookie, enough to keep the eater guessing as to where the great flavour came from.  And of course, they were pink, which is all I really wanted in the first place.

PS: I don’t know why I haven’t thought of this before, but isn’t using coloured paper as the backdrop for my food pictures a wonderful idea?!  I have so, so, so much coloured paper, so this gives me an additional place to use it.  To take my pictures I simply line our world atlas with paper, prop it up against the window sill with my hip, and photograph my heart out.

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Pizza l’Amore

First, please listen to the song below when reading this post.  Thank you.

There is currently a heated debate occurring in my kitchen over the name of this pizza.  Natalie and Ariel are yelling out “PIZZA LOVE, PIZZA LOVE” and Conor, Natalie’s boyfriend, is mumbling something about how there is supposed to be an “a” in between the two words to make it French…or Italian…it’s hard to decipher their arguments.  Anyways, this pizza WAS love, and so the post title is accurate.

Just a warning, this is going to be the first of many Valentine’s Day posts.  As you know, I take advantage of any holiday that comes my way, and use that day/season as an excuse to bake and cook a ridiculous amount of themed foods.  If you are somehow a bitter, love-hating cynic I understand that you might not want to see my cutesy, pink and red foods.  However, here is a plug for all you singletons: I’m exactly like you.  Hell if I’m making all this stuff for some boyfriend who won’t appreciate it (like my boyfriend last year who did not appreciate my charming heart-shaped cakes).  Nope, this Valentine’s Day I’m loving myself and my roommates, and thereby declare that you do not need some person to spoil with these treats – you are good enough to eat them yourself.

Now, sometimes when I make food, I deliberately choose ingredients that will make a dish look better.  It was through this decision-making process that I decided to put pepperoni, red pepper and mushrooms on my pizza.  I don’t even know if I like mushrooms, but they were white, and needed to be included in my V-Day colour scheme.  Since I bought a set of six heart cookie cutters at the Bulk Barn, I decided to use the smallest one for my pizza, carefully cutting out miniature heart-shaped mushroom and pepperoni pieces.  Yeah…I’m kind of cute.

Anyways, this pizza turned out great and I’m still eating the leftovers today.  Not only was the pizza seasonally-appropriate, but also delicious.  Now if you DO have a special Valentine and have procrastinated to the point that you don’t know what to cook for them, I suggest this.  Easy and romantic FTW.

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