Pumpkin Chai Icebox Cake

So I must be the worst blogger around.  It is already October 4th, and I am just now posting my first pumpkin recipe of the season.  It's not that late in normal circles, but in the blogging world I'd definitely get a slap on my keyboard-clad wrists.  To be fair, I actually made this recipe almost a month ago.  I saved it, since I didn't want to bombard you all readers with pumpkin everything while the sun was still shining bright, but then the photos got forgotten about in the hustle and bustle of me trying to fit in as many sunny-day activities as possible before summer was official over. Pumpkin Chai Icebox Cake- Style Sweet CA

The truth is, you can enjoy this dessert any time of the year.  Strangely enough, it was my very first icebox cake.  As the name implies, it is served cold- or at least room temp.  It might not warm and ooey-gooey, but the result is like pudding goodness for the soul.  I am drawn to both individual desserts and large cakes alike.  I wanted to make something other than traditional cake, but something that would stand high on a cake pedestal.  After milling over some ideas and researching recipes, icebox cakes seemed to fit the profile.  Huge bonus?  They are super easy to make.

I went with an unexpected flavor combination that was both unique and popular for fall.  As over-saturated as pumpkin is, I have not seen a lot of pumpkin chai combinations.  When I thought of pairing the two together, I did a little research.  Either there are not a lot of recipes because A) the flavors taste terrible together, or B) I am truly original.  Now I bet neither are completely true, but I hope the truth is closer to the latter.

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Pumpkin pairs terrifically with cinnamon.  And nutmeg?  Yes.  What about cloves?  Well I think so.  So why not all the spices of the chai family?  My thoughts exactly.  Mix the cream component with the pumpkin itself, and now we are in business.  Let me introduce: Pumpkin Chai Icebox Cake

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Easy Summer Charlotte

easysummerchar1 As summer sadly comes to a close, I am no more tempted now to use my oven much than I was at the beginning of the summer.  It might not be as warm, but I'd rather spend my time soaking up the last bit of sun.  Now, as you've noticed, most days I am big supporter of making everything from scratch.  Today is not one of those todays.  Instead let's make the cutest, little cheater torte there ever was: my Easy Summer Charlotte.  

Sure you can make most of the components from scratch, and I applaud who ever deicides to do so.  For the rest of us, we are about to get "Semi-Homemade."  Just call me Sandra Lee ;)  This summer cake is not very representational of the traditional dessert on the inside, but the presentation is were it's at.  The ribbon makes it immediately festive and it is a great way to finish up the last of the summer berries.  Looking for something easy yet beautiful for a Labor Day party?  This is it.

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Ingredients:

– Store-bought ladyfinger cookies – 6 inch cake round (at least 2 inches high) – 2 cups heavy cream – 1 teaspoon vanilla extract – 1/4 cup granulated sugar – 1/4 cup raspberry or strawberry preserves – 2 to 3 cups mixed summer berries – confectioner's sugar for dusting

Assembly:

1. Beat the cream, sugar, and vanilla together with an electric mixer until medium soft peaks form.  Set aside. 2. Place the cake round on your serving dish or cake board. 3. Using an offset spatula, spread the berry preserves on the cake.  Spread a thin layer onto the sides of the cake as well. 4. Adhere the ladyfingers around the cake.  Use a serrated knife to trim the last cookie to fit (if necessary). 5. Tie a length of ribbon around the cake to secure the ladyfingers in place. 6. Fill the cake with about 1 1/2 - 2 cups of whipped cream. 7. Top with mixed berries. 8. Dust with powdered sugar just before serving.

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NOTES:

– Feel free to browse my collection of basic cake recipes here, or use your own.  Still don't feel like baking?  Use a store-bought pound cake! –  This might be a "cheater charlotte," but I do feel it necessary to use fresh whipped cream.  Just my humble opinion ;)

Photos by Chantel Elder

 

 

Key Lime Pie Truffles

Key-Lime-Pie-Truffles-textNot every treat needs to be laborious to be tasty.  Although there are days where I enjoy spending hours and hours on intricate sugar flowers or multi-tiered cakes, sometimes we all crave a dessert that is quick and foolproof.  These two-bite truffles are packed with flavor and are equally enjoyable as the whole pie. Now, I love love myself a good pie.  For summer, I usually reach for mixed berry or rhubarb.  Lately, I've been attracted to the idea and flavors of Key Lime Pie.  However, I have been too busy for one reason or another to even begin developing a new pie recipe.  Since I have been craving lime, I took the flavors of a Key Lime Pie and gave them a twist to create these no-bake truffles.

Key-Lime-Pie-TrufflesI was a little hesitant at first to combine lime with white chocolate, but I figured that chocolate and citrus have been pals for years, so what the heck!  I think the key here is to use good quality chocolate.  I am always a fan of Callebaut chocolate myself ;)  For this pie-turned-truffle recipe, I decided to use crushed pretzels as my crust.  Not only do the pretzels give great texture, they also fulfill my pretzel addiction.  The little bits of added salt actually make all of the flavors really sing!

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recipe makes about 12-15 truffles

Tips: If ganache is too difficult to handle or roll in a ball, try putting the ganache in the freezer for a bit. If not planning to eat right away, do not roll in pretzel crust until later or it may lose its crunch.  Store truffles in the refrigerator and roll in pretzels when ready to serve.

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