Friday, December 24, 2010

just in case anyone's forgotten the 80's were all about excess...

... you should see the Christmas dessert I just finished making.

You're now wondering what in the world the 80's have to do with Christmas dessert, right?

Quite a while ago (I know it was years and years because it was before she moved into a retirement home), my mother in law ripped a dessert recipe out of a magazine and mailed it to me. It looked delicious, but we had a standard Christmas dessert already (chocolate mousse with Grand Marnier, which we haven't made in years) *and* a fall-back Christmas dessert (chocolate bread pudding with rum whipped cream), so I said, "gee, thanks, Mom, we'll have to make that some time," and tucked the recipe away.

Last year at Christmas, my family felt the chocolate bread pudding was a bit over the top and we should try something "new." At some point during the year the decision was made to try that cake recipe my mother in law sent all those years ago.

Cannoli cake.

Sounds good, right? You should see the picture from the magazine! *slurp* Well, in the course of a couple hours, I've gone from oh good, it's a sponge cake, that's nice and light to oh dear god, we're all gonna die after eating one bite! In my mind, this recipe is no longer called cannoli cake, it's called Overkill. Oh, look at that, the recipe's dated September 1989. *headdesk*

Cannoli Cake
recipe from Good Housekeeping magazine, September 1989

6 large eggs, separated
1 cup granulated sugar, separated
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons water
2 3/4 teaspoons vanilla extract, separated
2 large oranges
2 tablespoons orange-flavored liqueur (optional)
1 32-oz container ricotta cheese
1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
2 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar, divided
mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
3 tablespoons milk
2 cups heavy or whipping cream

In large bowl, beat egg whites at high speed until soft peaks form. Continuing to beat at high speed, gradually add 1/2 cup sugar, a tablespoon or two at a time. Beat well after each addition and continue beating till sugar dissolves and stiff peaks form.

Preheat oven to 375F. In small bowl at low speed, beat egg yolks, sugar, salt, water, 1 teaspoon vanilla, baking powder and the flour.

Gently fold about one third of the egg white mixture into the yolk mixture, then fold yolk mixture into remaining egg white mixture in the large bowl.

Spoon batter into ungreased 10" x 3" springform pan. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, until cake is golden and top springs back from light touch. Invert cake on wire rack to cool (so it doesn't collapse). Cool completely.

Grate 2 teaspoons zest from oranges, set aside. Squeeze oranges for 1/3 cup juice (1/2 cup if not using liqueur). Add liqueur to juice, set aside.

In large bowl at low speed, beat ricotta, cream cheese, grated orange peel, 1 cup confectioners' sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla till smooth. Stir in 1/4 cup mini choc chips.

Gently loosen cake from pan; cut into two layers. Brush cut sides with juice/liqueur mixture.

Place one layer, cut side up, on plate; spoon filling and spread to edges but leave center mounded up/rounded for dome effect. Cut wedge out of top cake layer (so it doesn't crack/break); arrange layer and wedge atop filling.

In small bowl at medium speed, beat butter, milk 1 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar, 3/4 teaspoon vanilla until smooth. Add more milk if necessary until frosting has easy spreading consistency.

In large bowl at high speed, beat cream until soft peaks form. Fold confectioners' sugar mixture into whipped cream. Spread frosting over top and sides of cake.

Melt 1/3 cup choc chips; put in decorating bag with writing tip (1/8 inch hole) or waxed paper cone, or baggie with corner clipped off. Pipe chocolate on top of cake in spiral design from center to outer edge; quickly (VERY quickly - this stuff sets up fast in the cold whipped cream buttercream frosting), before chocolate hardens, use toothpick or small knife to draw lines from center to edge, approximately 1 1/2 inches apart on edge of cake. Alternate direction of lines to give spiderweb effect.

Refrigerate until filling is firm, about 3 hours.

16 servings

* * *

On assembling the cake, it seems to me that the ricotta could be cut to a pound and a half, and the whipping cream to one and a half cups - all I could think (again and again) was how was it all gonna fit???

Merry Christmas!




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