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Beyond bunnies and jelly beans

Beyond bunnies and jelly beans

By Holly Ebel

lifestyle@postbulletin.com

Chocolate bunnies and jelly beans are a big part of Easter fun, but beyond these sweets, it is also a day for special desserts. Following the traditional dinner of ham or lamb, they can put the crowning touch on the meal. It also marks the beginning of the season for desserts with lighter textures and flavors, such as lemon, lime and coconut. foodp By Holly Ebel

lifestyle@postbulletin.com

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Chocolate bunnies and jelly beans are a big part of Easter fun, but beyond these sweets, it is also a day for special desserts. Following the traditional dinner of ham or lamb, they can put the crowning touch on the meal. It also marks the beginning of the season for desserts with lighter textures and flavors, such as lemon, lime and coconut.

As you start putting together your Easter meal, think about pies, tarts, cakes, even meringue-based desserts, any one of which will bring raves around the table. Especially appealing are lamb or bunny cakes made from molds, always something youngsters love to see and eat. Even cheesecake, a perennial favorite any time of year, flavored with lime brings a light touch to the dessert table.

It is always a big help if a dessert can be made ahead. Meringue shells are one. Even though many cooks shy away from these, they are not difficult to make. Filled with a lemon curd and topped with a dollop of whipped cream or a fresh strawberry, it makes a delicious and lighter dessert.

An old-fashioned dessert that is making a comeback is the chiffon cake, which was first introduced in the late 1940s. This was the first cake to use oil as an ingredient. Pound cake, that old standby, can also be dressed up with a glaze and served with a special ice cream.

Time-saving pointers

Whichever dessert you choose, here are a few pointers to help you make the most of your time.

Follow the recipe exactly.

Always use the size and type of pan called for, whether it is a tube pan (angel food cake pan), spring-form pan or round cake pans.

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Choose sturdy pans with vertical sides and stay away from foil pans; they might produce a misshapen cake.

If a recipe calls for cake flour, use it. Made from a softer wheat, it contains less protein, leading to less gluten formation, producing a more tender crumb.

Grease pans with shortening like Crisco rather than butter. Butter contains water and could make some of the batter stick to the pan.

Ingredients should be at room temperature because they will combine more easily. This is especially important with meringues where the egg whites need to be at room temperature to achieve maximum volume when beaten.

Here and on page 4C are some new and old dessert favorites.

Pound cake

2 1⁄3; cups self-rising cake flour

1 cup butter, softened

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One 8-ounce brick regular Philadelphia cream cheese (not low-fat), softened

2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

6 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour 10-inch Bundt pan. In bowl, beat together butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add sugar, flour and vanilla and beat on low until combined (mixture looks dry and crumbly). Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Pour batter into pan, smoothing top, and bake until golden and cake tests done, about 50 minutes. Cool on rack 15 minutes, then invert onto rack and continue to cool.

Holly Ebel of Rochester is a free-lance writer.

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