Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Just a very short post today---an appliance is breathing its last---seems we have replaced several in the past few months, and we did NOT acquire them all at the same time. This is like having moved into a new house with all new stuff, and after a while, everything goes "on the fritz" in a frustratingly-short time frame.

From last year's Mothers' Day, when Caro presented me with a new washer, to today when Chris is doing research on this latest thing, we've had to get a new dishwasher and water softener system, and have had Curtis the Ice-Machine repairman as practically an adopted son.

Perhaps a handbasket would be preferable to this one-horse-shay-ride. But probably not.

So, just a couple of little thoughts on sweet things for our tea: Tiny brownie cupcakes, upside down and coated with a lovely shiny ganache, and Ambrosia Cake---named by a long-ago client who requested "that good orange cake you make for wedding cakes, but with coconut." And since orange and coconut are the two main requisites for a big ole cut-glass dish of cool, fresh Ambrosia---the name stuck.

CUPCAKE BROWNIES: Makes about 2 dozen mini brownies.

Oven 325. Pam mini-muffin pans. You pour ganache over these upside-down on a rack, so don’t use paper liners.

These are the brownies I made when I first started cooking---straight off the Hershey's box. Few people make brownies with anything but chips or chopped semi-sweet or Baker's, but there's just something about the taste of that cooked sugar and cocoa and butter that's just slightly missing with chips.

1 stick butter, melted
1 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla
2 eggs
½ c. plain flour
1/3 c. cocoa
¼ t. bp
¼ t salt
1 c. mini chips

Any kind of nuts you like, but they're optional.

Sift flour, cocoa, bp and salt; stir in the chips. Stir together butter, sugar, vanilla and eggs. Stir two mixtures together and fill pans 2/3 full. Bake 16—18 minutes; top will be shiny and a little cracked when done.

Cool brownies rightside up on racks over a large pan with at least ½ inch rim. Cool, then flip brownies; pour ganache---twice if you like it thick, but allow first coat to dry. Decorate with angelica or a dainty piped flower or whatever fits your theme or color scheme. I've been meaning to do that new-fangled thing with tiny crystals of Maldon Salt atop the ganache, as well.

¾ c. heavy cream
½ lb. dark semi-sweet chocolate, chopped---
I bought TWO eleven-pound slabs of Callebaut several years ago. They stayed in a cool room, tightly wrapped and bagged, and the last one is still fresh as ever---not a sign of bloom.

2 T butter

Bring cream just barely to boiling point in small heavy pot. Add chocolate and butter. After five minutes, stir well with a whisk til every lump is gone and the mixture is silky and shiny.

Pour carefully over each brownie. I like to use a small gravy ladle, giving the coat on the top a little round stroke to send it down the sides. Use a small spatula to be sure sides are covered. Some will drip into the pan beneath, and can be gently reheated and used if no crumbs went into it.

Slide a small spatula beneath the cupcakes with the lines of the rack and lift gently onto serving trays. Do not pick up ganache-covered anything with fingers.


Tear a sheet of waxed paper just larger than a 10” round cake pan. Set pan on paper and carefully draw around outside of pan with sharp tip of a knife. Cut out circle with scissors and lay it in bottom of cake pan which has been sprayed with Pam.

1 Duncan Hines Butter Recipe Cake Mix
¼ cup. Tang drink mix---(dry)
Mix together and then make and bake cake as package directs. Let rest in pan for about 10 minutes, then run a little spatula around the cake to loosen, flip onto rack and peel off paper. Cool completely.

While cake is cooling on rack, put ¼ c. milk into a med. bowl. Stir in 1 pack Sweet & Low and 1 tsp. coconut flavoring. Add a package of shredded coconut and press down into liquid. When cake is frosted, drain well and press again, this time with a couple of thicknesses of paper towels. Coconut should be lusciously moist, but not drippy---that would pool and ruin the bottom of your frosting.

(If you're making this as a plain white or yellow cake, this is when you'd tint the coconut, if you want to. Just stir a couple of drops of McCormick's into the milk and toss the coconut til it's thoroughly colored. Proceed with draining and pressing, etc.). And even prettier is the little glimpses of tinted pink or other pale frosting, peeking through the glistening white coconut.

2 8 oz packs cream cheese (softened)
½ stick butter (softened)

Dash of salt
1 tsp. vanilla
3 c. powdered sugar (Or the whole box, depending on how moist you like frosting).

Cream butter, salt and cream cheese with mixer til light and fluffy. Beat in powdered sugar, one cup at a time, then stir in vanilla. Frost top and sides of layer. No need for a lot of smoothing or swirls. Toss coconut with fork, then apply to just-frosted cake, top and sides, pressing in with gentle pats.

I "dress" the cake directly on the tall cakestand, since the nice curved lip helps keep errant strands in place, and I can pick them right up and apply them again. This is stunning on a sunlit tea-table, especially with twists of candied, sugared orange peel as garnish.

I never "wish my life away" but suddenly I'm longing for July.


Pear tree cottage! said...

Mmm! I am always not happy to find the electrical items round here do not last as long as they should or we were told to expect them to. Our next item that is cheaper to buy then to fix the old one........just a bit more land fill! is a copy printer. Life was so much more simple without the first one.......now we just cannot go a day without it for some reason.

I adore your recipes and will take copies if that is ok? Our high tea is on now in the last week of July for over 140 ladies and each tble will sit 6/8 ladies all dressed in the theme victorian rose.....I hope it goes well.


racheld said...

It's funny you should say that---that's the one item in your house that we COULD fix for you!!

How very flattering that you'd like the recipes!! Most of them are old Southern stand-by items, but I think probably Chicken Salad and Coconut Cake are international. It's customary to serve the salad in tiny profiterole puffs, and they look SO pretty amongst all the sandwiches.

I think our own LAWN TEA may be the same week, on a Saturday---it's in honour of a neighbor and it's hard for her to get all four of her children into town at the same time.

We'll compare notes as we sit with a quiet cup and rest our feet----AFTER.