Saturday, March 03, 2007

Baby Shower Brunch - Berry Trifle and Homemade Marshmallows

The collection of sweets during January's Sugar High Friday Competition centered around chocolate was astounding. While perusing the entries I came across one from Bea of La Tartine Gourmande and was awestruck and inspired. I have found myself going back to her original post time after time to look at her beautiful creation and I had to hold back from making it until the right occasion came up. So, when it was decided that I would be hosting a baby shower this weekend I just knew that I finally had a reason to give it my best shot.
I ran out last night to collect the ring molds and gelatin and then spent the better part of the night getting all of the components together. I did alter the original recipe by substituting semi-sweet for the dark chocolate but I stayed true to the recipe besides that. I am very glad that I received a scale for Christmas though, since it made the whole process easier...not to mention more fun. I don't know why I enjoy weighing little bits of chocolate and powdered sugar so much but I do. It reminds me of when I was in school and that makes me happy.
Anyway, I was so pleased with the way they came out on my first attempt that I am anxious to try another version. This process could work with so many flavors and fruit combinations that it is exciting just to think about. I can't wait for another occasion to come my way.

Another first time recipe that I tried was this trifle that I saw on Everyday Foods. This was so simple to make and such a hit with all of the ladies. I used an all butter pound cake...pre-made for this one. I made it the night before and let the flavors meld in the fridge overnight as was suggested and I think it truly made a difference. The cake wasn't dry at all and the cream cheese in the filling was extremely luscious. I used my grandmother's silver iced tea spoons alongside and that made it even more fun to eat. I felt like it was something special since we weren't using our everyday spoons.

These marshmallows that I made to go along with the hot chocolate were the most interesting thing that I made for the shower. The thick meringue-like batter was easy to make and I was surprised at how simple they were...but the actual cutting and tossing in powdered sugar was very tedious. Also, a full recipe yields a ridiculous amount of marshmallows. I'm not exactly sure what I am going to do with the huge container that I have leftover so if anyone has an idea for them I'd love the input.
The taste and texture of these marshmallows are far superior to the little spongy store-bought variety and I can see myself making them in the future for a herd of cold sledders...but it would have to be a herd of 12 or more.

We had two fun drinks: baby bellinis and hot chocolate. The bellinis were "baby" because I used sparkling white grape juice in place of champagne since we had three expecting mothers attending. The hot chocolate was simply in place of coffee since nobody seems to be a big coffee drinker. I thought the marshmallows were quite yummy slightly melted in the hot chocolate. The only thing better would have been if the hot chocolate was whipped like Ina Garten suggested...but I could only do so much.
Overall the party was a success. We enjoyed manicures and pedicures while eating, chatting, and reminiscing about the deliveries of our own children. It was an enjoyable morning for me as well as everyone attending. Now we just have to face the big clean-up. Ugh!

Red, White, and Blue Trifles
adapted from Everyday Foods
1 8oz package cream cheese at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 pound cake
strawberries (optional)
mint for garnish (optional)

In a mixing bowl beat the cream cheese and sugar until combined and smooth. Add heavy cream and beat on high speed until soft peaks form. Layer cubed pound cake, cream cheese mixture, and fruit. Repeat to form a second layer and garnish with mint. Chill at least 2 hours before serving.

Homemade Marshmallows
adapted from Barefoot Contessa Family Style

3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 T pure vanilla extract
Confectioners' sugar for dusting

Combine the gelatin and 1/2 cup of cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and allow to sit while you make the syrup.
Meanwhile, combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Raise the heat to high and cook until the syrup reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat.
With the mixzer on low speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the dissolved gelatin. Put the mixer on low speed and whip until the mixture is very thick, about 15 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix thoroughly.
With a sieve, generously dust an 8 x 12-inch nonmetal baking dish with confectioners' sugar. Pour the marshmallow mixture into the pan, smooth the top, and dust with more confectioners' sugar. Allow to stand uncovered overnight until it dries out.
Turn the marshmallows onto a board and cut them in squares. Dust them with more confectioners' sugar.

In a mixing bowl beat the cream cheese and sugar until combined and smooth. Add heavy cream and beat on high speed until soft peaks form. Layer cubed pound cake, cream cheese mixture, and fruit. Repeat to form a second layer and garnish with mint. Chill at least 2 hours before serving.
Join the baby/bridal shower fun at Dispensing Happiness as she hosts the next Blog Party.

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