Friday, May 14, 2010

A Delicious Start to a New Tradition

Every now and then one of our local grocery stores prints up cards with employee provided recipes and gives them out to the customers. Sometimes those recipe cards are part of a "sample our products" type day and others are just lying around the store hoping to be picked up and treasured by someone. Far be it from me to let any recipe go unnoticed! On my way out of the store one evening after having taught a cooking class, I found a few of these cards. I happily brought them home and added them to my "try this someday" pile. (Incidentally, my "try this" piles are huge...and growing. They are about to undergo a MASSIVE clean out in the next week or so.)

Mr. C and I started a fun tradition a few months back. With Sunday being our day for dessert (usually because we have company), I asked him to choose something for me to make. Mr. C decided to choose something new from my huge pile of "try this" dessert recipes. That practice stuck and he's chosen something new for us to try almost every Sunday since. The recipe he chose that day was from a recipe card I'd picked up a local grocery store...Sheet Cake Cream Puff.

Since I can't say remember ever meeting a cream puff I didn't like, I thought it was a perfect choice! I wasn't sure what to expect, but it's always fun to try something new.

Please pardon the bluish "sunlight" fluorescent light of my kitchen, but check out the beautiful base of this cake!

I was truly giddy when I opened up the oven and saw the gorgeous peaks and valleys of the base. I mean, honestly, is this not the coolest dessert base ever! Those pastry crevices were just screaming to be filled with something delectable.

I immediately grabbed my camera and called for Mr. C to come and see!

I've made cream puffs once before, so I should have expected the cake's light and fluffy batter to bake up like this. But, I didn't. For some reason I thought it would be just a regular baked cake. Don't you just love it when something you make is visually delicious?!

Next came what would typically be inside a cream puff, but in this instance it got slathered on top instead. Holy yum! The "filling" layer is a smooth combination of cream cheese and vanilla pudding.

The peaks and the valleys of the base made for lots of places for the cream mixture to gather and be happy. The cream mixture got even happier when I covered it with a layer of whipped topping!

The final touch was my personal favorite ingredient...CHOCOLATE! The recipe calls for "chocolate shavings or syrup." There was no question in my mind. I opted for shavings.

In anticipation of making chocolate mousse, I'd picked up a large bar of Belgian chocolate at the grocery store the week before. I had plenty of extra, so I used a knife and started shaving from the corners of the blocks.

As you can see, my shavings were very, very fine. If you make yours as fine as I did, beware the static electricity. Mine were zipping all over the place (as you can see from the edges of my plate.) You can certainly make them a lot thicker if you prefer.

As a side note, if you can find this Hageland brand of Belgian chocolate, it is fantastic. The chocolate is creamy, it's a great bar for cooking, and it's cheap! WOO HOO! The bar is about $4.50 at Walmart and weighs almost a pound. (I have not been able to find it at all Walmarts though.) It also comes in milk chocolate if you prefer.

The chocolate shavings were the crowning glory of the dessert!

I'd made more shavings that I really needed, so I really loaded up the top. I figured why not. A little extra chocolate never hurts, right!

Here is the long, side view of the finished product. I swear, this picture makes it look like the dessert is 10 feet long...and no one would have complained if it had been!

We loved this dessert...and so did our company. More than one person went back for seconds. It's super easy to make and overall, quite inexpensive too. You've got to love something that's both tasty and cheap!

Sheet Cake Cream Puffs from Laura the Grocery Supervisor
1/2 c butter
1 c water
1 c flour
5 eggs
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 lg box vanilla instant pudding
8 oz frozen whipped topping
chocolate shavings or syrup
Boil water and margarine. Add flour to the pot, mix well. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each one. Spread on to a greased sheet pan. (I used my largest sheet pan that measures 12" x 17".) Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. Let cool. While the base is cooling, prepare the instant pudding as directed on the package. Mix together with softened cream cheese. Spread mixture over cooled crust. Top with whipped topping and chocolate. Refrigerate.

Sadly, I wouldn't say this dessert has a long shelf life. The longer the filling sits on the light and fluffy base, the soggier it gets. But, it won't go bad immediately. We ate it again the next day and it was fine. You'll probably find around day 3 that your dessert is sneaking past it's prime.

I'd say Mr. C's dessert choice that day was a winner for sure. Plus, it helped spawn something fun and new for us. His dessert choice is something we can both look forward to. (In fact, just 2 hours ago he said, "I need to pick our dessert for tomorrow.") Good job honey! We've started a great new tradition together and our recipe file has a delicious new permanent resident.

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