My contribution to dinner last weekend was “something cute for dessert” and well, I tried. I tried really hard.
I have been wanting to make angel food cake for quite a while now and to turn it into strawberry shortcake. Since part of the deal was “cute” I tried to make strawberry shortcake angel food cake cupcakes. I was inspired by this picture:
I stole it from google images in my search for images of “strawberry shortcake cupcakes.” If you are interested in how to make cupcakes this cute, you should check out the original recipe here because mine were not nearly this cute. In fact they ended up not even cupcakes at all.
My first question was this: can angel food cake even be made into cupcakes? I’ve never seen such a thing before. A quick search of tastespotting told me that yes, it could be done. Many people do it, in fact. But none of them seemed to mention how hard it would be.
I used this recipe and actually followed it exactly for once in my life. My cupcakes puffed up beautifully in the oven but as soon as I took them out, they deflated. I ended up with flat little angel food disks. Now, these happened to be quite tasty, but not quite the fluffy cake I’d been going for. They taste a little like cotton candy. In fact, if I had one complaint about this recipe, it was that the cupcakes were too sweet. As for the deflating, I can’t say for sure why they ended up so flat. I even cooled them upside down by balancing the pans on two cans of tomato paste. That is, until all the little cupcakes started falling out onto the cooling racks beneath. At least they didn’t stick, right?
I had my cupcakes, so I started on my strawberries. I sliced them and sprinkled on a little sugar. These did not even compare to those Costco strawberries from a couple of weeks ago and they needed the sugar.
Finally the whipped cream. Of course I had to make my own because cool whip, while being cheap, easy, and comparatively low in calories and fat, is just a container of sugar, chemicals, and other things which shouldn’t be eaten. This is one of my baby steps. So to take one more step, I did a little research and the internet told me that I could whip light cream instead of heavy cream. A few sites even said skim milk would whip, and I’ve seen them do it on the Magic Bullet infomercials. It was worth a try right? I decided to compromise with half and half. I also read that adding a little unflavored gelatin would help my whipped cream hold up over time. So here’s what I did:
- 2 cups half and half, as cold as possible
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
- 3 tablespoons water
And here’s what happened:
I put the bowl, beaters, and half and half in the freezer for a bit to make sure everything would be really really cold. I dissolved the gelatin in the water by putting the mug of gelatin in a bowl of hot water like it said to do here, except I didn’t use simmering water, I just boiled the water in the microwave first. It appeared that the gelatin had dissolved so it seemed okay to me.
While that was cooling, I quickly assembled my mixer with the frozen bowl and beaters and poured in the cold half and half. I started beating.
And kept beating.
And kept beating.
I left the mixer running while I went to change and get ready to go. And by this point maybe you can see where this is going. I still just had frothy half and half.
I poured in the cooled gelatin and kept beating.
It got a little thicker so I added the sugar and vanilla and kept beating.
All the while, Andy was getting increasingly anxious because it was time to go and, as usual, I was not even close to ready. So I packed up my bowls of flat angel food cakes, slightly sour strawberries, and abused coffee creamer, and off we went.
When we got there, I tried putting the cream in the freezer until dessert time to see if it would set up. So much for that gelatin idea. It was still just liquid. To make matters worse, the combination of overly sweet cake, not sweet at all strawberries, and just barely sweet cream, was not a good one. And my presentation was much droopier than I’d imagined.
There’s a bright side to this story though. We still had about 25 angel food cakes left to experiment with so I tried some other combinations.
These cakes were good plain and they were very good with ice cream, but one particular combination was the clear winner. I give you, Strawberry Nutella Shortcake:
I believe I’ve mentioned before that strawberries with Nutella is my new favorite dessert, so why not put it on top of cake? There’s no reason not to. No reason at all. The trick with this is to make the Nutella smooth enough to drizzle over the cake. I tried microwaving it but was only moderately successful so I added tiny amounts of milk until I had the right consistency. Warning, if you try this, it will get worse before it gets better. At least it did for me. The Nutella seized when I added the milk, but when I kept stirring it smoothed out again and eventually turned to syrup.
I was so pleased with myself, I made another.