To Cake or Not to Cake . . .
I’m standing in the middle of the Giant food store, and I don’t know whether to feel guilty or justified when I am thinking that Betty Crocker’s Angel Food Cake boxed mix, a “recipe” that only has one other ingredient necessary—water, is just too much for me to even consider making.
Aisle 5: I pick up the cake mix and ponder. This lady next to me is grating my nerves because she keeps going from one side of the cake section to the other. I move my cart out of her way, to no avail. Where ever I am standing, she is also. Hey, Lady, I am debating Angel Food here, okay. Is there something I can do you for? After about one minute of this, she decides on one of those Betty Crocker mini-microwave desserts and then ambles down the aisle with her cart. Au revoir.
Now I’ve a moment to consider my dessert options.
Let’s see. I’ve already planned to cook a Winter Pasta* from 101 Cookbooks that I can only hope goes well because making the dish involves pots, bowls, strainers, and a food processor, for crying out loud. My counter has been screaming at me, “I can only house so much cooking paraphernalia.”
Well, la ti da is my response. We cover you in granite, and this is what we get?
While making the pasta does involve a gadget this or a tool that, making dessert really does not, unless we’re talking about the hand mixer, which I will use to make homemade cream . . . to top the strawberries . . . that will top this cake that will or will not be. If I make the cake, then we’ll have a gadget parade and lots of cake lying around over the weekend.
These two thoughts are cumbersome. Back goes the cake mix. Must. Remember. Rule: Make baked goods on a work night. When my co-workers aren’t in the mood to eat baked goods (in January, right after New Year’s resolutions), I simply stand in the hallway of the high school where I teach, hold the baked good away from my body and watch a congregation of teenage boys form.
Cake mix returned, now I move on to the dairy aisle. Yep, I’ll make strawberries and cream—oh, and chocolate! Really, there must be chocolate. Return to aisle five. Ghirardelli’s dark chocolate chips, to melt. Then just freeze the rest of the chips. Yes, freezing them helps me justify the purchase. Also, berries are good for me, and the cream’ll be eaten up in a jif. Angel Food cake is overrated anyhow when there is chocolate in the vicinity.
With my problems solved, I stroll toward the checkout counter.
Enter discount code . . . Beep. Beep. Beep.
Then again, just imagine that berries, chocolate and cream atop the Angel food cake? Yikes, what a combo!
To the man in line behind me, “Excuse me, sir, can you hold on just a sec? I’m just running over to aisle five for something I forgot?” He rolls his eyes at me. I just knew he’d understand.
Strawberries with Dark Chocolate and Cream
Really, though, I never went back for the Angel Food cake. That was just for the narrative. If you wanted to make it a part of this dessert, however, it’d be a great addition. This dessert, as presented, is really easy to make, and if you prepped the cream and cut the berries beforehand, it’d be a fabulous dessert for when you have guests. Another idea to make it even easier for having guests is to melt the chocolate and dip the strawberries beforehand for chocolate-covered strawberries and then just put it all into a bowl for presentation and top it with the cream when the time arrives. Even easier? Store-bought whipped cream, but I’d suggest making the homemade cream every time. You’ll be glad you did.
Prep level: Super easy
Total time/actual prep time: 25/12 Serves: 4-6
- ½ pint Heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Approximately 1.5 Tablespoons powdered sugar (add to taste)
- four pinches of cream of tartar
- 1 lb. strawberries
- approximately 5 oz. dark chocolate chips (I prefer Ghirardelli.)
To prep homemade cream:
(preferable but still optional) Place hand mixer beaters and bowl in freezer for about 10 minutes.
Remove items from freezer. Pour heavy cream into bowl. Beat with electric hand mixer on low for approximately four minutes.
As you are mixing, add in vanilla and powdered sugar and cream of tartar. Mix for another 1-2 minutes. Place in refrigerator while you prep the rest of the dish. *I beat the cream until it is frothy and thickened; most recipes tell me that the cream will thicken enough to form peaks, but I honestly managed only to form light peaks. The cream of tartar is what helps with this; if you do not have cream of tartar or do not want to buy it just for this, you can skip it, but the cream will not become as firm.
To prep strawberries and chocolate:
- Rinse strawberries and cut the stems from each. Then, cut the berries into bite-sized pieces. Put in refrigerator.
- Into a small saucepan set to low heat and pre-warmed*, add chocolate chips. Constantly stir until chocolate is smooth. *For best results, do not pour chips into room temperature sauce pan.
- Into a small bowl or medium-sized coffee mug, add a hearty layer of berries and hefty dollops of both the chocolate and the cream. Finally, top with a small dollop of chocolate and a small strawberry, for garnish. Serve immediately.
Happy cooking! Happy eating!
*You saw Winter Pasta listed in the narrative preceding the dessert recipe. It turned out to be a delicious dish worthy of sharing and a great use for kale.