Birthdays with cake and ice cream is a tradition for most families, here in the U.S., anyway. With my family, though, we have loosened that a little to say for your birthday, you can have any dessert you’d like. When my son was very young, his favorite was a mint and chocolate chip ice cream cake. My daughter’s palate has matured to request desserts like Tiramisu. So, whatever their request, I tried my best to accommodate.
At a recent birthday party for a girlfriend, I planned a dessert I hoped she and the other guests would enjoy. So, we had an Italian birthday dessert. Um, well, two desserts.
I will back up and say, I don’t make up most of what I make. I’ve learned over time what ingredients and preparations have a good chance of being delicious, and I’ve learned to trust certain cookbook authors and chefs. Sometimes I modify these recipes, sometimes I don’t. I will respectfully give recognition to those whom I share.
The desserts: Affagato – Ice Cream with Strong Coffee or Espresso
We six ladies all drink coffee, so I wanted this dessert. For the ice cream, I made Tiramisu Ice Cream which is divine. DIVINE, I tell you!! This is from David Lebovitz’ ice cream book, The Perfect Scoop. I’ve made many of the recipes in this book and I’ve loved every one of them. My husband’s favorite is … well, that’s for another time, I guess. The Tiramisu Ice Cream is made with mascarpone cheese, half and half, Kahlua, and a few other ingredients – except eggs. There are no eggs in this recipe. I used marsala wine instead of the Kahlua, which is a traditional fortified wine in the traditional Tiramisu dessert.
I served it in the pretty, dainty pink bowls with a strong coffee poured over it. As soon as the coffee hit the ice cream, it melted just the outside and made this luxurious creamy sauce. It was delicious. Yes. Yes, it was.
The cake part of the dessert is an Italian dessert that I can say in my head but sound totally ridiculous when I say it out loud. Zuccotto – a recipe by Giada De Laurentis.
This was a simple, no bake dessert. It is, however, labor intensive. There are steps. I’m not new to this and I actually enjoy making the separate elements and then bringing them together for something special. I’ve now made this twice in three days. Once for the birthday party, and it was so good that I wanted to share it with a group of people we had over just last night. And folks, they loved it, too. It is shake-your-head good.
The ingredients as I made it:
- 16 oz. frozen Sara Lee Pound Cake
- 12 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips
- 5 cups chilled whipping cream
- 1/2 teaspoon almont extract
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted and coarsely crumbled
- 2 – 3.2 oz. bittersweet chocolate bars, I used Lindt
The ganache was made by heating one cup of cream to a slight simmer and pouring over the 2 chopped Lindt (or whatever brand you want) bars. I added a teaspoon of butter, too. Let it sit for a minute and then whisk until it looks like it belongs to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.
The components are the pound cake sliced 1/3″ thick to line the inside of a 6″ bowl that has plastic wrap lining the bowl. A chocolate cream filling (that I doubled), an almond filling that I doubled the cream but not the almonds, sugar, or extract, and I coated the cake after it has set and not long before it is to be served with a chocolate ganache.
Like I said, there are steps, but you have to try it. It will be a dessert you’ll be so proud to serve.
Here are pictures of the process:
I poured the ganache over the cake as it sat on a baking rack over a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. I didn’t want to waste the chocolate goodness!
Now, here’s what else I learned. Do not turn the cake out and glaze it hours before it’s to be served. The cake will settle and it will crack the glaze. Trust me. It cracks. It’s no disaster, but you’ll be frustrated. The second thing is it needs to be kept really cold. The fillings will not slice cleanly and give the beautiful slices you want if you don’t. Plus, have a glass with warm water near you while cutting with a sharp knife. Dip the knife in the water between, catch the drips with a paper towel and then slice. Again, trust me. Hence, the no sliced cake picture.
If you make this cake, tell me about it. I’d love to see and hear how it went for you. You won’t need to tell your friends, they’ll all be talking.