The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

April 11, 2012

Cheryle Finley: If dessert looks good, don’t save it for last

By Cheryle Finley
Globe Columnist

JOPLIN, Mo. — Dessert has always been defined as the meal course served last. I’ve always said if dessert is available and looks good, eat it first to make sure you have plenty of room for it.

We’ve come a long way since the first desserts of honeycomb and dried dates. Back in the Middle Ages when sugar was first manufactured, we saw the beginning of sweet desserts using sugar. Unfortunately, sugar was so expensive, such desserts were reserved for the wealthy’s special occasions.

In the 19th century, there was a big leap toward sweet desserts when pudding went from being meat-based to the sweet flavor we know today. Now, that’s a change for the better.

Today, there’s lots of dessert options from fruit, ice cream and cookies to elaborate cakes, pies and tarts. Lucky you. You can find 165 dessert options in the new “Taste of Home Desserts Cookbook.”

How do you get your hands on the book? You will find one waiting for you in your chair when you purchase a VIP ticket to the Taste of Home cooking school set for Friday, April 27 and Saturday, April 28. The pictures in the book make me want to try all the recipes, and I might end up doing just that. There are still VIP tickets available for the Friday event, as well as general admission tickets for both Friday evening and Saturday afternoon. Hurry and stop by The Joplin Globe or Liberty Bank to pick up your tickets. Jamie Dunn from Taste of Home will be back again this year, and if you saw her last year, you know she’s fun and informative. If you missed last year, don’t let that happen this time -- I promise it will be a great time. You may just end up being one of the lucky attendees who takes home one of the on-stage dishes created by Jamie, or maybe you’ll win one of the great door prizes.

Last week my sister-in-law, Pam Roets, of Carthage, was preparing a dessert calling for spice cake mix. Not finding a spice cake mix, she proceeded using what was in the pantry -- a butter pecan cake mix that ended up being a tasty substitute. The recipe also called for apple pie filling on top and a confectioners’ sugar glaze. She used the apple pie filling, but instead of the plain glaze, Pam took a container of whipped vanilla frosting and blended in some caramel ice cream topping that was the perfect finish for this cake. This glaze is a fabulous idea when you are glazing rolls, muffins or cakes, especially those with cinnamon or apple.

Good things from last week: The catfish at the Diamond CafŽ is my new favorite. For once, I almost ate the entire serving, filling up beyond the comfort zone. I’m always a fan of a chile relleno but the one at El Vallarta in Joplin goes above and beyond. I asked for cheese sauce instead of enchilada sauce and was so happy with the meal. I could eat that dish every day.

Today’s first recipe is from the “Taste of Home Desserts Cookbook,” just to give you an idea of the easy and tasty dessert recipes offered in this great book. Boston cream pie has always been a personal favorite, and it just got easier by using a frozen pound cake. The second recipe is from another Taste of Home cookbook, the “Taste of Home Cooking School Cookbook.” I recently fixed this coffee cake for my visit with Carol Parker. I couldn’t find cranberries so I substituted a little carton of fresh blueberries and completely forgot to add the topping, but when people want the recipe, you know it’s a winner. I think it was actually better with the blueberries than it would have been with the cranberries. Speaking of Carol Parker, I will be back with her on KSN at 4 p.m. Tuesday, April 17.

When I picked up my Joplin Globe mail last week, I was happy to hear from several readers. Three of the letters were in reference to spaghetti red. An anonymous reader from Riverton shared with me the cracker filler idea, while Anne Witherspoon of Webb City shared a recipe for what her family calls “Fake Fred & Red’s Chili.” She received this recipe years ago from a good friend when she was looking for a chili recipe without tomatoes. Anne said two cans of chili beans can be added to this and that leftovers freeze well. I haven’t had a chance to make this one but it’s at the top of my list when my kitchen is up and running, which I hope will be soon. This recipe contains the elusive oregano that was missing from the other recipe and lacks the cracker crumb filler, while including a little cornmeal. Try it and decide for yourself. I received another spaghetti red recipe that’s quite a bit different from the others and I will share it with you next week. Have a wonderful week and happy eating!

 

Easy Boston cream cake

11/2 cups cold half-and-half cream

1 (3.4 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix

1 loaf frozen pound cake, thawed

3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 tablespoons baking cocoa

4 to 5 teaspoons hot water

In a large bowl, whisk together cream and pudding mix for 2 minutes. Let stand for 2 minutes or until soft-set. Cut cake into three horizontal layers. Place bottom layer on a serving plate; top with half of the pudding. Repeat layers, ending with cake on top. In a small bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar, cocoa and enough water to reach desired spreading consistency.  Spread over top of the cake, letting glaze drizzle down sides. Yields 4 to 6 servings.

 

Creamy cranberry coffee cake

2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

11/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 egg

3/4 cup orange juice

1/4 cup butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups coarsely chopped fresh or frozen cranberries

1 tablespoon grated orange zest

Cream cheese layer:

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

Topping:

3/4 cup flour

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup cold butter

In a large bowl, combine first four ingredients. Whisk the egg, orange juice, butter and vanilla; stir into dry ingredients just until blended. Fold in the cranberries and orange peel. Pour into greased 9-inch springform pan. In a small bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Spread over batter. Combine flour and sugar; cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over top. Place pan on baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 70 to 75 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack 15 minutes before removing sides of pan. Yields 12 servings.

 

Spaghetti red chili

3 pounds ground beef (do not brown)

1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil

4 cups water

Cook slow for 1 hour, 15 minutes.

Add:

1/2 teaspoon cumin

2 tablespoons paprika

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon oregano

2 packages Williams chili seasoning

Cook 30 minutes more. Mix 2 tablespoons flour, 2 tablespoons cornstarch and 1 tablespoon cornmeal with 1 cup water and add to chili. Cook about 5 minutes longer.



Address correspondence to Cheryle Finley, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.