Halloween Strawberry Shortcake Skull Cake

Halloween Strawberry Shortcake Skull Cake

We topped elegant strawberry shortcake with a ghoulish white chocolate skull in this spectacular Halloween dessert. Pour over the hot strawberry sauce to reveal the surprise inside!

Level: Intermediate

Total: 2 hr 45 min (includes chilling and cooling times)

Active: 1 hr 10 min

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

Chocolate Skull:

4 ounces white chocolate melting wafers

1 tablespoon unrefined coconut oil

4 ounces strawberries, sliced

Cake and Filling:

Nonstick cooking spray, for the pan

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (see Cook’s Note)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 large egg, at room temperature

1/2 cup sour cream

8 ounces strawberries, sliced

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

2 cups sweetened whipped cream

Strawberry White Chocolate Sauce:

8 ounces strawberries, finely chopped

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup heavy cream

3 ounces red candy melting wafers

Directions

 

1. For the chocolate skull: Add the white chocolate melting wafers and coconut oil to a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring in between each, until melted and smooth, about 2 minutes.

2. Pour the chocolate mixture into the front and back cavities of a 2-part medium plastic skull mold (3-by-4-by-4-inch) and tilt to swirl the chocolate around until coated entirely (you can also use your finger to swirl the chocolate around). Tap out any excess and freeze until the chocolate is set, about 5 minutes.  

3. Reheat the melted chocolate, if needed, and brush the sides of the mold cavities with a second layer. Freeze until set, about 5 minutes. 

4. Carefully unmold the skull halves and fill one with the sliced strawberries. Microwave the melted chocolate again until smooth, about 30 seconds. Use the melted chocolate as glue to carefully attach the skull halves. Refrigerate until ready to serve. 

5. For the cake and filling: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 6-inch round cake pan with 3-inch sides with nonstick spray. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment and spray the paper. 

6. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.  

7. Beat the butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until pale yellow, about 2 minutes. Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat on low just to incorporate, then beat on high until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the vanilla and egg, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl, and continue to beat until creamy, about 2 minutes (the mixture will look curdled, but will come back together after everything is combined). With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the sour cream in 2 additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. 

8. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. 

9. Bake until golden on top and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the pan, turn the cake out onto the rack, remove the parchment and cool completely.  

10. Meanwhile toss the sliced strawberries and granulated sugar in a medium bowl. Set aside for at least 30 minutes to allow the strawberries to release their juices. 

11. Cut the cake into 3 layers with a long serrated knife. Place a cake layer on a cake stand and top with half of the strawberries. Spread 3/4 cup of the whipped cream on top. Repeat with another cake layer, the remaining strawberries and 3/4 cup whipped cream. Top with the final cake layer and remaining 1/2 cup whipped cream. Position the skull in the center of the whipped cream.

12. For the strawberry white chocolate sauce: Add the strawberries and granulated sugar to a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the strawberries have broken down and thickened slightly, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and vanilla. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve and return the liquid to the saucepan (discard the solids). Add the cream and red candy melting wafers to the sauce and heat over medium heat, whisking constantly, until melted and hot, 10 to 15 minutes. 

13. When ready to serve, pour the hot sauce over the center of the chocolate skull.

 

 

Cook’s Note

When measuring flour, we spoon it into a dry measuring cup and level off excess. (Scooping directly from the bag compacts the flour, resulting in dry baked goods.)


Halloween Strawberry Shortcake Skull Cake
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Loin of Pork with Fennel and Garlic

Loin of Pork with Fennel and Garlic

Level: Easy

Total: 2 hr

Prep: 10 min

Inactive: 50 min

Cook: 1 hr

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients:

 

1 (5-pound) loin of pork, bone in,”frenched” and tied

6 garlic cloves

1/3 cup fresh rosemary leaves, chopped

2 tablespoons lemon zest (about 2 lemons)

 

 

 

2 teaspoons fennel seeds

2 tablespoons good olive oil

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Allow the pork to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

2. Place the pork, fat side up, in a roasting pan just large enough to hold it comfortably. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade process the garlic, rosemary, lemon zest, and fennel seeds until roughly chopped. Add the olive oil, mustard, salt and pepper and process until it forms a smooth paste. Rub the paste on top of the pork and roast for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 140 degrees F. Remove from the oven, transfer to a cutting board, and cover with aluminum foil. Allow to sit for 20 minutes, then remove the strings, slice between the bones and serve warm.


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Skeleton Meat Platter

Skeleton Meat Platter

For meat lovers and the not-so-faint-of heart:

This edible skeleton will likely bring a ghoulish chuckle from your guests.

Level: Easy
Total: 1 hr 

(includes chilling time)

Active: 40 min
Yield: 12 to 14 servings

Ingredients:

Skeleton Head:

4 strips thick-cut bacon, chopped

Three 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature

One 8-ounce bag shredded Cheddar

4 scallions, thinly sliced

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto

1 pimento-stuffed green olive, cut in half widthwise

 

 

Skeleton Body:

1 medium red bell pepper, stem removed

2 pounds coiled hot Italian sausage

1 full rack cooked ribs, cut in half (about 13 ribs)

2 pounds cooked pulled pork (from two 1-pound packages)

Sliced baguette and assorted crackers, for serving

Directions:

  1. For the skeleton head: Cook the bacon in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until golden and crispy, 7 to 8 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a paper towel-lined plate; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, Cheddar, scallions, bacon, some salt and a few grinds of pepper and mix until fully incorporated.
  3. On a piece of parchment, mold the cheese mixture with your hands into the shape of a skull, then wrap the head in the prosciutto. Make 2 divots for the eyes and place the olive halves in the divots. Pinch the middle of the face together to make a nose and create an indent below the nose to make a mouth. Refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes.
  4. For the skeleton body: Prepare a grill or grill pan for medium-high heat.
  5. Grill the pepper whole, rotating occasionally, until charred on all sides and slightly soft, about 10 minutes. Cut the pepper from stem end to bottom on one side to create one long piece of pepper. Grill the sausage coil in one piece, flipping halfway through, until opaque and completely cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes.
  6. To assemble: Position the skeleton cheese head at the top of a board or platter. Place the red pepper directly underneath the head and fold it slightly to create a heart. Align the baby back rib racks around the heart, one on each side, with the bony parts facing up to resemble a rib cage. Position the sausage coil under the rib cage to resemble intestines.
  7. Fill the space around the intestines, heart and rib cage with the pulled pork, tucking it under as needed. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  8. Serve with sliced baguette and assorted crackers.

Skeleton Meat Platter
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Lumpia – Filipino Egg Rolls

Lumpia – Filipino Egg Rolls

Lumpia is the Philippines’ version of Egg Rolls.  Like so many other Asian countries the Filipino Lumpia comes in many varieties.

There is Lumpiang Sariwa or “Fresh Lumpia” that are very thin crepe like wrappers that are filled with stir fried vegetables, shrimp, meats, or a combination of them.  Lumpiang Shanghai are meat filled deep fried egg rolls that are tightly wrapped to look like thin cigars or are cut into smaller pieces when served as appetizers, they are usually served with a sweet and sour dipping sauce.  Then there are fried lumpia that closely resemble spring rolls.  Fried Lumpia can be filled with just about anything including ripe bananas which are actually called Turon or Banana Lumpia.

Fried Lumpia is a favorite in my house; I make them by the dozen and freeze them so we always have some on hand.  Making fried lumpia is pretty easy since I usually toss in whatever I have on hand including ground beef, green beans, tofu, carrots, bean sprouts, potatoes, and onions.  You can put any combination of meats, seafood, and veggies in a fried lumpia, it’s really not complicated.  Whatever ends up as my filling I always serve it with a garlic vinegar sauce, my family loves it!

Today I’ll share my version of Fried Lumpia.  I’ll list ingredients just remember they’re all pretty much optional and you can toss in whatever you prefer; but use at least 3 of the optional items in your filling.  You can buy frozen egg roll wrappers at any Asian Market, most packages contain 25 wrappers.

Fried Lumpia

Ingredients:

1 or 2 Package Egg Roll Wrapper – thawed

1 Lb. Ground Beef – but you can use pork, chicken, turkey, or shrimp instead

1 Small Onion Chopped

1 Tbs. Garlic Minced

2-3 Potatoes – Cooked and cubed (optional)

2 Cups Bean Sprouts (optional)

1 Package Firm Tofu – cut into small cubes

1 Cup Shredded Carrots (optional)

1 Cup Fresh String Beans – Thinly sliced (optional)

1 Cup Shredded Cabbage (optional)

1/8 Cup Soy Sauce

1/2 Tsp. Salt

1/2 Tsp. Ground Black Pepper

1 Egg slightly beaten (to seal wrappers)

Oil for frying

Dipping Sauce:

1/2 Cup White or Rice Vinegar

1/2 Tsp. Garlic Minced

1/4 Tsp. Ground Black Pepper

1/4 Tsp. Chili Pepper Flakes (optional)

Directions:

Heat about 1 Tbl. of oil in a wok or large skillet.

Saute chopped onions until they start to turn translucent.

Add minced garlic and saute for about 1 minute, be careful not to burn the garlic.

Add ground beef or whatever meat you are using.  If you are using shrimp add them later after veggies have cooked as shrimp cook quickly and will over cook if you have to cook veggies.

Add salt and pepper.  Cook until meat is well done and crumbly.

Add beans, carrots, cabbage if you are using them.  Cook until soft.

Add Bean Sprouts and cook until soft.

Gently stir in Tofu and soy sauce.

Remove from heat, drain liquid from pan, and set aside.

Thaw egg roll wrappers and remove from package.

Separate wrappers being careful not to tear.  Place on a plate and cover with a damp paper towel.  You will be using one wrapper at a time so keep the others under the damp paper towel to keep them from drying out.

Take one wrapper and place on flat surface.

Place about 1 to 1 1/2 heaping tbl. of filling along one side of the wrapper.

Fold over both ends and roll like a burrito.

Brush some beaten egg on the wrapper to seal.

Place on a plate if you will be frying the same day or place in freezer bag if you plan on freezing them for later.

Repeat until you use all the wrappers.

When you’re ready to fry heat about 2″ of oil in a pan or use your deep fryer.

If you are frying the ones you just made, fry them in hot oil until they turn dark golden brown.

Place them on paper towels to absorb excess oil.

Serve hot.

If you are frying frozen lumpia, carefully place FROZEN lumpia in the heated oil.  Do not thaw them as they will get too soft and fall apart.  Fry them until dark golden brown.

To make the sauce just add all the sauce ingredients into a bowl and stir.

Other options for the fillings include shredding sweet potatoes, chopped water chestnuts, sliced bamboo shoots,and pretty much anything you like.


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Rosemary Mustard Pork With Peaches

Rosemary Mustard Pork With Peaches

Level: Easy

Inactive: 8 hr

Total: 8 hr 45 min

Cook: 20 min

Prep: 25 min

Yield: 12 servings

Ingredients

Two 16-ounce containers strawberries

Two 6-ounce containers blueberries

One 6-ounce container blackberries

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Pinch kosher salt

 

One 8-ounce package cream cheese

2 cups heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 prepared angel food cake (about 12 ounces)

Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish, optional

1 1/2 tablespoons apple jelly or apricot preserves, for garnish, optional

Directions

1. Trim and quarter the strawberries and set aside. Combine the blueberries, blackberries, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/3 cup water, lemon zest, juice and salt in a medium saucepot. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the berries break down and the sauce thickens, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool.

2. Place the cream cheese, 1/4 cup cream, the remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar and the vanilla extract in a large bowl and beat on medium speed until smooth and fluffy. In a second large bowl, whip the remaining cream until stiff peaks form. Fold about one-quarter of the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture until lightened, and then fold in the remaining whipped cream.

3. To assemble the trifle, rip or cut the angel food cake into 2-inch pieces. Place half the cake pieces in the bottom of a 12-to-14-cup trifle dish or large bowl. Top with about half the blueberry sauce, half the cream and half the quartered strawberries. Repeat the layers with the remaining cake, berry sauce, cream and strawberries. Cover with plastic wrap and chill 8 hours or overnight. Before serving either dust with confectioners’ sugar or heat the apple jelly in the microwave for 25 seconds to loosen, and then brush over the strawberries.


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Balsamic-Glazed Fig & Pork Tenderloin

Balsamic-Glazed Fig & Pork Tenderloin

I have a huge fig tree that produces an abundance of figs. One year I tried drying some and developed this sweet and smoky recipe as a result. Now it’s a regular at family gatherings. —Greg Fontenot, The Woodlands, Texas

Ingredients

  • 2 pork tenderloins (about 3/4 pound each), trimmed and silver skin removed
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

 

 

 

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 12 dried figs, halved
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 4 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced

 

Directions

 

  • Cut pork into 1-in. cubes. Combine next seven ingredients; rub over pork. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to grill. Meanwhile, make a glaze by whisking vinegar, honey, mustard and oil. Set aside.

 

  • On water-soaked wooden skewers, thread pork cubes and fig halves. Grill, covered, on a greased rack over medium-high direct heat, turning occasionally, until a thermometer reads 145°, 8-10 minutes. During last half of grilling, brush cooked surfaces frequently with glaze.

 

  • Let skewers stand for 5 minutes; add a tomato to each. Transfer to a serving platter and sprinkle lightly with blue cheese and basil.
Nutrition Facts

1 kabob: 139 calories, 4g fat (2g saturated fat), 35mg cholesterol, 306mg sodium, 13g carbohydrate (10g sugars, 1g fiber), 13g protein.


Balsamic-Glazed Fig & Pork Tenderloin
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