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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Halloween Strawberry Shortcake Skull Cake
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Ingredients
Chocolate Skull:
Cake and Filling:
Strawberry White Chocolate Sauce:
Servings:
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Roast grouse with blackcurrant & beetroot sauce

Roast grouse with blackcurrant & beetroot sauce

PREP: 40 MINS
COOK: 1 HR40 MINS
MORE EFFORT
SERVES 4

Available from August, this game bird is best served with a fresh, full-flavoured fruit sauce and a dash of whisky to boot

Ingredients

 

4 young grouse, legs removed and reserved

50g unsalted butter

4 thyme sprigs

1 large or 2 small shallots, finely chopped

4 slices pancetta

4 slices white country bread, buttered

buttered spinach, to serve (optional)

For the sauce

1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp sunflower oil
8 grouse
legs (see above)
1 shallot, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 thyme sprig
2 tbsp whisky
600ml chicken stock
1 tbsp redcurrant jelly
50g blackcurrant, topped and tailed
50g cooked beetroot, coarsely grated
1 tbsp crème de cassis

Method

1. First make the stock for the sauce: place a large saucepan over a medium-high heat. When it is hot, melt the butter with the sunflower oil. Add the grouse legs and brown in the pan for 4-5 mins, turning regularly. Add the shallot, bay leaf, thyme and whisky, and reduce the heat. Allow any liquid to evaporate, then add the chicken stock. Press the legs down in the stock so that they are all covered. Reduce the heat to a bare simmer and cook gently for 1 hr.

 

2. Discard the legs. Strain the stock into a clean pan and reduce, over a medium heat, until you have about 300ml. Allow this to cool, then cover and chill if not using immediately. Can be done a day ahead up to this stage. You can finish the sauce once the grouse are cooked.

 

3. Clean the grouse: remove any remaining feathers, and rinse the birds inside and out with cold water. Pat them dry with kitchen paper. Divide the butter between the cavities of the birds, and add to each a thyme sprig and some chopped shallot. Season the birds inside and out, and wrap a slice of pancetta over the top of each bird. The birds are now ready to cook, but can be chilled for several hours if necessary – allow them to come to room temperature before you cook them (this will take 1 hr or so).

 

4. Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Place the grouse in a roomy roasting tin and the buttered slices of bread on a baking tray – they will toast at the same time as the grouse cook. To cook the grouse to medium, put in the oven for 18-20 mins. Keep an eye on the toasts and remove them when they are golden brown. The grouse are cooked when the breasts feel firm to the touch. If you have a cooking thermometer, cook them so that the thickest part of the breast, just above the wing, registers 55C.

 

5. Remove the birds from the oven. Place each on a piece of the buttered toast to absorb any juices that drain from the birds. Cover loosely with a piece of foil and leave to rest for 10 mins while you finish the sauce.

 

6. Put the roasting tin on the heat and, when it is warm, add the grouse stock. Let it simmer, scraping the juices from the bottom so that they dissolve in the stock. Add the redcurrant jelly, blackcurrants, beetroot, and finally the cassis. Simmer the sauce for 3-4 mins, then remove from the heat and season to taste. Serve the grouse on heated plates with a little sauce drizzled around, and some buttered spinach, if you like.


Roast grouse with blackcurrant & beetroot sauce
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Roast grouse with blackcurrant & beetroot sauce
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Lemon Parmesan Chicken with Arugula Salad Topping

Lemon Parmesan Chicken with Arugula Salad Topping

Total: 35 min

Active: 35 min

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 extra-large eggs

1 1/2 cups seasoned dry bread crumbs

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Unsalted butter

Good olive oil

5 ounces arugula

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)

1/4 pound chunk Parmesan cheese

 

Directions

1. Combine the flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper on a dinner plate. On a second plate, beat the eggs with 1 tablespoon of water. On a third plate, combine the bread crumbs, the 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, the lemon zest and thyme, and set aside.

2. Pound the chicken breasts between two sheets of parchment paper until they are 1/4 inch thick. You can use either a meat mallet or a rolling pin.

3. Coat the chicken breasts on both sides with the prepared flour mixture, then dip both sides into the egg mixture and dredge both sides in the bread-crumb mixture, pressing lightly.

4. Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauté pan and cook 2 or 3 chicken breasts on medium-low heat for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until cooked through. Add more butter and oil and cook the rest of the chicken breasts.

5. Place the arugula in a large bowl. In a 1-cup glass measure, whisk together the 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Pour enough dressing on the arugula to moisten. Toss well.

6. Pile some arugula on top of each hot chicken breast. With a very sharp knife or a vegetable peeler, shave the chunk of Parmesan into large shards and arrange them on top of the arugula.


Lemon Parmesan Chicken with Arugula Salad Topping
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Servings Prep Time
6 Servings 35 min
Cook Time
35 min
Servings Prep Time
6 Servings 35 min
Cook Time
35 min
Lemon Parmesan Chicken with Arugula Salad Topping
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
6 Servings 35 min
Cook Time
35 min
Servings Prep Time
6 Servings 35 min
Cook Time
35 min
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Sweetcorn with pancetta, rosemary and garlic butter

Sweetcorn with pancetta, rosemary and garlic butter

SERVES 6
Time icon
HANDS-ON TIME 25 MIN, PLUS CHILLING
Yes, hot sweetcorn slathered with salty butter is good but have you tried hot sweetcorn smothered with a pancetta, rosemary and garlic butter? It is divine!

NUTRITION: PER SERVING

ALORIES – 240KCALS
FAT – 20.3G (10G SATURATED)
PROTEIN – 5.4G
CARBOHYDRATES – 8G (2G SUGARS)
FIBRE – 2.1G
SALT – 0.5G

 

Ingredients

6 pancetta slices, finely chopped
2 fresh rosemary sprigs, leaves stripped and chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
100g unsalted butter, softened
Vegetable oil to rub

Method

1. Cook the pancetta in a frying pan over a high heat for 1 minute on each side until beginning to crisp. Add the rosemary and garlic and cook for 2 minutes until fragrant and the pancetta is very crisp. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.

2. Put the butter in a bowl, add the cooled pancetta mix and stir to combine. Chill for 20 minutes. Once firm enough to handle, spoon onto a sheet of cling film and roll up into a long cylinder, twisting the ends tightly. Wrap in more cling film and chill until firm (see make ahead).

3. Light a barbecue or heat a griddle pan. When the coals are glowing white or the pan is hot, peel back the husks from the corn and cut off or tie back with string. Rub the corn cobs all over with the oil, then grill for 8-10 minutes, turning, until charred and tender. Spread with the flavoured butter and eat straightaway.

The butter will keep, well wrapped, for up to 48 hours in the fridge or up to 1 month in the freezer.
A sunny white from hot Sicily has the right balance – try a fiano.

Sweetcorn with pancetta, rosemary and garlic butter
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Servings
6
Cook Time
25 min
Servings
6
Cook Time
25 min
Sweetcorn with pancetta, rosemary and garlic butter
Print Recipe
Servings
6
Cook Time
25 min
Servings
6
Cook Time
25 min
Ingredients
Servings:
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SHEET PAN SHRIMP BOIL

SHEET PAN SHRIMP BOIL

Easiest shrimp boil ever! And it’s mess-free using a single sheet pan. That’s right. ONE PAN. No newspapers. No bags. No clean-up!

I have a hot date waiting for me…

With four short legs. Massive ears. And a sweater vest.

Yes.

My Valentine’s date tonight is Butters. And we’ll be staying in, away from the crowds, the flowers and the jewelry.

Instead. We have this, and it’s better than roses or a blue Tiffany box.

It comes on a sheet pan with shrimp, sausage, potatoes and corn. Plus. There’s plenty of garlic.

So maybe it worked out that I didn’t have a human date tonight. Because Butters doesn’t discriminate against garlic breath.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound baby Dutch yellow potatoes
  • 3 ears corn, each cut crosswise into 6 pieces
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 (12.8-ounce) package smoked andouille sausage, thinly sliced
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet or coat with nonstick spray.
  2. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook potatoes until just tender and parboiled, about 10-13 minutes. Stir in corn during the last 5 minutes of cooking time; drain well.
  3. In a small bowl, combine butter, garlic and Old Bay seasoning.
  4. Place potatoes, corn, shrimp and sausage in a single layer onto the prepared baking sheet. Stir in butter mixture and gently toss to combine.
  5. Place into oven and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the shrimp are opaque and corn is tender.
  6. Serve immediately with lemon wedges, garnished with parsley, if desired.

SHEET PAN SHRIMP BOIL
Print Recipe
Easiest shrimp boil ever! And it’s mess-free using a single sheet pan. That’s right. ONE PAN. No newspapers. No bags. No clean-up!
Servings Prep Time
6 10 MIN
Cook Time
30 MIN
Servings Prep Time
6 10 MIN
Cook Time
30 MIN
SHEET PAN SHRIMP BOIL
Print Recipe
Easiest shrimp boil ever! And it’s mess-free using a single sheet pan. That’s right. ONE PAN. No newspapers. No bags. No clean-up!
Servings Prep Time
6 10 MIN
Cook Time
30 MIN
Servings Prep Time
6 10 MIN
Cook Time
30 MIN
Ingredients
Servings:
Share this Recipe
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