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Sweets for the Sweet (Issue 22)

Valentine’s Day is known for high-priced meals and equally high expectations, but let’s face it, what this holiday really boils down to is sharing dessert and bubbly with your special someone. Why not forgo the pricey meal and head straight to dessert? Pair it up with delicious craft beer and you’ve got yourself the sweetest Valentine’s Day beer tasting ever.

To make planning easy, check out our four-course dessert menu. It starts with Mini Neapolitan Bundt Cakes that are as delightful to look at as they are to eat. Light and delicate, these cakes are topped with a bright pink fluffy icing that doesn’t overwhelm the sublime flavors of the cake.

Of course, Valentine’s Day wouldn’t be the same without chocolate, and although our bundt cakes have a layer of chocolate, our Red Velvet S’mores Blossom Cookies take care of any remaining cravings. For starters, these cookies are a breeze to bake, thanks to the devil’s food cake mix called for in the recipe. They come out soft and chewy and are layered with a pillow of gooey, seared marshmallows and melty Hershey’s Kisses.

Peanut brittle is the opposite of melty, but it is so tasty with the beers we have lined up. For all three of our offerings so far, stouts and porters are the way to go. The peanut brittle and the bundt cakes are perfect when paired with Samuel Smith’s Organic Chocolate Stout. Pairing it with the peanut brittle is like adding a chocolate peanut butter cup to the menu. It also has a light touch, which brings out the chocolate in the cake without overwhelming the other flavors and texture.

Bayhawk Ales brews a chocolate porter that paired well with the cookies and the cakes, but it was Pelican Brewing Company’s Tsunami Stout that got our vote when pairing the cookies. It is jet black and strong, like a good cup of espresso. The beer tames the sweetness of the cookie and exudes roasted notes that harmonize beautifully with the caramelization of the marshmallow.

Don’t forget to save room for pie! Our Mixed Berry Love Note Pie appears to have been delivered by Cupid himself. Sealed with a heart, it is the sweetest way to send a message of love.

A dark coffee-style stout or porter could be paired with this treat, but we found quadrupels to be the real showstoppers. Ommegang Brewery’s Three Philosopher’s Quad and Avery Brewing’s The Reverend Belgium-Style Quad were our picks. They impart a mild sweetness with just a hint of stone fruit, which partners well with the buttery crust and juicy fruits in the pie.

Now that you’ve got a plan in place, complete with recipes and beer tasting ideas, all you need is your special someone to make Valentine’s Day sweeter than sweet.

 

Individual Neapolitan Bundt Cakes

 

Ingredients

For cake:

Nonstick baking spray, such as Baker’s Joy

2 ¾ cups cake flour, sifted

1 ¾ cups sugar

4 ½ teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

 cup butter, softened

1 ¼ cups room temperature milk, divided

2 teaspoons vanilla

5 fresh egg whites, room temperature

Red food coloring

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

2 tablespoons water

¼ teaspoon baking soda

 

Frosting:

2 fresh egg whites

1 cup sugar

¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

 cup water

 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Several drops of red food coloring

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Thoroughly spray the insides of each cavity in a mini bundt pan with nonstick baking spray.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter, half of the milk, and all of the vanilla. Mix on medium speed for about 2 minutes, occasionally stopping to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.

Mix in the remaining milk and the egg whites. Beat for 2 more minutes.

Divide the batter into 3 separate bowls, in 3 equal portions.

Leave one portion white.

To the second portion, blend in a few drops of red food coloring until the batter is dark pink.

To the third portion of the batter, blend in the cocoa, water, baking soda, and a few drops of red food coloring, until the chocolate is slightly pink.

Starting with the white batter, spoon about 2 tablespoons into the bottoms of each of the bundt cake cavities. Over that, gently and as evenly as possible, spoon about 2 tablespoons of pink batter. Don’t mix the batters. The pink should just sit on top of the white.

Finally, spoon about 2 tablespoons of the chocolate batter on top of the pink.

The bundt cake cavities should be no more than 2/3 full to allow the cake room to expand without overflowing. There should also be about half of each color of batter left to make 6 more cakes.

Bake the cakes for 20 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes in the pan and then remove the cakes to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

When the mini bundt pan is cool again, repeat the process of adding the batters to the pan to create the next six cakes.

 

Make the frosting:

Once the cakes are cool, place the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat until the egg whites are thick and foamy, but before they hold a peak. Set aside to prepare the sugar.

Combine the sugar, cream of tartar, water, and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Once the sugar has dissolved, boil the syrup – do not stir – for 2 minutes, or until the syrup reaches 240°F on a candy thermometer.

Once the sugar syrup is ready, start beating the egg whites again. Immediately, and carefully, pour the sugar syrup into the egg whites in a slow stream, beating constantly. The mixture will thicken.

When the syrup has been added, stir in the vanilla and red food coloring to tint the icing pink. Continue to beat until the frosting is thick and holds a peak.

Spoon the hot frosting on top of the cooled bundt cakes, swirling decoratively.

Makes 12 mini bundt cakes.


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