Friday, May 14, 2010

Foodie Fridays: Three Super-Easy Desserts for a Crowd

This week has been completely crazy. Besides having a hearing that brings me one step closer to my dissertation (and my degree), I also had a get together for some of my graduate students who are finishing up their master's program. While these two events converged on the same day, I found that baking for my party helped keep me calm (and busy) so that I wouldn't get too crazed about my hearing.

However, it didn't hurt that I have some incredibly (and embarrassingly) easy dessert recipes that are perfect for feeding a large crowd. Here are three of my favorites from this week:

Mexican Wedding Cookies (aka Russian Tea Cakes): While I used the recipe found in my trusty The Joy of Cooking cookbook, this recipe from Smitten Kitchen, which is one of my favorite food websites, is very similar. While these cookies are very buttery, they aren't overly sweet and make a very pretty (and forgiving) dessert.

Chocolate Marble Gooey Butter Cake (aka Chocolate Marble Chess Bars): These are very rich. Unlike the Russian tea cakes, which are pretty subdued under their pretty powdered sugar coating, these bars are a no-holds-barred embarrassment of riches. They contain two sticks of melted butter, a package of cream cheese, and an entire box of powdered sugar. That said, the recipe does make a lot, and the bars are always a big hit.

Strawberry Cream Pie: Although this recipe is the complete opposite of everything foodie (it includes Cool Whip, which is probably like kryptonite to most foodies), I am proud of it, for no other reason than I majorly tweaked it. It is a riff on a recipe from someone my mom knew (this isn't the exact recipe, but it is very similar). Here is my take on the recipe:

  • One 9-inch deep dish pie crust
  • One 8 oz. package of cream cheese, softened
  • One 8 oz. container of Cool Whip (if you wanted, you could substitute heavy cream, whipped to a soft peak)
  • Two cups of powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup of strawberry preserves
  • One tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 16 oz (1.5 pints) of fresh strawberries (washed and sliced lengthwise)
  1. Bake the pie crust and allow it to cool completely
  2. Warm the strawberry preserves and add the lemon juice. You can do this in the microwave or on the stove. Mix to combine and set aside to cool slightly
  3. Beat the cream cheese until it is light fluffy (approximately 1-2 minutes with an electric mixer)
  4. Mix in the Cool Whip* and beat until well combined
  5. Gradually mix in the powdered sugar and stir until well combined. You can adjust the amount of sugar to taste
  6. Put approximately half of the cream cheese mixture in the cooled pie crust
  7. Top the cream cheese mixture with 2/3 of the strawberry preserves
  8. Carefully top the preserves with the remaining cream cheese mixture (you might have some extra cream cheese; save it to use as a fruit dip)
  9. Top the pie with the remaining strawberry preserves
  10. On top of the preserves, carefully layer on the sliced strawberries
  11. Allow to chill in the refrigerator for two hours or overnight
*If you decide to use whipped cream instead of Cool Whip, I suggest adding the powdered sugar to it and then gently folding the whipped cream into the cream cheese.

Here is my finished pie (please forgive the crappy lighting and iPhone photography):


HPC said...

How did you have time to propose, host, have drinks with me, and write this post? Superwoman....