Cream & Cake

A friend of mine, Steve, has a predilection for bringing treats to parties that are naturally colored. There was the time he brought a trio of frosting-dips that had been dyed with blueberries, mango and matcha powder. So in a nod to Steve, I was inspired to create a naturally-colored cream filling of my own devising. Steve, I hope you will use this recipe to romance someone along your way away from Seattle. Have sweet travels.

And the rest of you…try this deliciousness. ;)

tjoe's freeze dried strawberries

Strawberry Whipped Cream

2 cups whipping cream

1 pkg. Trader Joe’s freeze-dried strawberries

2 T. powdered sugar

2 t. vanilla

Put strawberries in mini food processor or (clean) coffee grinder and process into powder. Put cream in large bowl, add sugar and beat until incorporated, then add strawberry powder and vanilla, beat on low until mixed, then beat into thick cream. You won’t have to do this for long, so don’t overbeat it into butter.

The result? Whipped cream with the flavor of fresh strawberries. How can red dyed artificially flavored syrups compete? They cannot. Reject them. Make your own sweet treats to keep your tongue buds pleased.

strawberry whipped cream

A couple of days later I was eyeing some Trader Joe’s Roasted Coconut Chips (The subhead description sounds a tad demented: mature coconut soaked in young coconut milk, roasted with a touch of salt & sugar). They’re one of my new favorite snacks. A couple or three half handfuls offer a slightly sweet crispness on demand. I’m thinking of pulverizing some into powder for another whipped cream flavor. In fact, I may just go on a freeze-dried freak run to Trader Joe’s for an array, an entire BUFFET of whipped creams. Heh. You know. WTFN?*

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twinkies-0407-460x360

In other news, I’ve been brainstorming up names for the following iconic snack cakes: Twinkies, Ho Hos, Sno-balls and Ding Dongs. For work not for whim, in case you wondered.

A uniquely challenging challenge it is, naming a snack cake. How do you draw the line around where’s too far over the line? Snack cake names, after all, connote lewdness yet inspire a nostalgia that compels you to long for soft cakes cream-filled and occasionally frosting-dipped. At least that’s what I tell myself, since I have not had a snack cake in years.**

ho hos

The reason for this most unusual of tasks is that Sur La Table will be rolling out new pans and implements for the truly nostalgic cooks out there to make their own home-crafted snack cakes. If you ask me, this just opens the oven door to creating snack-things far and away tastier than the originals.

Over a weekend I rolled out a white board and went through numerous cookbook indices in search of inspiration: Maidda Heater’s Book of Great Desserts, David Leibovitz’s The Perfect Scoop, Fran Bigelow’s pure chocolate, Lindsey R. Shere’s Chez Panisse Desserts, Flo Braker’s sweet miniatures, and even 2002’s Minnesota-printed collection of my extended family’s recipes, Cooking with the Wencl’s. Here are some of my favorite names I dreamt up.

snoball mirror glassDing Dongs: Cake Knocks, WTFudges, Dream Cremes, Choco-Lottas

Twinkies: Crème Declairs, Golden Sponges, Winkie Cakes, Cream-filled Winkies

Ho Hos: Choco-Ritos, A-Hoy-Ho’s, Royo’s

Sno-Balls: Sno-Cremes, Cloud Cakes, Whiteouts, Mallow-Moons

ding dongs

Only time will tell if any of my brainstorm ends up branding an actual snack cake pan, but those pans will have to get rolled out quickly, since the latest news from Slate is that the Great Twinkie Shortage is soon to be over. I think I’d just as soon get a pan of my own and make my own version of Twinkies. I’ve always wondered what the originals tasted like. They had a banana filling that was eventually switched to vanilla cream when shipments of bananas to the States were rationed during WWII.

Note to self: Add freeze dried bananas to your shopping list.

freeze dried bananas

*Why the Fudge Not?

**Okay, that’s a fudge. When I first heard a whiff that Twinkies might finally be entering permanent retirement a year ago, I swiped a box from a Safeway. The first couple bites did indeed whisk me into a sweet tizzy of nostalgia, but then my palate began to detect a slight chemical undertone that was rather off-putting. Nevertheless, the entire box was eventually consumed. Ugh.

29 comments to Cream & Cake

  • Anonymous

    I tried to think of some names, but it’s harder than I thought it would be. Interesting about the original Twinkies. I’ve always been sad you cannot buy original Coca Cola.

  • I want to eat all of this stuff now. Been on a fudge-kick, but this post might pull me out of it.

    Cream Filled Winkies. Ha!

  • War Pig

    I have had banana filled Twinkies. Hostess came out with some when they were trying to save themselves from the predatory unions (their claim). While interesting, I gave my mother one (she remembered before the WWII banana shortage) and she said it was not as good as the original and, indeed, it contained little or no real banana in the ingredients (much as Cheese Whiz contains no cheese these days, so they changed the name and called it simply “Whiz”).

    Mom, being a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu (Chicago) did make Twinkies (excuse me, “golden spongecake treats” – I don’t wanna violate trademark) for us as kids. While she did not have access to freeze dried fruit back then (only astronauts had freeze dried fruit in those ancient times), she used real bananas and whipping cream and other things and they were fantastic. But even she admitted that the original Twinkies were very good.

    I frequently use cocoa powder (and a dash of espresso powder) to make my own chocolate whipped cream. When I make my cousin Bev’s chocolate lush, also called “sweet chocolate death”, I use it as well as almond whipped cream. I do admit I use almond extract to make the almond whipped cream (and sometimes add a dash of bourbon, rum or amaretto – depending on mood).

    Using freeze dried strawberries or other fruit never occurred to me, and I thank you because I will now try them (I’m imagining peach or apricot-flavored whipped cream for peach crumble or apple/maple galette). I have a small, Cuisinart processor I use for doing nuts and other small jobs for which I don’t want to break out the big boy.

  • Anonymous was me, by the way.

  • Daniel . . . Amen on the Coke idea. There’s a part of the time traveler dreamer in me that would use my time machine just to try restaurants and foods from the past.

    Chris. . . no kidding, I was reading a collection of alternative Oz stories at the time of this assignment. The Winkies are one of the groups in the land of Oz (farmers, I think), so they naturally made their way into the snack cake naming. (no real Winkies in the cakes, I hope)

    WarPig: Do try it . . . I expected the freeze dried powder to lend a graininess, but the cream rehydrates it, so the flavor is surprisingly fresh. Almond-bourbon cream sounds divine. Let me know what you end up creating.

  • War Pig

    @ Matthew.

    I made some peach/amaretto whipped cream to try on hot chocolate when I had guests over. I found out you’ll need more peach powder than you did with the strawberries as freeze dried peaches have a more subtle flavor and amaretto is strong as well. Perhaps golden rum would have been a better choice? It was 22 degrees last night and windy with wind chills in the lower teens so it was definitely hot chocolate weather. Today it was 41 and tomorrow it will be in the 50s. That’s Ohio for you. People said it was good with the hot chocolate and I liked it. I bet strawberry whipped cream would be perfect on a parfait.

    Almond/bourbon whipped cream IS very good and is great on anything apple, especially French apple tarts and galettes. Go for the good stuff, though. I use Woodford Reserve, but you can use Maker’s Mark as it is nearly as good and is far easier to find. When there is only a little bourbon every drop has to do its duty.

    Original Coke was da bomb, true. No corn syrup back then (you can get an approximate taste by buying kosher Coke which is more available around Passover) and great taste. It actually had fruity notes and was refreshing (no cocaine, though, he-he). Personally, I believe any soda tastes better from a glass bottle. Did you know when Mountain Dew first came out big in the mid-60s it was not syrupy sweet and radioactive yellow? I was actually citrus flavored and pretty good. That sludge they sell now is horrible by comparison. High fructose corn syrup has been the ruination of flavor and, in my opinion, is a major cause of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

    If you even get a chance, try Dogs ‘N Suds root beer. Beats the mass brands by a mile. It is actually creamy as homemade root beer used to be. Prolly has HFCS nowadays, though.

  • Muzhik

    I don’t know nuthin’ bout no kosher coke. I just know that for the past couple of summers, the local distributor in Iowa has been making “original formula” Mountain Dew, with sugar and not HFCS. What I found amazing was that this original formula doesn’t mess with my type-II diabetes like the modern stuff does.

    (And BTW, if you ever get a chance to try tiny popcorn, go for it! I discovered it after the local arts movie theater started serving it exclusively.)

  • @ WarPig
    I discovered something similar when I tried to make mango cream. Ended up adding 3/4 of a bag of raspberries and served it as a dip for vanilla wafers. I also distilled half a can of Guinness into a Tablespoon of syrup and whipped that into a topping for dark chocolate puddings . . . a St. Paddy’s dessert.

    And I love root beer, so I’ll make a point of trying it. ;)

    @Muzhik
    What’s this about tiny popcorn? We’ve got chocolate popcorn at the Cinerama, but I haven’t heard of tiny popcorn…

  • War Pig

    @Matthew

    Oooh, that’s a good idea ref the Guinness. I’ll have to try that next month. I have not tried distilling or reducing root beer, but I have used root beer extract. But not in chocolate.

    Maybe that could be a flavor enhancer for dark chocolate ganache or other chocolate things as well as trying the Guinness distillation? I’m always playing about with chocolate in small batches to try and find a new taste to surprise friends and relatives. I make small, chocolate lumps (Kisses is trademarked) and let others try them for taste. My elder daughter, a confessed chocolate freak, is the first one I try them on. If it passes muster with her, I try it on others.

  • War Pig

    @ Muzhik

    I’m not Jewish but I do like kosher things. I use kosher chickens, for example, as they are prebrined and inspected to a higher standard. Hebrew National franks are also pretty good, for all beef franks (I prefer a mix of pork and beef in my franks). I have a few Jewish friends from the service and they connect me with stuff. A hint: Kosher or Original coke often has a yellow cap on the bottle.

  • Muzhik

    @Matthew, go to Tiny But Mighty Foods. It’s a farm not too far from here that grows heritage non-gmo foods. This is what popcorn used to be. Breeders started breeding kernels for size (as in “popping big, light, and fluffy!”), and in the process the popcorn became tougher. These original kernels don’t pop big, but they really are oh so tender. They also don’t mess with my blood sugar the way regular popcorn does. I think that’s due to the higher fiber content.

    In any case, this is the only kind of popcorn I will eat, and I don’t waste my money on the other theaters in town.

  • War Pig

    In Peru (or was it Ecuador?) I had a popcorn-like treat made from tiny, and I mean very tiny, seeds. I cannot remember what it was called in the native tongue, though. It was popped quinoa or amaranth, both of which are called by the same name that sounds sort of like the Japanese “kunichiwa” (SP?). The amaranth is the better of the two, popping up very white and very tasty. The quinoa pops up a more brownish color and has a deeper flavor. Watching people pop amaranth in cast iron skillets is like watching a bunch of fleas in a hot skillet. They’re very vigorous and can go everywhere unless the cook puts a mesh screen over the skillet. Tastes better than modern popcorn, less starch a LOT of proteins. Won’t mess with your blood glucose. With some coarse salt they were both very good, but I prefer the amaranth between the two.

    Here I grow various heirloom varieties of popcorn in years there is not too much spring rain. I like it a LOT better than factory popcorn as it has a lot more protein and much less starch. Modern corns are biased toward starch to make corn syrup sweeteners, even popcorn has more starch than it used to have. Heirloom varieties have excellent flavor and more protein than starch. I grow mostly Japanese Hulless, Strawberry, or an Amish variety called Lady Finger (not sure if that one is available by seed catalog or not, I get mine from local Amish families or use my last year’s leftovers). The Japanese is truly hulless, or nearly so and does not give hulls which get caught between your teeth. The Lady finger has great taste and the Strawberry is a chameleon. It is red or pink until popped when it turns snow white. The strawberry variety is the fastest grower, at about 100 days from planting to harvest. I store my shelled popcorn via vacuum (Food Saver) in Mason jars but you can use the plastic pouches.

  • Muzhik

    I do have to make one correction to something I said earlier: if I ever get a grain mill, then I’ll start buying the big popcorn again. I understand that pancakes made with popcorn meal/flour are absolutely delicious!

  • War Pig

    Hmmm. Never heard that one, but I’ll give it a try sometime, thanks. I use a Vitamix blender with the grain blade to grind the bones to make me bread. Buckwheat is great, I can testify to that, specially buttermilk/buckwheat with sorghum or honey or real maple syrup. Pancakes made with almond flour mixed in are da bomb, too.

  • Muzhik

    Word of advice re: grinding bones to make your bread: if you add some cheese or some yogurt it really helps your body absorb the calcium.

  • I never would have guessed that the comments on this post would get so dire. No bones in snack cakes, just flour. By the way, the first snack cake pan, for Twinkies, was named: “Vanilla Crème Snack Cake”.

  • Muzhik

    Now, Matthew, no one ever specified the SPECIES of bones that would be ground up!

  • War Pig

    Bone meal was used as a whitening agent in bread in jolly olde England. In fact, King George II passed a law about adulteration of bread:

    “Analogous to its present day use as a decolourant in water treatment plants, alum appears to have been added to bread as a whitener (as was chalk and bone-meal). A statute to prevent the adulteration of bread which specifically mentions alum was passed in the reign of King George II in 1757 and widely ignored, as Snow notes. I have been unable to discover when the practice was discontinued.”

    http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/content/32/3/340.full

  • I am extremely inspired with your writing talents as neatly as with the structure for your blog. Is this a paid subject or did you customize it yourself? Anyway keep up the nice high quality writing, it is rare to see a nice blog like this one nowadays..

  • I had no idea about heirloom popcorn. Now I REALLY want a garden. I love popcorn, and it seems I’ve only ever had the crappy stuff…

  • @kwiaciarnia wysyłkowa – thank you! We pay for the URL, the rest is just a Wordpress template.

  • War Pig

    I agree, kwiaciarnia wysyłkowa, that the writing by the big three authors of this blog is first rate and so is their photography, which often makes me drool. Sometimes I read the blog and have to go to the kitchen right away and try the recipe for myself. They not only impart the recipes and such, but they also tell amusing stories about the foods which make it all much better than a regular cookbook. I made a variant of the whipped cream the next evening for company, as an example. This is my favorite foodie spot on the internet.

  • Muzhik

    @Daniel, you could always go to the web site and order a bag, just to try it out. In addition to boosting Iowa’s economy, it means you don’t have to wait until August to try it. Also, if you read the stories on the web site, you’ll see that the heirloom varieties can be a real bear to grow.

  • War Pig

    @Muzhik;

    Really, not much worse than any variety of popcorn. They are subject to a few more pests and since I prefer my eating corn to be free of pesticides – I spray them with catnip or catnip/mint tea regularly. If you are proficient at raising heirloom sweet corns, you can raise popcorn.

    Extra benefit is that it drives the farm cats insane for about three hours where I dump the leftover spray (safe and nontoxic) and they do the craziest hijinks and cut the craziest capers that make me laugh so loud my ribs hurt, sometimes. Kitties on cocaine.

    I also use a hot-pepper spray/tea/infusion on a rotating basis to fix the wee beasties that don’t give a snap for catnip and/or mint.

    You just have to properly prepare your garden and then pay close attention to your garden, is all, and nip any problems in the bud. I walk through mine twice a day, plucking weeds and looking for the evil bugs and various fungi which can cause problems. Cull any plants infected to stop the spread.

  • @Warpig, thanks so much for the compliment. A bright spot in a dark day. Also, I want to visit your farm and see your cats going nuts.

  • @Warpig . . . we appreciate how much you contribute in the way of great storytelling to our blog, too. I appreciate your compliments and second Daniel’s desire to see the Dancing Cats of War Pig County. :)

  • War Pig

    Maybe some day I’ll think to fetch a video camera with me. Usually I forget it as it is hot and sweaty work. If I ever post it on YouTube I’ll let you know.

  • @Muzhik, popcorn ordered.

    @War Pig, we all know if there’s one thing YouTube needs, it’s more cat videos. Keep us posted.

  • Muzhik

    @Daniel, don’t forget to pop on back (so to speak) and tell us how you enjoyed (or didn’t enjoy) the popcorn.