Dessert Girlie’s velvet parfaits are red;
her apron is TARDIS blue;
her desserts are lovely,
and good enough for two.
Welcome back to Easy Desserts,
This month love isn’t the only thing in the air, so are some of my freshly baked desserts inside my test kitchen. A couple of my favorite desserts to make for Valentine’s Day are Red Velvet Parfaits and Conversion Heart Sugar Cookies. For this month’s post, I thought we would make my Red Velvet Parfaits. In my opinion, chocolate is a great treat to eat regardless if you are; single, married, divorced, or widowed. I normally make my parfaits with puddings and gelatins so that’s what we’ll be using here. To save time and keep this dessert simple I’ll be using the Jell-O brand pudding boxes I’ve been seeing at the store. We’ll be filling our Red Velvet Parfaits in SupaCute’s Jili dessert cups.
photo credit: http://www.bettycrocker.com/
Red Velvet History:
Chemists, bakers, and historians still debate whether the dance between cocoa and acid gave devil’s food cakes a hint of red and thus its name, or whether the name came from brown sugar, which used to be referred to as red sugar.
In the 1800s, velvet cakes, without the coloring, used almond flour, cocoa or cornstarch to soften the protein in flour and make finer-textured cakes that were then, with a Victorian flair, named velvet.
By the 1930s, recipes for red devil’s food cake were showing up in West Coast and Midwest newspaper food columns as a Christmas cake. It had its early critics. “Generally popular,” wrote Irma S. Rombauer in the 1943 edition of “The Joy of Cooking,” “but not with me, which is not to be taken as a criterion.” The garish modern red velvet cake, like so many food trends, likely started among the elite.
Erin Allsop, the archivist at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York, did some sleuthing and places the debut of the cake at the Waldorf in the 1930s, though some Southern cake historians believe that story is more legend than fact. It would later appear as a specialty of the fancy Eaton’s department store in Toronto, credited as a favorite of Lady Eaton. Meanwhile, in Austin, Texas, John A. Adams was getting rich selling vanilla and food dyes. He and his wife, Betty, ate the cake at the Waldorf.
After Congress passed the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act in 1938, shoring up regulations for food coloring, Mr. Adams figured he could sell a lot more extracts and dyes, and a red cake would be just the way to do it. Sometime in the 1940s, the company tricked out a mahogany cake recipe with food coloring, printed it on cards and began plans to merchandise it alongside bottles of vanilla, red dye and artificial butter flavoring, which was popular when butter was rationed during World War II.
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The cake was iced with a roux of milk and flour that was whipped into butter and sugar, creating a stark white, fluffy mixture called ermine or boiled-milk frosting. Armed with dye and a supermarket recipe, home cooks fanned out in Texas kitchens and beyond. Red velvet cake recipes won at state fairs in the Midwest, where food companies used cooking contests to promote their products. Pictured above was a flyer the flour company Gold Medal.
The June 19 celebration, also called Juneteenth, marks the date in 1865 when slaves in Texas found out they had been freed. Red food is an important part of a Juneteenth party, which started with red lemonade, served ostensibly to symbolize the blood shed during slavery and in the Civil War, said Adrian Miller, the author of “Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time.” Mr. Miller explored the history of soul food by recreating a dinner and delving deeply into each component. He was going to include red velvet cake until he realized it was a latecomer, showing up first in his research on African-American tables in the 1950s as a Christmas cake.
Still, it is the rare professional Southern cook who doesn’t feel compelled to produce some version of a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting. When cream cheese frosting muscled its way on top is still a bit of a mystery. Archivists at Kraft Foods, which owns the Philadelphia
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Cream Cheese brand, say their first record of cream cheese frosting is in a corporate recipe cookbook in the late 1940s. The cake rolled with the times, its recipe getting simplified to accommodate a cup of oil instead of the creaming of butter or shortening and flour.
But it was never the most popular cake in the room. In 1972, James Beard sneered that the cake was bland and uninteresting. Cake and baking experts like Rose Levy Beranbaum did not mention red velvet in their books in the 1980s and early 1990s.
Then, driven in part by a cameo as an armadillo groom’s cake in “Steel Magnolias” in 1989 and the arrival of the Magnolia Bakery in the West Village in New York City in 1996, red velvet gained new life. Ms. Moxley's beet red velvet cake, topped with a beet chip. Credit Dustin Chambers for The New York Times. The cake became a top seller at the bakery, which also turned it into cupcakes. As the nation swung into its post-9/11 comfort-food phase, both cupcakes and Southern food offered solace. Red velvet became a superstar. When Raven Dennis opened his cake shop, Cake Man Raven, in Brooklyn in 2000, red velvet turned him into a cult figure. He baked the cakes for pre-hipsters and stars like Mary J. Blige. By 2005, they were a staple at upscale bakeries on both coasts.
And the merchandising arms race was on.
In 2009, red velvet cake flavoring was part of 1.5 percent of all items on menus. By 2013, it was in 4.1 percent of items, according to data gathered by David Sprinkle, research director of Packaged Facts, a publisher. A key year was 2011 when “red velvet cake flavor emerged as a force of nature,” Mr. Sprinkle said. That’s when the body mist made its debut. For those who just can’t bear one more red velvet product, there is some relief in sight. The number of new products with red velvet in the title is slowing slightly. Between 2012 and 2013, the number was down to 12 percent, said Marcia Mogelonsky, a director in the food and drink group at Mintel, a global marketing research company. “There is a limit to the red-velvetization potentials in different categories,” she said. “Red Velvet wine, for example, is an effort that may not lead to more product launches.” But red velvet, like a species that adapts to a new environment, endures. In the age of allergies, agriculture and artisan food, some chefs have taken on a renewed effort to rid the cake of its food coloring.
One is Pamela Moxley, the pastry chef at the Miller Union in Atlanta, who has perfected a beet red velvet cake. She uses a lot of acids to keep the color bright and balance the taste of roasted beet. In homage to beet and goat cheese salad, she tops the cake with a mixture of goat cheese and cream cheese and serves it with tiny beet chips and tarragon ice cream.
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“The secret to red velvet is the flavor of the red food coloring,” said Ted Lee, half of the Charleston cooking duo the Lee Brothers. “It is part and parcel to the cake. It really is. Without the coloring, I think the concept is gone.” The Adams Extract Company is pushing back against the twisted permutations of red velvet, too. The company this year began marketing the original scratch-cake recipe in a vintage-style box with cocoa, flour, and bottles of extract and dye.
What You’ll Need:
chocolate graham crackers or cookies
4 boxes of red velvet pudding
8 cups of milk (I like using 2%)
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
2 cups heavy whipping cream
optional: red candy sprinkles
Add graham crackers or cookies into mixer and pulse until well blended. Scoop and fill to the line on each cup. Pack down the crumble.
Mix the pudding in a large bowl according to the box’s directions. If you want a lighter tasting pudding more like a mousse replace half the milk with whipped cream. I find it easier to make a box at a time that way the pudding doesn’t soft set while you are pouring it into the cups
Cream Cheese Layer:
In a medium bowl whip the heavy whipping cream to medium stiff peaks. In a separate bowl whisk the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the whipped cream and whisk it into the cream cheese on a lower setting so the whipped cream doesn’t get over beaten.
Add more pudding to the top of the cream cheese mixture. If you like add a small dollop of the cream cheese mixture to the top and decorate with the sprinkles.
Enjoy these treats for about a week when covered or unless the dairy expires before.
“Dessert Girlie’s Valentine” was written by David Widdowson
Valentine Dessert Doll made by the same follower who makes my other dolls.
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BIG NEWS! Dessert Girlie is entering a dessert contest.
On March 26th in Temecula, Ca, please come out and show your support for her.
For information please visit http://www.tvdessertcoffeeexpo.com/
Until next time …