Saturday, April 7, 2012

Cheaters Handbook: Giada de Laurentiis' Strawberry Mascarpone Cake

I love going the distance and making as much as I can from scratch as often as I can, but there are certain times of the year when it seems like everything is happening all at once, and the words "scratch made" can send you into a absolute tizzy! For my moms birthday this year I wanted to make her a really special meal that would make her feel loved on her special day. For a while I had been planning on making fresh handmade fettuccine with shrimp in a spicy lemon sauce, an almost completely scratch made dish (other than my little cheat of using frozen shrimp. Shhh don't tell!) as well as a scratch made birthday Strawberry Shortcake, similar to the one she bought for my party on my birthday. But as her birthday quickly began to approach so did my hours at work, other friends birthdays, family obligations, and so on. With a wild schedule on my hands, the thought of making both fresh pasta, an extremely labor intensive dish, and a scratch made cake with a recipe I had never tried, had me pretty freaked out. It was only two days before her birthday that I realized that I hardly had time to even make the fresh pasta for her special birthday meal! I had to change my game plan. With strawberry shortcake on the brain, it was easy for me to quickly find the perfect little cheat alternative for my moms birthday cake that would still be just as special for her!

A few years ago a friend had introduced me to Giada De Laurentiis' recipe for Strawberry and Mascarpone Filled Cupcakes. A fantastic cook and baker, I was surprised to see my friend using Vanilla cake mix as opposed to one of the recipes from one of her many cupcake cookbooks. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love those perfect moist and fluffy cupcakes that you get from a mix, but at the same time, there's no way you could ever get away with pretending you made them all yourself, they're just too perfect. I couldn't imagine how she would be able to disguise the obvious Duncan Hines vanilla cupcakes to her guests. Helping her through the process, it wasn't hard to see that my friend had her hands on one of the best dessert cheats I have ever come across! The cute cupcakes stuffed with the sweet mascarpone and strawberry mixture were absolutely to die for! The cake part of the cupcake was perfect, of course, but it was that delicious sweet cheese filling that had everyone in the room talking! Because she took the extra effort to inject the cupcakes with this delicious and out-of-the-ordinary filling, no one even questioned the authenticity of the cake. They couldn't have cared less whether or not the cake came from a mix. Thinking back on those incredible cupcakes, I knew I had found my moms birthday cake solution! Because I wanted to make a cake as opposed to cupcakes, and because I didn't have the expensive injector tool that my friend and Giada used for the cupcakes, I decided to make one round cake, cut it in half, and layer in the mascarpone and strawberry mixture in between the two cake slices. Absolutely beautiful and even more delicious the cake was a huge hit! Everyone loved my moms cheater birthday cake, and, just like the cupcakes that my friend had made, no one even thought to question whether the cake was from scratch or not!

This cheater recipe is definitely a MUST try! And hey, this just may be the Easter dessert recipe you've been looking for to serve to your family this Easter weekend!

Listening To:
The Maccabees - Toothpaste Kisses

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