Now before you make any judgements from my title, I love Easter. I had a great Easter. It involved church, family and LOTS of food…that’s the overload part! I feel like I don’t need to eat for the rest of the week, but let’s get real…like that’s going to happen! My mom made us breakfast on Easter morning: boiled eggs (in pretty pastel egg cups), toast and fruit salad.
I briefly considered skipping lunch, since I knew I’d eat a HUGE Easter dinner, but thought better of it. I was thinking of just having a sort of snack-y lunch, but instead opted to make a big bowl of veggie stew, topped with goat cheese. Really, it doesn’t seem to matter what meal I have before a big family gathering – I always stuff myself silly….sigh. My lunch “dessert” was numerous tastes of the baking I was finishing off for dinner. Sunday is usually my day off from working out, but I fit in a 30 minute walk around the neighbourhood, as I needed all the calorie-burning help I could get with all this food!
When I arrived at my Aunt’s ( a regular HHH reader…hi Auntie Rue!), she already had a spread of nibbles out for us (as if we needed more food before the main meal….nevertheless, I had no problem downing some): crackers, cheese, dip, veggies, fruit, salsa and chips. The best part? She bought Guiltless Gourmet chips because she read about them on the blog!
Main meal was delicious! In my mom’s family, Easter is always a cold dinner and always a potluck (as are all family holidays). Here’s my plate: ham, bean salad, marinated mushrooms, marinated asparagus, potato salad, Devilled egg (my sister and I both LOVE Devilled eggs. My mom never made them growing up, so we only ever eat them at family gatherings or church potlucks), my sister’s DELICIOUS fresh homemade bread and a tiny piece of spicy sausage. It was all so good, I had to have seconds of most of it (again, this is why it’s a good thing Easter is only once a year)! Two of my cousins who live out of town were able to make it in for dinner, so it was great to see everyone and catch up. The kids’ table was together again!
Dessert was my time to shine at the potluck (this should not surprise you). My contributions were dirt cake (at my cousin’s request) with sugar cookie flowers, and a vanilla bean pound cake with mango curd. I didn’t take a picture of my plate, but I had some of both….not too shabby, if I do say so myself!
I left the gathering feeling a bit overstuffed…why do I do this to myself? But, it is one day, and Easter does come only once a year. A good workout and a day packed with lots of veggies will get me right back on track. I’m going to post the mango cake recipe today, and will add the dirt cake later this week…ok with you? (not like you have a choice ).
I created this recipe by combining recipes from 3 different sources. Note: I am someone who loves being in the kitchen and loves to bake. I don’t mind things with multiple steps if I know they will yield delicious results. I didn’t find this recipe too difficult, but it’s certainly not a quick one. If you’re someone looking for a quick and easy dessert, it might not be the one for you. The cake recipe is one of my favourites, from the cookbook Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O’Connor. I posted it on here before in my apple cinnamon streusel variation. The mango curd recipe is from Epicurious, it was at the top of the list when I googled “mango curd.” The buttercream recipe comes from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes. They all combined to make one tasty cake. Here’s how you do it.
3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
4 oz (half a package) cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract and/or 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped (the bean is optional, the original recipe doesn’t call for it, I just wanted to add it for a little something special)
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
Preheat oven to 325. Spray a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
Beat the butter and cream cheese together in a large bowl with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue beating until pale and fluffy. Beat in the salt and vanilla (and scraped seeds of the vanilla bean pod, if using). The batter close-up shot shows the vanilla seeds nicely.
Add the eggs to the butter mixture one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift the flour along with the baking powder into the batter (I just measure them both into a fine mesh strainer and shook it over the batter) and, using a large rubber spatula, fold in until no traces of flour remain and the batter is smooth.
Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake until the top is golden and slightly cracked and a skewer inserted comes out with only a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan for at least ten minutes, then run a knife around the sides and turn the cake out on the pan to cool completely before serving.
Note: here is the recipe as printed, with my notes/adaptations. I thought it was delicious, but not as mango-y as I had hoped.
- 1 15-ounce ripe mango, peeled, pitted, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (I wasn’t sure if this was meant to be 15 ounces before or after pitting, so I weighed the peeled, cut up mango)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Pinch of salt
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Puree first 4 ingredients in processor, scraping down sides of work bowl occasionally. Add yolks; puree 15 seconds longer. Strain through sieve set over large metal bowl, pressing on solids with back of spatula to release as much puree as possible. Discard solids in sieve.
Set metal bowl over saucepan of simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water); whisk puree until thickened and thermometer registers 170°F., (don’t judge my “double boiler”, okay?) about 10 minutes (I did this for 20 minutes, and it still wasn’t thick/hot enough. It was late, and I was tired, so I popped the glass bowl in the microwave for a minute, whisking after 30 seconds. Worked like a charm – thickened up nicely! I only wish I had done it sooner). Remove from over water. Whisk in butter 1 piece at a time. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
(This is the recipe as printed in the cookbook and on Martha’s website. I only made half for the cake and it was exactly the right amount). This may seem like a lot of work to go to for an icing, but trust me, it’s worth it. This icing is so smooth, and not overly sweet at all. you could make it with a hand mixer if you don’t have a stand mixer, but prepare to have a sore arm! A stand mixer really is the best option (so don’t say I didn’t warn you )!
- 5 large egg whites
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter cut into tablespoons, room temperature
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Combine egg whites, sugar, and salt in the heatproof bowl of a standing mixer set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved (the mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips).
Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting on low and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, whisk until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy and glossy, and completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl), about 10 minutes.
With mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. Once all butter has been added, whisk in vanilla. Switch to the paddle attachment, and continue beating on low speed until all air bubbles are eliminated, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl with a flexible spatula, and continue beating until the frosting is completely smooth. Keep buttercream at room temperature if using the same day, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat with paddle attachment on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.
The next part is a trick I learned from Martha. Any time you are using a filling that is not that thick and that could potentially ooze out of the cake when cut, pipe a border of icing around the side first.
If you have a piping bag, just use that with no tip on the end. Otherwise, just cut a hole in the corner of a ziploc bag and fill with icing. Pipe all the way around the outside of the cake, then fill with mango curd. Top with the second layer, then repeat. The icing holds the mango curd in, so when you cover the cake, it won’t get in the way!
After you have filled both layers, top with the final layer of cake. Cover with remaining buttercream. Decorate as desired (don’t you think the Peeps complete if perfectly for Easter?). This cake is best stored in the refrigerator. So, a lot of steps…but wroth every bite, I promise! Now, you could go out and buy a pound cake, some pre-made lemon curd and a can of frosting and make your own version, but that might make my heart die a little.
Dirt cake recipe will follow, I promise! Now, I have shared all of my Easter Eating confessions with you. What was the most delicious/decadent thing you made and/or ate over the Easter weekend? Don’t hold back on me!