Monday, September 12, 2011

Moscato, Strawberry and Cream Dessert Cakes

Somehow I feel that if I use alcohol in cooking, it doesn’t count as drinking. Not that I’m opposed to alcoholic beverages…oh no, not me! I love my glass of vino with my meal and a few more to celebrate when the occasion calls. But being pregnant, one hears a lot of conflicting stories about what one should and shouldn’t steer away from. I don’t believe a drink here and there is harmful during pregnancy…I have even heard of an obstetrician telling a pregnant woman to go home and have a whiskey.
My midwife would keel over right now  and the pregnant women at my class would probably go into labour on the spot out of anxiety if I were to mention this at the group sessions I attend. Can you believe the last discussion we had (THEY had) at the group was about avoiding any baked goods containing vanilla essence? Apparently some of the more authentic versions have the tiniest smidgen of alcohol in it, or used to. These women (and the midwives for that matter) were talking about not partaking in any goods containing the little vanilla essence that we find in most delicious foods.
I have never seen any recipe containing more than a teaspoon or two of this stuff…and the variety bought at the local stores is completely artificial anyhow (no alcoholic content in sight). Seems ridiculous to me. I have been enjoying a small white wine every so often since my first trimester left me. Truth be told I don’t really feel the desire for that sip anymore. But when I do, let me have my few mouthfuls.
What to steer away from while pregnant: over the top paranoid dietitians and those who follow them.
What not to steer away from: these delicious Napoleon-inspired dessert cakes made with sweet Moscato wine, filled with delicious vanilla custard and topped with lashings of whipped cream, crispy pastry and divine cuts of strawberry. Go on, you deserve it! You know you do!

(Adapted from The Silver Palate and inspired by Sonja's Cupcakes)

1 cup sugar
2 eggs
½ cup light olive oil
½ cup Moscato or other sweet white wine
1 cup Self Raising flour
¼ cup plain flour
Pinch of salt
1 tsp. vanilla essence
½ sheet puff pastry, thawed
100g fresh strawberries
150g cream, whipped
Vanilla bean dusting sugar (or powdered icing sugar)

2 cups milk
4 large egg yolks
6 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp corn flour
40g butter
1 tsp vanilla essence

Set the oven at 175C. Beat the sugar and the eggs until well combined. Add the oil, wine, flours, salt and essence, and beat on high for one minute.
Divide the mixture into 8 large muffin/patty cake pans. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly golden.
Remove from oven and cool.
Meanwhile, cut the puff pastry into several strips and place on a lined baking tray. Bake for 20-30 minutes until puffy, crisp and golden. Cool.
To make the custard, bring milk to the boil. At the same time, in a separate saucepan, combine yolks, corn flour and sugar together and whisk over a low heat until the milk boils. Add a splash of boiled milk to the yolk mixture and begin to whisk vigorously. Gradually add the rest of the milk, continuing to whisk constantly, until thick and smooth. Remove from heat and immediately scrape the custard into a bowl and place in a basin containing a few inches of cold water. Add the butter in 3-4 installments. Add vanilla essence to flavour. Cool.

Remove the centres of each cooled cupcake with a knife. Fill the holes with custard to the brim of each cake. Top with layers of whipped cream, slices of strawberry, broken pastry and lastly, a good sprinkling of vanilla bean dusting sugar.


Give me some sugar, Sugar...