Halfway homemade desserts
I try, every year, to invent a special cupcake for my friend Trina's birthday. You can see a past incarnation here. She's an amazing friend and does so much for us, the least I can do it toast her on her birthday with a special morsel. Trina is our son's personal photographer. She does amazing work at a super-good price. I can't thank her enough for documenting our precious memories, because I am a lame photographer and can't do it.
Her birthday falls near Father's Day, so usually it works out to combine both celebrations, and it's an excuse for me to make not one, but two desserts, since my husband isn't really a cupcake kind of guy. For him, I made his favorite (next to a pan of brownies, which I just couldn't bring myself to do again) dessert: ice cream pie.
I decided that on this special day, which we spent lolling languidly by the pool in the hot summer sun, watching our offspring splash and sweating our sunscreen off, that it was okay to have cupcakes in the middle of the day. I might even have had two. I can't be sure, and no one can prove it, but it might have happened. It's not my fault, it's this parasite that is growing inside me. It made me do it.
Disclaimer: both of these are "cheater" desserts. I'm not much of a baker, and I'm usually a little short on time, so with those things in mind, I take short cuts in the dessert category. I don't think any of our guests much minded that I'd found a few ways to make the process quicker and more fool-proof. Your guests will never know (unless you publish your recipes in the paper). I am unabashedly fond of cake mixes. I've said it before and I'll say it again. Cake mixes are the bomb-diggity, and I'm not afraid who knows I use them. I also may or may not have bought some bakery cookies and I may or may not have purchased a graham cracker crust. SUE ME.
Decadent as both of these desserts are, I did take steps to try to lighten them up at least a little bit. I mean, I would not go so far as to call this diet food, but I did attempt to reduce the fat content some.
Pina Colada Cupcakes
1 white cake mix
1/3 cup rum
1 can lite coconut milk
Beat all these ingredients together, and fill cupcake liners 2/3 full. Bake according to box directions. Cool thoroughly before frosting.
Pina Colada Buttercream Frosting
1 cup light butter
4 cups confectioner's sugar
1 tablespoon rum
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups sweetened coconut (to sprinkle on top)
Beat together and refrigerate for at least half an hour before frosting cupcakes.
I didn't use a fancy frosting tip for this. I just put the frosting in a zip lock bag and cut the corner off. I piped a thick "donut" of frosting onto the top of each cupcake and then with a butter knife that I dipped in warm water, I smoothed it down a little to make kind of a swirl effect.
Then I toasted the coconut. Just pop it in a skillet over medium high heat and push it around with a spatula until it's just lightly browned.
Sprinkle it on top of the cupcakes and there you have it - a simple treat that is irresistibly fancy-looking. No oil in the cake, and light butter - you can almost feel good about eating it. Almost.
Mr. Meat and Potatoes loves a graham cracker crust, and he has the idea that ice cream pie is really fancy and hard to make. I am not of the mind to tell him otherwise.
Father's Day Peanut Butter Ice Cream Pie
1 graham cracker crust (You can either make it or buy it. I'm not saying what I did.)
2 cups English Toffee Crunch TCBY Fro-Yo
1 cup lite peanut butter
2/3 cup confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons of milk
2 large peanut butter cookies (I bought them at the grocery bakery)
1 frozen Hershey bar
Chocolate syrup, for drizzling on top
Press the two cups of Fro-Yo (which in my freezer never seems to get very hard, so it was easy to manipulate, but if you need to let it sit out for a few minutes to soften, do so) into the crust. Return it to the freezer for at least an hour, preferably two, to harden.
In the meantime, make your peanut butter layer. In a mixing bowl, combine the peanut butter, confectioner's sugar, milk, and broken up cookies. Beat until smooth and spreadable. Add more milk if necessary to get it to the desired consistency. It should be thick (not runny) but spreadable.
Use a spatula to spread it over the re-frozen Fro-Yo, then top with chocolate drizzle and broken up Reese's pieces (or peanut butter cups). To quote the great Ina Garten, "How easy is that?"
Both of these are perfect summer desserts. Try them out for your next outdoor party. Wow your guests, and chuckle to yourself about how simple it all was. No one will be the wiser.