What do you do if you don’t like Cool Whip?
That’s what reader Jan McMillen asked.
“I have several older cookbooks which use a lot of Cool Whip type products in desserts. I don't like Cool Whip, don't think it's real food. Question: Can I substitute like Dream Whip or Reddi-Whip or real whipped cream? Wasn't sure if real whipped cream product(s) would separate if left in the refrigerator for a while like some of these recipes require. If it is possible to use a real whipped cream product is it cup for cup as required in the recipe asking for Cool Whip? Is there something else I should use instead of a whipped cream or Cool Whip? Like maybe vanilla pudding or tapioca or something?”
The website ochef.com says Cool Whip is a substitute for whipped cream and it’s tough to find a substitute for a substitute. The website also points out one reason Cool Whip is so popular is that is stands up to storage in a way real whipped cream will not.
Anyone who has a good answer is encouraged to email me at email@example.com and I’ll share the information in a future column.
The first of the year isn’t the right time to talk about deliciousness, not with most people vowing to lose some weight or eat healthier.
However, winners of the Flour Power Baking Contest deserve to be mentioned and so do their recipes.
The competition, based in Franklin, Tenn., named Melissa Sperka of Greensboro, N.C., winner over nearly 900 competitors for her Caramel, Chocolate and Almond Gooey Butter Cake. The contest was hosted by Just A Pinch Recipe Club, the online food-focused social network at justapinch.com.
For her win, Sperka will receive a trip to Nashville, Tenn., to cook her recipe before a live audience, a $1,000 cook's dream shopping spree and Grand Ole Opry tickets.
CARAMEL, CHOCOLATE AND ALMOND GOOEY BUTTER CAKE
By Melissa Sperka of Greensboro, N.C.
1 box caramel cake mix
1 can dulce de leche (13.4 oz)
16 ounces powdered sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup melted butter, divided (2 sticks)
4 large eggs
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/3 cup toffee bits
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips, plus 1/2 cup
1 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoons vanilla
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13x9 inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside. Toast the almonds at 350 degrees for 8 minutes or until golden. Set aside to cool.
In a mixing bowl mix together the cake mix, one stick of melted butter and one egg until combined. Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. On top of the crust sprinkle the mini chocolate chips, toffee bits and toasted almonds.
In the same mixing bowl, mix together the softened cream cheese and the Dulce de Leche until combined.
Beat in the remaining 3 eggs, vanilla, powdered sugar and melted butter. Whip on medium high speed so that all of the ingredients come together nicely. Pour the filling over the crust and place into the oven.
Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. When you remove it from the oven, the cake will still appear a little "jiggly." This means you did a great job not over baking the cake!
Melt 1/2 cup of additional chocolate chips and 1 tablespoon of heavy cream in the microwave. Stir until completely smooth then drizzle over the cake before serving.
Allow the cake to cool to room temperature then drizzle with chocolate glaze and sprinkle with toffee bits. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.
One of the runners-up was Chocolate Bliss Bundt Cake by Traci Bentz of Vancouver, Wash.
CHOCOLATE BLISS BUNDT CAKE
2 cups flour
1 2/3 cups sugar
2/3 cup cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 cups chocolate milk
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
1 box (4 size serving) chocolate fudge instant pudding mix
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup caramel topping
1 Snickers candy bar, chopped into pieces
Heat oven to 325 for dark/nonstick pans (350 degrees for all others). Generously grease bundt pan.
In large bowl, mix dry cake ingredients.
Add wet items and combine well. Stir in 2 cups chocolate chips. Batter will be very thick.
Spoon into prepared pan. Bake for 55-65 minutes or until top springs back when touched lightly in center.
Cool 10 minutes in pan. Turn pan upside down onto cooking rack or heatproof serving plate; remove pan. Cool completely, about 2 hours.
Prepare ganache by placing chocolate chips into heat- safe bowl. In 1 quart saucepan, heat whipping cream to simmering; pour over chips. Let stand 5 minutes; stir until smooth. Drizzle over cake.
Add toppings by sprinkling chocolate chips over cake. Drizzle caramel topping over the cake. Sprinkle chopped Snickers bar over the cake. Store covered at room temperature.
Taste of Home magazine likes to examine food trends and has discovered 13 food trends to expect in the coming year.
1) EAT AT HOME MORE: More of us are eating at home five to seven nights a week. Cooking at home does more than save money; it also means spending quality time with loved ones around the dinner table.
2) BE MORE CREATIVE IN HOW YOU SAVE MONEY PURCHASING FOOD: Waiting for sales isn’t enough for the thrifty home cook. Americans are buying food in bulk, particularly inexpensive cuts of meat, such as chicken thighs and flank steak.
3) BAKE MORE: Baking is on the rise. People are allowing themselves to indulge in dessert more frequently.
4) PUT MORE COMFORT INTO YOUR COOKING: Comfort is making a comeback. Fried chicken, homemade ice cream, macaroni and cheese, apple pie: An increased interest in food that evokes happy memories and embraces the farm-to-table culture proves that formal dining is out and embracing our roots is in.
5) FIND WAYS TO COOK SMARTER AND FASTER: It’s all about “speed-scratch” in 2012. Home cooks are busier than ever. If it can’t be made in 30 to 45 minutes, they won’t bother.
6) EAT GUTEN-FREE: We worry about our glutes. Only about 1 percent of Americans have to eat gluten-free. (That’s approximately how many have celiac disease, which causes gluten intolerance, according to the University of Chicago’s Celiac Disease Center.) But many more want to, largely for perceived health benefits, which has spurred one of the biggest healthy-eating trends in recent years.
7) BE MORE DARING WITH THE CLASSICS: Traditional merges with modern. Holiday cheese balls, typically made with standard shredded cheddar, are being reborn with cheeses such as feta and queso fresco. Raspberries and rhubarb are enhancing homemade salsas. Fig jam, sun-dried tomatoes and chili powder give the classic baked Brie a modern makeover, while sweet potato side dishes are freshened with cilantro and lime.
8) START A DINNER CLUB TO RECONNECT WITH FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS. Since Taste of Home is built on an enormous community of home cooks, the brand gets an up-close look at how Americans are deepening their connection to family and friends through food. One example is the explosion of at-home dinner clubs. Exotic cuisines and new ingredients are often explored through exciting themes selected by the group. Luckily for the hosts, the pressure isn’t entirely on them. Potlucks are becoming the preferred way to host a club meeting.
9) THAI ONE ON WITH FLAVORFULINGREDIENTS: Once known only in coastal metropolitan neighborhoods, Thai flavors are appearing in even the tiniest of towns and the most remote of kitchens. Hot chili sauce, coconut milk, Thai basil, fresh ginger and cilantro come through in fresh offerings such as handmade spring rolls and pork satay.
10) COOK HEALTHIER: Greek yogurt is being used in lieu of sour cream. It’s perceived as healthier because it’s higher in protein than plain yogurt.
11) MAKE IT YOUR OWN: The Make-It-Yours movement will take off in 2012. With comfort food in full swing, classics such as meatloaf and burgers are hotter than ever. The difference is that now home cooks areadding their own signatures.
12) RETHINK THE DRINK. Beverages, alcoholic and not, are a new source of inspiration for those looking to get creative in the kitchen. Unusual combinations like cucumber and jalapeno make for one killer margarita, while lemonade gets an extra punch from additions like fresh kiwi or lavender. And home cooks aren’t afraid to experiment with a variety of garnishes. They’re topping drinks with lychees, candied bacon, spiked whipped cream and spiced rims.
13) GET YOUR GEEK ON IN THE KITCHEN. Digital platforms such as the iPad, Nook and KindleFire are changing the way families cook. Kitchen-friendly recipe applications and digital versions of favorite food magazines and cookbooks are not just viewed as bonus offerings, they’re now expected.
While I don’t claim to be an expert cook, I do like to cook and love to eat. Readers are encouraged to send questions about food and cooking; I’ll try to find the answers. Also, if you’re looking for a specific recipe, send your request, or if you can offer a recipe to someone looking for something specific, please send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.