This past weekend we celebrated one of my brother’s birthdays and I was in charge of making the ice cream. A lot of my family members are sensitive to milk so I wanted to experiment with a dairy-free version that everyone could enjoy. I’ve researched a lot online about dairy-free ice creams but have never found anything I felt really confident about, that even dairy-lovers would eat happily.
Finally I came across a recipe that was basically the same as my beloved vanilla ice cream but simply subbed coconut milk for the milk and cream. It made sense. Coconut milk is so thick and creamy, and made with a custard base, seemed to guarantee it creaminess. So, I whipped up a batch of Black Forest Ice Cream (thanks to freezing a couple batches of candied cherries this summer) and Classic Vanilla. I can’t believe it was so easy all along. It worked great.
People were so surprised when they found out the ice cream was dairy-free. Especially the chocolate, because you couldn’t taste the coconut milk at all. You could taste it slightly in the vanilla, but coconut and vanilla are definitely a yummy paring so there were no complaints. The consistency is slightly different than if you made it with full-fat milk and cream but it is still very creamy and far from being icy.
I’ll no longer be searching for specific dairy-free ice cream recipes and will instead just use my favourites and switch out the dairy with canned coconut milk. I found that two cans of regular sized coconut milk came to 3 cups, which was the perfect amount for both of the recipes above.
If you’ve got a dairy-free loved one in your life I encourage you to give this substitution a try. Nobody should have to miss out on the deliciousness of ice cream. And if you try it, let me know how it turns out for you!
*As far as I know, this won’t work as a substitute for recipes that call for sweetened condensed milk (like this no-churn ice cream) or recipes that call for cream that is whipped before folding in (such as with this semifreddo).
OK. I can”t believe it took me this long to make butter. I knew that it was easy to make, but I think somehow in the recesses of my brain it just seemed like it had to be more difficult than it is. Now that I”ve made it, I”m wondering, why is this not a common thing? Why aren”t we all making our own butter? We make whipped cream all the time and butter is essentially over-whipped whipped cream. After you beat the cream for 10 minutes or so it separates into butter and buttermilk (not the same buttermilk that you buy from the store because this is not fermented). That”s it. Now you have butter. Does it get any simpler then that?
Now, this doesn”t mean I”m going to be making my own butter all the time. I”m still planning on using the sticks for baking and such because this is one instance where homemade is not actually cheaper. For me to buy 2 sticks of butter (1 cup) is cheaper than buying a pint of heavy cream (which makes 1 cup of butter), plus the bars are awfully handy for measuring. But, for those times when you”re wanting to use butter as a spread, I definitely think it”s worth it to make your own. The fresh taste and satisfaction of making your own butter just can”t be beat. Add herbs, spices, or citrus zest to jazz it up and give it some diversity. Just think what a star you”ll be when you whip some up for brunch to serve with scones or french toast.
Please, please do yourself a favour and don”t wait as long as I did, to make your own butter. You will not be disappointed.
- 1 pint heavy cream (2 cups)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste (optional)
Beat cream in a stand mixer* with the whisk attachment until solids form (butter) and separate from the liquid (buttermilk). Pour into a fine mesh sieve to strain buttermilk. Rinse with cold water. Press with a spatula (or squeeze with hands) to make it into a cohesive mass and to remove excess water. Mix in salt, if desired.
*According to other sources this can also be made in a food processor or blender but it was too thick for my cheap blender so I switched to the mixer. Also you could use hand beaters.
Makes approximately: 1 cup butter
Last weekend I made a birthday cake for a little boy that was turning two who loves the Cars Disney movie. What little boy doesn’t? Max was so excited to watch this cake take shape and I think a tad bit disappointed to see it go. :) I had so much fun making this cake I thought I’d share some tips on how I made it, in case you’re interested in creating something like this yourself.
First things first.
Tips on Making a Stacked Cake
To make this cake you’ll need to make a two-tiered, stacked cake. Here are some general tips on stacking cakes.
Start with a Sturdy Cake Base.
If you’re making a stacked cake you want the cake to be fluffy (so it’s not too heavy) but also sturdy (so it can hold up to the pressure) and of course delicious (so it can be eaten :)). You’ll also want it to bake up nice and tall because it makes for a more impressive cake and will trim more easily without falling apart. I would be happy to share the Chocolate Cake recipe I use for stacked cakes, if there’s interest. (Update: Here’s the recipe.)
Trim it Flat.
You want to make sure that your cakes are level for proper stacking and icing. You can either trim them flat with a sharp serrated knife or use a cake leveler.
Ice it as Smooth as Possible.
I used a Whipped Vanilla Buttercream (again, I’d be happy to share the recipe if anyone’s interested. Update: Here it is!) that is smooth, light, not overly sweet and can sit at room temperature for long periods of time. I used these methods to crumb coat and smooth my buttercream.
Stack it Properly.
Since the top tier is so small with this cake, you don’t need much in added support. I inserted straws into the 10 inch cake to help support the 6 inch, which was built on a cardboard base slightly smaller than it’s size. You can find more about properly stacking cakes here.
Now you can move on to the decorating.
How to Make a Cars Themed Cake
Note: I used marzipan to decorate this cake but you could also use fondant.
- For this cake you want the tiers to be at least 4 inches different in diameter. I used 2-10 inch cakes for the base and 2-6 inch cakes for the top tier. If you’re wanting to have a road encircling your cake you need at least a two-inch perimeter all around the cake.
- For the road. Before stacking the tiers, I rolled out a large piece of black marzipan and used the bottom of my 10 inch cake pan as a guide to trim it to a 10 inch circle with a paring knife. With the help of my hubby, I carefully transferred it to the top of the cake, placing it in the centre as much as possible. Then, I put straws in for support and stacked the 6 inch on top. For the white centre lines, I rolled out some white marzipan and cut it into small rectangles, brushed the backs with a bit of water and lined them up along the centre of the “road”.
- To make the checkered bottom. I cut out 1 inch black squares and gently pressed them into the buttercream all around the cake. I started on the bottom with one black square, then placed a square in the row above by matching it with the corner of the bottom one, then continued up the cake before heading back down. This way there’s no measuring. If you match all the corners together each square with be 1 inch apart and create a checkered pattern.
- To make the landscape top tier. I iced the top tier in light blue buttercream to look like the sky. After stacking, I rolled out some brown marzipan, cut it straight on one edge and then used a paring knife to cut out a large swoop to make a hill. I carefully pressed that onto the buttercream and made additional hills, overlapping them slightly until I encircled the entire cake. For the clouds I rolled out white marzipan, cut it into large and small cloud shapes, with a paring knife. I brushed the small clouds with a bit of water and stuck them onto the larger clouds. I then pressed those gently into the buttercream. I created a cactus by rolling green marzipan into a log, trimming and molding it into shape, using water to help the pieces stick together. I then used a toothpick to mark the spines onto the cactus before placing it on the cake. The sign is pretty self-explanatory; cut out the shapes, stick them on the cake. I also made some blades of grass to add some extra dimension. I rolled small pieced of green marzipan between two fingers until a thin cone shape was formed. Then I cut of the tip, dipped it gently into a bit of water and placed it onto a cake using a paint brush (that I only use for cakes) to help me get it where I wanted it to go.
- For the cars. I used toy cars and secured toothpicks into the bottom and stuck them onto the cake. This way there was no fear of them rolling off during transportation.
- For the lettering. I used alphabet shaped cutters for the smaller letters and stuck toothpicks into the bottom of each to secure them onto the cake. For the larger letters, I cut them out by hand with a paring knife (to match the smaller letters) and used two toothpicks, per letter, to secure.
So that’s how I did it. Hopefully it makes sense and helps anyone that’s interested in making their own Cars themed birthday cake. :)
Inspired by this cake from CakeCentral.com.
When it comes to packing lunches I”m no great authority on the subject. My husband gets fed lunch every day at work and my son”s barnehage makes him fresh snacks and meals every day. I”m a lucky woman. But, it also means I”m stumped for tips on packing meals to take away. At least for now.
One thing I am getting better at though, is snacks. I eat all day long, especially now that I”m nursing, so snacks is something I”m well acquainted with. And since snacks are usually something thrown into lunch boxes to help round out the meal, I thought I”d share our current favourite – yogurt. And, not just any yogurt, but homemade Fruit-Bottom Yogurt.
“These fruit-bottom yogurts stay good for a week in the fridge, so you can make a batch on Sunday to last the whole week. Throw them into lunch boxes, sprinkle them with granola for breakfast or save them for an afternoon snack that the kids can grab for themselves after school.”
I took a hiatus after my daughter was born but am now back at Simple Bites as a regular contributor. Head on over to find out how you can make your own fruit-bottom yogurt.