Friday, October 16, 2009

When all else fails, make grasshopper pie

My oldest daughter recently celebrated her 12th birthday. For birthdays 1 through 8 I am all about making super cool theme cakes. I've done everything from a princess castle to Blue from Blue's Clues to a spider complete with pudding guts. After they turn 8 their cakes mellow out and are simply their favorite cake flavor topped with their favorite frosting. Once in a while I throw on a few sparklies or embellishments, but they're not nearly as time consuming as those earlier cakes.

Because my daughter's favorite candy is Ferrero Rocher, I searched the internet for a recipe similar to the candy and found this Ferrero Rocher cupcake recipe on Cupcake Project. (Image at right from the original recipe on Cupcake Project.) It was going to be a super nifty surprise and I couldn't wait to get started! The first thing I had to do was locate hazelnut extract and hazelnuts (aka filbert nuts), which I found at Pirate O's, a local version of my out-of-state favorite, Trader Joe's.

The morning of her birthday I decided to bake some chocolate zucchini bread, which I ended up burning by forgetting to adjust the time for mini loaves. That should've been a sign of what was to come. Here it is in a "hazelnut" shell:

  • I couldn't find gold foil wrappers at Spoons 'n Spice so I went with white wrappers with gold swirl. Once baked you couldn't even tell the darn cupcakes had wrappers--sheesh!
  • My cupcakes didn't rise like the recipe said they would so I had to fill them at least 2/3 to 3/4 full to break even.
  • The filling was pretty runny, more like hot fudge than the center of a Ferrero Rocher; next time I'd use Nutella if I could find it.
  • Without the internet I would've never known how to roast hazelnuts. (Thank you, Cottage Magpie, for your step-by-step post on how to do so.) It wasn't hard but trying to rub the skin off was a workout in itself.

  • Without the internet I would've never known the easiest way to fill cupcakes without piping. (Thank you, Baking Bites, for your step-by-step post on how to do so.) After 8 or so cupcakes I finally got it right.
  • My ganache didn't turn out nearly as nice as the one in the recipe's photo and was also runny. I'm going to blame the runs on the weather. (Better than blaming it on bad Mexican food.)
By the time I was done mixing, baking, roasting, rubbing, processing, filling and frosting the cupcakes it had taken just as much time, if not more, than it took me to build a pretty impressive train complete with candy-filled cars.
  • Madison's favorite part was the cake, not the filling or frosting. (Note to self: next time use a boxed cake mix and simply add the hazelnut extract to the mix and decrease the water.)
I had a taste of one of the Ferrero Rocher cupcakes and I wasn't that impressed, especially with all the work that went into it. Perhaps if they'd risen better or my filling had thickened or the ganache had been Food Network Challenge-worthy they'd have been a bigger hit. I'll never know because that recipe has long since been recycled.

So what do you do when the birthday girl isn't a big fan of her birthday cake--or cupcakes in this case? You have a do-over the next night and go with the ever-popular grasshopper pie:

Grasshopper Pie
1 store-bought Oreo cookie pie crust
1 "used to be a real half-gallon" container of Dreyer's Loaded Chocolate Mint Brownie
1 can whip cream
1 bottle dark chocolate sauce

1 small jar maraschino cherries
1 small can nut topping

Take the lid off the pie crust, peel off the label and wash. Soften the ice cream in the microwave at a super low temperature at about 30-secon
d intervals, stirring often until it's about the consistency of, well, that ice cream soup kids like to make. Spread evenly in the pie crust and place the lid upside down to cover. Crimp the foil edges around the lid to secure it. Place on an even surface in the freezer and freeze until set (at least a couple hours).

To serve, remove the pie from the freezer and let stand at room temperature for a few minutes until soft enough to cut with a sharp knife. Cut pie into slices and top with chocolate sauce, whip cream, cherry and nuts. Serve immediately.

Obviously you can make any version of this ice cream pie you'd like. You could fill it with cookie dough ice cream or take a graham cracker crust and fill it with sherbet. Go crazy! --Emily

"I doubt whether the world holds for any one a more soul-stirring surprise than the first adventure with ice cream." ~Heywood C. Broun

Have you ever had any birthday cake mishaps? Do share!


vanessa said...

oh no when I saw those cupcakes I thought oh my that is my moms fav candy I must make it for her!

But it wasn't that good ?

she also LOVES mint choc chip icecream so I will have to try that one :)

Kami said...

no mishaps here, but that pie is looking sooo good!

Emily Hill said...

Perhaps it was just an off day for my baking considering I burned the zucchini bread before the cupcakes. I think you could try it but go with a yummy fudgy cake mix and add the hazelnut extract (decreasing the water by the same amount?). And I'd also try the Nutella filling isntead. Much thicker and better if you can find it. The ganache on top was pretty okay so you could still try that. I have some leftover hazelnuts, both whole and processed, if you want them! ;)

Emily Hill said...

Kami, those ice cream pies are SO good and so easy! I just have to remember it uses a half gallon of ice cream and you only slice it in like 12ths, so one slice is like a full serving of ice cream plus the crust. It would be easy to eat the whole dang pie! LOL

Anonymous said...

Poor Em!!! That was a crazy day! You didn't even mention your car running out of gas, stranding you downtown + Nathan's stressful gas rescue mission. ;) Your food pics look great!!!

Lindy said...

Ice cream is always the better choice:) By the by, Costco has pretty cheep Nutella. It's a staple around here.

Ann Martin Photography BLOG said...

For my middle daughter's 13th birthday she had a huge party at our neighborhood clubhouse. I've learned it's much safer to have a "sweet 13", than a "sweet16". Thirteen year olds are wild enough, sixteen year olds, in large groups, are more than I want to handle.

Natalie, (the birthday girl) talked me into making her a huge three tiered cake, much like a wedding cake, except this cake was topped with pink icing pigs. Don't ask me why, she saw the piped pigs in a Wilton book and had to have them.

There were at least 75 kids at the party with a live band. (this was the band's first gig...I think they were 16 and 17 and played for a paltry sum because the lead guitar was oldest daughters boyfriend).

I had "security". Kind of. The husband and a huge friend and me. We patroled the party grounds (unfortunately there was a pool, it was January.......and yes, somebody got thrown in) There were a few cigarette confiscations and their parents were called.

With all that, the thing that most upset me was when I turned around and saw two girls sticking their hands in the yet uncut cake and digging around. Just to be mean. Just to mess up the cake.

Luckily, the youngest child was a boy and he wasn't into a "sweet 13" party so I never had to go through with that again.