Ready for more dessert?
I very rarely experiment with recipes for larger organized gatherings. When it comes to serving a group, I really enjoy the safety of knowing that I’ve made something before; the methods and outcome are familiar. No surprises, please.
For better or for worse, though, I’m getting comfortable serving my Denver family “first try” recipes. The pros are that they get to try a greater variety of foods (desserts, mostly) and that I get to learn something without spending twice the time cooking and twice the money on ingredients. The obvious con is that the results aren’t always terrific. For instance, I took a peach crisp to my cousin Lisa’s a few weeks ago that wasn’t *bad*, but it certainly wasn’t spectacular.
I got lucky last week when I served them Creamy Lemon Supreme from Pampered Chef’s Celebrate! cookbook… I was looking for a light, fresh-tasting summer dessert that would compliment a fish dinner, and I found a definite winner.
To start, I buttered a 9-inch springform pan. (The recipe said to spray the pan with nonstick cooking spray, but I prefer to use butter when baking.) The crust can be made of either lemon or vanilla creme-filled cookies; I chose golden Oreos. The recipe suggested that 12 cookies would yield the 1 1/2 cups of crumbs I needed for the crust, but I needed closer to 17 cookies for that amount. I stirred the crumbs together with 3 tablespoons of melted butter and pressed the mixture into the bottom of the springform pan.
Next, I thinly sliced a lemon and then cut the slices in half. I placed the most uniform slices around the inside edge of the pan (cut side touching the crust). This is another spot where I found a discrepancy between the recipe and my experience; I think I needed 7 lemon slices (instead of the suggested 6) plus a half-slice to make it all the way around. Naturally, the number of slices you’ll need will depend on the diameter of your lemon. Once I had the lemon slices in place, I put the pan in the refrigerator to chill.
The cake has two layers of filling; I started with the top one, which is basically cook and serve lemon pudding with a few extras. First, I needed lemon zest and juice, so I used my microplane zester to yield 1 1/2 teaspoons of zest and then squeezed the lemon (plus a second lemon) to yield 1/4 cup of juice. In a small saucepan, I combined 1 package (2.9 ounces) of lemon cook and serve pudding and pie filling (*not* instant!), 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/4 cup of water, and 2 egg yolks. I stirred the mixture until it was well combined and then stirred in another 1 3/4 cups of water. I cooked the pudding over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it came to a full boil. (It felt like this took forever, but when it starts spurting, you’ll know!) Once it hit the boiling point, I removed the pudding from the heat, reserved 1/2 cup of it for the cream cheese layer, and allowed it to cool slightly. Next, I whisked in 1 tablespoon of butter and the reserved 1/4 cup of lemon juice. (The ingredients go into the pudding in the saucepan, not the reserved pudding.) I let the pudding cool for 15 minutes, stirring at the 5- and 10-minute marks.
While the pudding in the saucepan cooled, I used my stand mixer to make the cream cheese layer. (I was being lazy; you could easily complete this recipe with a whisk and some elbow grease.) In the bowl of my mixer, I combined 2 packages (8 ounces each) of room-temperature cream cheese with 1/2 cup of powdered sugar. Once those ingredients were well mixed, I added the reserved 1/2 cup of lemon pudding and 1 teaspoon of the reserved lemon zest. When everything was thoroughly combined, I turned the mixer off and used a spatula to fold in 2 cups of whipped topping. I pulled the prepared springform pan out of the refrigerator and spread the cream cheese mixture over the crust.
The lemon pudding was cool at this point, so I gave it one last stir and spooned it evenly over the cream cheese layer. The cake *has* to be refrigerated for at least 6 hours; I think mine was in for 8 hours. When it was time to serve the cake, I cut slices by using the lemon slices on the side as dividers.
I didn’t actually take the time to garnish my cake at the family dinner party (it was dark outside and no one cared, really), but I went ahead and dressed it up with whipped topping and sliced lemon zest for the photos.
Mmmmm. I know this dessert isn’t “light” in terms of calories, but the light, fluffy texture of the cream cheese layer and the refreshing sweet-tart flavor of the lemon layer makes this the perfect ending to a fresh summer meal. Dr. O demonstrated the “lightness” of the dessert by having three servings. (At least I *think* that was the point he was trying to make. ;) ) Maybe he was just doing his part to make sure this cake wouldn’t be calling my name from the refrigerator all week, because this is just one of those flavor combinations that really does it for me. I’ll definitely be making this one again.
TIPS: My only complaint is a half complaint because those lemon slices on the side are so beautiful… You might want to warn your guests that they’re there (especially if you’re serving dessert in low-lit conditions) because no one really wants to EAT the lemon. (Or maybe they do. I don’t.)
Recipe link: Creamy Lemon Supreme