December 29, 2011

Christmas Sweets: Peppermint Ice Cream Cake and Chruscik

I am thrilled to announce that Christmas leftovers are gone!! Well, for the most part, at least... the remaining ham will be sliced and frozen for future quick meals. As far as blogging about it goes, I'm not quite done yet... I saved dessert for last.

This year I wanted to both try something new/different, and make something to tie in some of my family's traditions.  So, I was very happy when I found a recipe for a Peppermint Ice Cream cake in an old Cooking Light magazine, and even happier when my aunt invited me over to make Chruscik with her before Christmas.

I'll start with the new... Peppermint Ice Cream Cake. First of all, I must say that I love ice cream. I really don't know anyone that doesn't- even my lactose-intolerant husband. I also don't know many people who don't love chocolate cake. A recipe that combines the two? Delicious. The fact that its a Cooking Light Recipe? Amazing.

Peppermint Ice Cream Cake
Cooking Light: Serves 16

Cooking Spray
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
3/4 cup boiling water
6 tbsp butter, melted
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup egg substitute
1 1/2 cups all purpose flout
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups low-fat peppermint ice cream (such as Edy's/Dreyer's Slow-Churned Light), softened
3 cups frozen fat-free whipped topping, thawed (I used Cool-Whip)
1/8 tsp peppermint extract (I did not use this)
8 peppermint candies, crushed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 2 (8in) round cake pans with cooking spray. Line bottom of each pan with wax paper.
Combine cocoa, water and butter, stirring with whisk until blended. Cool.
Combine sugars in a large bowl, stirring well until blended. Add egg substitute; beat 2 minutes or until light and creamy. Add cocoa mixture, and beat for 1 minute.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Gradually add flour mixture to bowl; beat for 1 minute or until blended. Stir in vanilla. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 28 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Remove from pans. Wrap in plastic wrap, and freeze for 2 hours or until slightly frozen.
Spread ice cream in an 8-inch round cake pan lined with plastic wrap. Cover and freeze 4 hours or until firm.
To assemble cake, place one cake layer, bottom side up, on a cake pedestal. Remove ice cream layer from freezer; remove plastic wrap. Place ice cream layer, bottom side up, on top of cake layer. Top with remaining cake layer.
Combine whipped topping and peppermint extract, and stir until blended. Spread frosting over top and sides of cake. Sprinkle with crushed peppermints. Freeze until ready to serve. Let cake stand at room temperature 10 minutes before slicing.

As mentioned above, I skipped the peppermint extract in the Cool-Whip "frosting". I think that the cake was wonderful without it... I would actually say that I think that the extract would have pushed it a little too far over the pepperminty edge. Overall, the cake was light and refreshing, an excellent end to a big meal! Now that I've conquered the ice cream cake idea, I think I will play with different ice creams and cakes to create my own combinations.

... And now, for the "old". A bit of my family's tradition. As I mentioned above, I made homemade chruscik with my aunt. It was a great way to spend an afternoon, and the resulting dessert was delicious. My grandfather was Polish, and growing up, my family always followed the Polish tradition for Christmas Eve dinner. We would have soup, fish, pierogi, vegetables, and more... for a total of 7 courses. Dessert sometimes included chruscik. For those of you who haven't tried chruscik before, I would say that its like a very light, almost cookie-like version of funnel cake. Its really yummy, worth the work, and you really can't have just one...

Recipe from: Treasured Polish Recipes for Americans

2 cups flour
2 whole eggs
4 egg yolks
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 jigger rum

Add salt to eggs and beat until thick and lemon-colored. Add sugar, butter and rum and continue to beat. Fold in flour and knead, (on a well floured board) until the dough blisters. Cut in halves, roll very thin and cut into strips about 4 inches long. Slit eat piece in center and pull one end through the slit. Fry in hot fat (or oil) until lightly browned. Drain on absorbent paper and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

I got away easy. I was in charge of frying... and of my son, who luckily for us, spent most of the afternoon napping. I did, however, pay attention during the mixing and rolling-out process. Biggest tip: don't be surprised if you use much more than 2 cups of flour. The dough is sticky during the rolling... add flour gradually until it stops sticking to everything. Also, "roll very thin" means, roll very thin. We could faintly see the wood grain of the table through the dough when they were rolled out perfectly. We used canola oil to fry in... I put them in, one by one, with a max. of 4 cookies in the pan at once. Allow them to lightly brown on one side, before turning them over to finish cooking... If you're making them a few days in advance, store in air-tight container, and you'll probably want to sprinkle them with powdered sugar again right before serving. Mine lasted 4 days in a tupperware, and were delicious on Christmas.

The only other dessert item I made this year were almond cookies, (my and my grandmother's favorite)... I used a recipe for Russian Tea Cakes and used almonds as my nut-of-choice. Perhaps I will share that recipe sometime in the future. I'm sure I'll have occasion to bake cookies again soon. Lucky for me, a couple of my guests brought sweets with them; my grandmother baked a tasty vanilla cake, and my cousin-in-law's girlfriend brought yummy and adorable rice-crispie treat wreaths. (Which I wish I had gotten a picture of before they were all eaten!)

Well, thats it for tonight... I hope that everyone is enjoying their leftovers, and can soon celebrate finishing them! Time for me to find and make new things to share...

You can find the Cooking Light recipe for the Peppermint Ice Cream Cake online here.

Chruscik Recipe from cookbook: Treasured Polish Recipes for Americans, Published by The Polanie Club, by the Polanie Publishing Company, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Originally published in 1948, reprinted many times- most recently in 2008. Known lovingly in my family as "the red book". You can purchase a copy of this cookbook on

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