07 October 2007

Potluck Desserts!

As I mentioned in my last post, I had two potluck dinners to go to at the beginning of this week. Since I've been in Iowa City, I've been lucky enough to have several parties to attend with fantastic food offerings, and these were no exception. As you can see, I went with a dessert theme and tried two fruit-and-chocolate concoctions. The combination of fruit and chocolate is one of my favourites, and both of these were easy-peasy, a relief for a busy law student such as myself!

Sunday night's potluck was hosted by my Criminal Law professor, and it unfortunately conflicted with Quire practice, so I needed to pick a contribution that would be easy for a friend to bring in my absence (I went, but showed up late) and that didn't require refrigeration. I had originally planned to do the stuffed mushrooms I tried for the last Blog Party, but I decided I wanted something even easier. Enter white chocolate gnocchi!

This recipe only involves three ingredients, and that sounded great to me. Saturday night I mixed the gnocchi preparation, adjusting the amounts so that I had a tad bit more than the recipe __ originally posted on her blog. I used two Ghiradelli white chocolate bars and 4-1/2 T light corn syrup. As promised, the chocolate thickened considerably, though as you can see from the above picture the syrup kept wanting to separate and form an oily film. I wrapped my "dough" up nice and tight in cling film, and let it sit overnight in a Tupperware at room temp. When I returned for it the next morning, there were hard pieces and puddles of syrup and I was braced for disaster, but once I started kneading my chocolate, it formed a doughy consistency. I rolled it out into two of these phallic logs, and then cut into pieces about gnocchi-size. Then I pressed each with my thumb and rolled them on a fork for the indents. As you can see, they aren't perfect-looking, but hey, they taste fine! For the sauce I just threw a bit pile of fresh strawberries in the Cuisnart, pureed, and sprinkled with powdered sugar. The gnocchi were very sweet, but the sauce cut it nicely, and it's easy to have one at a time. Unfortunately, my friend Sara took them and then left them in her fridge before the potluck, but some friends ate them and gave the recipe two thumbs up!

For the second potluck, on Monday night, I attended my friend Kirsten's "Feast on the First." The theme this month was Oktoberfest, and I wanted to make a Black Forest Cake, but again - that requires effort. So instead I concocted this cheater version. The cakes you see here are made with plain old Duncan Hines dark chocolate cake mix. I let them cool about ten minutes in the pans after baking, drenched with chilled Smiranoff black cherry vodka, and then let them cool another five minutes before transferring to the racks. I was a bit afraid with the vodka (normally you use cherry liqueur) and next time I think I'd use more, but it was still good.

To assemble the cake, I opened up a can of light cherry pie filling and poured some more vodka in there, letting it soak in while the cakes cooled. I put a layer of light Redi Whip on the first cake, topped with about 2/3 of the pie filling, and then did the second layer with more Redi Whip and the rest of the filling. What you see here lasted about three seconds - by the time I walked the mile or so to Kirsten's apartment the cake had fallen apart and all the whipped cream had melted, despite my sticking it in the freezer for five minutes before I left. So if you try this, make sure you cool the cake layers completely before continuing. Despite the mess, though, this was quite a tasty cake!


Carver said...

Those both look delicious. Pot luck desserts sound like a good idea although desserts are not my strength.

Holler said...

That was a really original idea, with the chocolate gnocchi! I would like to try some of that! The cake looked great too!

A Few Reservations said...

Nice to see the veggie fire alive in Iowa! :) Glad to have found your blog.