- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 10, 2005

No need to shy away from hosting a bridal or baby shower just because you’re busy. Chances are that everyone on the guest list is stretched for time, as well, and they’ll appreciate how effortlessly you can pull together a festive gathering.

Begin with a simple chicken curry and rice, making sure to shower it with chopped fresh parsley or cilantro, and add cashews and coconut if you’re adventuresome.

To the side, offer chopped, gorgeous seasonal fruit in a pretty bowl; steamed asparagus with a light vinaigrette on a pretty platter; and warm rolls in a basket.

However, the real showstopper is for dessert — these darling little lemon cakes, delicious to fork into and adorable on this special day.

Five time-shaving nibbles to serve to guests:

• Toasted pecans, walnuts or almonds.

• A round of soft cheese — Camembert, goat, or seasoned cream cheese with warmed apricot preserves poured over, with crackers to the side.

• A pretty bowl full of cherry or grape tomatoes seasoned with olive oil, coarse salt and chopped fresh basil.

• Stir together shredded sharp cheddar cheese, crumbled bacon, a little minced onion and chopped pimento from the jar, with enough mayonnaise to pull it together. Serve with crackers.

m Heat a frozen cheese pizza until bubbly and crisp. Carefully cut it into small squares and dab a little prepared olive paste on each square.

Little white chocolate lemon drizzle cakes

The preparation time is 10 minutes, the baking time is 20 to 25 minutes, and the assembly time is 2 minutes.

CAKES:

Nonstick vegetable oil spray for misting pans

Flour for dusting pans

6 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped

1 18.25-ounce package plain yellow cake mix

½ cup fresh lemon juice, from 4 large lemons

½ cup vegetable oil

4 large eggs

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

LEMON DRIZZLE:

1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Place rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly mist 12 miniature (4-inch) angel pans (small tube pans) with nonstick spray, then dust with flour. Shake out excess flour. Set pans aside.

Melt white chocolate in a small glass bowl in microwave oven on high power for 1 minute. Remove bowl from oven and stir with a small rubber spatula until it is smooth. Let it cool slightly.

Place cake mix, lemon juice, oil, 1/3 cup water, eggs, lemon zest and melted white chocolate in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute.

Stop machine and scrape down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping sides down again, if needed. The batter should look well combined. Spoon batter into prepared pans, filling each pan two thirds of the way full. Place pans on center rack of preheated 350-degree oven.

Bake cakes until they spring back when lightly pressed with your finger, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove pans from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Run a sharp knife around edge of each cake and invert them onto a rack. Invert again and allow to cool completely, 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the lemon drizzle:

Place confectioners’ sugar in a small mixing bowl and whisk in enough of the lemon juice to make the glaze smooth and easy to spoon. Fold in zest.

Spoon drizzle over each cake, allowing it to run down the middle and sides.

Let cakes rest for 20 minutes before serving. Makes 12 little cakes (each 4 inches across).

TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES

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