The Best of Gourmet: Volume VI, includes a trio of menus titled, “Summer Picnics.” I hope to make all of these menus this June and share with you my experience making them. I thought I would copy the page from the book that includes the menus:
I started with the Twilight Dessert Picnic and it was wonderful! Easy to put together, fun to eat, fantastic complementary flavors, and it makes a lovely presentation. For the assorted fruit I offered strawberries, cherries, sliced apricots, and sliced plums. Choose whatever is fresh and in season, but I have to say, I especially loved the apricots and cherries along side the almond macaroons.
I would love to hear about your summer picnic plans. Leave a note in the comments section. Have a wonderful summer and I hope these menus will inspire you as they did me. Enjoy!
The peach wine is so simple and an absolute must for this lovely menu. Rather than the granulated sugar that the recipe calls for, I used simple syrup. Everyone agreed that it was delicious and the peach flavor really bursts through. Once the wine was gone we ate the peaches along with the other dessert items. I only marinated my peach wine for a day and it was fantastic, I am sure the five days, that the recipe calls for would only make this drink more delicious. I recommend making a double batch which would be four bottles of a dry white wine.
Chocolate Coconut Rum Cake
This cake looks dense in this picture, but it is really a quite light cake with a moist interior. I used Kraken rum which was very good with the coconut and chocolate. This is a very easy cake to put together and the flavor and texture are excellent along side the fresh fruit. To frost the cake I put a layer of frosting over the side, then I placed the cake in the refrigerator for about 5 minutes. I kept doing this until all the frosting was on the cake. It took about three or four times of cooling in the fridge. After the last application of frosting do not put back in the fridge before putting on the coconut. If the frosting is firm from being chilled the coconut will not stick as well as if the frosting is soft.
The frosting is pretty much rum, butter and powdered sugar, you will want to taste it, but try not to eat the whole bowl of the frosting, trust me it is even better with the cake! We had a total of eight people for our “Twilight Dessert Picnic” and everything was devoured that evening. So, when planning keep it in mind that if you have more than 10 people you might want to make an additional cake.
I could not find the recipe on Epicurious.com so here it is:
Chocolate Coconut Rum Cake
- 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
- 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken into pieces
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons light or golden rum
- 4 large eggs, separated
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
For the frosting
- 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 tablespoon light or golden rum
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 confectioners’ sugar
In a baking dish toast 2/3 of the coconut in the middle of a preheated 350 degree oven until it just begins to color, transfer it to a small bowl, and let it cool.
(I did this step in the microwave rather than on the stove) In a metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water melt the chocolate and the butter with the rum, stirring, until the mixture is smooth and remove the bowl from the heat.
In a bowl whisk together the yolks, 2 tablespoons of the sugar, the flour, and the salt until the mixture is smooth and whisk in the chocolate mixture and the remaining (untoasted) 1/3 cup coconut. In another bowl with an electric mixer beat the whites until they hold soft peaks and beat in the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar until the whites just hold stiff peaks. Stir half the whites into the chocolate mixture and fold in the remaining whites gently but thoroughly. Pour the mixture into a buttered and lined with parchment paper7 or 8 inch springform pan, bake the cake in the middle of a preheated 350 degree oven for 40 to 45 minutes (mine only took 40 minutes), or until it is set and the top is puffed and cracked, and let it cool in the pan on a rack. (The cake will fall as it cools.)
Make the frosting while the cake is cooking: In a bowl with an electric mixer cream the butter, add the rum, the salt (I only used a tiny pinch), and the confectioners’ sugar, and beat the frosting until it is light and fluffy. Remove the side of the pan from the cake and spread the frosting on the side of the cake. Holding the cake in one hand over the bowl of toasted coconut, with the other hand pres the coconut onto the frosting, letting the excess fall back into the bowl. The cake may be made 1 day in advance and kept covered loosely and chilled.
If you look at the recipe for these on the link above, please ignore the reviews. The only two reviews said these were horrible. I don’t know what they did wrong, but mine were excellent!. One of my guests said they were so little and easy to eat they were as addictive as chips. I liked them too and by the end of the evening my double batch of these chewy almond cookies had vanished. The picture from the book shows these cookies a little thicker than mine turned out, but it didn’t matter as they were still enjoyed. Here is the picture from the book:
I made these cookies the day before and they were a snap to whip up. Rather than using a pastry bag I put my double batch of batter in a large zip lock bag and then snipped the end of the bag off and piped them on to a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
Because this month will have a trio of menus and each one has a distinct style I have labeled each picture on my Ebay collection. If you scroll over the picture it will tell you what menu each item goes to. Have a look at the Twilight Dessert Picnic items. The picture above is from the book. You can compare my items to theirs. I will add the other two picnic menu collections later in the month.
I hate picnicking with paper plates and plastic forks and knives. Why not picnic with some elegance, like a Limoges cake serving set, and a rustic Italian picnic cart? Plenty of space for your wine and all your other dessert options in that cart. There are a few unique and fun items to really elevate your picnic to something special and memorable in this collection. Enjoy!