Delicious treats from the Ellis County Fair
The Ellis County Fair is an annual showcase of accomplishments by local youth and adults. The most delicious category includes exhibits by members of the 4-H foods project. During the next few weeks, I’ll share prize-winning recipes from our 4-H members.
Today, I’d like to treat you to two very different recipes, one for a nutritious and delicious crunchy salad and one for a decadent triple-layer cake. I know you will find occasions to try both.
Similar a popular TV show, senior contestants in the 4-H Foods Challenge at the fair started with a basket of ingredients and got 10 minutes to plan and 25 minutes to prepare their dish.
Thanks to team members Rylee Torline, Jenna Schoenberger, Lane Fischer and Kourtney Kaicy of the Ellis Sunflowers Club for their salad recipe. It got rave reviews from the judges and audience alike.
1 jicama, peeled and thinly sliced into match stick pieces
1 cup fresh snowpeas, lightly steamed
2 to 3 thinly chopped green onions
6 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
6 tablespoons olive oil
3 to 4 tablespoons fresh-squeezed orange juice
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Grated orange zest
Whole, sliced or slivered almonds
Chow mein noodles
Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl. Mix together dressing ingredients and stir into salad. Garnish with almonds and chow mein noodles to taste; serve in an orange shell, if desired.
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Michael Purvis, a member of the Shooting Sports 4-H Club, won the senior foods champion award on this decadent cake. This show-stopper recipe would be great for any special occasion.
Chocolate peanut butter layer cake
Yield: about 16 servings
1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for dusting the pans
1 tablespoon instant espresso or coffee powder
1 1/2 cups boiling water
3/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup (three sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoons salt
Filling and frosting:
3/4 cups heavy cream, chilled
3 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted, divided
1 1/2 cups (three sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Pinch of coarse salt
Mini peanut butter cups, halved
Chocolate drizzles on top
To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter the edges of three 8-inch round cake pans and dust with cocoa powder, shaking out the excess. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, combine the cocoa powder, espresso powder, and boiling water. Whisk until smooth; set aside to cool slightly. When cooled down a bit, whisk in the sour cream and vanilla. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Gradually blend in the sugar and whip on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, two to three minutes more. Blend in the eggs one at a time. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; whisk to blend.
With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the sour cream mixture, beating each addition just until incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake the cake layers for about 30 to 32 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, rotating the pans during halfway through to ensure even baking. Transfer the baked cake layers to a wire rack and let cool in the pans at least 30 minutes before inverting onto the rack to cool completely.
To make the filling and frosting, combine the heavy cream and a quarter cup of the confectioners’ sugar in the clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip on medium-high speed until light, fluffy and stiff peaks form, being careful not to over mix. Transfer the whipped cream to a separate bowl. In the now empty mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and peanut butter. Beat on medium-high speed until smooth, about 45 seconds. Add the remaining confectioners’ sugar to the bowl and mix in, slowly at first until incorporated, then increasing the mixer speed to high. Blend in the vanilla extract and salt, and continue to whip on high speed until very fluffy, about four to five minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Use a large spatula to gently fold about a third of the whipped cream into the peanut butter frosting. Once the first addition has been evenly incorporated, gently fold in the remaining whipped cream until no streaks remain.
To assemble the cake, place one of the cake layers on a cake board or serving platter. Spread an even layer of the frosting over the top of the cake. Top with a second cake layer and another layer of the frosting. Place the final cake layer on top. Frost the top and sides of the cake using a thin crumb coat at first. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes to set. Reserve about 1 cup of the remaining frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip. Once the crumb cake is set, frost the top and sides of the cake again using an offset spatula for a smooth finish. Use the reserved frosting to pipe a border around the base of the cake. Pipe swirls evenly around the top border of the cake. I drizzle chocolate on the top part of the cake in a lattice design. Finish by garnishing with halved peanut butter cups. Refrigerate the cake until ready to serve.
Linda Beech is a Kansas State University Research & Extension agent in Ellis County specializing in family and consumer sciences. firstname.lastname@example.org