This week in Tuesdays with Dorie we were supposed to make Berry Surprise Cake. For a couple of reasons, I hesitated on this one. First, it calls for a pint and a half of fresh raspberries: a heavy investment this time of year with a high likelihood of bitter and shriveled berries. Second, preliminary results from the baking front looked rough. For most bakers, the genoise cake either rose like crazy then took a nosedive at the center, or never rose at all and hardened into a flat round. I wanted to rise to the challenge, but, alas, it snowed last night — for the first time this year in North Carolina — and all the schools were closed. So I had two little snow-crazed children running around the house all morning. Time to improvise.
Inspired by Dorie’s “Playing Around” commentary alongside the recipe, I decided to poach a combination of dried fruits and top it with her cake’s cream cheese filling. It was absolutely perfect for a cold, blustery snow day. A sweet and spicy treat for me and the kids loved it, too.
Next week, chocolate gingerbread cake!
Poached fruit with Dorie’s topping
For the poached fruit:
8 ounces dried fruit of all kinds (I used apricots, cherries, cranberries, golden raisins, and prunes)
4 cups water
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp. vanilla
For the topping
3 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup plus 1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar [I doubled the sugar, since her recipe isn’t particularly sweet. Feel free to cut this in half.]
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Combine all ingredients in medium saucepan. Bring to boil and stir until the brown sugar dissolves. Reduce heat and simmer until fruit softens, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Transfer fruit only to a bowl, using slotted spoon. Boil remaining liquid until reduced to 1 cup, about 10 minutes.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese at medium speed until soft, smooth and fluffy. While beating, gradually add 1/4 cup of the cream, the sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until the cream is absorbed and the cheese is smooth. Scrape the mixture into a medium bowl.
Pour the remaining 1/3 cup cream into the bowl you beat the cream cheese in (there’s no need to wash it) and, using the whisk attachment or the hand mixer, whip the cream until it holds firm peaks. Stir about one quarter of the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture, then fold in the rest.
This can be served warm, room temperature or chilled.