I know this story isn’t really Cape Ann oriented, but since lots of you will either be hosting or attending a wedding shower sometime this Spring/Summer, I thought this was a really clever idea.
This project comes from my friend Beth at www.hungryhappenings.com. I have posted a few of her ideas in the past, particularly at Halloween, because she is so creative but I think this idea takes the cake! If you need ideas for pretty much any themed party, check out her blog.
Roasted Garlic Parmesan Cheese Ball Wedding Cake
1 whole head (bulb) of garlic
1 teaspoon olive oil
2/3 cup blanched and slivered almonds
2 – 8 ounce blocks of cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese (or freshly grated Parmesan)
pinch of salt
optional: pinch of white pepper (don’t use black)
optional decorations: a tub of cream cheese, or edible flowers, or white cheese slices
Special Equipment Needed:
4 1/2″, 3 1/4″, and 2″ round cookie cutters
food processor or an electric hand mixer
offset (angled) metal spatula
tin foil and plastic wrap
optional: piping bag fitted with a coupler and a #21 star tip
Preheat oven to 400 degrees (I use my toaster oven for small jobs like this.) Cut head of garlic in half and set on a piece of tin foil. Drizzle olive oil over garlic. Fold foil and pinch edges closed. Roast in oven for 35-45 minutes until garlic is golden brown. Allow to cool to room temperature. Squeeze the two halves of the garlic to expel the soft roasted garlic. Note: I put my garlic through a garlic press, just to remove the darker outer skin of the garlic cloves, so that my cheese spread didn’t get too brown. It isn’t necessary, but I think the cakes look better cream colored than tan.
Roast the slivered almonds. Pour the almonds into a skillet set over medium or medium low heat. Stir often as they roast until they turn golden brown. I usually heat the nuts until they just begin to brown, then I turn off the heat and allow the nuts to roast in the residual heat of the skillet. I don’t worry about burning the nuts that way. Allow the nuts to cool to room temperature.
Combine the cream cheese, grated Parmesan cheese, roasted garlic, salt, and white pepper, if using, in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until creamy and smooth. Add nuts and pulse 10 times just to incorporate the nuts. If using an electric mixer, combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl, and blend until smooth and creamy, roughly chop the nuts and combine.
Line each of the round cookie cutters with plastic wrap. Spoon the cheese spread into each of the cutters, making sure to completely fill the cutter. Level off the cheese spread using an offset spatula.
Fold plastic wrap over the top of the cheese spread. Flip the filled cookie cutter upside down. You need to make sure the cheese completely fills the cutter. As you can see, in the middle picture, the cheese doesn’t completely fill the cutter on the left. Use your fingers to press the cheese to flatten it out so that it fills the cutter around the edges. If you skip this step, your layered cakes will have gaps where the cakes touch.
Chill for at least 2 hours, and up to several days.
Unmold and unwrap the chilled cheese rounds. Set the 4 1/2″ cheese round on a serving platter or small cake stand. Each of the cheese rounds (a.k.a. cake layers) will have a wrinkled looking exterior caused by the folds in the plastic wrap. This is unavoidable. To smooth out the top and sides of your cake layers, run an offset spatula under hot water, dry, then use it to smooth the top and and sides of the cheese round. I actually filled a glass with hot water and just dipped the spatula into the water, then wiped it dry with paper towels, and used it to smooth out the wrinkles. Once you’ve smoothed out the bottom cake layer, stack the 3 1/4″ cake layer in the center on top of the first layer. Smooth it out then add the third and smallest cake layer and smooth it out.
You can now decorate your cake any way you’d like. Keep is simple and add a small cake topper, pipe cream cheese “frosting” in a lovely pattern on the cakes, cut slices of white cheese using mini cookie cutters into flowers or polka dots and attach them with a dab of cream cheese, or arrange edible flowers all over the cakes.