Ahhhh, Summer. That time of year when you stay up a little later, the dinner hour is rolled back to a more suitable time of the day, and you can sleep in a little longer because your not forced to catch that 8am school bell. You are invited to picnics and swim parties and things just somehow miraculously slow down.
I tend to slow down in the kitchen as well - oh don't get me wrong, I'm still creating, just not with a hot oven. Instead, I tend to switch gears to quick and easy. Deserts tend to be cool, refrigerated treats or freezer ready cool and tasty. Dinners are either cooked on the grill or joined up with plenty of fresh local produce. Summer is about taking it easy so I tend to do the same in the kitchen as well... I'm jus' sayin'!
Chocolate Pudding Cake Cups
A couple days ago I was asked to swing on over to a friend's house to go swimming. Thinking on my toes to find a quick portable treat, I went back in my recipe memory to one of the very first fancy cake cooking classes I took over 20 years ago. The class was taught by a former pastry chef and some of the best things I learned from her were the secret things they did in the bakery to use up scraps. That's where this recipe came from.
I first used this recipe in a bakery years ago. When you are leveling your cakes you tend to have that "crumb lid" that gets shaved off. You could eat it, but after a while you may find yourself with your own "lid" around your hips. Instead, we froze those scraps and later created desserts very similar to this one. I had a flop recently in cupcake testing, leaving me with a batch of cupcakes that tasted fine but looked pretty bad. Instead of throwing them out, I placed them in a freezer bag and tucked them away in the back of my freezer, waiting for an opportunity to use them.
This is all approximate...
In 12 6oz plastic cups layer the following ingredients. (This can also be made in an 8 X 13 inch casserole dish and cut into squares)
Crumble baked cake of your choice (I used chocolate) into the bottom of cups so that each cup is half full of cake. Make your favorite "cooked" pudding (using the large box size that call for 3 cups of milk). This is the secret - it has to be cooked as cold instant pudding will not meld into the cake as well.
If you are using a glass 13x9 inch casserole it does not matter if your pudding is hot. Just pour it all over and spread into the cracks.
At this point you can use freshly whipped cream or if you are in a hurry you can even grab some frozen whipped topping from the freezer section of the grocer. I used a french vanilla flavored topping as I wanted the stability of non-dairy in my delivery. Sprinkle with some chocolate on top and put back into the fridge for an hour or so until you are ready to leave. This is also great for potlucks. You can change up the pudding and cake flavors too. I have used lemon cake and lemon curd with crushed lemon drops on top Mmmmm! Kind of like a trifle but a bit simpler.
“Summer, after all, is a time when wonderful things can happen to quiet people. For those few months, you’re not required to be who everyone thinks you are, and that cut-grass smell in the air and the chance to dive into the deep end of a pool give you a courage you don’t have the rest of the year. You can be grateful and easy, with no eyes on you, and no past. Summer just opens the door and lets you out.”
― Deb Caletti, Honey, Baby, Sweetheart