“Sweet Magnolias” Cookbook Serves Up Southern Supreme Red Velvet Cake (the real deal!)by Larry Cox on Sep. 12, 2012, under Uncategorized
The Sweet Magnolias Cookbook by Sherryl Woods with Chef Teddi Wohlford (Harlequin Books, $21.95)
There have been ten books in the “Sweet Magnolias” Harlequin series, set in the fictional world of Serenity, South Carolina. This cookbook celebrates the people and places found in those books which have sold millions of copies nationwide.
Southern food is an essential element in “Sweet Magnolias.” So much so, readers often ask author Sherryl Woods for the recipes of many of the dishes she mentions in her books. In this collection, Woods teams up with Chef Teddi Wohlford, a caterer who specializes in what she calls “Uptown Down South Cuisine,” a gourmet approach, if you will, to cooking and updating Southern classics.
Whether you are familiar with the “Sweet Magnolias” series or not, this cookbook is fun and serves up Southern food with interesting new twists. For example, greens are kicked up a notch when Chef Teddie Wohlford combines them with pears and blue cheese and tops the dish with a toasted walnut vinaigrette.
Each chapter in this cookbook evokes the popular places and characters from the series. The eight sections are Sweet Magnolias Margarita Nights; Sullivan’s Restaurants Specialties of the House; Chef Erik’s Decadent Desserts; The Corner Spa’s Low-Cal Healthy Sections; Serenity Farmers’ Market; Sunday Brunch at Sullivans; Mama Cruz’s Recipe File, and Holiday Get-Togethers.
Some of the standout recipes are Sweet Potato Biscuits, Macaroon Muffins with Dates and Pecans, Southern Smothered Corn Chowder, Uptown Down-South Cheese Grits, and that quintessential hush-my-mouth dessert, Southern Supreme Red Velvet Cake.
I tested two recipes from this collection. I whipped up some Cheddar Corn Muffins which were surprisingly simple to make. I could not resist the Red Velvet Cake and that was my second choice. I have not read any of the books in the Sweet Magnolias series but I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of recipes.
SOUTHERN SUPREME RED VELVET CAKE
For the Cake:
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
½ c shortening
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbs cocoa powder
2 oz red food coloring
2 ½ c all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 c buttermilk
1 Tbs white vinegar
1 tsp baking powder
For the Icing:
1 1/4 c milk
1 ½ c granulated sugar
6 Tbs flour
1 c butter, room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350F.
Grease and flour two 9” cake pans.
In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, cream together sugar, shortening and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time.
Make a paste by stirring together cocoa and food coloring. Add the creamed mixture.
Sift together flour and salt. Add alternately with buttermilk to batter, beginning and ending with the flour.
Combine vinegar and baking soda. Stir into batter.
Divide batter evenly between two pans. Firmly rap cake on countertop to level batter.
Bake 30-35 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Prepare frosting.
Cool in pans 10 minutes on rack. Remove from pans, cool thoroughly.
Split cake layers in half hortizontally, making 4 layers total.
Whisk together milk and flour. Pour through a mesh strainer — to remove any lumps — into a medium saucepan. Add sugar to saucepan.
Cook mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and begins to boil. Continue to cook and stir for three minutes.
Remove from heat and transfer mixture to a mixing bowl. Place in refrigerator for about one hour, stirring the mixture several times during the cooling period. Cool mixture to about 70F.
Using an electric mixer, blend the cooled flour/milk/sugar mixture with the room temperature butter. Add vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy, scraping down the bowl several times while beating.
Spread ¼ of the icing between each layer and on top of the cake. Do not frost sides of the cake. Store covered in the refrigerator or at room temperature during colder months.
Yields about 14 generous servings
Although there are other recipes for this delightful dessert, some made with cake mixers, this is the real deal. It takes a little time and is rather complex but well worth the extra effort.