Monday, November 15, 2010

Nilla Wafer Cooking Fun!

For my party on Saturday, I tried my hand at some desserts - my only attempt at desserts that hadn't started as a  mix from a box (other than my semi-failed crockpot cobbler on Labor Day.) Since I was featuring Nilla Wafers, I first searched the Nabisco website for some ideas, and came up with a few that looked easy enough even I could do them. I settled on one from the site and opted to do one from the recipe cards they had sent me to give to my guests (so they could go "Oooh, can I have the recipe?" Ta-DAH!)

Prep Time: 10 min [Lies!] Total Time: 45 minutes, Serves 8

4 large Granny Smith apples (about 8 cups) [I used 5 small ones]
25 Kraft caramels (1/2 of 14-oz bag) [I used 26, since you do half on each layer and it seemed silly not to]
2 tbsp milk
25 Nilla wafers, crushed (about 1 cup of crumbs)
1/3 c quick-cook oats
1/4 c firmly packed light brown sugar [I don't know if I used light or not. Whatever kind was in the cupboard. I had to get a stool to reach it and put it away, so I'm not going back to look for it now!]
1/4 c (1/2 stick) cold butter, cut up [Oops. Didn't cut mine first.]

Step 1: Core apples and slice thinly (they cheat and don't count this as part of the prep time. Please. Like I have 8 cups of thinly sliced Granny Smiths just lying around all the time. Pfft.)
I enjoyed using my new corer!
I got mine from Pampered Chef, but any will do!
This one had a thing to shove the core back out! Woot!
It didn't say to peel the apples, so I didn't, but my husband says it would have been better peeled, and my sister gave me the stinkeye when she saw that they hadn't been peeled. They both said that it turned out okay though. But probably would have been better peeled. So I'd try it that way, if I were you, unless you hate soft apple crisp.

Step 2: Preheat oven to 350F. Place half of the apple slices in 1.5 qt baking dish (I did this as I sliced, so when I had cut up half the apples, I stopped and did the next step, then cut the rest.) Top with half of the caramels (unwrap them first though!)
Step 3: Repeat layers (other half of the apples, then other half of the caramels on top.) Pour 2 tbsp milk over caramel layer. Set aside.
2nd layer of apples

Last layer of caramels
Adding milk

Step 4: Mash up the Nilla wafers into crumbs. You can use a food processor, but I opted to put them in a Ziplock and broke them a little by hand before going at them with a rolling pin. These babies crumble very easily!

After first round of rolling pin.
I pressed them and crushed them more after.
Step 5: Mix wafer crumbs, oats and brown sugar in a medium bowl. Cut in butter with pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle evenly over caramel layer.
Crumbs, oats and brown sugar
I didn't know how to mix with 2 knives, and I didn't want to get the Kitchenaid all dirty just for this, so I attempted to mix using a firm spatula and a biscuit dough mixer jobber. I had just started, so it may have worked out okay, but I was having a hard time since I missed the part about cutting the butter up first. Unka Seesee came up at this point and showed me how to do the knife thing.
The crumble turned out very nice.

Step 6: Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until apples are tender. Serve warm. 
I cooked it 30 minutes, then stuck it in the fridge overnight. I then heated it back up at 350 F for about 20 minutes before the party. I cleverly took no pictures of the finished product, either before or after cooking. So here's the best I could do (it's the dish closest to the camera):

I generally don't like cooked apples, but these were okay. Not too firm. Could have handled them a little mushier. Didn't love the peels, but didn't hate them either. It was weird having big hunks of caramel in spots, so maybe skip them and sprinkle extra brown sugar between the apple layers, or maybe chop them into smaller bits so they're more evenly disbursed. *I* like surprise chewy pockets in my desserts, but it was still a little strange.

Chocolate Mousse Torte
Prep time: 20 minutes, Total time: 3 hr 20 minutes, serves 16

37 Nilla wafers [I didn't bother counting, I just laid them wherever they fit, so I may have used more.]
4 squares Baker's semi-sweet chocolate, divided [1 square = 1 oz, so I just used dark chocolate Dove Promises]
2x 3.9oz packages Jell-O chocolate instant pudding
2 c, 2 tbsp cold milk, divided
1 tub (8 oz) Cool Whip, thawed, divided
1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/4 c sugar
3/4 c fresh raspberries [there were no raspberries to be found within a 3-mile radius, so I used strawberries]

Step 1: Line 9-inch round pan with plastic wrap. Stand 16 (or however many fit around, I think I had 19!) Nilla Wafers around inside edge of pan.

Step 2: Melt 3 square (3 oz) chocolate as directed on package (I microwaved around 10 Dove Promises for 1 minute and then stirred the melted parts over the unmelted until they were all melty.)

Step 3: Beat pudding mixes and 2 cups milk in medium bowl. Please note: You don't add the milk as directed on package. Just the milk in this recipe. It took me a while to decode the recipe and decide that 'pudding mix' meant the powder only.

My sous chef. She had already scarpered off with a Dove chocolate 
but came back in to assist with the tasting mixing.
Step 4: Add melted chocolate and mix well.

Step 5: Stir in 1 cup Cool Whip. Mix thoroughly

Step 6: Pour into prepared pan.

Step 7: Beat cream cheese, sugar and 2 tbsp milk in mixer until well blended.

Step 8: Stir in 1 cup remaining Cool Whip.
Mine looked really lumpy, and no amount of mixing fixed it, so I moved on.

Step 9: Spread cheese mixture over pudding.

Step 10: Top with remaining wafers. (Again, I didn't count. Looks like 21 on top.) Refrigerate 3 hours.
It doesn't say to cover it, but you might want to, as milk products absorb odors, so any stinky in the fridge will seep right into your yummy dessert.
My fridge was apparently broken, so yours may be firmer than mine was, since it didn't really get to 'chill' at all.

Step 11: Meanwhile, shave remaining chocolate square (1 oz, approx 3 Dove Promises. Although I had plenty extra.)
I wasn't sure how to shave chocolate, and wasn't looking forward to cutting myself on something because the pieces were so small, so I used my brand new parmesan grater. Easy peasy.

Step 12: (after 3 hours in fridge) Invert torte onto plate, remove plastic wrap. Top torte with remaining Cool Whip, berries and chocolate curls.
After almost just flipping the pan over and hoping for the best, I was hit with an epiphany and placed the plate upside-down over the top of the cake pan and held them together while flipping them both over. Perfect! Yes I know. Everyone else is probably all like, "Well, duh" but I was seriously standing there wondering how on earth I was supposed to do it without dumping it everywhere.
One of my guests' sons wanted to help with the berries. He even washed his hands first!

The kids preferred the Mousse Torte (duh) but the adults were split. I think I preferred the apples, but would like to try it without peels.

I had a variety of recipes planned for the kids, but they were having so much fun playing, and were getting along so well, that we just did a quick treat before going home that I made up that was based on a recipe at the Nabisco website.

I Want S'more Nilla Sandwiches!
1 tsp Peanut butter, Nutella, Sunbutter or Almond butter, or whatever
2 tsp Marshmallow creme
Chopped peanuts/almonds/etc, shaved chocolate, crushed peppermint (candy canes) or sprinkles
2 Nilla Wafers

Step 1: Spread PB/Nutella/etc on the flat (bottom) side of one Nilla wafer 

Step 2: Spread marshmallow creme on the flat side of the other. 

Step 3: Smoosh spread-sides together to make a sandwich. Try to smoosh and adjust so that there is a little marshmallow creme oozing out all around the edges.

Step 4: Roll edge of sandwich in desired sprinkle topping.

Step 5: YUM!

The kids loved the Nilla Wafers, and apparently my niece (the one who stayed awake for the drive home) kept asking for more the whole way!

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