Archive for Special Occasion
This is a fairly simple, traditional recipe that I put together for our Thanksgiving family gathering this year. I always enjoy sweet potato casserole for the holidays. I usually prefer a crunchy pecan and brown sugar topping, but decided to change it up a little this year. I know some people always look forward to the toasted marshmallows on top. So, this year, I did both. This is now my favorite way to eat them. I’d like to think of this as a vegetable side dish, but really it’s sweet enough to call it dessert. This is the picture I took before baking. Sorry, I forgot to take the “after” shot.
Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe
4 large Sweet Potatoes or Yams, peeled, cooked and mashed (about 4 lbs or 8 cups)
3 Eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup Butter, softened
1 TBSP Maple Syrup
3/4 Cup Almond Milk (I used vanilla flavored.)
1 Cup Chopped Pecans
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup Brown Rice Flour
1/3 Cup Butter, melted
1 Cup Small Marshmallows
- Cook and peel the sweet potatoes, or yams. I like to score the skin on the yams both around the middle and lengthwise. Then I put them into boiling water and simmer until they are fork tender (about 20-30 min.).
- While the yams are cooking, combine the first four topping ingredients with a fork and set aside.
- When the yams are done, remove them from the heat and drain the water. Cover with cold water to cool down. If the skin hasn’t come off already, gently pull the skin off.
- Mash the yams and add the rest of the main ingredients. Combine thoroughly. You may want to beat the ingredients together for a smoother, fluffier texture.
- Spread the yams/sweet potato mixture into a 9 x 13 baking dish. (You can cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator at this point, if you are saving for the next day.)
- Then top the yams with the mini marshmallows and pecan mixture in alternating diagonal stripes.
- Bake at 350° F for 30-40 minutes, or until the yams are bubbly hot and the marshmallows are lightly browned.
- To make ahead: I made this the day before Thanksgiving, skipping step 2 and ending at step 5 the first day. On the morning of Thanksgiving, I took the dish out of the refrigerator and let set on the counter while I worked on step 2 of the directions and preheated the oven. I then finished the baking with steps 6 and 7.
- If the marshmallows don’t brown after 40 minutes, put it under the broiler for a few minutes. But watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn.
It was such a busy summer that I never got around to sharing this birthday cake idea with you. My son loves Hot Wheels! His love of cars started at a very early age, and by the time he was three years old could tell me which cars were Hot Wheels as opposed to any other brand of toy car. I created a Hot Wheels monster truck cake for him when he turned 5, so I wasn’t expecting to make another Hot Wheels cake for him this year. But, two days before his birthday, he insisted on a Hot Wheels cake. And not just a Hot Wheels cake, but a Hot Wheels race track cake. Huh? Has he been watching Ace of Cakes when I wasn’t around? I loved the creative challenge, but with only two days to figure it out, I figured he’d have to accept whatever I could come up with.
I started going through his Hot Wheels tracks for ideas. I found a fun little track that I thought would be fun to incorporate with it. But, I couldn’t remove all the track pieces from the base and support structure. As I discussed the idea with my husband, he suggested that we just use the regular flexible Hot Wheels track pieces to make our own race track. Well, they seemed a little big for it, but he convinced me he could make a support structure for it. OK. But to be a Hot Wheels track it has to have a loop, right? And wouldn’t it be fun if it went through a tunnel in the cake? So, that’s how the thoughts flowed to come up with this idea. Crazy, I know. But the kids loved it!
I didn’t get pictures of the building process. I was too busy trying to figure out what to do to stop and take a picture. And, I’m really sorry I never got a video of it working. We had to enlarge the tunnel a little, and find the right, low-profile car to make it through the tunnel. The kids at the party all enjoyed giving it a try before we cut the cake. It worked most of the time, though the car got stuck in the frosting a couple times.
I baked two round 9″ cakes. I used Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Cake Mixes and followed the baking directions.
For the top layer cake, I cut out another path for the tunnel. Then, I placed the cake on top of the bottom layer. I had to make some adjustments for the tunnel, by cutting a little more here and there so that the cake becomes like a ramp down the middle. After testing it with the track, I frosted the top, sides and inside the tunnel.
For the side of the cake, I tried to keep the decoration simple. I used a plastic chop stick to make indentions along the side of the frosted cake to resemble tire tread.
For the flames: I used simple icing made with powdered sugar and water. (I start with 1 cup powdered sugar and 1 Tbsp water and adjust as necessary.) Then I separated it into three small bowls and used food dye to create red, orange and yellow frosting. I used Wilton’s small round #3 decorating tip to outline the flames. Then, filled in with the different colors as shown in the picture. I used a small knife to spread the frosting to fill in the flames.
For the support of the track, my husband used a yard stick and a dowel rod secured with a nail. The track and clamp are all Hot Wheels pieces I drug out of the toy bin at home. The track had to be high enough to make the loop successfully. It also needed a little support in the middle of the track, so we used a straw taped to the underside of the track and top of the yard stick.
More Great Birthday Cake Ideas:
- Heidi made a show-stopping Monster Truck birthday cake at Adventures of a Gluten-Free Mom.
- Heidi also made a fabulous Star Wars Clone Trooper Helmet cake you should check out.
- And, don’t miss Andrea Meyer’s Lego Star Wars Stormtropper Cake at Andrea’s Recipes.
- If you’re looking for a Cars cake, Andrea also built a great Lightning McQueen cake.
I’m also linking this post to Gluten-Free Wednesdays at The Gluten-Free Homemaker, where you’ll find lots of wonderful gluten-free recipes, reviews and ideas.
Earlier this year, while visiting family in Omaha, we celebrated three different birthdays. Both my mom and sister bought gluten-free cakes at the Cupcake Island so we could enjoy their birthday cakes with them. The gluten-free cakes and cupcakes were delicious and decorated perfectly for the occasions. I hadn’t really investigated getting gluten-free cakes from local bakeries in Virginia. But when I came home, I thought I’d see if a local bakery could make a gluten-free cake for my daughter’s birthday. Surprise! Cakes by Happy Eatery in northern Virginia makes gluten-free cakes. Unfortunately, my daughter was having a lot of friends at her party, and the cake large enough to accommodate was going to cost $85-100. I just didn’t think that would fit into my budget. So, I made the cake myself.
I enjoy decorating cakes, but I was short on time this year. Rather than make the cake from scratch, I took the short cuts: Betty Crocker gluten-free cake mixes and frosting. I used four cake mixes. For the bottom layer, I combined two yellow cake mixes and baked them for about 50 minutes in a 9″x 13″ pan. For the top layer I did the same thing with two chocolate cake mixes. I used chocolate frosting between the layers, and vanilla frosting tinted green to cover the top and sides.
Now to decorate. My daughter wanted a Princess and the Frog birthday cake because Tiana is her new favorite princess. I bought the little Princess Tiana dress-up doll set that came with the frogs and firefly to help decorate the cake. That way I could quickly create a swamp and lily pads for the frogs. My daughter was pleased, and I got it done without too much time and drama.
Some of the tools I used to decorate the cake:
- Wilton Color Mist spray – blue and green for the swamp
- Disposable Decorating Bags
- Wilton frosting tips – Open Star Tip to decorate the edge of the cake, Leaf Tip and multiple-hole tip for grass to define the edge of the pond, and round tip for writing.
Want to purchase a gluten-free cake or cupcakes, instead?
Give these bakeries in the DC/MD/NOVA area a try:
- Cakes by Happy Eatery in Centreville and Manassas, VA
- Cherry Blossom Cakes in DC
- Free For All Cupcakes available by special order
- Mallow Drama in Reston, VA
- Sweet Sin Cupcakes in Baltimore, MD
More Notable Links: