Theme restaurants are all the rage in Asia. My daughter Carly has been teaching English for the last three summers in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan. She has sent me the most interesting and colourful pictures from restaurants like the Hello Kitty Cafe where all the food is shaped like Hello Kitty, the Barbie Cafe, The Ninja Restaurant, A380 an airplane restaurant, and yikes, the Modern Toilet Restaurant, where they, well I won’t tell you.
Over the years I have made murder mystery dinners, Japanese and Pan Asian themed dinners and many dress-up tea parties. But the favourite and most well received theme party is my Italian dessert night. The desserts aren’t actually Italian, but when my guests sit down at a table that is decked out with a red and white checkered tablecloth, they think that they are going to be fed an actual Italian dinner.
SPAGHETTI AND MEATBALLS CAKE
Pasta desserts are not such a weird concept, actually there are many desserts made of pasta. The Italians are known for Torta di Tagliatelle, fresh pasta cake, while the Jews of Eastern Europe have been creating kugels, sweet pasta puddings with cottage cheese, raisins and cinnamon, for centuries. Of course the pasta in this cake is really just icing!
Base of Cake
Banana Cake With Chocolate Chips
9 in. spring form pan lined with a circle of parchment paper and sprayed with canola oil.
3/4 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. pure vanilla
6 large ripe to overripe bananas
2 cups flour
1 tsp.baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350. In food processor, mix oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Add bananas and combine well.
Add dry ingredients and pulse until combined. Add chocolate chips and run machine until chips have been combined and some chips are chopped into smaller pieces.
Pour into pan and tap on counter to remove any bubbles. Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes and run an offset spatula around the outside of the cake. Remove cake from pan and remove the parchment paper. Transfer cake to a large pasta bowl or platter. Set aside until completely cooled.
1 can of white frosting
4 drops yellow food colour
Mix frosting with food colouring until well blended. Fill a piping bag, with a plain circle tip, with frosting. Pipe spaghetti strands starting at the bottom of the cake up the sides to about 2-3 inches in from top edge. Leave the middle area of the cake empty. Continue circling and overlapping with the piping bag over already piped strands until it resembles spaghetti on a plate.
1-2 jars low sugar strawberry jam
Heat jam for 1 minute in the microwave. Spoon some jam to cover open space in middle of the cake
I box of Ferrero Rocher, about 16 pieces
Place chocolates in a bowl and cover with jam and toss. Place over jam covered area of cake, some “meatballs” on top of others.
Shaved white chocolate, using a vegetable peeler or grater or flaked coconut
Sprinkle chocolate or coconut “cheese” over meatballs.
When cake is all assembled keep refrigerated until 1 hour before serving. May be prepared one day ahead.
ICE CREAM PIZZA
Make this amazing dessert in advance, and then freeze it until party time. Use a metal pizza pan to get the best effect. Use your imagination to come up with additional interesting toppings.
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla
1 cup flour
Preheat oven to 475. In food processor, combine butter, sugar and vanilla. Add flour and pulse until combined. Remove from processor and form into a ball. Flatten and pat into the bottom of a 16- in. pizza pan, thicken the crust around edge of the pan to resemble an ordinary pizza crust. Bake for 8 minutes. Cool. When cool, cover and place in freezer.
• 1 litre french vanilla ice cream = Mozzarella cheese
• 1 jar strawberry jam= tomato sauce
• dried banana chips = sliced zucchini
• cashew nuts, unsalted = mushrooms
• green and red candied cherries, diced = red and green peppers
• flaked coconut = shredded Parmesan cheese
• green candied cherries, whole = olives
When the pizza crust is frozen, warm strawberry jam for 1 minute in microwave.
Slice whole green cherries in half and place a piece of red cherry in hole to resemble olives with pimento.
Spoon about 1/4 of the jam around outside edge of crust up to thicker edge. Then spoon 1/4 more of the jam over the entire crust. Soften the ice cream and spread it over the crust to thicker edge. Spoon more jam over the ice cream to resemble tomato sauce showing through cheese.
Sprinkle banana chips, cashew nuts, diced cherries, sliced cherry “olives” and coconut over pizza. Place in freezer until frozen. Remove from freezer and wrap well in plastic wrap, return to freezer until ready to serve.
Cut pizza into wedges with a pizza wheel (cutter.)