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Play an April Fool's prank on your senses: Mayonnaise Chocolate Cake

We readily accept zucchini in muffins and carrots in cake, despite their more customary roles as vegetables. And every Southern cook knows that Coca-Cola is good for more than drinking on a sweltering day. Pour it over a roast, along with other ingredients, cook for hours and the sugary soda burnishes the meat and deeply flavors the sauce. • So why do we wrinkle our noses at salt in ice cream or olive oil in cake? Some ideas just seem too weird.

But April Fools' Day — that's today in case you haven't already been punked — got us thinking about ingredients that fool the taste buds. Using something savory, herbs for instance, as a flavor component in something sweet, such as sorbet or cookies. Or adding sweetness to savory dishes in the form of peaches (pork), chocolate (chili) and pineapple juice (marinades).

Before you make the yuck face at mayonnaise stirred into chocolate cake batter, consider that mayo is mostly oil and eggs. And both are common ingredients in cake. Mayonnaise Chocolate Cake is a rescue recipe when you're out of the other basics.

Haagen-Dazs has a slightly-hard-to-find Fleur de Sel Caramel reserve ice cream that plays with the gourmet salt trend. Sea salt in ice cream? Don't knock it until you try it, especially if you're one of those people who like sweet-salty snacks like chocolate-covered pretzels (or bacon that touches pancake syrup). We include a recipe here for adventurous cooks, and if you've got one of those electric ice cream makers that uses a frozen cylinder rather than crank and rock salt, it's simple.

A can of Coke added to a long-cooked roast disappears into the sauce. This recipe would work well in a slow cooker, too. Diet Coke is not a great substitute. The sugar in the fully loaded soda is what adds flavor to the dish.

Lastly, that "say what?" Lemon Olive Oil Cake. This single-layer sweet is delicious as an afternoon pick-me-up with a cup of tea or even a class of dessert wine such as Moscato d'Asti. The taste of the cake changes depending on what type of olive oil is used, extra-virgin or not.

There are lots of variations of olive oil cake, many of which seem to have a lot of ingredients, including one with anise seeds, rosemary, rum and orange marmalade. We like this simple version in which the lemon is pronounced and the earthy olive oil is detected as a back note.

We don't want to be fooled that much.

Times staff writer Lennie Bennett contributed to this report. Janet K. Keeler can be reached at jkeeler@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8586.

>>moderate

Salted Caramel Ice Cream

1 ¼ cups granulated sugar, divided

2 teaspoons light corn syrup

2 cups cream, preferably organic

2 cups whole milk

10 large egg yolks (see note)

½ teaspoon fleur de sel (sea salt), plus more for serving

Place ¾ cup sugar and the corn syrup in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Do not stir. Place the pan over medium-high heat, and cook the mixture to a dark caramel, swirling the pan as it begins to brown to distribute the sugar. Add the cream, then slowly add the milk. The caramel will seize and harden, but don't worry. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then simmer it, stirring, just until the caramel has dissolved.

Meanwhile, place the yolks in a large bowl with the remaining ½ cup sugar and the fleur de sel. Whisk to combine. When the caramel cream is ready, pour a splash of it into the egg mixture to temper, whisking constantly, and then another splash or two for good measure. Then pour the tempered egg mixture into the caramel cream. Whisk thoroughly.

Pour the mixture through a fine-meshed sieve into a medium metal bowl. Place the bowl in an ice bath to cool the mixture completely. Remove the bowl from the ice bath, cover it with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight. Freeze in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's directions. Serve with additional fleur de sel sprinkled on top. (The ice cream will be quite soft at first but will firm as it freezes.)

Note: The yolks may not be cooked enough to kill all bacteria, so this recipe is not recommended for pregnant women or anyone with immune deficiencies.

Makes 1 quart.

Source: New York Times

>>easy

Mayonnaise Chocolate Cake

2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking soda

4 tablespoons cocoa

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup water

1 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon vanilla

Chopped nuts (optional)

Chocolate chips (optional)

Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl. Add the water and beat 1 minute. Add the mayonnaise and beat 1 minute. Add the vanilla and beat 1 minute.

Pour into a greased and floured 9- by 13-inch baking pan. Sprinkle with chopped nuts and chocolate chips if you'd like. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes.

Source: cooks.com

>>easy

Coca-Cola Roast

1 (3- to 4-pound) boneless beef roast

1 to 2 garlic cloves, minced

1 (12-ounce) can of Coca-Cola

1/2 cup chili sauce

1 medium onion, sliced

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cut slits in roast, placing the minced garlic into the slits. Place beef in a small roasting pan. Pour cola over the roast. Pour the chili sauce over the roast, and place onion on top. Cover tightly and roast for 3 hours.

Serves 8 to 10.

Source: St. Petersburg Times

>>moderate

Lemon Olive Oil Cake

3/4 cup olive oil (extra-virgin if desired), plus additional for greasing pan

1 large lemon

1 teaspoon lemon extract

1 cup all-purpose cake flour (not self-rising)

5 large eggs, separated, reserving 1 white for another use

3/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, divided use

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease springform pan with some oil, then line bottom with a round of parchment paper. Oil parchment.

Finely grate enough lemon zest to measure 1 1/2 teaspoons and whisk together with flour. Halve lemon, then squeeze and reserve 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice.

Beat together yolks and 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until thick and pale, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add olive oil (3/4 cup), reserved lemon juice and lemon extract, and beat until just combined (mixture may appear separated). Using a wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture (do not beat) until just combined.

Beat egg whites (from 4 eggs) with 1/2 teaspoon salt in another large bowl with cleaned beaters at medium-high speed until foamy, then add 1/4 cup sugar a little at a time, beating, and continue to beat until egg whites just hold soft peaks, about 3 minutes.

Gently fold one third of whites into yolk mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly.

Transfer batter to springform pan and gently rap against work surface once or twice to release any air bubbles. Sprinkle top evenly with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar. Bake until puffed and golden and a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a thin knife around edge of pan and remove side of pan. Cool cake to room temperature, about 1 1/4 hours. Remove bottom of pan and peel off parchment, then transfer cake to a serving plate.

Source: Gourmet

Play an April Fool's prank on your senses: Mayonnaise Chocolate Cake 03/31/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 31, 2009 4:30am]

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