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TV characters take the cake

Sunday, March 4, 2012

I wrote a story on what TV characters eat for the cookery column in the newspaper recently. It meant I was forced to watch television on the job – awful, isn't it?
I prepared two dishes for the article  Orange Chicken and Blueberry Pancakes – and then I had to eat them afterwards. I'm sure everyone sympathises with me.
Kidding aside, I have wanted to make this item from the TV character diet for a while now: those chocolate-covered cream-filled snack cakes that The Closer, Brenda Leigh Johnson, keeps in her desk drawer in case of emergencies. They are Hostess Ding Dongs, of course. Brenda Leigh is always so delighted to open the foil-wrapped package and looks so fulfilled when she bites into one of those snacks. Every time I see her eating one, I want one too. It's not sold here though, so it has to be homemade.
It starts off with chocolate cake. I used the Best-Ever Chocolate Sandwich recipe from Martha Day's Baking but scaled the ingredients by half and made the cake in a sheet pan. The cake is spongy but firm enough to hold a filling – I'm sure everyone has their own chocolate cake recipe that they like. I flavoured my cake with some coffee essence. Why? Because I'm an adult and I like chocolate cake with a kick.
Cut out rounds from the cake (the lines are from the cooling rack) and a little hole in the centre of each one
After chilling the cake for a bit so that it could be cut cleanly, I trimmed a little from the edges (they were a little thinner, and they're the cook's treat anyway delicious, but the jeans have become a little snug...) and cut out 6cm rounds with a plain cookie cutter. Use a smaller cutter to carve out another round from the centre and an offset spatula to pry it out. Keep this piece of cake for later.
Put in the filling, plug the hole and chill the cakes
Put a little white cream frosting in the centre – many recipes call for a seven-minute frosting, made with raw egg whites, but since I already had some leftover cream cheese frosting from a banana walnut cake recipe that I made in January (I saved it in the freezer), I used that instead. Plug the hole with the saved piece of cake and push down lightly to level the top. Freeze the cakes.
Spread chocolate over the top and sides and chill until set
Some people like to cover the cakes with chocolate ganache (heavy cream plus chocolate), but I just used melted chocolate. Spoon it over the filled cakes and use a spatula to spread it over the top and sides. Chill until set and then wrap the snack cakes in foil.
* * *
These are the two dishes that I made for the article.
Chinese Takeout Orange Chicken
In Malaysia, we don't have the kind of Chinese takeout restaurants that you find on TV (i.e. in America or Britain). There are caterers who take orders for a whole month (usually for a whole family) and give you whatever they're cooking that day, but the takeout most people order and have delivered come from fast food chains.
I myself would use chicken on the bone but for this takeout, I used chicken breast. It's not the most flavourful cut but from what I know, boneless breast is usually used by Chinese takeout restaurants since it cooks the fastest and customers find it easiest to eat from the takeout container while sitting in front of their TV sets. Just keeping it real.
Slices of chicken are coated in cornflour, egg and plain flour and deep-fried. The sauce ingredients are orange juice, brown sugar, soy sauce and hot chilli sauce. It is cooked and thickened with a cornflour slurry and then combined with the fried chicken pieces. Sprinkle on some chopped green leaves and serve with rice. It's one of the dishes that the brains and the bombshell from The Big Bang Theory always get when they order Chinese food.
Walter Bishop Blueberry Pancakes
These blueberry pancakes are a speciality of Walter Bishop from the show Fringe. It was one of those foods he craved when he was institutionalised for 17 years. The recipe makes sixteen 10cm pancakes, but there are only 11 in the picture, so you know where the other five went before I took the photo! Couldn't help myself.
For the full recipes, see this pdf document.
I'll be making Dexter's favourite sandwich, the Medianoche, soon. But for now, some TV...


  1. Delicious is the word! Looks amazing but oh so sinful!

  2. All three are breathtaking, Jane! I could have a little bit of each :o)


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