ritzkake

Ritz Cake – why crackers aren’t just for cheese!

My sister first introduced me to this wonderful cake. She is a fantastic baker, and manages to make everything from scratch with a house full of kid wanting her attention 24/7.  At one point she had two jobs and no help with cooking or cleaning, while making breakfast, lunch and dinner and baking in between!  Not sure how she does it – a real wonder woman indeed!  Admittedly, she  is not a fan of making savory dishes, but she enjoys baking, and her love for it certainly shows in her food. I always go to her for tips and recipes when I need a Norwegian inspired “twist” on desserts and baked goods, and she never disappoints.

I am grateful for having discovered the Ritz cake; sweet and salty with a lovely texture, it’s almost like eating a Snickers bar (in fact, the Ritz cake is a simpler version of the Snickers cake).   Incredibly easy to make, but guaranteed to vow your guests and entice their taste buds, this cake is a favorite among the majority of my friends.  Most modern households in Norway today will serve one version or another of Ritz cake – and while the base recipe will be similar, the toppings will vary depending on which home you visit!

This is also a great cake for anyone allergic to dairy –  just be mindful of which topping you choose (see below). I tend to love glazing the cake with chocolate and drizzle with chopped nuts. Alternatively,  decorate with fruit and/or berries.

ritz-crackers

RITZKAKE  (Ritz Cake)

5 egg whites

1 1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp vanilla sugar (or substitute vanilla extract)

About 30 Ritz crackers

6 oz walnuts, chopped  (if you prefer peanuts, you can substitute)

Directions for cake:

Preheat oven to 350F.  Butter and line a spring form cake pan with parchment paper on the bottom.

Whip the egg whites until soft peaks. .Add the sugar, and continue whisking until a meringue forms. Meanwhile, add the Ritz crackers in a food processor and process until crackers are pea sized lumps. Add in the baking powder and vanilla sugar and chopped walnuts and pulse until combined.  Fold this mixture into the meringue and pour into the cake pan. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 30 minutes. Let cool in the pan, slowly loosen the cake from the pan, remove the parchment paper from the bottom and place on a cake tray.  Top with your decoration of choice.

ritzkake

Decoration choices:

1) Vanilla Custard     (recipe adapted from epicurious.com)

  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat milk in a 2 1/2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat until hot but not boiling.

While milk heats, whisk together yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a heatproof bowl until smooth.

Add 1 cup hot milk to yolk mixture in a stream, whisking, then add remaining milk, whisking constantly. Transfer mixture to saucepan and cook over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and registers 170°F on thermometer, 6 to 10 minutes (do not boil).

Immediately force custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean bowl and stir in butter and vanilla. Chill custard, its surface covered with wax paper, until cold and thickened, at least 3 hours.

Spread the vanilla custard on top of cake, grate some of your favorite dark chocolate over the vanilla custard and garnish with fresh berries of your choice (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, etc.).
vaniljekrem Image: Matprat.no

2) Chocolate glaze w/toasted, chopped nuts

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup whole milk, warmed
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Combine butter, milk, corn syrup, and vanilla in medium saucepan and heat over medium heat until butter is melted. Decrease the heat to low, add the chocolate, and whisk until melted. Turn off heat, add the powdered sugar, and whisk until smooth.

Let cool and spread on cake.

Chocolate_Glaze-1

Toast any nuts you enjoy (Walnuts, pistachios, almonds, cashews, etc.), chop them roughly and sprinkle on top of chocolate glaze.

3) Whipped Cream and Fresh Berries (traditional)

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp powdered sugar

Whisk everything in a stand mixer until firm but still soft.

Garnish with berries or fruit – strawberries, sliced kiwis, raspberries, sliced home canned pears or apricots are nice too

berries

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