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Pink Carnation Cookery: Strawberry Tarts

The Queen of Hearts she made some tarts, all on a summer’s day. The knave of hearts, he stole those tarts and took them clean away….

If ever there was a candidate for the Queen of Hearts, it’s Mary Alsworthy. And while we’re speaking of knaves…. Hello, Lord Vaughn!

So it seems particularly appropriate that the ever-resourceful and talented Christine chose strawberry tarts (okay, cakes, really– but for some reason, I keep thinking of them as tarts) for this month’s Pink Carnation cookery, in honor of Lord and Lady Vaughn.

The first three Pink Carnation books were all set during the summer. The Seduction of the Crimson Rose was my first autumn book: waning days, darkening skies, and a slightly older, more cynical hero and heroine.

So, for November, Christine brings you… Lord and Lady Vaughn’s Strawberry Tarts (or Cakes)!

And now over to Christine:

I was scouring the Internet looking for something that Lord and Lady Vaughn would approve of. I found a picture of adorable mini sponge cake towers with strawberry frosting in between the layers, adorned with a tiny strawberries on top. What’s sexier than strawberries and frosting? But, darn you, Pinterest! No links to the actual recipes! So I had to make do and try to recreate them on my own.

I started with Martha Stewart’s pound cake recipe and an AllRecipes strawberry frosting recipe, paired with a heart-shaped cookie cutter I got as a wedding favor years ago.

Pound cake:

Ingredients:
2 sticks of butter
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt

Steps:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease pan.
2. Beat sugar and butter on high speed until light and fluffy.
3. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each.
4. Add vanilla and salt.
5. On low speed, gradually add flour, being careful not to overmix.
6. Martha used an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 loaf pan and baked for an hour. I used a 9 x 13 pan because I wanted a thin cake that I could use the cookie cutters on. My baking time was 30-35 minutes.
7. Cool completely then cut as desired.

Frosting:
A lot of frosting is based on personal preference – how strong you want the strawberry flavor, how thick you want the frosting to be, how much you want to layer. I personally don’t like very sweet frosting. There was an unfortunate incident in which I tried to make Elmo cookies for my son’s birthday. The entire face had to be frosted with a thick royal icing. It was so overly sweet that I couldn’t eat any, which is sad because I spent a good 3-4 hours making them.

These are the steps as listed in the recipe, but if you like a stronger flavor, add more strawberries. If you want a thicker frosting, add more sugar. The original recipe is for 18 servings. I cut the recipe in half and still had more than I needed. Husband and son were glad to have plenty of frosting to dump on their cakes for the next few days.

Ingredients:
1 cup fresh strawberries (and a few saved for decorating the cakes)
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar

Steps:
1. Puree strawberries in a blender.
2. Pour puree into a pot and let boil until puree is reduced by half. This will take 15-20 minutes. Stir constantly.
3. Beat butter until light and fluffy.
4. Beat 1 cup of sugar into the butter.
5. Add vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons of strawberry puree.
6. Repeat with another 1 cup of sugar and 2 tablespoons of puree.
7. Beat last 1/2 cup of sugar into mixture.

Putting it all together:
Layer the cakes with frosting in between, decorating the top as you want.

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I loved how the frosting came out a bit glossy. I ended up using about a full cup of strawberries, 1/2 cup butter and 1 3/4 cups of confectioners sugar.

What do you think? What would Vaughns approve?

If you need a break from the pumpkin pie next week, just give these a whirl! Thanks so much, Christine! These look scrumptious.

If the Vaughns are all about strawberries and the Fitzhughs have their thing about raspberries, which fruits or berries belong to the other Pink characters?

Miles would now like to know whether “ginger” counts as a fruit.

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