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Vanilla Cake - How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways

By:  Vince Platania

There are so many things that can be done with a simple vanilla cake that the only limit is your imagination. Sure, you can make a standard sheet or layer cake ... but as delicious as those are, they're pretty ho-hum. Sometimes you want something simple and straightforward; but most of the time, the extra effort to turn your basic cake into something more creative is worth every delicious calorie!

Trifle is an elegant dessert that involves simply spreading a sheet cake with jam, cutting it into cubes, then placing alternating layers of cake and custard (or pudding) into a glass bowl for a beautiful visual effect. Petits fours are another perfect "grown-up" use for your cake. Again, cut it into cubes; but this time dip the cubes into a thin frosting and decorate the top of each square with sprinkles or nonpareilles or drizzles of an alternating color of icing. These are perfect options for a young girl's tea party or for a baby shower, and will make a memorable treat for someone very special.

But if you want something to please a general crowd, turn your vanilla cake into one of the great treats of all time: an ice cream cake. Take a basic sheet cake and slice it into two layers. Take some softened ice cream and spread it over the bottom layer, then place the top back on it, wrap it in plastic wrap, and freeze it until the ice cream sets again. Frost it, decorate it, slice it and serve it ... your simple dessert will have become a masterpiece!

Another fun treat that's very easy to make is to, once again, cut the cake into cubes. Take each cube and dip the bottom half into melted chocolate, then dip the chocolate into toasted coconut or ground hazelnuts or sprinkles ... the variations are endless. Let the chocolate set, then place 1 or 2 cubes onto long skewers; these are particularly festive for parties and holidays, as you can tie them with curling ribbon in colors appropriate to the event.

So, while people are inclined to take this plain cake for granted because of its simplicity, it's this simplicity that is precisely the beauty! A basic vanilla cake is delicious on its own, but is easily dressed up to make many different desserts to fall in love with.