Thursday, November 26, 2015

What's a Cherpumple?

I'm breaking free from the regularly scheduled "reading blog post" programming to bring some holiday cheer. I hope you enjoy!

If you're like me, you've never heard of a Cherpumple before. And you probably thought your life was just fine not knowing. That is...until you know. Once you know, you can never go back. 

What I am about to introduce you to is the weirdest, most adventurous, most intense Thanksgiving dessert ever imagined. This fantasy dessert has some drama as to who created it- a quick google search reveals that it was created in 2009 by Charles Phoenix, however in some of the comments, people claim to have seen it before by a place in Utah named Cakewalk. I am not one to settle these types of debates- however- if you want to see how Charles Pheonix made his- watch this handy YouTube video here. And perhaps, if you are incredibly interested, you could also read this article- if you want to know Mr. Phoenix's reasons for creating the Cherpumple- which basically boils down to the simple fact that, at Thanksgiving, everyone always wants "a little piece" of each type of pie- and perhaps even some cake. So poof- he combined them and the Cherpumple was born.

So there I was, living a perfectly normal life, until two days before Thanksgiving this year, when my husband starts talking about this quizzical dessert. He explained it's just like the "Turdunkin" (which, of course we all know is a Turducken- he just can't ever say it right...) and that it's the dessert equivalent. Luckily for me, I don't like eating any type of pie- or really any dessert for that matter- but I do love baking...and him. So we hatched the crazy idea to actually attempt this monster pie/cake for our guests at Thanksgiving this year. 

I started where I normally start when I want a cool, new baking idea- Pinterest. Turns out, there are way more crazy people than me in the world and many people have tried this before us- which is a great thing because I was able to read up on many tips and tricks before starting. (Spoiler Alert: Even with the tips- some stuff still goes always does!) This blog post, from 2011, was my go-to inspiration. And because I loved how she documented her journey so much- I figured I would do the same- hence this post that you're reading right now. 

I know, by this point, you're just dying to get the how-to started- so let's begin. First things first- the ingredients. It's a pretty hefty list!

Above is a picture of everything included in making my Cherpumple. Now- this is a good time to point out that no recipe needs to be exactly copied- so I took some liberties and changed up the types of cakes. In the traditional Cherpumple (as if that's a thing!), Charles Phoenix uses three types of pies (apple, cherry, pumpkin) and three types of cakes (yellow, chocolate, spice). I did stick to the types of  pies (otherwise I'd have to come up with a new name and I'm on vacation, after all...) but I altered the types of cakes. So here's a list of everything involved:
Nonstick cooking spray, four cans of cream cheese icing, one apple pie, one cherry pie, one pumpkin pie, eggs, parchment paper, cooking oil, one box butter yellow cake mix, one box red velvet cake mix, and one box carrot cake mix. 
I should note that I also had to purchase that 9" springform pan- I didn't have one and it was on a great sale so I figured why not! Just made sure that when you are buying your pies- you don't get a pie bigger than your pan. Typically pies come in 8" or 10" so get the 8" if, like me, you have a 9" pan.   

So here is what my final product will look like. On the bottom, a cherry pie in red velvet cake. In the middle, an apple pie in carrot cake. And finally, the top layer, a pumpkin pie in buttery yellow cake. Shout out to Reggie at ISU- who would no doubt love to try this Cherpumple! There did seem to be some controversy as to which pie to put in which layer- some saying that pumpkin should be on the bottom because it is the most dense and would withhold it's shape at the bottom the best. That was the plan for us, too, but unfortunately, we put the cherry/red velvet on the plate first and it was too unstable to take off and move. We'll address that later, too. It's also important to note here that in preparation of the cakes, I followed a tip from the blog I linked above and anytime the cake box recipe called for liquid- I deducted 1/8 cup of it. And because I love being helpful- 1/8 cup is equivalent to 2 tablespoons- thanks Siri- which will come in handy when you need to do some conversions. Apparently this 1/8 cup less liquid is because you don't want the cakes to be too moist- because then they might fall apart around your pie. I wasn't willing to take that risk, so I deducted the liquid.

Now that you have prepared you cake mix according to the box (following the 1/8 less rule), you need to pour 1/3 of that mixture into your pan. Also important to note- every picture that I found online had parchment paper in the bottom of the pan. Being the rule follower that I am, I bought some parchment paper (thanks, Dollar Tree!) and traced the pan to make a round paper disc for the bottom of my pan. You need to spray the pan first, then put the paper in, then spray again. Don't ask me why- I just follow the rules! Your pan is now prepped and you need to pour 1/3 of the cake mix (thanks, math!) into the bottom of the pan.
Next, carefully slide your cooked pie out of it's tin and place it on the 1/3 of the mixture. Then top the pie with the remaining 2/3 of the cake mixture and pop it into the oven.  In the above picture- I showed each of these steps. In the picture to the right, I just showed a couple of the steps with my final two pies. You'll need to repeat all the steps for each of your other two pies. Also, I only have one 9" springform pan- so I had to wait patiently which each pie cooked before I could make the next- but I suppose if you have more than one pan this process would go much quicker! I cooked each pie/cake at 350 degrees for about 34-36 minutes. I set the timer for 30 minutes and then just started poking it with a toothpick until it came out clean.
Depending on your oven/shade of pan/how often you open the oven- this time could be more or less so be sure to just pay attention to your pie/cake and use your expert instincts. When they come out of the oven, free them from their springform pan and let them cool. The blog I was following wanted it to sit on the counter for about 30 minutes and then in the freezer for about 30 minutes. I'm not totally sure what purpose the freezer serves-minus speeding up the cooling process- since everyone knows not to frost anything until completely cool. But like I said before, I love following rules, so into the freezer they went. The picture to the left is what the pie/cakes looked like when the initially came out of the oven. Pretty delicious, if I do say so myself. 

Next, and once the pie/cakes are absolutely 100% cool, you need to give them a crumb coat of icing and stack them. As I mentioned above, you might want to put pumpkin on the bottom- unlike us- but then again, the whole process is totally up to you! Make it your own! So the cherry was first (bottom left of the picture) and then frosted it with the cream cheese frosting. I like to put the whole tub of frosting in the microwave for 30 seconds before doing anything- just to make it easier to work with. Be sure to open it, take off the foil safety cover and leave the lid off before melting. Once it is easier to work with, frost your first layer. Next, we put the apple pie encased in the carrot cake and frosted that one. Finally the pumpkin pie encased in buttery yellow was put on top and the whole thing was iced. Be sure to fill in the little gaps between each layer- and remember- this is just a crumb coat. It isn't meant to be pretty- just get you a base coat for you final layer later. So don't stress about it being perfect- that comes later! I also feel like it is fun to mention here that our Cherpumple clocks in at just over 7" tall! It's a monster pie/cake for sure!
Fast forward a couple hours (you probably didn't have to wait as long as we did- but we were busy making other Thanksgiving goodies) and we took the crumb coated cherpumple out of the refrigerator.
It was ready to put the final coat of frosting on and decorate. Now, how does one decorate a monster pie/cake without going even more over the top than you already are? We decided to go simple! We tried to make red- but as you can see, it turned out a bit pink- yet still marvelous in all it's glory. Side tip here: you can buy food coloring at the dollar store (by me it's Dollar Tree) and that is significantly cheaper than the local grocery store- and if you have kids who like to bake/frost things with different colors (like I do) I highly recommend just getting it cheap- it's the same stuff.
After that final red frosting, we needed to decorate. We had some leftover white frosting that we dyed orange and put in a squeeze bottle with a fun tip on it. Easy way to do this? Melt the frosting in the microwave so it is pourable- then pour it into the bottle and put the bottle in the freezer to it hardens back up. Make sure to give it enough time to harden- we didn't (too excited) and the beginning of our flower dots were a bit melty still. Nonetheless, we made the ring around the top of the cake, filled the inside in with red sprinkles, and were ready to call it a day. I should also point out that I didn't use the 4th can of icing- but I could have if I wanted to decorate more or make the outside more smooth. Next, the cherpumple sat in the refrigerator overnight until the Thanksgiving festivities the next day. My guests had no idea what they were in for!  

Here's a look at the completed Cherpumple- I am not going to lie- I'm shocked it cut and served so well. As for how it tasted- it was a big hit- I can't honestly say that I tried any of it (not a dessert person) but people enjoyed it. Granted, 7 people ate about a 1/4 of it and were full- but think of the impact one little slice can have- three pies and three cakes after all. As you can see- it is a pretty impressive feat. Above all else, it was a good discussion piece- but now I have to find a whole bunch more friends to finish this thing! There will be leftovers for days! 

Now that we are at the end- I feel the need to point out that my husband Peter really was the one doing all the work on this creation. It was his idea- he made everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) from start to finish, and he was the one who was the most proud to show it off at the end. So even though this blog post is written mostly in the first person- I can in no way take credit for his hard work! 

That's all for now. I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving and got a chance to spend time with those they are thankful for. Gratitude and kindness goes a long way in this world- so don't just wait for one day a year to be thankful for what you have. I am sure we could all find one thing everyday to appreciate- I know that I can. 


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