Impress your friends!
...Repulse your enemies!
Wait - I know what you're thinking, but bear with me a minute. Have I ever lead you astray?
(Hush up back there – I thought we agreed never to speak of the homemade bubble tea debacle ever again...)
Where was I? Oh, yes – Bolognacake. I read about this 50's cocktail party treat a few years ago on James Lileks' wacky website (www.lileks.com), and I was hooked immediately. Now, in my own defense, I have to admit a certain predisposition for trompe l'oeil cuisine: i.e. little gummy cheeseburgers from the skating rink when I was a kid and my mom's near-famous ice cream cone cupcakes. Bolognacake, however, elevates the concept to a whole new level. A mini-tower of bologna and flavored cream cheese frosted to look like an adorable Lilliputian birthday cake will bring a smile – or a snicker – to anyone's lips. When sliced and served with crackers or toast, it makes a surprisingly impressive hors d'oeurve.
The best part? It's fun to make. The second-to-best part? It actually tastes good. The third-runner-up-best part? Your friends will finally have something interesting to talk about over drinks at your next party.
To make your own bolognacake:
Bologna: The grocery store has a wide variety of bolognas and other uniformly round luncheon meats. Use one kind, or a combination of two or more. If you really want to be impressive, check out the gourmet cured meats behind the deli counter.
Cream Cheese: Soft cream cheese in the tub works best (not whipped!). Choose plain or flavored with onion or vegetables. You definitely don't want strawberry. You can also add your own flavors at home by combining cream cheese with pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, etc. Whether plain or flavored, mix it up first with a bit of milk in the food processor (or with a hand mixer) so that it will be easier to spread.
Assemble the cake: Stack alternating layers of bologna and cream cheese, beginning and ending with bologna. About 10-15 layers will do. “Frost” with additional cream cheese (tinted with food coloring, if desired) and decorate with crushed nuts, candles, confetti etc.
Serve and impress.
Photos by Lara Bierner