Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Apple Charlotte

The British have an age-old way with bread and hot puddings, as this apple-filled bomb shows. Take day-old white bread, mould slices of it into a round casing, cemented with lashings of butter, fill it with fruit and bake it until the bread is golden and the centre explosively pulpy. Traditionally filled with apple, variations can include almost any fruit, from bananas and berries to pears or pineapples... but nothing beats the classic.

INGREDIENTS:

6 golden delicious apples, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
55 gm (¼ cup) caster sugar, plus extra for baking
325 gm unsalted butter, coarsely chopped
1 lemon, juiced and rind finely grated
2 cinnamon quills
20 slices (about 1 loaf) day-old white bread, crusts removed
170 gm (½ cup) apricot jam
To serve: pouring cream


PREPARATION:

Combine apple, sugar, 75gm butter, lemon rind and juice and cinnamon quills in a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes or until liquid has evaporated, then cool.

Preheat oven to 190C. Melt remaining butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Skim scum from top and discard, then pour clarified butter into a bowl, discarding milky solids on the bottom. Keep butter warm until required.

Lightly brush six 1 cup-capacity (6cm-diameter base) dariole moulds with a little butter and dust with sugar. Using a 6cm-round cutter, cut rounds from 6 slices of bread to fit base of moulds, then cut a 3cm-wide strip from the remains of each slice. Cut remaining slices into three (3cm x 9cm) pieces. Brush bread rounds liberally with butter and place in bases of prepared moulds. Brush remaining pieces liberally with butter and line each mould with 8 pieces of overlapping bread, allowing bread to overhang and pressing gently against side of moulds.

Divide apple mixture between moulds, then fold over bread to enclose filling. Place Charlottes on an oven tray and bake for 20 minutes or until bread is golden and crisp. Remove from oven, place another oven tray on top and weigh down with food cans for 5 minutes.

To serve, turn Charlottes onto a lightly greased oven tray, scatter with sugar and bake for another 5 minutes or until golden. Warm apricot jam in a small saucepan over medium heat for 1 minute or until warmed through, breaking up fruit with a spoon and adding water if it becomes to thick. Serve Charlottes drizzled with apricot jam and cream passed separately.


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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Fudge Sundae With Honeycomb

Sundaes makes great chocolate desserts. Everyone loves a Sundae, and somehow adding the beautifully simple crunch of the honeycomb makes this even better. Be careful when adding the bicarbonate of soda, as the mixture will bubble up. Allow for this when choosing pot size.

INGREDENTS:
250 ml(1 cup) heavy cream (45%)
3 tsp caster sugar

Honeycomb
160 gm caster sugar
25 gm (¼ cup) honey
62 gm (¼ cup) glucose
7 gm (2 tsp) bicarbonate of soda

Hot chocolate fudge
130 gm good-quality dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
20 gm unsalted butter
150 gm (2/3 cup) caster sugar
140 gm glucose
1 tbsp cocoa powder

To serve: good-quality vanilla bean ice-cream
To serve: coarsely chopped salted peanuts

PREPARATION:

For honeycomb, combine sugar, honey, glucose and 30ml water in a saucepan. Cook over high heat, stirring to dissolve and brushing down sugar crystals from sides of pan, until light blonde and reaches 150C on a sugar thermometer (8-10 minutes), being careful it doesn’t become too dark. Remove from heat, add bicarbonate of soda, whisking vigorously for about 5 seconds, then pour onto a baking paper-lined tray (work quickly as the honeycomb will continue cooking if left in the pan). When honeycomb has cooled and hardened (20-30 minutes), break into bite-sized chunks and store in an airtight container. Honeycomb will keep for a week.

For hot chocolate fudge, melt chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Combine remaining ingredients, 160ml water and 1 tsp sea salt in a saucepan, bring to the boil, then add chocolate mixture. Return to the boil and cook over high heat, shaking pan to dissolve any lumps, until well emulsified (3-5 minutes). Set aside in pan and keep warm.

Whisk cream and sugar until firm peaks form. Set aside in refrigerator. Reheat chocolate fudge over high heat until warmed through. Scoop ice-cream into 6 serving glasses, followed by a generous dollop of whipped cream. Scatter with pieces of honeycomb and peanuts, drizzle chocolate fudge over and serve immediately.

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Friday, August 1, 2008

Easy Cherry Tartufo

Tartufo is an Italian ice cream dessert that usually is made of gelato, and is somewhat like a large ice-cream truffle. You can make this from different flavors of ice cream and fruit - try pecan praline ice cream with peaches, or fudge ripple ice cream with dried blueberries.

INGREDIENTS:
3 cups chocolate ice cream
1 cup frozen pitted cherries, thawed and chopped
15 chocolate sandwich cookies, crushed
1-1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup finely chopped peanuts
2 tsp. oil

PREPARATION:
Mix chopped cherries into the ice cream. Scoop ice cream mixture into six balls using an ice cream scoop. Roll in crushed cookies. Place on wax paper-lined cookie sheet and freeze until firm, about 2 hours.

In small saucepan, melt semisweet chocolate chips with oil, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in milk chocolate chips, stirring constantly until chips melt and mixture is smooth again. Cool to lukewarm.

Place frozen ice cream balls on a wire rack. Spoon melted chocolate over each ball, coating the top and sides. Sprinkle on chopped peanuts. Freeze again until firm, at least 1 hour. Remove from freezer 10 minutes before serving. Serves 6

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Peanut Butter Pie - Reduced Fat

Make this special and delicious recipe for any occasion. Using reduced fat ingredients for the milk, cream cheese, peanut butter and whipped topping makes far healthier than the full-fat version.

INGREDIENTS:

1 2/3 cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs (about 8 1/2 cookie sheets)
7 tablespoons sugar, divided
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
Cooking spray
1 1/4 cups fat-free milk
2/3 cup reduced-fat crunchy peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup (4 ounces) fat-free cream cheese, softened
1 (8-ounce) container frozen fat-free whipped topping, thawed
3 tablespoons finely chopped salted, dry-roasted peanuts
1/4 cup shaved milk chocolate (about 1 ounce)

PREPARATION:

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine crumbs, 3 tablespoons sugar, and egg whites; toss with a fork until moist. Press into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate coated with cooking spray. Prick crust with a fork before baking. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes. Remove from oven; cool on a wire rack.

Combine milk and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook 2 minutes or until sugar dissolves, stirring constantly; transfer mixture to a bowl. Add peanut butter and vanilla, stirring with a whisk until combined. Cover and chill 30 minutes.
Place cream cheese in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add milk mixture, beating on low speed until combined. Fold in whipped topping; pour mixture into prepared piecrust. Freeze, uncovered, 8 hours or overnight or until hard. Sprinkle with peanuts and shaved chocolate. Transfer pie to refrigerator 30 minutes before slicing.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Cognac and Hazelnut Affogato

The name Affogato means “drowned in coffee” - referring to the ice cream. This elegantly quick recipe simply involves taking a scoop of ice cream and pouring over some espresso; this recipe adds Cognac and Hazelnuts, but Caramel sauce or Chocolate sauce are also popular additions. This is a superb recipe for a very simple yet classy dessert.

INGREDIENTS:
120ml Cognac
1 litre vanilla ice-cream
50 grams (1/3 cup) roastd hazelnuts, peeled and halved.
1 tbsp finely ground coffee beans
6x 50 ml shots of freshly brewed espresso

PREPARATION:

Scoop ice-cream into small bowls or glasses. Pour Cognac over and sprinkle with combined hazelnuts and coffee. Serve immediately with shots of espresso to the side to pour over.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Cashew-dates

Cashew-date is a pure, natural treat, and has particularly been a long tradition in Hyderabad region of India. A favorite at tens of small shops specializing in dates, dates with cashews is prepared by stuffing sweet, moist dates with fresh cashews. When you take a bite, first you would get the caramel-like date and then the cashew, which balances and enhances the tastes. This is perhaps the simplest recipe we have done at Easy Desserts - but its also makes a very delicious, very simple after dinner sweet!


INGREDIENTS:
Cashews
Dates

PREPARATION:
Stuff the dates with the cashews. Eat.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Raspberry and Goats Curd Cheesecake

You can't beat the peerless simplicity of a bowlful of ripe raspberries, plain and unadorned, but on top of this cheesecake they add that bit of sweetness. Additionally, the base of this dish is appealingly crunchy... it is a fantastic cheesecake.

Goat’s curd is available from specialist cheese shops. Recipe serves 8.


INGREDIENTS:

250 gm shortbread biscuits
1½ tbsp butter, melted
3 egg yolks
120 gm caster sugar
50 ml verjuice
4 leaves gelatine, softened in cold water
375 ml (1½ cups) pouring cream
400 gm goat’s curd

2 tsp vanilla bean paste
500 gm raspberries
80 gm (¼ cup) raspberry jam

PREPARATION:

Process biscuits in a food processor to fine crumbs, add butter and pulse until combined. Spoon mixture into a 25cm springform cake pan and press evenly over the base. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Whisk egg yolks in an electric mixer for 5 minutes or until pale and fluffy. Combine sugar and verjuice in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and stir to dissolve, then bring to the boil and cook until syrup reaches 120C on a sugar thermometer. With motor running on high speed, add sugar syrup to egg yolks in a thin stream. Return saucepan to heat, squeeze excess water from gelatine and add to pan, stir until just melted then add to egg yolks and whisk until cold.


Combine cream, goat’s curd and vanilla paste in a bowl and whisk until soft peaks form. Fold cream mixture into egg mixture. Spread evenly over biscuit base and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or until set.


Arrange raspberries in a single layer over the cheesecake. Pass jam through a fine sieve and discard seeds. Combine sieved raspberry jam and 1 tbsp water in a small saucepan and simmer over medium heat for 2 minutes. Cool slightly, then brush jam over raspberries and refrigerate until required. Cheesecake will keep, refrigerated, for up to 5 days.


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Monday, July 21, 2008

Apple, Blackberry & Butterscotch Tart

This is one dessert that just NEEDS to be served with whipped cream. (Well, it doesn't need to, but I cannot imagine it served any other way!) This tart is simple and delicious; put down the pastry - make your own as per this recipe or use store bought - then fill with slices of apple and blackberries before pouring over the butterscotch. Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve with whipped cream!

INGREDIENTS:
- Filling
2 large / 3 small Granny Smith apples
15/20 fresh or frozen blackberries
150g brown sugar
3 Tbs plain flour
2 eggs
4 Tbs cream, plus extra for serving

- Pastry
120g plain flour
60g butter
Pinch salt
1 tsp lemon juice
Iced water

PREPARATION:

Make the pastry by putting the flour in a pile on a bench. Dice the butter and add with the salt, rubbing with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Sprinkle over the lemon juice and then 1 tablespoon of water at a time, mixing with your fingers until it begins to bind. Gather together into a ball and wrap in plastic. Chill for 20 minutes.

Bring the pastry up to room temperature. Roll out to fit a 21cm tart or flan dish and trim. Preheat the oven to 210C. Peel the apples, core, halve and slice thinly then pile into the case. Dot over the blackberries.

Whisk together the brown sugar, flour, eggs and cream then pour over the fruit. Bake for 10 minutes then lower the oven to 180C and continue cooking. If the edges of the crust become too brown, cover with tinfoil and continue to bake until the filling is set.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Chocolate Chestnut Cakes

Chestnuts are very low in fat (~1%), very low in sodium and are free of gluten, oil and cholesterol. Chocolate, on the other hand, is not! But brought together they make the basis for these delicious individual chocolate cakes.

If you are having a hard time finding chestnut puree, check your local delicatessens.

INGREDIENTS:
3 eggs
85 gm caster sugar
50 gm (1/3 cup) cornflour
25 gm (¼ cup) Dutch-process cocoa, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp cream of tartar
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp plain flour
40gm unsalted butter, melted
½ cup thickened cream
¼ cup sweetened chestnut purée

For the chocolate sauce:
200 gm dark chocolate, chopped
50 gm unsalted butter


PREPARATION:
1. Whisk eggs and sugar until mixture holds a trail. Sift cornflour, cocoa, cream of tartar, bicarbonate of soda and flour over egg mixture and, using a spatula, gently fold in, then add melted butter and fold in until combined. Spoon mixture into two 18x26cm baking paper-lined swiss roll pans and bake at 180C for 12 minutes or until cakes spring back when lightly touched. Stand cakes for 3 minutes before turning out onto wire racks to cool.

2. Using an electric mixer, whisk cream until soft peaks form, then stir in chestnut purée until combined. Using a 7cm-round pastry cutter, cut 12 rounds from sponge, then spread 6 rounds with chestnut cream, top with remaining rounds and refrigerate for 5 minutes or until firm.

3. For chocolate sauce, melt chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, add butter and stir until smooth.

4. Serve cakes, dusted with cocoa and drizzled with chocolate sauce. Cakes will keep, refrigerated, in an airtight container for up to 3 days.


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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Mango Cheesecakes

This citrus-ey cheesecake is very creamy and light; the individual serve makes them look extra special. If fresh mangoes are out of season or are otherwise difficult to get, substitute with canned mango pulp. Serve with a lime wedge to further the hint of the tropics.

INGREDIENTS:
125 gm shortbread biscuits
1 tsp ground ginger
30 gm butter, melted
250 gm mascarpone
300 gm cream cheese, softened
90 gm golden caster sugar
120 gm mango flesh, coarsely chopped
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
2 limes, juice only
2 mangoes

PREPARATION:
Preheat oven to 150C. Process biscuits and ground ginger in a food processor until finely ground, add butter and mix to combine. Press biscuit mixture into the bases of six 7.5cm-diameter x 6cm-high ring moulds. Place on a baking paper-lined oven tray and refrigerate until required.

Combine mascarpone, cream cheese, sugar, mango flesh, eggs, egg yolk and lime juice in a food processor and process until smooth, then spoon mixture over biscuit base and smooth top. Bake for 20 minutes or until just set. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until completely cold.

To serve, remove cheesecakes from moulds. Thinly slice mango and layer in overlapping slices over top of cheesecake. Serve immediately with lime cheeks.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Chococcino Cake


If you love coffee cake as much as chocolate cake, why not combine the two? This recipe merges moist chocolate sponge layers with a creamy mocha filling. We don't seem to do cakes very often here at Easy Desserts - but when its just grease a pan, whisk the ingredients and bake for 20 mins, you know we will give it a go!



INGREDIENTS:

200g soft, butter, plus extra for greasing
1 tsp baking powder
85g good-quality cocoa powder
140g self-raising flour
200g golden caster sugar (for the sponge)
4 eggs
2 tbsp milk



2 x 250g tubs mascarpone
85g golden caster sugar (for the filling)
4 tbsp very strong coffee
50g dark chocolate , for grating

PREPARATION:


Heat oven to 180C. Grease and base-line 2 x 20cm non-stick round sandwich tins with baking parchment, then lightly grease the parchment. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl, then tip in all the other sponge ingredients. Using an electric whisk, beat everything together until smooth. Divide the mix between the cake tins, then bake for 20-25 mins until cooked and golden. When cool enough to handle, remove the cakes from the tins, then leave to cool completely on a rack.

Make strong coffee by dissolving 4 tbsp of instant coffee in 4 tbsp of boiling water. For the filling, beat the mascarpone and sugar together, then beat in the coffee. Use half the mix to sandwich the cakes and spread the other half over the top, swirling with the back of a spoon to make pointy curls. Finely grate the chocolate over the top, then serve.





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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Strawberry Tart

Strawberry tarts are delicious, for dinner parties, afternoon teas and on picnics. These tarts are easy to make and all the ingredients can be prepared in advance but the final assembly of them is best left up to an hour in advance as the pastry can become moist.

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 bar (8 ounces) reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 to 2 pounds strawberries, hulled and halved
1/4 cup seedless red currant jelly
PREPARATION:

Preheat oven to 350°. In a food processor, blend flour, butter, 1/3 cup sugar, and salt until moist crumbs form (this may take up to 1 minute). Transfer dough to a 9-inch round tart pan with a removable bottom.

With floured fingers, press dough evenly into pan and up sides. Dip a dry-measuring cup in flour, and use it to press dough firmly into bottom and against sides of pan. Freeze crust until firm, 10 to 15 minutes. Using a fork, prick crust all over. Bake until golden, 25 to 30 minutes, pressing down gently once or twice with a spoon during baking if crust puffs up. Cool completely in pan.

In a medium bowl, mix cream cheese and sugar until smooth; spread mixture evenly in bottom of baked crust (still in tart pan). Starting from outside edge, arrange strawberry halves, stemmed side down, in tight concentric circles on cream cheese.

In a small saucepan, heat jelly on medium-low until liquefied. Gently brush strawberries with jelly; let set at least 20 minutes. Chill in pan 1 - 6 hours; remove from pan just before serving.


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Apple Cranberry Walnut Crisp

We don't always do healthy recipes here at Easy Desserts, but this one is definately a healthy choice. High-fiber, low-calorie, and full of vitamins, oats are a boon to any dish. Another plus for this recipe is that it can be made ahead and warmed in a 250º oven while you eat dinner. It's great served with low-fat vanilla ice cream.

INGREDIENTS:

Filling:
9 cups peeled, sliced Gala apples (about 3 pounds)
1/2 cup fresh cranberries
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup apple cider or juice
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash of salt

Topping:
1 cup regular oats
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt

PREPARATION:

Preheat oven to 375°F. Prepare the filling by combining apples and next 7 ingredients (apples through dash of salt). Spoon apple mixture into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish.

Combine oats and remaining ingredients. Sprinkle over apple mixture. Cover with foil; bake at 375°F for 40 minutes. Uncover; bake an additional 20 minutes or until topping is crisp and juices are thick and bubbly.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Nutella Semifreddo

Semifreddo is Italian for "half cold", and can refer to many semi-frozen desserts. This semifreddo straddles several desserts classifications; its mousselike texture is similar to ice cream, but is lighter, airier, and less frozen. I always enjoy ice cream recipes that did not rely on an ice-cream maker, and this one does not. It somehow feels like you've beaten the system, making (a variation of) ice cream without needing "proper" equipment.

This recipe can also work well with a hint of liquer if you want to impart an even more 'adult' feel to the recipe. I found Frangelico goes very well with the nutella; just add a tbsp or 2 to the heavy cream before whipping.

INGREDIENTS:
1 egg
4 egg yolks
2 tbsp caster sugar
100g Nutella, warmed over a double boiler
300ml heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
Pistachios to garnish, chopped

PREPARATION:

Line a 22cm x 11cm x 5cm (1 litre) loaf tin with cling wrap. Place the egg, egg yolks and sugar in a bowl, over a saucepan of simmering water, make sure the bowl does not touch the water. Whisk for 5 to 6 minutes until the mixture is pale and fluffy. Drizzle in the Nutella and whisk gently to combine. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Whipped the heavy cream and then gently fold in the egg and nutella mixture. Pour into the prepared loaf tin, and cover with cling wrap before putting it in the freezer for about 4 hours.

When ready to serve, remove from freezer, leave for around 3 minutes for it to thaw, turn out the semifreddo onto a plate, sliced and sprinkle with pistachios.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Rice Kheer

Rice Kheer is a sweet rice pudding from India. It is very versatile and can be served warm or cold, and garnished with your choice of dried fruits or nuts.

INGREDIENTS:
1/2 c Rice
4 c Milk
1/4 c Raisins
3/4-1 cup Sugar
1 tsp. Cardamom seeds
1/4 c Shredded blanched almonds
6-8 drops Rose water
1/2 c Water

PREPARATION:
Wash and drain the rice. Soak in 1/2 c water for 1/2 hour. Boil the rice in the same water until it is coated and the water dries up. Add the milk and simmer on low heat until rice is well blended with consistency similar to porridge. Stir occasionally at first and then constantly when the milk begins to thicken, to prevent the ingredients from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Add the sugar, almonds, ground cardamom, and raisins and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and set aside. Sprinkle with the rose water.

Serve warm or chilled in dessert bowls.

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Monday, June 30, 2008

Triple Chocolate and Vanilla Cheesecake

This decadent cheesecake is not only rich and delicious, but also quick to prepare. The chocolate glaze is always popular with kids (and also adults!)


INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 cups crushed creme filled chocolate sandwich cookies (about 18 cookies)
3 tablespoons margarine or butter, melted
4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 (14 ounce) can Sweetened Condensed Milk (NOT evaporated milk)
4 eggs
1/3 cup unsifted flour
1 tablespoon vanilla


2 (1 ounces) squares semi-sweet chocolate, melted
2 (1 ounces) squares semi-sweet chocolate, whole


1/4 cup whipping cream


PREPARATION:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine crumbs and margarine; press firmly on bottom of 9 inch springform pan. In large mixer bowl, beat cheese until fluffy. Gradually beat in sweetened condensed milk until smooth. Add eggs, flour and vanilla; mix well. Divide batter in half. Add half of the melted chocolate to one half of batter; mix well. Pour into prepared pan. Top evenly with vanilla batter. Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until center springs back when lightly touched. Cool. Top with Chocolate Glaze. Chill. Refrigerate leftovers.


Chocolate Glaze:
In small saucepan, over low heat, melt 2 (1 ounce) squares semi-sweet chocolate with 1/4 cup whipping cream. Cook and stir until thickened and smooth. Remove from heat; spread over cheesecake. Makes about 1/2 cup.


Friday, June 27, 2008

Easy Flourless Chocolate Cake

This flourless chocolate dessert cake has a light, mousse-like texture and uses very few ingredients. Like many cake desserts, this is best served warm.

INGREDIENTS:
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
6 eggs, separated
1/2 c. sugar confectioners sugar
PREPARATION:

Heat oven to 300 degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and line the side wall with a strip of parchment paper.

In the bowl of a double-boiler, combine butter and chopped chocolate. Add water to bottom of pan and place bowl over pan. Melt chocolate over medium heat until smooth. Remove bowl from pan and cool slightly.

Beat egg whites with an electric mixture until soft peaks form. Slowly add sugar and beat until glossy and stiff. Whisk egg yolks into chocolate mixture. Whisk in a dollop of egg whites to lighten. Gently fold in the rest of the egg whites with a rubber spatula.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until cake is set (center may be wobbly), about 40-45 minutes. Cool cake for 20 minutes and remove sides of pan. Continue to cool. Dust with confectioners sugar.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Warm Strawberries with Sambuca and Mascarpone

The simple treatment of fruit for dessert is an Italian signature. Enhancements range from fruit tossed with citrus juice, to being doused with wine or – common in the region of Emilia-Romagna – dressed with a splash of balsamic vinegar, to the liqueur-flavoured syrup here. Serves 4.

INGREDIENTS:

20 gm unsalted butter
500 gm strawberries, hulled and halved if large
50 gm (¼ cup, firmly packed) brown sugar
60 ml black sambuca
250 gm mascarpone
1½ tbsp icing sugar, sifted

PREPARATION:

Melt butter in a large frying pan, add strawberries, sprinkle with brown sugar and drizzle sambuca over. Cook, stirring occasionally, over low heat for 2-3 minutes or until strawberries are soft. Divide strawberries and cooking liquid among four heatproof glasses or bowls.

Place mascarpone and icing sugar in a small bowl and stir until well combined. Serve warm strawberries with mascarpone passed separately.


Friday, June 20, 2008

Whiskey and Hazelnut Chocolate Pots

This recipe is a rich and decadent adult dessert. Setting aside the chocolate mixture for 30 mins before potting allows the bubbles to settle, giving the chocolate a smooth surface. This is optional of course, if you are on a strict schedule! Tawny Port is strong enough to partner the rich chocolate as a drink match.

INGREDIENTS:
75g butter
75g hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
450ml cream
60ml whisky
300g dark chocolate, chopped,
plus extra to garnish
praline wafers

PREPARATION:
In a medium saucepan melt the butter with the hazelnuts on a low heat and stir until the nuts are lightly golden brown. Pour in the cream and whisky.

Bring to a simmer then remove from the heat and add the chocolate, stirring until the chocolate has melted. Pass through a fine mesh sieve, pressing on the hazelnuts to release their flavour.

Set aside to cool for 30 minutes.

Pour into 6 dessert glasses and chill for at least 2 hours. Garnish with chocolate shavings and praline wafers.


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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

No Bake Cheesecakes

I just acquired "Desserts by the Yard: From Brooklyn to Beverly Hills: Recipes from the Sweetest Life Ever" by Sherry Yard, which this recipe comes from. Sherry Yard is the executive pastry chef for Wolfgang Puck's restaurants; this recipe book contains many stunning recipes and their stories that were part of her journey to the top. A brilliant book with lots of fantastic desserts!

INGREDIENTS:
12 Vanilla wafer cookies
8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
12 ripe strawberries, hulled and halved

PREPARATION:

Pulse the cookies in a food processor until you have crumbs. Line the cups of two mini muffin pans with paper liners and spoon a layer of cookie crumbs into the bottom of each.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the crea, cheese and sugar at medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. On a low speed, beat in the sour cream and lemon juice until well combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Spoon or pipe the filling into cups. Refridgerate for 2 to 4 hours, until set, or overnight. Before serving, top each cheesecake with a strawberry piece or two.





Monday, June 16, 2008

Golden Syrup Dumplings

Dumplings for dessert?? Absolutely! Try adding some lemon juice to the sauce to balance the ultra-sweet edge of the Golden Syrup. Golden Syrup can be tricky to find in parts of North America - if you have difficulty, Amazon sells the original stuff, Lyle's Golden Syrup.

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup self-raising flour
1 egg
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon milk
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons Golden syrup or honey
1 tablespoon butter

PREPARATION:
Sift flour into a bowl. and rub in the butter until it is like breadcrumbs. Beat the egg and milk together, and carefully mix with the flour to make a soft dough. Do not over-mix as this will make the dumplings tough.

Place the water, sugar, butter and golden syrup into a large saucepan and bring to the boil.

Drop in teaspoonfuls of the dough, cover with a lid and simmer over a moderate heat for about 12 minutes or so until cooked. Remove from the heat and serve with warm runny custard or ice-cream.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Peanut Butter Toffee Chocolate Bars

These Peanut Butter bars are a type of cookie-bar, but also make great desserts. Serve warm with a side of vanilla or chocolate ice-cream.

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup & 1 tbs all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup & 2 tbs creamy Peanut Butter
1 tbs vegetable oil
approx 3/4 - 1 cup of chocolate buttons, chopped into chunks
8-10 chewy toffee candies

PREPARATION:
Preheat oven to 180 Celsius. Grease a 9x9" pan. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Cream the butter on low speed for 3 min till nice and creamy.

Add the sugar, and continue beating another 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing for approx 30 sec. Beat in the vanilla, peanut butter and oil. Scrape down to ensure a smooth batter.

On low speed, mix in the sifted mixture. Fold in the chocolate morsels and cut up toffee candies. Scrape batter into pan, and spread evenly. Smooth the top of the mixture and sprinkle the top with chocolate morsels. Bake for 25-28min. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool completely. Once cool, cut into bars.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

White Chocolate Mousse With Green Lemon

Today's recipe comes from Nigella Lawson's book, Nigella Express. This recipe is a breeze to make, sets quickly and tastes delicious!

INGREDIENTS:
9 ounces white chocolate, broken into small pieces
1 cup heavy cream
1 egg white
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
6 fresh mint leaves, optional

PREPARATION:
Put the pieces of white chocolate in a bowl, and sit this bowl over a pan over simmering water until it melts, stirring gently with a spatula every now and then. When it's melted, stand the bowl on a cold surface to cool down a little.

In another bowl, and using an electric handheld whisk for ease, whip the cream, egg white and extract together. You want soft peaking rather than a stiff mixture. Put a big dollop of cream onto the slightly cooled chocolate and mix, and then gently fold the chocolate mixture into the cream.

Divide mixture between 6 small but perfectly formed glasses with a capacity of 60ml/ 1/4-cup each. Chill in the fridge or give them a fast icy zap by sitting them in the deep freeze for 10 or 15 minutes. Decorate the top with a mint leaf before serving.



From Nigella Lawson's "Nigella Express" cookbook. The recipes use regular, normal ingredients, and although some meals take a while in the oven, the preparation is always quick and simple. A very good cookbook - including some quick, easy desserts!





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Monday, June 9, 2008

Baked Nectarines with Coconut and Milk Chocolate

Fruit adapts beautifully to being cooked on its own, is easy to prepare, and tastes delicious. This recipe for Baked Nectarines is simple yet impressive and makes the most of the delicious summer stonefruit. Serves 6.

INGREDIENTS:
6 (about 800gm) nectarines
50 gm milk chocolate, finely chopped
50 gm coconut macaroons, finely chopped

25 gm (1/3 cup) shredded coconut
30 gm soft butter
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten

PREPARATION:
Cut nectarines in half and remove stones. Using a small sharp knife, cut away centres to make a shallow cavity approximately 3cm across, then finely chop pieces of nectarine flesh and reserve.

Combine chocolate, macaroons, coconut and reserved nectarine flesh in a bowl, then stir in butter and egg yolk and combine well.

Place nectarines, cut-side up, in a roasting pan and divide coconut mixture among cavities, mounding it slightly. Bake at 180C for 25 minutes or until nectarines are soft and filling is light golden. Serve nectarines, hot or warm, with optional double cream.

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Sunday, June 8, 2008

Pear Tarte Tatin

Pear Tarte Tatin is a real treat, and is the perfect size to share. This recipe serves 2.

INGREDIENTS:
90 gm unsalted butter, coarsely chopped
90 gm caster sugar
½ tsp mixed spice
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthways
4 cloves
2 small Packham pears, peeled, halved and cored
150 gm puff pastry

PREPARATION:
Preheat oven to 190C. Evenly scatter butter over the base of a shallow 15cm frying pan (with an oven-proof handle), then scatter sugar and mixed spice. Cross vanilla bean halves, then arrange pears on top, cut-side up, placing a clove in each pear half.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out pastry to 5mm thick and cut out a 15cm-diameter circle or a circle large enough to cover pears completely, then cover pears with pastry, tucking around pears. Place pan over medium heat, and as butter starts to melt spoon liquid over pastry. Cook for 5 minutes or until butter and sugar caramelises and is golden. Place pan in oven for 20 minutes or until pastry is golden. Remove from oven and spoon caramel over pastry. Place a serving plate on top of pan, invert plate and pan and turn tart out onto the plate – be careful as caramel will be very hot. Serve immediately with anglaise to the side.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Easy Chocolate Ice Cream

This recipe was adapted from Ben & Jerrys Homemade Ice Cream and Dessert Book, which tells the story of the scrumptious ice creams that are American legends. It also includes 90-plus of their authentic recipes, including this one. Their recipe didn't include the Vodka... its been added to lower the freezing point so it won’t freeze rock hard. This makes one scant quart.

INGREDIENTS:
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 pinch salt
1 can (12 fl oz.) evaporated milk (fat-free is fine)
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup lightly sweetened whipped cream (whipped from 1/2 cup heavy cream and 1 Tbsp sugar)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tbsp vodka

PREPARATION:
Put the cocoa and salt in a saucepan and add just enough milk to make a paste. Add the remaining milk and scald over medium heat.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the eggs until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the sugar, a little at a time, then continue whisking until completely blended, about 1 minute more. Temper the eggs by gradually adding the hot milk mixture and whisking constantly.

Transfer the mixture back into the pan and cook over moderately low heat until a thermometer registers 170F, or until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon.

Add the vanilla and vodka. Pour custard through a sieve into a metal bowl set in ice and cold water and cool. If necessary, use a hand blender to smooth out the custard. Cover and refrigerate until cold (preferably overnight).

Fold in the whipped cream and pour into ice cube trays and freeze. Unmold the cubes into a food processor and break up with a fork. Pulse until smooth. (If you don’t have a food processor, freeze in a shallow pan for three hours. After every hour, break up the mixture with a fork, whisk or hand blender. If you have an ice cream maker, add the cream to the milk in the first step. Freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.)





Saturday, May 31, 2008

Amaretto Baked Apples

Baked Apples is a classic fruit dish, and this recipe uses macaroon biscuits and Amaretto liquor to add an almoney flavour. This dessert is delicious on a winters night with warm custard! Serves 6.

INGREDIENTS:
50g dried apricots, chopped
50ml Amaretto liqueur, plus extra for baking
6 medium Granny Smith or Braeburn apples
50g macaroon biscuits, coarsely chopped
30g butter
30g sugar
1/2 cup water

PREPARATION:
Soak the chopped apricots in the liqueur while you prepare the apples. Wash and core the apples and, with a sharp knife, cut a ring around the skin about halfway down each apple to prevent them splitting randomly.

Mix the soaked apricots with the chopped amaretti biscuits and stuff this mixture into the centres of the apples. Place the apples in a baking dish and set a small knob of butter on top of each and sprinkle with the sugar.

Pour the water into the base of the baking dish with a little extra Amaretto and bake in a moderate oven (180°C) for about 40 minutes until the apples are soft and buttery. Remove the apples from the dish and reduce any remaining juices over a gentle heat until they are syrupy.

Place the apples on serving plates and pour the syrup over. Serve with whipped cream and a small glass of Amaretto liqueur.


Friday, May 30, 2008

Caramel Panna Cotta

Panna Cotta is an Italian dessert which literally means "cooked cream". These delicious desserts need to be refridgerated until set, and can be made the night before. This quantity makes 6.

INGREDIENTS:
200 grams caster sugar
2 leaves gelatine (5 grams each)
2 cups thickened cream
1 vanilla bean, split lengthways

PREPARATION:
Place 100gm sugar and 1½ tbsp water in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat, tilting saucepan, for 5 minutes or until sugar dissolves and becomes golden. Do not stir. Remove from heat, then immediately divide among six 125 ml ramekins, tilting to spread evenly over base and up sides.

Soak gelatine leaves in cold water for 5 minutes or until softened, then squeeze out excess water.

Place cream, remaining sugar, scraped seeds from vanilla bean and bean in a saucepan and stir over low heat until sugar dissolves, then bring to the boil over medium heat and simmer for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat, then add softened gelatine to pan and stir until gelatine dissolves. Remove vanilla bean. Divide cream mixture among ramekins, cool to room temperature, then refrigerate overnight or until set.

To serve, run a knife around inner edge of ramekins, then turn out onto plates and serve immediately.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Chocolate Gelato Ice Cream


Gelato is Italian ice cream made from milk and sugar, combined with other flavorings. This recipe requires an Ice Cream maker.

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup sugar
2 cups milk
1 cup cocoa powder, sifted
3 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 egg yolks, beaten lightly


PREPARATION:
Place the cherries in a bowl and cover with rum. Allow to soak for several hours or overnight.

Heat the light cream and sugar together until the sugar is dissolved and bubbles begin to form around edge of the pot. Whisk yolks until creamy. Add 1/2 cup of the warm cream to the egg yolks. Pour the warmed yolks back into the half-and-half and continue to cook, stirring, until the custard mixture coats the back of a spoon. Do not boil the mixture or it will curdle. Stir in the vanilla, allow to cool completely, then chill.

Pour into the ice-cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's directions. Drain the cherries. When the mixture begins to thicken as it freezes, add the cherries and freeze until ice cream is the properconsistency.

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Saturday, February 9, 2008

Sunniundalu

Sunniundalu is a traditional Indian sweet from the state of Andhra Pradesh. Urad dal is a type of pulse, and ghee is clarified butter. All good Indian shops should carry these ingredients. How this sweet this recipe tastes can depend on grinding method. Old world stone grain-grinder is the traditional method of choice but can be substituted for mortar and pestle. High powered, sharp bladed, food processor comes close. This recipe is quick and delicious!

INGREDIENTS:
3 cups of whole urad dal
1½ cups of sugar
1 cup of melted ghee at room temperature

PREPARATION:
Roast the dal to a golden color slowly and on low heat, continuously stirring. Grind the roasted dal and sugar to a fine sand. Add melted ghee to the urad dal-sugar powder and roll into balls.

Mango Ice Cream

This ice cream is creamy and very mangoey! If you do not like mango, you’ll won't enjoy this ice cream... but if you love mango, you’ll be in heaven. This recipe is perfect if you don’t own an ice cream maker.

INGREDIENTS:
2 ripe mangoes
1 1/4 cups of cream
3/4 cup icing sugar, sifted
juice of 2 limes or small lemons

PREPARATION:
Cut the manoges in half lengthways, scrape out the flesh and discard the stones. Place the flesh in an electric blender or food processor with the remaining ingredients and work to a puree. Pour into a rigid freezerproof container, cover, seal and freeze for 2 hours. Remove from freezer, whisk well, then re-freeze until firm.

Transfer to the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving to soften.

Scoop into chilled glasses to serve.


Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Coconut Chocolate Tarts

These tartlets are like reverse chocolate macaroons; This recipe is fast and simple to make yet it comes out looking elegant and tasting great!

INGREDIENTS:
¾ cup sugar
3 egg whites
2½ cups sweetened flaked coconut
8 oz bittersweet chocolate
½ cup cream

PREPARATION:
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Stir together the sugar, egg whites, and coconut. Grease very well 24 mini-muffin cups, silicone molds, or tartlet pans. Place a dollop of coconut mixture in each cup and gently press up the sides of the muffin cups. Bake the coconut shells 12-25 minutes, until golden. Run a knife around the edges of the shells and let cool completely in the pans, then carefully remove them (they will stick a bit).

Chop the chocolate and place it in a medium bowl. In a saucepan, heat the cream to a simmer, then pour over the chocolate. Stir until melted and smooth. Place a bit of chocolate in each coconut shell.

You can use the coconut scraps that will inevitably have broken off some of your shells for garnish, or garnish with some toasted almonds.

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Fast Tiramisu Tartlets

Tiramisu is an Italian treat that means 'pick me up', so no prizes for guessing you need coffee to make this simple sensational recipe. These tartlets do not require refrigeration - you can serve them immediately.

INGREDIENTS:
4 tablespoons of mascarpone
1 tablespoon of sifted icing sugar
4 amaretti biscuits
2 shots of strong black coffee
small pastry shells
PREPARATION:
Put 4 tablespoons of mascarpone in a medium mixing bowl, add 1 tablespoon of sifted icing sugar and stir to combine. Crumble 4 amaretti biscuits into a small bowl and drizzle with 2 shots of strong black coffee. Leave to stand for a couple of minutes then add to the mascarpone mixture with 2 tablespoons of finely grated dark chocolate. Stir until just combined, to make a marbled cream. Spoon the mixture into small pastry shells and sprinkle with a little extra grated or drinking chocolate.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Pavlova


The Pavlova is a meringue-like dessert made from egg whites, frequently served with cream and fruit (usually kiwifruit and / or berries). The Pavlova was first created in the early 1930s in honor of the ballerina Anna Pavlova, a Russian ballerina, the most celebrated dancer of her time, who was visiting New Zealand.

INGREDIENTS:
4 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon white vinegar (or lemon juice)
1 cup of caster sugar
1 cup whipped cream
Fruit to decorate

PREPARATION:
Line a baking tray with foil or baking paper. On the foil or paper draw a circle with a 22 cm (9") diameter. In a glass or china bowl beat egg whites, vanilla and vinegar (or lemon juice) until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the sugar, one tablespoonful at a time. When sugar is fully dissolved into egg mixture pile it onto the baking tray, keeping the mixture within the circle. Smooth the top but leave a slight hollow in the central area.

Bake at 120° Celsius (250° F) for approximately 1 and 1/4 hours. When cooked, the Pavlova should be a very light beige colour. Turn off the oven. Leave Pavlova to cool in the oven.

When cold, top with whipped cream and decorate with fruit.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Chocolate Chunksicles


This is a fun recipe for a casual summer BBQ and is great for the kids - small or big!

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups whole milk
5 large egg yolks, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 bars (1.5 ounces each) dark chocolate, finely chopped
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups heavy cream
3 bars (1.5 ounces each) dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 can (16 ½ ounces) cherries, drained and halved
1 cup toasted almonds, chopped

8 small empty juice drink boxes and popsicle sticks

PREPARATION:
Heat milk in saucepan over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks and sugar in mixing bowl until thick and pale-colored. Add one-third of hot milk to yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Pour egg mixture back into saucepan. Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture sticks to the back of a spoon. Do not boil. Remove from heat. Add chopped chocolate and stir until smooth. Pour into metal bowl and cool. Stir in vanilla and heavy cream. Freeze for 4 hours.

Cut off top off 8 small empty juice drink boxes and place on a baking sheet in freezer. Place the chopped chocolate, cherries and almonds on baking sheet in freezer.

When the chocolate custard mixture is semi-frozen, turn into food processor bowl. Cover and process until slushy. Stir in frozen chocolate, cherries and almonds. Divide mixture into 8 juice drink boxes, filling to the top. Place in freezer for 15 minutes. Insert popsicle stick in each and freeze for 3 hours more.

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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

White Chocolate Tiramisu Trifle


Great trifles dont need to be difficult. This recipe is little more than melting the white chocolate, mixing it with mascarpone, letting it cool, then layering it with the sponge and pears. Delicious.

INGREDIENTS:
1 410g canned pears in syrup, drained
7 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
1/3 cup pear brandy
1/4 cup water
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 8 ounce container mascarpone cheese
1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
3 3-ounce packages soft sponge fingers

PREPARATION:
Combine white chocolate, pear brandy, and 1/4 cup water in a metal bowl set over simmering water. Stir until smooth (mixture will be very liquidy). Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; discard bean. Transfer white chocolate mixture to large bowl; gradually add mascarpone, whisking until mixture is smooth. Cool mascarpone mixture until barely lukewarm.

Beat 1 cup cream in medium bowl until peaks form. Fold whipped cream into mascarpone mixture in 4 additions. Cover and chill white chocolate mousse until set, about 3 hours. Mousse can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.

Cut pear halves lengthwise into slices. Arrange sponge fingers in single layer in bottom of trifle dish. Spread 1/3 of white chocolate mousse over sponge, making layer slightly thicker around outer edges of dish to allow mousse to be more visible. Top this layer with pear slices. Repeat layering of sponge, mousse, and pears 2 more times. Can be made 1 day ahead.

White chocolate curls can be made by putting a block of white chocolate in the microwave for 5 seconds at a time until soft enough to peel into unbroken curls using a vegetable peeler. Garnish with whipped cream and chocolate curls.

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Monday, January 7, 2008

Chocolate Custard Tart


This is a rich and creamy tart that makes a sinfully delicious dessert.

INGREDIENTS:
1 ½ cups finely ground chocolate cookies
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

7 oz extra-bitter chocolate, chopped
1 cup cream
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg

Brandy Whipped Cream
1 3/4 cups double cream, chilled
3 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons brandy, or to taste

PREPARATION:
In a bowl, mix the chocolate cookie crumbs and butter. Press into the base of a 9" springform pan. Place in refridgerator to chill while preparing the filling.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Place chocolate in a bowl. Bring the cream, milk, and sugar to a boil in a saucepan. Add the mixture, a third at a time, to the chocolate, stirring each addition until combined. Beat the egg in a large bowl. Whisk in a quarter of the chocolate-milk mixture until just combined, and add to the remaining chocolate. Tap the bowl to get rid of any air bubbles. Pour the custard into the tart shell, filling it to the top.

Bake for 20 minutes, rotate front-to-back, and bake for another 20 minutes or until the custard is set around the edges but jiggly in the center. Serve with brandy whipped cream.

Brandy Whipped Cream
Whip the cream and sugar together in a bowl until soft peaks almost form, add the brandy, and continue beating until stiff.

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Thursday, January 3, 2008

Salted Caramel Cheesecake


This recipe makes 6 individual cheesecakes using Fleur de sel, or sea salt. The large salt crystals give the cheesecake a delicious tangyness that contrasts the sweet caramel perfectly. This recipe can be refridgerated for 2 days.

INGREDIENTS:
1/2 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream

6 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
Fleur de sel

PREPARATION:
Preheat the oven to 325°. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar at medium speed until smooth. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, then beat in the sour cream. Pour the batter into six 5-ounce ramekins or custard cups.

Set the ramekins in a small pan and set the pan in the center of the oven. Add enough hot water to the pan to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake the cheesecakes for 10 minutes, until set at the edges but still quite jiggly in the center. Turn off the oven and leave the cheesecakes in for 1 hour. Transfer the ramekins to a rack and let cool completely.

Meanwhile, heat the corn syrup in a heavy medium saucepan. Stir in the sugar and cook over moderately high heat, undisturbed, until a deep amber caramel forms (about 9 minutes). Off the heat, carefully stir in the butter with a long-handled wooden spoon. Stir in the cream in a thin stream. Transfer the caramel to a heatproof pitcher and let cool. Stir in 3/4 teaspoon of fleur de sel.

Pour 1 1/2 tablespoons of the caramel over each cheesecake and swirl to coat the tops. If the caramel is too thick, warm it in a microwave oven at 10-second intervals. Refrigerate the cheesecakes until chilled, at least 3 hours. Sprinkle with fleur de sel just before serving.

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Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Cranberry Sorbet

Cranberry sorbet is not too sweet and a little on the tart side. It's delicious on its own but also goes well with tropical fruit.

INGREDIENTS:
4 cups fresh cranberries (about 1 1/2 twelve oz. bags)
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
Zest from 1 orange
Juice of 2 lemons
1/4 cup limoncello

PREPARATION:
Rinse cranberries and throw out any debris and shriveled or discolored cranberries. Place cranberries and water in a pot and bring to a boil. Cook for 8 minutes. Cranberries will pop when they cook, so cover slightly to protect from splattering. Pour hot mixture into blender with sugar and, with your hand securely holding the lid on the blender, purée until smooth. Add orange zest and continue to blend. Pour hot mixture through a sieve into a bowl. Place bowl in an ice bath to chill. While sorbet is chilling in ice bath, juice 2 lemons. Pour juice through sieve to remove seeds and pulp and add this to the sorbet. Add limoncello and stir until blended.

Chill base and then freeze in ice cream maker.
Chill mixture in ice bath until less than 45° F. Pour into ice cream maker and freeze according to your maker's instructions. Once chilled, remove from ice cream maker and place in dedicated (odor-free) container to let ripen in the freezer for several hours. Because of the alcohol, it will always be a tiny bit soft.

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