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.)