A Marble to Behold

Chocolate Marble Banana Bread 4 arrA while ago, homey banana bread was made and devoured by yours truly – ‘moi,’ of course! The sweet memories of what once was – yester-bake – now leaves me with this thought: I do believe it’s time for a remake. Just as before, I’ve come across the very old yet same predicament – as past recipes would reveal – and, a very delicious answer for an almost forgotten bunch of ripened bananas. Some never learn, I suppose – or do they?

Chocolate Marble Banana Bread 1 arrSpeaking of myself, I’ve definitely love to salvage overripe fruit in baked goods. Without getting overly ‘mushy’ about the subject, I equally attest that banana bread is best made when this fruit does in fact start to brown and spot on its exterior but, remains soft and explosively flavourful.

Wasting no more time, let’s get baking! Starting with a trusted recipe, I decide on marbled banana bread. Like the original, this variety simply requires one to divide the dry ingredients initially suggested for the making of one loaf in multiple bowls. Taking things step-by-step, measure halved amount of the ‘necessities’ – flour , sugar, salt, and baking powder – into two different bowls where the chocolate variation takes less flour, thus being certain to replace the omitted amount of a.p.f. with cocoa powder. Chocolate Marble Banana Bread 2 arrFrom here, divide and pour the already mixed wet contents – butter, vanilla, bananas and eggs – into each ‘dry’ bowl. And for an even more decadent chocolatey twist, add dark or semi-sweet chocolate chunks to each bowl. Once both batters are well combined, introduce spoonfuls of each into a well-greased and parchment-lined loaf pan.

Vanilla and chocolate contents now acquainted, insert a knife or wooden skewer into the batter-filled pan and make swirl motions to create the classic marbled pattern. Finally, top your edible art with extra chocolate chunks – if your heart desires – and get that marbled slab into a preheated oven.

Chocolate Marble Banana Bread 3 arrSensing a banana-rich sweetness in the air, I know my marbled loaf is ready – about 50 minutes or so. Leaving this beauty to cool prior to slicing, getting my dose of potassium courtesy of this banana bread-ish ‘healthy’ cake is my kind of rescued dessert. Hoping you’ll show ripened fruit some TLC – via the kitchen – treating bruised fruit is not so ‘bananas’ after all. Clearly enjoying the fruits of my labour, reinvented banana bread is simply marvellous. Whether you enjoy it as a mid-day snack or for a quick breakfast on the go, this moist loaf satisfies in both its classic state, embedded with nuts or rippled with melted chocolate flavours – naturally, it’s a ‘marble’ to be behold!

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2017. All Rights Reserved. 

Mom Knows Best!

Persian Ice Cream 5 arrMy mom has taught me everything I know – from Persian culture to family values, and the importance of ongoing learning. A gem in her own right, my mother has and persists to display multifaceted talents. Crafty yet studious, successful in business ventures as much as a leading parental figure, she’s – without a doubt – the person to whom I look up and admire, and fortunately, my personal ‘go-to’ when presented with life’s question however big or recipe-related.

 

On this Mother’s Day, my mind easily trails to an endless memory bank of times I shared with my mom. Moments for which I’m grateful, and instances that are now family stories in great thanks to my mother who selflessly took every spare moment she had to spend with her children. Always giving of herself, she put ‘quality’ in every minute, hour and all times that are now made eternal.

Persian Ice Cream 3 arrIn celebration of my mom and all mother figures, I like to dedicate this post to past memories and some made new. Regardless of the month or season, every year has been touched by my mom. From devouring a plateful of homemade Christmas cookies, to custom-made birthday cakes, my mom started traditions that were made to last. Effortlessly working to make every occasion special, she continues to approach holiday dinners with the same level of attentive care and happily creates festive menus and table spreads that are thematic and attune with hand-selected patterned dishes, flatware, drinking glasses and centrepiece arrangements. Again taking time, she not only ‘makes things happen’ but, too, adds an element of magic to transform otherwise ordinary events into something beautiful.

In recollection of one of my fondest childhood memories, every trip to the mall included a stop at the ice cream parlour – my favourite scoop in a cone, mint chip for my sister, and French vanilla for my mom. Clearly, this family loves ice cream. And for the creation of more sweet memories, my mother has passed on the tradition of making and appreciating Persian food, including traditional desserts.

Persian Ice Cream 8 arrGladly following in my mother’s footsteps, I hope to have honoured both her teachings and our heritage with the making of a delectable recipe fully-loaded with nostalgia. Hoping you, too, will share something sweet with your mother-figure, here’s what I learnt from the ‘wise’ one: a popular Persian Ice Cream commonly known as ‘bastani Akbar Mashti’ and ‘faloodeh’.

Having the fortune to savour my mother’s cooking, I need no formal introduction to the distinct floral tastes identified with these icy desserts. Inclusive of saffron, rosewater, pistachios and frozen pieces of whipping cream, this vanilla-based ice cream dessert was first invented by ‘the man,’ Akbar Mashti. Rightfully named, then, ‘bastani’ simply refers to ice cream in Farsi.

As easy to make as reading the ingredient list, anyone can share and delight in their very own homemade batch of Persian Ice Cream. Starting with pure vanilla bean ice cream – homemade or already-made, preferably premium grade – allow the ice cream contents to slightly soften, and then mix-in the following: 1 cup of pistachios, 1/4 cup of rosewater, 1/16 teaspoon ground saffron, and 500 mL of whipping cream for ultra richness – freeze cream separately, and break into pieces prior to incorporating – and when well-combined, place the container back into the freezer to solidify the jewelled ice cream prior to serving. In case it helps, here’s some pearls of wisdom passed from mum: a little goes a long way with saffron so – however tempted to intensify colour of your ice cream – be careful not to overpower the dairy contents or otherwise risk gaining an adversely medicinal tasting dessert. Also, I first bloomed the portioned saffron into the measured rosewater, and later incorporated the perfumed liquid gold to the ice cream.

Persian Ice Cream 10 arrHighly satisfying as-is, ‘bastani’ can even be sandwiched between two wafers or enjoyed alongside ‘faloodeh’. Perhaps unfamiliar to some, ‘faloodeh’ is essentially cooked rice noodles that have been frozen with rosewater infused simple syrup. Short on ingredients and steps, less is definitely more with this fragrant dessert. Once prepared and semi-frozen, be sure to comb it over with a fork – like a granita – as it does not share the same consistency as ice cream. Finally ready to serve, you can enjoy ‘faloodeh’ in all its rosy glory for an extra hint of tart and sweet tastes top it with a squeeze of fresh lime juice or sour black cherry syrup – and, that’s all she wrote!

From my mother’s kitchen to yours, these Persian desserts are family favourites and simply worth having any time of year. Using these recipes or alternate expressions of thanks, I hope you have the opportunity to treat the parental figure who has left a lasting imprint on your life with daily tokens of gratitude. And on that note, this one’s for you – Love you, Mum!!

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Spring Bake


Bon Appetit Ricotta Cake 2 arrPatio all set and spring cleaning complete, are you thinking what I’m thinking: sun’s out, bundt’s out! Always finding a reason to celebrate, there’s no better time to reward a seasonal mission well accomplished than with cake – al fresco, of course! And given my love of baking, I gladly make use of springform pans and vibrant fruit for a refreshing duo: lemony fruit-filled and almond peach ricotta cakes.

Bon Appetit Ricotta Cake 4 arrFirst intrigued by Bon Appétit’s Raspberry-Ricotta Cake, a glimpse of this cake looked too tempting not to recreate. Doing just that, I use Alison Roman’s simple instructions and get ambitious. Doubling the amounts of specified ingredients, I yield twice the batter for two variations on this light and fluffy cake. Clearly, the perfect accompaniment to afternoon tea or any java pick-me-up.

Bon Appetit Ricotta Cake 5 arrAttesting to its simplicity, this ricotta cake is easy to make and tweak. Certain to add bright flavour, the original recipe calls for raspberries. While keeping with the necessities – flour, butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, baking powder, salt and ricotta – is a must, this ricotta-inspired cake is not exclusive to raspberries alone. Forgoing the suggested listing, I follow most steps and include my preferred choice of berries, stone fruit and citrus for an end result that’s peachy-keen.


Bon Appetit Ricotta Cake 3 arrChanged but not compromised, my take is quite delicious and still attune with the desired moist consistency of Bon App
étit’s Ricotta Cake. Likewise, the almond topping adds texture to the mildly fragrant peach-infused cake. Equally fresh and clean on the palette, inclusion of lemon zest coupled with pockets of tart blackberries, blueberries and cherries appropriately lift the otherwise plain cake structure with bursts of bold flavour. Pleased with the overall outcome of my ricotta cakes, this duo looks prime and tastes divine as-is though can be made ultra indulgent with a dollop of whipped cream.
A piece of cake to make – and eat, once cooled – here’s a final note on any leftover fruit: blushing Bellinis, anyone?

Strawberry Peach Bellinis arrWasting not, blend equal parts of any remaining peach slices with frozen strawberries to create a fruit-fusion. From here, fill a wine glass with fruit purée – about 1/3 high – and top the amalgamated contents with sparkling wine. Feeling peachy with abundance, elevated lounging is meant to be decked out with juicy refreshments – Bon Appétit!

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Welcome to Poutineville!

Poutineville MTL 1 arrDie hard fans of french fries – the hearty type – mustn’t miss out on a hidden gem in Montréal. Sure, there are plenty of self-proclaimed “best-selling” venues of the beloved ‘poutine.’ But when you steer off the beaten path, and follow the locals to 1365 Ontario Est, you know you’re in the right place for all things cheese curds, gravy and piping hot fries. Without further ado, then, ‘Bienvenue’ to Poutineville!

Talk about first impressions: go big on the exterior sign, and feel right at home in this quaint yet cozy family friendly eatery. Clearly a promising indication of greater things to come, this restaurant exudes a pleasantly familiar aroma that leaves the senses anticipating one’s very own plate of comfort food – à la all things potato, of course! Promptly seated, and welcomed by a gracious and bilingual – French/English – host, getting my poutine fix is a mere order form away.

Poutineville MTL 2 arrKid you not, the variety of flavourful poutine options are extensive. As such, patrons can either verbalize a menu item or fill out a sheet to specify desired toppings for their very own customized take on this French-Canadian dish. Choices abound, I feel for the indecisive folks but there’s no need to panic. Instead, take a breath and remember: simplicity is key! Wasting no more time contemplating, get your order in for an iconic staple – before the kitchen closes – and await a generously stacked plate of simply delicious: crispy house cut fries topped with fresh cheese curds and a rich braised beef broth-based gravy. Time ‘properly’ managed and decision made, one thing’s certain: you can never go wrong in keeping with tradition – especially, when talking about food affairs.

Poutineville MTL 3 arrFried and fabulous, I couldn’t help but request a double-take of tubers and ask for the “2 Poutine Sampler.” Having lunch chez-Poutineville, afterall, why not try both hand-crushed and crispy sweet potatoes? Going for twice the poutine, this appetizing select also means one can taste two times the gravy – red wine and pepper sauces – in addition to a mound of oozing melted cheese curds. Combining winning pairings of mild and bold flavours, I’m an instant fan of the peppery sweet potato poutine. Equally exclusive to Poutineville, other inventive dishes include a mélange of vegetables, cheeses – Mozzarella, Swiss, and cheddar – as well as a range of sausage meats, minced beef, and pulled pork additions that contribute to the endless array of unforgettable hot potato dishes, including: “The Montrealer,” “The Hat Trick,” and the head honcho of all ‘Messieurs Patates’, “The Godfather.”Poutineville MTL 4 arr

Comparatively humble in proportion to the aforementioned starchy indulgences, I leave my plate unfinished albeit full-ly satisfied. Pleased with the service and food, every visit to Montréal should include a poutine outing. So if you’re seeking a hot meal ‘rooted’ in comfort, have no fear of carb overload and happen to be in Poutineville’s neck of the woods, now you know where to go – P.S., they’re open until 5 A.M.

© DISHFUL, 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Bombe au C’ChoColat

Weekend getaway to Paris North – pourquoi pas? Why not, indeed, to a fab Canadian stay-cation worthy of good eats in beautiful Montréal, Québec. Arriving ‘tout à l’heure,’ I waste no time and make my way downtown where ‘le centre-ville’ is home to several locally authentic French cuisine finds. Forgoing ‘foie gras’ – this time – I have reason for travelling through the hustle and bustle of the city’s artery, and it’s prime – believe me!

C'ChoColat 2 arrGood company and good times! And, as for the weather? Certainly, ‘je me souviens’ – a city to be remembered. But, don’t let the clear skies fool you! Brisk air to some, I would comparatively rate the weather as well below freezing temperature. Nonetheless, this trip was never about the windchill. Food shopping on the mind, this chocoholic-epicurean – that is ‘moi’ – landed in front of the doors of 1255 Rue Bishop for one precise item: C’ChoColat’s signature house dessert, the C’Wow.

Wowed – 100% – by this memorable chocolate bomb, this sweet plate is truly unlike anything I’ve yet had the pleasure to witness. Scanning the menu, the composition of listed ingredients for the C’Wow already sounds pleasantly familiar. Just imagine, a plated dish that includes: a scoop of artisan gelato surrounded by broken pieces of waffles, brownies, pecans, fresh berries, and crumble that is then encapsulated in a chocolate dome. But wait, this dessert gets better when served table side – ‘à table,’ chocolate lover!

Like a page stolen from history, suspenseful anticipation for this Trojan horse is no where near reached until post delivery of this gorgeous cocoa structure. Don’t worry, however, this sweet invasion equally makes for one delectably welcome fateful ending. In a nutshell: the C’Wow came, was seen and conquered – by caramel! Ultimately covered by heated caramel sauce, behold: a demolished collapse of layered confection toppling over a rocky bed of waffle and brownie bits. Jaw dropped, bearing witness to a fantastic chocolate demise, a moment of fascination is soon replaced with reality and the realization that it’s taste-testing time – finalement!

C'ChoColat 10 arrAs hoped, every bite of the C’Wow encompasses a mélange of delightful flavours. Inclusion of fresh berries justly brighten the flavours of the dense and rich cakey components. Generous in size and highly caloric, this select is a feat to finish. As such, here’s word to wise: the C’Wow can easily be shared by two or ordered for one large appetite. Either way, this chocolate themed venue offers more than meets the eye and is sure to appease many a sweet tooth.

C'ChoColat 6 arrSatisfying the chocophile-in-anyone, enjoying the finer things in life – if only via chocolate – is a dream come to fruition at C’ChoColat. Never ceasing to disappoint, there’s something for everyone from chocolate-infused beverages dubbed ‘choctails’ to Hong Kong style honeycomb waffles and savoury dishes. Too tempting not to try, the pistachio gelato is truly divine. Still in vacay mode, adding accompaniments like a latté and the Matcha Matcha Man frappé make for an accepted and extended guilt-free indulge-a-thon. Between green tea and herbal varieties, the assortment of milkshakes, ‘chocolat chaud’, hot/cold coffee beverages and Parisian crêpes run plenty. Heart happy in #MTL, C’ChoColat’s C’Wow is a clear winner to be experienced for yourself, ideally in person or just a click away.  It’s seriously, ‘the bomb’ of chocolate desserts!

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2017. All Rights Reserved.

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Pudding It Out There

Liquid sunshine, anyone? Once in a while, a baker will come across excess yolks – probably having whipped up a whites-based dessert like meringues, angel food cake and the sort. Finding myself in a similar predicament, a bowl of golden yolks and perfect timing leaves me with the ideal March-inspired treat. Celebrating with high spirits, Baileys Chocolate Pudding was made for St. Paddy’s Day festivities.Baileys Chocolate Pudding 3 arr

Combining my favourite ingredient – undoubtedly chocolate – with a very special Irish Cream, you really can’t go wrong with the complementary pairing of the aforementioned duo. Rich, chocolatey and infused with a hint of an old country export, homemade pudding is something else: it’s elevated nostalgia. Clearly, a must-indulge item in my books!

Baileys Chocolate Pudding 2 arrTo make your own holiday pudding, choose a scratch recipe of choice. Following the steps of the Barefoot Contessa – Ms. Ina Garten, of course – I really enjoyed following her simple instructions for a double chocolate pudding. Doing things my way, however, I take her very good recipe and tweak it to cater to my preferences. Specifically, I had nine yolks to start though the original recipe calls for six. Presented with three more than less of what’s required, I still count myself lucky. Glass bowl looking beyond half-full, circumstance is boding well and, so, I persist to do as any good baker would – I sharpen my math skills. In other words, I take note of the existing quantities and appropriately increase measured amounts for all remaining ingredients, including: sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, salt, milk, heavy cream, pure vanilla essence and fine quality chocolate. Though Ina’s original calls for butter and semisweet chocolate, I omit the butter altogether and use premium dark chocolate – minimum 70% cocoa.

Baileys Chocolate Pudding 4 arrFortunately, the outcome of this cocoa-rich indulgence is nothing short of pure decadence. And, although I-rish I could stop at the making of double chocolate pudding, a must-indulge St. Paddy’s dessert must-have a little touch of Shamrock. As for the final touches, then, I keep with precision and happily exchange the plain heavy cream with an addition of Baileys Original Irish Cream. From here, the well-mixed pudding mixture is poured into individual dessert dishes and refrigerated. Ultra delicious and made for chocophiles, serving chilled portions of Baileys Chocolate Pudding on its own – as-is – or topped with sweetened whipped cream will surely yield happy hours to come. Ultimately ‘pudding’ a spin on a classic, this crowd-pleasing custard is meant to be shared and savoured responsibly – please, use a spoon! Happy Saint Patrick’s, everyone!!

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Red Velvet That Will Please

 

beet-red-velvet-cupcakes-8-arrWant a Valentine’s dessert that will make your special someone blush beet red? Saying “YES” to all things homemade, I have the perfect baked treat in mind. For your sweet – or sweet tooth – I’m thinking: Red Velvet Cupcakes. Satisfying for more than its V-Day symbolic hints of love – chocolate and heart-red hue – this cocoa-rich yet moist bite-size indulgence is made extra irresistible thanks to a generous smothering of cream cheese frosting. As scrumptious as it sounds, red velvet is not for everyone but, when made right, is sure to leave you with a smile.

beet-red-velvet-cupcakes-4-arrEnticed, yet? Love it or hate it, I’m in the mood to whip up a batch of red velvet cupcakes. Still tempting to some, red velvet persists to be a sought-after southern delight since its revival on the big screen – watch the retro hit, Steel Magnolias. Movie buff or not, however, others find nothing delectable about consuming a piece of red-dye cake that’s, too, criticized for being bland. Honestly, I can’t blame them! Also choosing to forgo the Texas band-waggon – sorry, Adams Extract – a little research is all it took to find the ‘one.’ Clearly convinced that ‘red’ can be made right, I’ve found a non-greasy red velvet cake instruction that’s highly flavourful all the while omitting oil and food colouring.

beet-red-velvet-cupcakes-6-arrGetting back to the basics, the start to producing a genuine ‘rouge’ cake batter is as simple as this: just ‘beet’ it! Truly, the inclusion of beetroot veg will evoke desired vibrancy without emptying an entire bottle of food colour – L-O-V-E this! Further match-made for more reasons than one, I use Pamela Moxley’s Red Velvet Cake recipe that calls on butter, equally appeasing to my desire for an oil-free batter. And as if things couldn’t get any better, directions ask that you purée the cooked and peeled beets so you’re solely left with smooth – ‘au naturel’ red – velvety liquid texture. As for the taste, this cake is not intended to be overly chocolatey nor are you left with a strong beet flavour.  In contrast, these cupcakes are mildly sweet and are all about a ‘chemical romance.’ Explanation provided: the appearance of reddish earth tones should result upon combining neutralized Dutch-process cocoa powder with buttermilk, and acids such as white vinegar and the juice of a freshly squeezed lemon, as Moxley’s steps indicate.

beet-red-velvet-cupcakes-11-arrAs for my experiment, I can attest to a fairly ‘reactive’ outcome in the test kitchen. From burgundy to crimson, the looks of lovely red are pleasantly evident and ever-changing between baking stages. A chameleon cake of sorts, that’s exactly what you want to see when attempting this vegetable-infused dessert recipe. Be bold, then, and prepare to welcome variations of red that doesn’t include lipstick or candy apple – any other shade, mind you, wouldn’t reflect an authentic beet cake.

Ultimately doing all things in love, I hope you try a scratch recipe of choice or cake mix – no judgement here – and, when the little cakes are cooled, begin to decorate with frosting: butter-cream, cream cheese or ‘roux’ icing. beet-red-velvet-cupcakes-13-arrCreating cream cheese frosting for my individual ‘reds,’ all I do is combine the following in a bowl: softened unsalted butter and cream cheese – both left out, at room temperature – icing sugar, plus a final dash of Madagascar vanilla essence. Once fluffy and ready to go, I divide the frosting into separate containers, get a piping bag and tip assembled, and do the unexpected: I use food colouring gel. It’s true but, only a few drops – promise! All in the name of happy baking, I couldn’t resist arranging a bed of edible roses. Seriously worth the addition of colour, who would deny wanting these thorn-free flowers for V-Day? Admittedly beautiful, lush, and fragrantly sweet, red velvet rosette frosted cupcakes are for the making, baking, and taking – by the dozens!

© DISHFUL, 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Let’s Get Started!

prima-pavlova-2-arrNew year, new dessert? Right on – my sentiments exact! Paving 2017 with all that is light, sweet and timeless, I’m resolute in making a classic dessert that echoes effortless sophistication. And for this “must-indulge” endeavour, whipping up divine pavlova is nothing short of pav-u-lous.

Originally made to honour ballerina Anna Pavlova, this delicate meringue topped with heavy cream and fruit promises an impressionable display upon presentation. For my dessert stage, then, here’s two ovation-worthy variations to prepare: soft and chewy vanilla pavlova embellished with whipped cream and seasonal berries, in addition to a two-tier chocolate and raspberry layered pavlova cake.prima-pavlova-3-arr

Instructions abound, pursuing any pavlova recipe is a cinch. While I’m a Martha Stewart loyalist – surprise, surprise – be confident that ingredients and steps for the making of meringues are pleasingly similar. Tried, tested, and happily achieved – thanks to Ms. Stewart – here’s a sum of what you’ll need for the meringue base: egg whites, salt, sugar, cornstarch, vinegar, and vanilla extract. For the chocolate alternative, omit vinegar and cornstarch but add premium quality unsweetened cocoa powder and brown sugar accordingly. Once the ingredients are mixed to a glossy stiff consistency, continue to bake and cool the meringue discs in the oven. Finally, proceed to add finishing touches to the domed base. prima-pavlova-4-arr

Generously topping my vanilla meringue with sweetened whipped cream, strawberries and blackberries, fear not if your baked structure slightly cracks or deflates, even post cooling. Instead, remember: this show-stopping beauty is not done until it’s fully dressed via flavourful cream, berries, other fruits – kiwi, banana, raspberry, blueberries, etc. – chocolate shavings, ganache, and even caramel sauce. Garnishes being optional, I brighten the already vibrant fruit pavlova with fresh sprigs of mint, and do so for extra colour and taste. prima-pavlova-1-arrEqually, and like the vanilla pav, the cocoa-rich-lo-va incorporates both fruit and sweetened whipped cream. To ensure even levels – between the first and second floors of cake – simply spoonful proportionate amounts of whipped cream onto the surface of each chocolate meringue. Getting the tiniest bit technical, carefully spread the filling from the center outward – an offset spatula works like a charm – and proceed by topping one cream-laden round with the other. Finding no swan song here, a bountiful shower of lush red raspberries and dusting of dark chocolate shavings is all you require for this adorned ‘prima’. So, there you have it! Dramatically ‘made-up’ and ready for a close reveal, wowing guests is as easy as gracing them with front-row standing to their very own slice of cloud cake – PAV-tastico!

© DISHFUL, 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Three Times a ‘Bain-Marie’

chocolate-mint-pots-de-creme-1-arrChristmas is coming, and for pastry novices – like ‘moi’ – a dessert brainstorm session is a must. Contemplating recipes, I see delicious everywhere! Between cakes, cookies and candy confections – you name it – choices are plentiful and they’re all happily sweet!

Joyful indeed, “This ain’t my first rodeo!” Embracing the hustle and bustle of the kitchen, I’ve learned a thing or two during these festive times: prepare in advance, and don’t leave your baking until last minute. Options narrowed, I decide on a holiday treat that steadily wins over both crowds and one’s blood pressure. Seriously, baking over the busiest time of year need not be stressful. As such, my finalized select for a ‘sweet ending’ to a grand meal can be made up to two days prior to serving, gets a little spa treatment – in a ‘bain-marie’ a.k.a. hot water bath – and can be burnt. You read right! eggnog-creme-brulee-1arr

Explanation provided, if you haven’t guessed it by now, the French classic known as ‘crème brûlée’ is to be made and devoured. Containing a velvety rich and silken cream interior, this divine custard bears its burning trademark – ‘brûlée’ – thanks to a caramelized ‘burnt’ sugar crust topping. Simplicity promised, preparation of this custard only requires five primary ingredients: egg yolks, heavy cream, sugar, a pinch of salt and vanilla. Adhering to Martha Stewart’s instructions, I gladly follow the listed steps. At the same time, however, I’m thinking it’s the holidays and this classic needs to be revamped. Say it is so, eggnog ‘crème brûlée!’

eggnog-creme-brulee-2-arrStill very good, the basic custard recipe can be made ‘as-is’ – following tradition – or enhanced with orange zest or other additions for varying flavours. In the spirit of the season, I keep with putting an eggnog twist on my take. It’s quite simple, all I do is add a pinch of ground cinnamon and nutmeg, as well as the tiniest hint of ground cloves to the mix. Depending on taste, you can equally spike your custard with a splash – about a tablespoon – of your preferred rum or brandy.

Oh, what fun…” and the burner’s still on, so why not make more dessert? My thoughts exactly! Two more delectable recipes – white chocolate crème brûlée and peppermint dark chocolate ‘pots de crème’  are too tempting not to try. Welcoming more work, the aforementioned appetizing paired recipes require the main ‘five’ ingredients plus: premium quality white and dark chocolates – Lindt or Ghirardelli are ideal – and a quarter teaspoon of pure peppermint extract. Successfully breaking with a stress-free baking endeavour, setting my mind to prepare a dessert trio is now on the new menu. Feeling adventurous, this extended baking task is a sought-after challenge worth accepting. After all, all three desserts are made in similar fashion – just times three! And, in case you opt to pursue this route, you’ll equally need thrice of everything: bowls, ingredients, ramekins, and patience. On the bright side, the fruits of your labour will surely yield you three times the company – people or food. Clearly, the more the merrier! chocolate-mint-pots-de-creme-2-arr

Without further ado, here’s how to start: in a bowl, mix the egg yolks with sugar and a pinch of salt. In a saucepan, bring the combined dairy contents and the seeds from a split and scraped vanilla bean to a gentle simmer. No vanilla bean, no problem?! As a substitute, pure vanilla essence works fine though I would add the extract to the egg mixture versus the liquid. Either way, heat the cream but be cautious not to let it boil. Once a simmer is reached, pour the hot liquid into the egg mixture while whisking nonstop, and keep whisking or else – sweetened scrambled eggs, anyone? Whisking complete – or until your arm feels tired – pour the combined mixture over a sieve and into another clean bowl or very large heat-proof glass measuring cup. Oven already preheated and a hot kettle of water awaiting to be used, place ramekins onto a deep roasting pan and then pour equal amounts of custard into each dish. From here, place the pan into the oven and now pour boiled water into the pan, almost reaching half-way up to the ramekin dish. Bake at 300°F for about 30 minutes or until the custard wobbles, and cool at room temperature for another half an hour before refrigerating for at least two more hours.

lindt-white-chococlate-creme-brulee-arrIt’s all in the way it’s – supposed to be – made, and these very good custards are no exception. Missing no step, ‘crème brûlée’ is merely custard without its signature amber gold topping. Going for the ‘pièce de résistance,’ then, the burnt sugar crusted finale needs two things: a tablespoon or so of castor sugar for each baked and chilled custard and – most importantly – a torch. If you don’t have a torch, use your oven’s broiler setting but be sure to keep a watchful eye on your ‘beauties.’ Remember: ‘burnt’ cream is the aim, not scorched. As for the peppermint dark chocolate ‘pots de crème,’ food of the gods truly need no masking. Embellishment via more dark chocolate, on the other hand, sounds like my kind of fancy finish to a highly pure cocoa indulgence. So, there you have it! Once, twice, three times a Merry Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa celebration, and holiday eats! Blessings to all, and BON APPÉTIT!! :)

© DISHFUL, 2016. All Rights Reserved.

Legends of a Fall Haul

cranberry-orange-walnut-tart-5-arrFall harvests are in, and I’m going for the season’s best – C-R-A-N-B-E-R-R-I-E-S! Between beverages, sauces or jarred condiments, this fruit – when available – is conveniently within reach at the local grocers. So, why all the excitement? Clearly, resisting not – to test a new recipe – a baker’s gonna bake! And this time, use of these fresh and vibrant ruby red crops call for the making of a zingy orange and cranberry walnut-crusted tart.

Like most pie and tart recipes, you can pair various fillings with your preferred crust recipe.  Choice is yours, and for this baking endeavour I – somewhat – follow Martha Stewart’s instructions. Similar to the original, my take on the filling uses fresh cranberries, sugar, water, and gelatin. Also calling for a cup of currant jelly and two tablespoons of cognac, I decide to do things differently and cater to my palette – I swap the currant jelly for cranberry jelly to maintain consistency, and incorporate the zest of one orange plus its juice in place of liqueur.

Yay or nay, to making changes? Well, I usually don’t like to mess with a “good thing.” cranberry-orange-walnut-tart-2-arrBut, as in this case, orange citrus is the right substitution to elevate the sharpness of cranberries and to yield an ultimate jamming filling. Being sure to use precise measurements of juice in combination with fruit peel, you can even try making a zesty lemon cranberry version like the orange variation for an ultra-tart take on this delicious recipe. Definitely worth re-making, I also recommend simmering another batch to preserve in a mason jar. Versatile in its uses, this alcohol-free orange cranberry filling is not just a filling anymore. Think of it this way: it’s a cross between fruit compote and jam that can be topped on your breakfast ‘favourite’ – toast, waffles, pancakes, yoghurt/yogurt – or as an appetizing accompaniment to Brie, Camembert or other soft cheeses. Needless to say, the enhanced cranberry filling recipe is a winning YAY!

As for the nutty crust counterpart, Martha Stewart’s listed ingredients include: finely chopped walnuts, unsalted butter, flour, salt, sugar, egg yolks, vanilla essence and ice water. cranberry-orange-walnut-tart-3-arrFrom here, and using Martha’s recipe or your own, evenly spread out the dough mixture onto the tart dish and freeze it for thirty minutes. Now ready for the oven, bake the crust at 375°F for about 40 minutes or until the shell is revealing of a golden brown colour. Wishing fellow bakers optimal results – and happy baking – here’s a helpful hint: keep a watchful eye on the cooking time for both the crust and filling or otherwise risk yielding a burnt crust, and watery – ocean spray – content of burst cranberries. Being careful – myself – this rewarding cranberry orange walnut-crusted tart wins crowds on texture and appeal. It look goods, tastes good, and remains a seasonal fruit dessert befitting of the fall season.

cranberry-orange-walnut-tart-7-arrPucker your lips sour, this cranberry-based recipe is obviously not as sweet as many other treats. With that in mind, you may choose to add more sugar to the filling mixture as you see fit. Equally packed with a load of acidity, I initially wasn’t sure if I would win-over family members with this slightly acidic ‘after,’ especially as an end to a hearty Thanksgiving meal. But, truth be told: they loved it! Serving a humble portioned square pleasantly complemented an otherwise bountiful plate. Word to the wise, then, the following might be worth remembering: heavy meals pair well with lighter desserts, and lighter meals allow room for more rich and dense cakes or pastries. With one notable day of thanks past, and another upcoming in November – American Thanksgiving – this delectable tart is not overbearing and one possible dessert route to pursue as a finale to an epic holiday meal. Above all else, those who love cranberries need not wait for a calendar event to enjoy a piece of cranberry tart – afternoon snack times are occasion enough!

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