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.

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.

Keep Calm & Panda On

Pandaron 1 arrIt’s panda bear pandemonium! Rightfully so, everyone loves these adorably playful creatures. But if you don’t get why, here are two cute and cuddly reasons to explain: Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue. Literally translating to Canadian Hope and Canadian Joy, the aforementioned Canadian born male and female pandas cubs are recent additions to the Toronto Zoo. Beyond endearing – not to mention G.T.A.-close – I, like many other animal lovers, couldn’t miss the chance to gain a glimpse of these cuties while they’re still small-ish and in these part of the woods.

Ooh’s” and “awes” in full effect, lucky visitors get to see not one or two pandas but, the whole family. Sighting mama bear, papa bear and the twins, it’s no wonder why this rare viewing is worth the lineup. Bearing witness to panda-style habits – eating, sleeping, and repeating – I learn the charms of living the simple life. Clearly, as in this case, less is more – more pampering of the senses, that is. Pandaron 6 arr

Similarly catering to one’s desire to see and explore further, other ‘mini’ sights to admire include: the polar bear cub, white lion cubs, a couple of Canadian Lynx kittens, and Nandu the Indian Rhino calf. Observing as much as time allows, I leave this excursion with both appreciation for nature’s four-legged beauties and inspiration to re-create baked replicas of my own.

Pandaron 8 arrDusting off a reliable French Macaron recipe, anyone can make their very own ‘pandaron’ – panda macaron. Irresistibly sweet and soft – to the palette and eyes – these round delights are sure to please any panda or cookie lover. Doubling down, those who like both – fans of pandas and cookies – are definitely in for a twin-of-a-treat.

Getting my hands on the necessary ingredients coupled with elbow grease, there’s no pampering or ‘spaw’ treatment involved for this tedious task. Pandaron 7 arrMeasuring, sieving, whisking, folding, piping, and the list goes on, I feel taking a panda nap – almost, only after the cookies are done. Like the cubs’ namesake, I’m both hoping for a blotch-free outcome and joyful upon glance of completed baking sheets of bashful faces – no hot messes here, thankfully.

Pandaron 10 arrGrateful that my interpretation of the Canadian born panda cubs turned out right, I’m left as elated as the showing of the real cubs. Truly mirroring the characteristics of genuine macarons – round with a smooth domed top, and standing tall on ‘feet’ – these sugary ‘pandaron’ babies don’t fall short nor flat. Ideal in taste, size and texture, it goes to show that a trusted recipe and precision is all you need to render quality macarons. To finish my display, I couldn’t resist but to keep my ‘pandarons’ company with matcha green tea biscuit sticks – the perfect snack to complement this cookie round table.

Pandaron 9 arrFor those who are adventurous, try making other animal-inspired macarons. For the creation of lions, tigers, bears or other, simply use your imagination and follow your preferred recipe. From here, add a few drops of food colouring gels and design your cookies accordingly. Ideally, detailing is best using a contrasting colour to reveal and highlight signature lines, spots or markings of your favourite zoo animal. Though the making of macarons measure higher in difficultly than the average chocolate chip cookie, they are undeniably fun to make- for this baker, at least. All the same, the choice to buy or make is yours. Staying zen about the issue, there’s no debating what everyone will do ‘chez-moi’  all can keep calm and eat ‘pandarons.’

© DISHFUL, 2016. All Rights Reserved.

Something Berry Wonderful

 

Swiss Jelly Roll 5 arrHappy belated! Yesterday, love of country was on display for none other than Canada Day. Marking the nation’s birthday in patriotic fashion, the first of July is nothing short of seeing all things red, white and – especially for foodies – deliciously homegrown.

No exceptions, the baker-in-me equally celebrated the best way I know how – via dessert! Clearly adding caloric ‘fuel’ to complement eventful fireworks, I had one specific treat in mind. Swiss Jelly Roll 4 arrGoing for something ‘berry’ seasonal, I forgo prized sweet sap – pure maple syrup – and highlighted the occasion by following instruction for a raspberry inspired recipe. And so, a day off – for this Canuck – was a day well spent in the kitchen, making homemade Swiss Jelly Roll.

Consistent with layers of tart raspberry fruit preserve and lightly sweetened whipped cream, this sponge sheet cake is generously filled, rolled, and sliced to appease any birthday guest. Swiss Jelly Roll 1 arrEven suitable for afternoon tea, this rolled cake is too irresistible not to remake and share. Kindly note, I used Martha Stewart’s recipe though you can commit to a reliable sponge cake recipe of your own choosing. Likewise, feel free to swap the raspberries for alternate ‘red’ fruit such as strawberries or cherries – as always, cater to ‘your’ preferences and palette.

Party planning still in the works – for some – upcoming national festivities like the Fourth of July and Bastille Day on the fourteenth are more reasons to bake, share and devour this versatile cake. Swiss Jelly Roll 7 arrIn recognition of the allied tricolour flags, I recommend using the exact sheet cake method and simply adding blueberries in combination with your choice of edible ‘rubies’ – fresh fruit and compote alike – to ultimately represent red, white and blue. What’s more, now you have three legitimate grounds – or excuses – to eat cake to your sweet tooth’s content. Baking up more reasons to celebrate with food, Happy International July Days!!

© DISHFUL, 2016. All Rights Reserved.

An Éclairation of Dependence

Persian Profiteroles 1 arrRevelling in the dual arrival of spring and Persian New Year, I must declare: I love ‘choux’ ─ choux pastry, of course.  And given my affinity for all French ‘pâtisseries,’ this blossoming time beckons good eats to fuel an upcoming two week marathon of ancient-rich festivities.  Making an appearance on my Persian dessert table, then, I forecast a sweet year ahead with plentiful ‘choux’-inspired delights.

Baffled, by the correlation? You’re probably wondering how French pastry and Persian ‘shirini’ ─ sweets, desserts ─ relate, and rightfully so.  Persian Profiteroles 5 arrThe answer’s quite simple.  In one word:  PROFITEROLES!  Not news to Persians, we absolutely L-O-V-E heavenly clouds of light and airy cream puffs.  Clearly a highly favoured treat, profiteroles are to be seen in the display case of many Persian bakeries.  This year, however, shortcuts are not the way to go.  Instead, the baker-in-me calls for the making of homemade “Persianified” cream-filled pastries ─ I’ll tell you how ─ that’s easy to make, and even easier to enhance to suit varying tastes.

Praline Paris Crest arrStarting with the basics, I follow Martha Stewart’s dependable recipe for ‘choux’ pastry. Once the ‘choux’ is made, you can pipe classic domed rounds, rings or rectangular strips for the making of éclairs.  You can stick with one shape or the other, or both ─ the beauty with this recipe lies in that it’s your creation, and ultimately your choice.  Once my ‘choux’ pastries are baked, I set them aside to cool and begin with the fillings.

‘Choux’ shopping in mind, appetizing possibilities are endless. Envisioning dessert trays abound, my decision is made:  I must-indulge in a baking session that allows me to experiment and create everything.  Seriously settling on handfuls, I deduce the following selects will ─ for now ─ pleasingly suffice:  individual mini praline Paris-Brest, sea salted dulce de leche éclairs, and a flavourful trio of cream-filled profiteroles.  Dulce de Leche Eclairs arrUnique in both shapes and palatable accompaniments, an array of different sized ‘choux’ pastry shells and a range of luxurious cream fillings ─ almond praline pastry cream, Chantilly, raspberry and “Persianified” whipped creams ─ are a tall order to fill.  But, then again, these hollow pastry shells are designed to be packed with an assortment of divine filling.  Word to the wise:  advanced preparation of Martha’s vanilla pastry cream is recommended that leaves ample time for it to chill in the fridge, and later use either as is or to blend with almond praline.

Persian Profiteroles 3 arrAs for Chantilly cream, what is it exactly? Essentially, it’s heavy cream that is whipped with confectioner’s sugar and pure vanilla essence.  Wanting vanilla-infused Chantilly cream in addition to raspberry whipped cream and a distinct “Persianified” flavour profile, I obviously want it all.  And for this dedicated foodie, the response is clear:  all is possible, and so it shall be done!  Heeding to Martha’s directions, I measure precise amounts of specified icing sugar, heavy cream, and vanilla extract to ensure consistency, and whip the aforementioned contents using an electric mixer.  Chantilly complete, I remove half of the mixture into a separate clean bowl and blend it with raspberry purée for a berry wonderful alternative.

Persian Profiteroles 6 arrSaving the crowd-pleaser for last, the “Persianified” cream filling is as follows: start with a plain canvas of sweetened whipped cream ─ first whip 1 ½ cups of heavy cream with 3 tablespoons of confectioner’s sugar ─ and then proceed to add ½ teaspoon of rosewater and a generous pinch of ground cardamom.  Being careful not to over mix the whipped cream, delicately blend the perfumed addition and spice into the already whipped mixture.  Purely rich and intoxicating, a little goes a long way with these aromatics that make for a fragrant cream puff.  Also unlike other desserts, taking my sweet time to decorate these time-sensitive cream-filled pastries does not apply.  Persian Profiteroles 7 arrWorking in a meltdown-free zone, I hasten to pipe as many profiteroles as possible and quickly enrobe some with finely chopped pistachios.  Last pastry filled and third tray set into the fridge to chill, the end result is this:  I’m triumphantly tired!  Rejoicing in a successful mission complete, witnessing family and friends delighting in the fruits of a laborious baking endeavour is reward enough.  Starting another Persian New Year with sweet tidings, Happy New Year to all!!  P.S., you don’t have to be Persian to celebrate a new start ─ or to enjoy “Persianified” profiteroles, cheers!

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2016.  All Rights Reserved.

“Same, Same, but Different – but, Still the Same”

Pear Cake 2 arrIt’s as easy as, “A piece of cake!” Honest to goodness, there are so many reasons why I enjoy baking and yielding successful results is definitely one of them. While I’m no Martha Stewart, it’s no surprise that I do favour her tried and tested recipes.  After all, if she can do it so can I ─ right? Well, there’s one way to find out ─ let’s get baking!  With the right recipe and attitude, I approach Martha’s take on the familiar classic ─ upside-down pineapple cake ─ but, like her, use an alternative fruit for this fall-esque treat:  “Pear Upside-down Cake.”Pineapple Cake arr

Still pear-trending, I use green d’Anjou pears though I find this versatile recipe can be altered by using apples.   Continuing with instructions, I prep the pears ─ wash, peel, core and slice the fruit ─ and separately create the topping and batter.  Once the three parts are ready for assemblage, it’s time to layer:  topping first, pour the sweet butter and brown sugar mixture into a cake pan; proceed by carefully arranging the pear crescents; and finally, pour the cake batter onto the pears and use an off-set spatula to evenly spread it out to the pan’s edge.Pear Cake 1 arr

Following this recipe’s rules is, indeed, “a good thing.” But for extra flavour and warmth, I added a touch of fragrant cinnamon spice to the batter.  While you may omit spices altogether, be mindful that a hint will suffice as introduction of bold tastes may overpower the mild profile of this pear cake.  Once ready for pre-heated treatment, I set this cake off into the oven and bake it accordingly ─ as per Martha’s suggestions ─ at 350F and for 45 minutes.  Pear Cake 4 arrPleasing to the eye and palette, the end result is delicious:  a glistening burst of caramelized softened pears that are neatly embedded into moist ─ almost pudding-like ─ yellow cake.  Undeniably achievable, this ringed pear cake recipe is befitting of baking aficionados and dessert-lovers alike.  A same-old-different take on a homemade treat that is both enjoyable to prepare and share by the piece, slice or plate ─ happy eating!

© DISHFUL, 2015.  All Rights Reserved.

A Shapely Pear

Pear Crisp 3 arrFall is here, and with it comes an abundance of seasonal fruit. And thanks to a neighbourly gift, my effortless reaping of pears not only leaves me with a surplus of ‘au naturale’ shapely tree ornaments but, too, some baking inspiration. With no shortage of semi-firm green pears in sight, these treats can be kept to have and to hold ─ in a basket ─ before they fully ripen.  Then again, why wait?

Loving the pear shape? Undeniably well-suited for an elegant affair, pursuit of a classic poached pear recipe is the clear route for those who want to keep its curvaceous integrity. But when life’s offerings are plenty ─ and ‘boiling’ over a stove top can be averted ─ here’s what I do with all that fruit: peel, cut and get baking! For fancy taste without all the fancy work, I keep up with rusticity and follow a delectably simple country staple ─ golden raisin and walnut pear crisp.  Pear Crisp 2 arr

It’s Thanksgiving in a dash ─ well, almost! Courtesy of fragrant cinnamon spice, bites of toasty warm reminders of the upcoming holiday are thankfully achieved via homely fruit crisp. Equally pleasing to my ears, this shareable dessert can be made and altered to match one’s taste. Getting started then, select your preferred seasonal harvest ─ apples, pears, peaches, berries, etc. ─ and prepare the two main parts: a sweet fruit bottom and crunchy oat topping.

No tricks and all treat, this pear crisp is consistent with the following ‘fillings’: cinnamon, sugar, lemon ─ juice and zest ─ golden raisins and sliced pears. For your take, you can even try elevating the mixture by soaking the raisins in brandy or orange juice in addition to adding variant dried fruits such as cranberries or candied ginger. Pear Crisp 4 arrIn continuum, the soon-to-be crunchy topping can be made by separately ‘hand-mixing’ these dry ingredients: brown sugar, flour, rolled oats, salt, walnuts, and cold butter. ‘Et voilà,’ a complication-free fruit layer and oat topping that is ready to be poured into a greased oven-proof deep dish, and baked at 375°F until bubbly and golden brown. Though only a few, here are some friendly key reminders: preheat the oven, bake the crisp for approximately 40 minutes, and proceed to cool for roughly 20 minutes. Falling for these instructions, here’s the ultimate scoop: this baked bountiful of pear-licious crisp is best enjoyed at room temperature, and even more decadent when served ‘à la mode’ for a match-made mouthful ─ tenderly baked pears paired with rich vanilla ice cream.

© DISHFUL, 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Uncle Tetsu’s Special Delivery

Uncle Tetsu's Cheesecake 1 arrIt’s finally here!  Branded, boxed, and hand-delivered ─ over the counter ─ the iconic Japanese cheesecake has made its way to Toronto.  Already a franchise favourite abroad, the latest addition of Uncle Tetsu’s Cheesecake shop is conveniently situated along Bay and Dundas.

Is it worth the hype?  To be expected:  long line-ups, retrieving and holding onto a ticketed number, and practising patience ─ or self-entertainment ─ while amidst a swarm of patrons.  Fortunately, the foodie gene runs in the family.  Needless to say, I evaded two hours of the aforementioned ‘expectations’ in exchange for a special home delivery of now trending dessert.  Best of all, the experience ─ for me ─ was a piece of cake!Uncle Tetsu's Cheesecake 2 arr

Speaking of cheesecake, Uncle Tetsu’s take on the American style classic is similar in appearance but, quite distinct in its own right.  Light as air, this particular Japanese cheesecake reminds me of a delicately sweetened ricotta cheese minus the excess moisture.  What’s more, it’s springy to the touch and doesn’t leave you feeling guilty post consumption.  If anything, this feather-weight sponge is clearly the alter-ego to all that we have known the ‘original’ to be:  a heavily dense and richly saturated mixture that’s encased by a graham cracker crust.

Uncle Tetsu's Cheesecake 3 arrClearly composed of part cheese and cake-like ingredients, don’t let Tetsu’s mildly sweet round fool you.  However ‘light’ in mass, it is still a dessert item ─ a.k.a., a caloric pleasure.  Clarification noted, pinpointing a stoppage time in face of devouring subdued lusciousness persists to be challenging, and somewhat borderline dangerous.  “Rebel, rebel” ─ if you must ─ and omit moderation.  But, you’ve been warned!  I repeat, given the delicate taste and texture of Tetsu’s cake, one’s likely to take plentiful bites ─ and more pieces ─ than just one.

In my case, I tried, tasted, and delighted in a ‘reasonable’ share of this traditional eastern dessert recipe.  And, here’s my verdict:  while diverging in consistency from the western variety, Uncle Tetsu’s cheesecake is notably palatable though it does not yield a velvety cream-based body as one would typically anticipate from a Philly-inspired treat.  Luckily, you can be your own judge and find contentment in knowing this:  Uncle Tetsu’s Cheesecake welcomes everyone to take a stand ─ waiting in queue ─ to order their very own ‘nouveau gateau au fromage.’

© DISHFUL, 2015.  All Rights Reserved.

Some Bunny Loves Chocolate

Chocolate Pretzels 4 arrSpring is in the air ─ finally!  Welcoming April showers, Easter, Passover and a four-day long-weekend, who wouldn’t be in a hopping mood?   Chocolate Pretzels 6 arrWithout a doubt, I am!  And for this chocolate aficionado, there’s no better way to share some edible joy than with everyone’s favourite:  chocolate-covered pretzels.

Counting the ways I love chocolate, here’s my triple take for a sweet, salty and crunchy chocolate pretzel fix:  chocolaty egg’s nest, sugar-coated chocolate-covered pretzels, and Cadbury chocolate marshmallow pretzel bark.  Chocolate Pretzels 5 arrSurely ─ for those in the know ─ these treats are no news.  As for me, tackling and creating first attempts in delicious never gets old ─ ‘egg-specially’ when it includes cho-co-la-te!

Chocolate Pretzels 3 arrJoining the fun fare hunt, then, chocolate bunnies get ready!  In preparation of this seasonal snack, get your hands on the only basket required ─ shopping ─ and proceed to fill it up with the magic three must-haves:  melting chocolate of choice ─ milk, dark or white ─ a bag of pretzel sticks or knots, and Cadbury eggs.

Already a no-bake recipe, there’s better news:  no-preheating leaves plenty of time for pre-eating.  Possibly getting chocolate egg on one’s face, I gladly take the risk!  Chocolate shamelessly tested ─ in good faith, of course ─ I concur:  these samples are good, and most definitely shall be used.  Now, for the actual steps:  place broken pieces of chocolate into a heat-proof bowl, and over a double-boiler; second, dip the pretzels into the melted chocolate; lastly, arrange the chocolate-coated sticks, leaving a concave center, and allow them to cool.  Chocolate Pretzels 2 arrOnce the nestled chocolaty bundles are set, decorate each pretzel-weaved nest with pastel eggs.

As for additional announcements, here’s what to do with all that extra “egg-xtra”:  pour spare melted chocolate over a parchment-lined baking sheet, dot the bark’s surface with pretzels, and then add a few more Cadbury mini eggs.  Chocolate Pretzels 7 arrSeemingly lost in a chocolate pool, bunny-tails ─ miniature marshmallows ─ can be used or replaced with other desirable candy toppings.  Last but not least, the chocolate-covered knotted twists also follow the same path:  dip salt crusted pretzels ─ one-by-one ─ into melted chocolate, and finish by dusting its surface with crystalized sugar.  So, there you have it!  Three tempting nibble-worthy sweets ─ or as Bugs loves to say, “That’s all folks!”

© DISHFUL, 2015.  All Rights Reserved.

Ma petite citrouille

Pumpkin Truffle 1 arrFind yourself fall-ing for seasonal harvests? Me too!  From pumpkin farm to pie, orange and round are not the only indicators of a very good-for-you veg.  Far from Cinderella’s magically converted carriage-mobile, sweater-weather introduces a modern dose of delicious reality in a mug – PSL.   As advertised, coffee lovers find frothy steamed comfort in a tall order of pumpkin, spice and everything latte.

“Drink your veggies? Don’t mind if I do!”  Pumpkin Truffle 5 arrGiving many thanks, latte lovers will surely cozy up to this flavourful hot beverage.  Fit for a festive affair, some will wait in line for their own drink while others will recreate PSL at home.  This Thanksgiving, I’m feeling equally appreciative:  family, friends, health and a celebration of a particular homemade confection – Pumpkin Cheesecake Truffles.

Somewhat like the Pumpkin Spice Latte, but not quite, I take this ingenious drink to different ‘states.’ Calling upon PSL’s spherical cousin, these creamy truffles are a celebratory innovation that combines the best of a coffee-inspired delight into a solidified chocolaty morsel bite-size dessert.  Pumpkin Truffle 2 arrOn that note, all in favour – of short and sweet – say, “Aye.”  Clearly impartial to chocolate, how dare I not say, “Aye” – “I, indeed!”

Online shopping for recipes complete, I tweaked and altered “must-have” ingredients to suit personal preference. With additions, an omission, and even doubled measurements made, my interpretation includes:  1 cup of white chocolate, 4 oz. cream cheese, ½ cup of graham crackers and ¾ cup gingersnap cookies – both pulverized to crumbs – ½ cup pumpkin purée, a generous pinch of salt and spices.  Pumpkin Truffle 3 arrHeeding first to the list of basic items, I omitted powdered sugar altogether given the inclusion of white chocolate – technically not chocolate, but cocoa butter and sugar – is palatably sweet, as is.  Similarly, a taste of the blended mix seemingly required a spicy citrus lift despite the already seasoned gingersnap cookies.  Hence, a little of the following elevated the overall mixture:  ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon each of ground allspice and nutmeg, ¼ teaspoon of freshly grated ginger, as well as the zest of a whole lemon and orange.

Pumpkin batch mixed, mingled and thoroughly blended, proceed to refrigerate prior to handling. Pumpkin Truffle 4 arrOnce solidified, remove the mix and use a small ice-cream scoop to measure even rounds.  For a smoother exterior, hand roll the portions to form truffle balls and place them onto a parchment lined baking sheet; chill, once again.  To prepare the truffle coating, melt white, milk or dark chocolate shavings over a double-boiler.  Finally, enrobe each miniature ‘pumpkin’ into melted chocolate using a toothpick or fork, place them onto a lined sheet and allow it to set.   And that’s all – no trick, all treat!  Fortunately it’s also no-bake, which leaves for a delectably speedy preparation suitable for any holiday or gathered occasion.  Clearly, a truffle patch worthy of a perennial harvest.

© DISHFUL, 2014.  All Rights Reserved.