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. 

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.

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.

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!

© DISHFUL, 2016. 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.

The Latest Scoop

No-Churn Ice Cream 2 arrAsk any ice cream fan, and I bet they have their ‘favourite.’ While mint chip and rocky road are popular flavours, mocha almond fudge tops my list.  Whatever your preference, most would agree that quality ─ real dairy ─ ice cream can’t be beat.  And much to my delight, “no-churn” recipes are no-fuss and all things decadent, rich, creamy, and simply divine.

Too irresistible not to try, I put a three ingredient “no-churn” ice cream recipe to the test. Happily evading use of an ice cream maker, I only need an electric mixer and these “must-haves”:  2 cups of heavy cream, a can of sweetened condensed milk, and a couple dashes of vanilla essence.  Once the aforementioned ‘magic three’ are whipped and form soft peaks, I pour the mixture into a freezer-proof container, cover it with a lid, and set it into the icebox for at least five hours.

No-Churn Ice Cream 3 arrThat’s it! Truly, your work is done ─ “no-churn” vanilla ice cream 101.  But why stop there, right? ─ Right on!  Getting creative, I double the ‘basic’ vanilla recipe, and divide the ‘very good’ vanilla bean ice cream into four separate loaf pans.  Creating a blank canvas of sorts, you can stick with vanilla-infused ice cream and later incorporate added texture and taste via your imagination.  For instance, consider the following:  chocolate chips, caramel sauce, fresh berries or fruit preserve, nuts, crumbled cookies, liqueurs or even mint extract for a more refreshing taste.

No-Churn Ice Cream 4 arrGoing for delicious scoops of ‘breige,’ my ice cream cloud is made of plentiful shades of wonderful: vanilla bean, espresso, double chocolate and mocha almond fudge.  For the already mastered classic, use of pure vanilla extract is a given.  Catering to purists, I also recommend following suit by integrating the scraped black seeds of an authentic vanilla pod for an elevated flavour profile.  As for a chocolaty spin, whip a few tablespoons of cocoa into the basic mixture until it appears homogenous, and then stir in shavings of dark chocolate.  In similar fashion, treating the basic vanilla mixture to an “afternoon pick me up” is as easy as blending it with chilled brewed espresso or with a few tablespoons of the ‘instant’ alternative.

No-Churn Ice Cream 1 arrReserved for last, but certainly not least, my favourite ─ mocha almond fudge ─ tastes like the real-deal. Best part is:  the only place I need to ‘bask in’ for the making of this confection is the kitchen.  Kid you not, this take on mocha almond fudge is ‘that’ good!  And, here’s how to make your own:  blend the basic vanilla mixture with cocoa powder, espresso powder ‘et voilà,’ you got the mocha part ready.  Half-way done, freeze the mocha ice cream for about an hour while you prepare the fudgy addition.  No-Churn Ice Cream 6 arrFor my interpretation of a DIY nutty ganache filling, I take a dark chocolate almond bar ─ the family-size variety, about 300 grams ─ save some with which to later decorate, and then melt the rest with some heavy cream over a double-boiler.  Once the contents have melted and the ganache has cooled, remove the mocha ice cream from the icebox and spoon in the filling, trying to create chocolaty almond ribbons.  Finally, top off the mocha almond fudge ice cream with a crunchy combo of toasted sliced almonds and chopped chocolate chunks, and really freeze it this time ─ a solid five hours should suffice.  Wait time ‘somehow’ endured, appeasing to one’s appetite for homemade “no-churn” frozen dessert is undeniably a cinch.  As for the question of brain freeze, “no-churn” is still a no-brainer ─ happy ‘paced’ consumption!

© 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.

T.F.’s “Ultimate”

TFU Cheesecake 3 arrSay, “Cheese-cake!” I don’t always make cheesecake but, when I do, it must be in following Tyler Florence’s Ultimate recipe.  Seriously the best homemade cheesecake instruction I have come across ─ to date ─ let it be known:  a piece of this all-American style dessert is not for the faint of heart.  Dense, rich, and reassuringly decadent, Tyler’s take on this classic is full of flavour ─ a.k.a. saturated fatty deliciousness.  Needless to say, the anatomy of this three-part cake is telling of a very good ─ for your taste buds ─ anticipated treat:  tart fruit topping, velvety smooth filling, and a buttery cinnamon-infused graham cracker crust.

TFU Cheesecake 5 arrCare to get your own cheesecake factory up and running? Clearly I do, and you can too!  Simply remember:  all is possible with some precision and elbow grease.  So for the making of your own cheesy round, start by getting your hands on the ‘necessities’ and separately prepare each required layer.   Crackers smashed and blended with melted butter and spice, mould the dry crumbs into a cake pan and set it aside into the fridge.  Now for the filling, here’s what you’ll need:  cream cheese, sour cream, eggs, sugar, vanilla essence and lemon zest.  Filling made and crust chilled, continue by pouring the abundant batter into the cookie shell and wrap the cake tin’s exterior ─ twice, for safe measure ─ with foil.  While some recipes omit a steam bath ─ ‘bain-marie’ ─ this one calls for it.  TFU Cheesecake 7 arrAnd so, it’s a must to ensure the aluminum package is tightly sealed prior to submerging it into a roasting pan filled with hot water.  Finally ready to bake, carefully place the pan-filled contents into a preheated oven for about 45 minutes, as per Tyler’s directions.  A tad bit extra work ─ I know ─ but it’ll be worth it in the end.

Messing not with this cheesecake recipe, then, I can attest that adhering to Tyler’s steps will yield optimal results: a perfectly smooth moist cake.  And once chilled, this delicately sweet creamy cheesecake can be enjoyed ‘as is’ or made more scrumptious with the addition of a fruit topping.  TFU Cheesecake 9 arrWhile the original recipe proposes a simmering of citrus zest and blueberries, my preference lies with seasonal ‘rouge’ embellishments.  In effect, I replace Tyler’s warm blueberry lemon topping with vibrant red raspberries.  Still refreshing and bursting with bright flavour, I first enrobe the plain cheesecake canvas with a spreading of sieved raspberry preserve, and then decorate the glistening surface with orderly rows of fresh ruby berries.  ‘Et voilà,’ this presentable cake is now ready to slice and share.  Indeed living true to status, this “ultimate” cake boldly delivers in taste, texture, and appeal.  Obviously beyond words, it’s just one of those things ─ ‘c’est du fromage!’

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