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Mosaic Gelatin Dessert

In Desserts, Creams & Sauces On July 1, 2017 0 Comments

This dessert is based on multi-colored cubes of Jell-O, mixed with evaporated and condensed milks with vanilla. All you have to do is assemble the ingredients in a Bundt pan and unmold the set gelatin. Isn’t it cool?

That’s right – our Mosaic Gelatin Dessert is beautiful to look at, cool and refreshing. Enjoy it for our July 4th weekend holiday!

Prep time: 30 to 45 minutes (to cut the Jell-O into cubes)
Set time:  Make boxed Jell-O recipes and set overnight
Make Mosaic Gelatin Dessert the next day and set overnight.

Ingredients:
One 3-ounce box strawberry or raspberry-flavored Jell-O
One 3-ounce box orange-flavored Jell-O
One 3-ounce box grape-flavored Jell-O
4 envelopes Knox unflavored gelatin
1 cup cold water
One 14-ounce can sweetened, condensed milk
One 7.6-ounce can Nestle brand Media Crema (this is cream)
One 12-ounce can evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 fresh mint leaf sprigs, for garnish

Directions:
1. Prepare each Jell-O recipe according to package directions, but use 1/8 cup less water for each box (this will ensure a firmer Jell-O for cutting into cubes later).

2. When making each Jell-O recipe, prepare it in a 10 X 10-inch square glass or porcelain baking dish.

3. Refrigerate each Jell-O recipe 6 hours or overnight, uncovered.

4. After the Jell-O’s have set completely, cut each Jell-O into long, 1/2-inch thick strips.

5. Cut each strip into a 1/2-inch cube.

6. As you cut and amass cubes of Jell-0, gently transfer them to a 12-cup Bundt pan; set aside.

7. Pour the 4 envelopes of gelatin into a 2-cup bowl. Add the water, mix and let it stand; set aside.

8. In a blender, combine the Knox set gelatin, condensed milk, Nestle Media Crema, evaporated milk and vanilla.

9. Puree the milk and gelatin mixture until uniform.

10. Gently pour the milk mixture over Jell-O cubes in Bundt pan.

11. Transfer the gelatin in Bundt pan to a refrigerator and let it set overnight, uncovered.

12. When ready to serve, place the Bundt pan in a large bowl filled with hot water.

13. Run a knife between edges of Bundt pan and gelatin dessert. Lift Bundt pan out of water and twist it in the air to loosen the gelatin dessert.

14. Place a platter over the gelatin dessert in Bundt pan and quickly invert.

15. Garnish with fresh mint leaf sprigs and serve immediately.
Text and Photograph ©2017 Nancy DeLucia Real

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Valentine’s Day Pudding

In Desserts, Creams & Sauces On January 31, 2017 0 Comments

Red is the color of passion, don’t you agree? This pudding gets its rich color from natural, red raspberries. Enjoy this recipe as a Valentine’s Day dessert or treat. Have fun!

Prep time: 15 to 20 minutes
Serves: 6 to 8 (1/2-cup servings)

Ingredients:
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ cup rice flour
1/3 cup ground raw slivered almonds
2/3 cup granulated, unbleached white sugar
2-1/2 cups milk (2% milk fat) or almond milk (unsweetened)
1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons rosewater
12 ounces (2-1/2 to 3 cups) fresh raspberries – set 8 raspberries aside for garnish
8 fresh mint leaf sprigs

Directions:
1. Stir the cinnamon, rice flour, ground almonds and sugar together in a 4-quart saucepot.

2. Gradually pour the milk (a little at a time) and 1 teapoon rosewater into the saucepot, constantly stirring with a wooden spoon.

3. Bring milk mixture to a boil and simmer for 3 minutes or until it thickens slightly.

4. At this point, stir the fruit into the milk pudding. The fruit should partially disintegrate as it cooks.

5. Cook the pudding on low heat for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until the fruit has added color to the mixture.

6. At this point, taste pudding and adjust rosewater level, if needed.

7. After 2 minutes, transfer the pudding to a glass or porcelain bowl and cover it with plastic wrap (this will prevent forming a skin).

8. Set pudding aside to cool on a counter for about one hour. After one hour, transfer the pudding to the refrigerator.

9. Chill the pudding until it is completely cold (about 4 hours or overnight).

10. Divide pudding among 6 to 8 individual bowls. Garnish the pudding with a raspberry and mint leaf sprig.
Text & Photograph ©2017 Nancy DeLucia Real

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Struffoli – a Neapolitan holiday dessert

In Desserts, Creams & Sauces On December 18, 2015 0 Comments

These sweets are a traditional Christmastime dessert in Naples. They are small balls of fried dough that are dipped in honey and sprinkled with decorative candies. At your holiday table, this struffoli platter will steal the show!

Prep time: 2 hours (this is a fun recipe for 2 or more people to make together)
Serves: 10 to 12

Ingredients:
1 to 2 tablespoons semolina (for flouring)
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon sugar
zest of 1 unwaxed lemon, finely grated
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (for the batter)
1-1/2 to 2 cups flour, plus a little more for rolling
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 to 1½ quarts vegetable oil, preferably sunflower or safflower (for frying)
1-1/2 cups spun honey (16-ounce container)
2 teaspoons non-pareils candies, for decoration

Mix and Form the Dough:
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; sprinkle the sheet with semolina and set aside.

2. Line another sheet or platter with double paper towels (this will be used to drain the fried struffoli); set aside.

3. In a mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, lemon zest and 1 tablespoon oil until mixture is uniform.

4. Gradually (a little at a time) add about 1-1/2 cups flour and baking powder to form a dough.

5. If dough is too sticky, add about 1 to 2 tablespoons more flour until the dough is formed and pliable. It should be smooth.

6. Take the dough out of the bowl and place it on a lightly-floured surface.

7. You will barely have to knead the dough, coating it with a LIGHT amount of flour until it no longer sticks to your hands.

Shape the Struffoli:
1. Tear off a marble-sized piece of dough and roll it with your hands.

2. Set the ball aside on the lightly-floured parchment sheet on baking dish.

3. Repeat rolling instructions until all the dough has been rolled into marble-sized balls.

Fry the Struffoli:
1.Heat 1 quart oil in a wide, heavy pan or saucepot at 375°F (the oil should be 6 inches deep).

2. Gently lower about 12 dough balls at a time into the hot oil. They will first sink and then, as they cook, they will float up to the surface and begin to turn golden brown.

3. Make sure to roll them around with a slotted spoon so that they do not burn underneath and instead, evenly turn light golden brown. THIS WILL TAKE LESS THAN A MINUTE. NOTE: Struffoli should not blacken.

4. When struffoli are light golden brown, immediately transfer them to the paper towel-lined sheet or platter.

5. Continue frying the struffoli in batches, making sure to control the heat if it is too high or too low.

Coat the Struffoli with Warm Honey:
1. Place a serving platter close to you on a counter; set aside.

2. Transfer the spun honey into a 2 to 4-quart saucepot.

3. Add 1/3 cup cold water to the honey in saucepot and warm up the mixture.

4. When the honey mixture begins to bubble and foam, add a slotted spoonful of struffoli to the honey.

5. Immediately STIR GENTLY ONCE as you lift out the struffoli from the warm honey.
NOTE: MAKE SURE THE HONEY DOES NOT BUBBLE UP AND OUT OF THE SAUCEPOT – CONTROL THE HEAT SETTING ON LOW.

6. Let them drip slightly over the honey pot and quickly transfer them to center of platter.

7. Work quickly to repeat coating the struffoli, lifting and draining them and then transferring struffoli to the platter – SHAPE THE MOUND OF STRUFFOLI INTO A CONE OR PYRAMID.

8. When all struffoli have been set on platter, immediately sprinkle them with the non-pareils candies.

9. Set platter of struffoli aside until ready to serve.

10. If you need to cover struffoli, lightly oil a sheet of plastic wrap and set it over the platter.
Text and Photograph ©2015 Nancy DeLucia Real

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Ricotta Cake

In Cakes & Cupcakes, Desserts, Creams & Sauces, Holidays On April 2, 2015 0 Comments

During Easter week, my family and I prepare a variety of celebratory foods. In my opinion, the best is always saved for last – the traditional ricotta cake.

Encased in pasta frolla or a sweet shortcrust pastry dough, the ricotta filling is rich with rum, cinnamon, sugar and eggs. The flavors of this ricotta cake bring back all the memories of Easter in Italy. It doesn’t get more authentic than this. Happy Easter and Happy Spring!

Prepare the Pasta Frolla (Shortcrust Pastry Dough):
2 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated, unbleached sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch squares
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons cold water
One 9-inch pie plate
Powdered sugar, for sprinkling cake
5-Minute Sweetened Whipped Cream, previously published on this website
1 pint fresh strawberries

1. Combine dry ingredients in a 12-cup mixing bowl.

2. Using a pastry cutter or a fork, blend in the butter until mixture is uniform and resembles small peas.

3. Mix in the eggs. Add water, one tablespoon at a time, mixing gently after each addition.

4. As soon as mixture amalgamates and dough is formed, divide it in half; shape each piece into a ball.

5. Wrap each dough ball in plastic wrap and freeze 10 minutes.

6. After 10 minutes, transfer dough balls to refrigerator while you prepare the ricotta filling.

Prepare the Ricotta Filling:
16 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese
2/3 cup granulated, unbleached sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 to 4 tablespoons Rum
Dash ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. In a 2 to 3-quart mixing bowl, using a wire whisk, stir together all ingredients.

3. Make sure the ingredients are well-blended; cover the bowl and refrigerate the ricotta filling.

4. In the meantime, roll out the pastry dough.

Roll out pastry dough:
1. With lightly floured hands, flatten one dough ball to a 6-inch circle.

2. Place dough between two floured 16-inch long waxed paper sheets.

3. Gently roll out dough to a 14 or 15-inch circle. To prevent sticking, peel off the waxed paper sheets and dust each side of the pastry sheet with flour two or three times while working.

4. Peel off the top waxed paper sheet. With one hand underneath bottom sheet and the other on top of exposed pastry, quickly flip pastry over and into a 9-inch buttered pie plate.

5. Peel off the second sheet. Gently fit the pastry into plate sides and, using a fork, randomly make holes in the pastry. Trim edges to a one-inch overhang and set aside.

6. Repeat rolling instructions with other dough ball; set aside.

7. Peel off the top waxed paper sheet from rolled out pastry; set aside.

Fill & Assemble the Ricotta Cake:
1. Pour the ricotta filling into the pastry-lined pie plate; set aside.

2. Using a pastry wheel, cut the second rolled-out pastry into 1/2 to 3/4-inch wide strips.

3. Place the longest pastry dough strip across the center surface of ricotta filling.

4. Take the next longest strip and place it one inch apart and parallel to the first strip.

5. Continue placing the strips, one inch apart, until there are about 5 strips across filling surface.

6. In a diagonal fashion, place the remaining strips, in the same manner, over the first layer of strips.

7. Trim overhang pastry to one inch; roll the overhang underneath and tuck it between the plate and the pastry edges.

8. Using 1-inch wide aluminum foil strips, cover the pastry edges (this will avoid blackening).

9. Bake the ricotta cake for about 30 to 45 minutes.

10. After 30 minutes and to test doneness of cake, insert a pointed knife in center of cake. If it comes out clean, the cake is done. If not, bake the cake for an additional 8 to 10 minutes. Test again.

11. When cake is done, transfer it to a cooling rack or counter. Let cool to room temperature.

12. Cover the cake with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours or overnight.

13. Serve cake with a sprinkle of powdered sugar, 5-Minute Sweetened Whipped Cream (see above) and fresh strawberries.
Text and Photograph ©2015 Nancy DeLucia Real

SweetheartPannaCotta

Sweetheart Panna Cotta

In Desserts, Creams & Sauces, Fun Foods, Holidays On February 6, 2015 0 Comments

Wanna treat your Sweetheart to something special? Try this panna cotta recipe which is made with maple syrup and agave nectar (no sugar). Garnish this Sweetheart Panna Cotta with whipped cream (contains sugar) and your favorite candies!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Prep time: 20 minutes
Serves: 6

Ingredients:
1/4 cup cold water
2-3/4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup agave nectar
1-1/3 cups heavy whipping cream
1-1/3 cups Half N’ Half cream

Directions:
1. In a six-ounce glass or cup, combine the water and gelatin. Set aside.

2. Meanwhile, in a 4-quart sauce pot, bring the maple syrup and agave nectar to a boil.

3. Simmer the syrup and nectar for 8 to 10 minutes, until it reduces by half.

4. Stir in both creams.

5. The agave syrup may solidify. If this is the case, whisk the mixture over low heat until the agave syrup dissolve.

6. Remove sauce pot from heat and stir in the gelatin with a whisk (make sure it dissolves completely into the liquid panna cotta).

7. Divide the liquid panna cotta into six 4-ounce ramekins.

8. Cover the ramekins with foil and transfer to refrigerator to set for 2 hours or overnight.

9. At serving time, garnish the panna cotta ramekins with whipped cream and candies.

Text and Photograph ©2015 Nancy DeLucia Real