Category:  Desserts, Creams & Sauces

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Guava & Cream Cheese (Cascos de Guayaba con Queso Crema)

In Desserts, Creams & Sauces, Fruit and Jams On April 23, 2012 0 Comments

Directly from tropical Cuba, Guavas & Cream Cheese is a unique dessert. Don’t know about you, but I wasn’t aware of this dessert until I discovered Cuban cuisine.

The fresh guavas are stewed with sugar and topped with cream cheese in individual serving bowls. It’s as easy as that!

Make this unique dessert and it’ll be the hit of your next dinner party – Buen Provecho.

Prep time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:
8 to 12 ripe guavas
1 to 1-1/2 cups water
1 cup unbleached, granulated sugar
6 ounces whipped cream cheese
6 to 8 sprigs of fresh mint leaves

1. Wash and dry the guavas.

2. Cut each guava in half; remove and discard inner pulp and seeds.

3. Place the guava halves, hollow or concave sides-up, in an 8-quart sauce pot.

4. Cover the guavas with enough water so that it rises up the fruit halfway.

5. Bring them to a boil and cook on medium heat for 10 minutes.

6. After 10 minutes, sprinkle the sugar evenly over the guavas.

7. Cook on low heat, uncovered, until sugar has turned into a thick syrup. Cool completely.

To assemble:

1. Place 4 guava halves in each individual glass or porcelain serving bowl.

2. Divide the cooled syrup evenly among each serving.

3. Cover each bowl with plastic wrap and chill at least 2 hours or overnight.

4. At serving time, add 1 teaspoon whipped cream cheese to each guava half. Garnish mint leaves.

Text & Photograph ©2012 Nancy DeLucia Real

Snowballs

In Desserts, Creams & Sauces, Fruit and Jams, Fun Foods, Holidays On December 11, 2011 0 Comments

ENTER OUR KITCHEN, WATCH & LEARN

Every year in December, my thoughts return to Montreal where I spent my early childhood. In Canada, the holiday season was synonymous with my cousins and me enjoying those great snowball fights.

Here in Los Angeles, these delicious Snowballs are made with bananas that are cut into chunks, rolled in sour cream and then in coconut. Rather than throwing these Snowballs at anyone, it’s best to serve them on a festive platter, surrounded by lush, fresh strawberries.

While Snowballs are fun to make, if anyone’s around during the process, these treats will never make it to your holiday table. But if they do, they’ll be the hit of the party – guaranteed!

Prep time: 15 minutes
Makes: 15 snowballs (or pieces)
Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
3 ripe bananas
Juice of one lemon or lime
8 ounces sour cream
2 tablespoons Amaretto liqueur
3 cups Baker’s Angel Flake Coconut®
1 quart fresh, whole strawberries

1. Peel and cut the bananas into one-inch chunks (approximately 5 chunks per banana).

2. Place bananas in a shallow bowl and gently toss in the lemon or lime juice.

3. In a separate, shallow 10-inch bowl, gently stir together the sour cream and Amaretto liqueur; set aside.

4. Place coconut in a separate 10 or 12-inch shallow bowl and set aside.

5. Using two forks, lightly coat each banana chunk with the sour cream mixture followed by the coconut (roll each banana chunk in the coconut until it is thoroughly coated and looks like a snowball).

6. Place snowball on a serving platter. Repeat with remaining banana chunks and arrange in a mound on the serving platter.

7. Fan each strawberry by making two vertical cuts into it. Arrange strawberries in a circle around the Snowballs.

8. Refrigerate Snowballs up to three hours (covered in plastic wrap) or serve immediately.

Text & Photograph ©2011 Nancy DeLucia Real

TiramiFlan

In Desserts, Creams & Sauces On October 1, 2011 0 Comments

As a longtime Californian, I’ve traveled across the border to Mexico quite often. Its happy people, history, culture and foods fascinate me. No doubt, my Italian cooking has been “influenced” by the exotic foods of Mexico.

For example, two weeks ago I wanted to make an Italian dessert known as Tiramisu, but I was out of ladyfinger cookies. Nothing could stop me from making something that tasted Tiramisu-ish! When I combined mascarpone cheese and espresso coffee with Mexican custard ingredients, this exquisite TiramiFlan was born!

Active prep time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 55 to 60 minutes
Inactive prep time: 4 hours or overnight refrigeration

Ingredients:
1-1/3 cups granulated sugar
One 14-ounce can condensed milk
8 ounces Mascarpone cheese
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup strongly brewed espresso coffee, cooled
One 10-inch glass pie plate
One 13x13x4-inch square baking pan (pan sides must be at least 4 inches high)
8 to 10 strawberries, for garnish

MELT THE SUGAR & PREPARE THE PIE PLATE:

1. Preheat oven to 375˚F.

2. Place sugar in a 12-inch, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat setting.

3. When sugar begins to melt, quickly change heat setting to low.

4. Lift, tilt and shake pan constantly to avoid blackening the sugar.

5. With a wooden spoon, gently stir the sugar – it will continue melting. When sugar turns amber throughout, immediately pour it into a glass pie plate.

6. Immediately lift and tilt plate until bottom and sides are coated with melted sugar; set aside.

PREPARE & BAKE THE FLAN:

1. Meanwhile, bring a full kettle of water to boil on medium heat. While waiting for water to boil, proceed to the next step.

2. In a stand mixer or in a 5-quart mixing bowl, beat together the condensed milk, Mascarpone cheese, eggs, vanilla and brewed espresso (on low speed); set aside.

3. Place the 13x13x4 square baking pan on an oven rack that is positioned in center of oven; pull the oven rack with the pan halfway out of oven.

4. Place the sugar-coated pie plate in the center of the square pan.

5. Immediately pour the liquid flan mixture into the pie plate.

6. Gently and carefully pour the boiling water into the square pan until water rises 2/3 of the way up sides of pie plate.

7. Carefully and slowly push the oven rack back inside oven.

8. Bake the flan 50 minutes. After 50 minutes, insert a pointed knife in center of flan. If knife come out clean, the flan is done. If not, cook an additional 10 minutes.

9. Carefully transfer the square pan with water and flan to kitchen counter to cool 30 to 40 minutes.

10. After 40 minutes, remove pie plate from water and set on counter.

COOLING THE FLAN:

1. When the flan is room temperature, refrigerate it for at least 4 hours or overnight.

INSTRUCTIONS FOR UNMOLDING THE FLAN:

1. After the flan has cooled 4 hours or overnight, pour 4 cups hot water in a 13x13x4 square baking pan or extra large glass bowl.

2. Gently place the flan pie plate in the hot water for 2 to 3 minutes. With a rounded knife or a spatula, gently loosen the sides of the flan from the plate.

3. Lift the plate out of the water and wiggle or shake it. When the flan has loosened from sides of plate, set it on a counter.

4. Place a large serving platter over top of the flan plate and, with one hand underneath flan plate and the other hand securely on top of the platter, make a quick flip.

5. At serving time, garnish the TiramiFlan with strawberries.

Text & Photograph © 2011 Nancy DeLucia Real

Varadero Beach Pineapple Dessert

In Desserts, Creams & Sauces On July 9, 2011 0 Comments

Upon arriving at a Varadero Beach resort (Cuba) in June, I realized I had entered paradise. The pristine white sands against the turquoise ocean looked surreal. To add to this dreamy state were the tropical Caribbean trees and fruits.

Truly vine-ripened in the sun, an array of sweet, luscious fruit is served at all hotel buffets. As I enjoyed pineapple for breakfast, lunch and dinner, I became inspired to create a refreshing dessert. I accented the pineapple with a favorite spice of mine, grilled it and served it with sherbet. The recipe is lots of fun for summer entertaining.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
One whole, fresh pineapple
Brown sugar, for sprinkling
Ground cinnamon, for sprinkling
1½ pints sherbet (various flavors)

1. Working on a cutting board, cut off and discard pineapple stem with leaves as well as the bottom tip.

2. Holding the pineapple vertically, cut it into fourths.

3. Slice off and discard the ½-inch thick inner core from each fourth.

4. Insert a sharp, pointed knife between the pineapple skin and flesh.

5. Cut away the flesh from the skin in one piece (for all fourths).

6. Refrigerate two of the fourths in a covered bowl for future use (the extra pineapple can be eaten as a snack).

7. Working with two of the fourths (half of the pineapple), cut each fourth, crosswise, into 8 slices (a total of 16 slices). Set the slices on an aluminum-foil lined baking sheet.

8. Sprinkle the pineapple slices lightly with brown sugar and cinnamon.

9. Place the sheet with the pineapple on an oven rack set six inches away from oven’s overhead broiler grill.

10. Broil/grill the pineapple for 5 minutes or until brown sugar begins to bubble.

11. Cool completely (this step can be prepared early in the day).

To serve, place two scoops sherbet onto four individual dessert plates. Decorate the sides of each plate of sherbet with four slices of pineapple.

Text & Photographs ©2011 Nancy DeLucia Real

Strawberry Rhubarb Cheesecake

In Cakes & Cupcakes, Desserts, Creams & Sauces On May 31, 2011 2 Comments

Seasonal, fresh strawberries combined with tart rhubarb make an exquisite and beautiful topping for this cheesecake. Because I love sweet and sour flavors so much, strawberry rhubarb desserts are my favorite. Entice everyone when you set this bright cheesecake on your sweet table.

Active prep time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 55 minutes
Inactive prep time: 5 hours or overnight refrigeration

For the Crust:
1½ cups finely ground Maria cookies*
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.

2. In a 2 or 3-quart mixing bowl and using a fork or pastry cutter, combine the ground cookies with cinnamon and melted butter until uniform.

3. Transfer the mixture to a 9-inch spring form pan: spread the crumb mixture evenly, pushing it up with fingers along sides of pan to rise ¾-inch high.

4. Gently pat and flatten the crumb mixture at bottom and at sides of pan; set aside.

For the Cheesecake:
Three 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. In a 5-quart mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese with the sugar and one egg until mixture is smooth.

2. Beat in the remaining eggs, one at a time; stir in the vanilla extract.

3. Pour cheesecake batter over crumb mixture in pan.

4. Set pan on a rack placed in center of oven and bake 50 to 55 minutes or until cheesecake is light golden brown and begins to crack at sides.

5. Turn off oven and leave cheesecake to set for 30 minutes.

6. After 30 minutes, transfer cheesecake to counter, cover with foil and let cool 2 hours (do not remove cheesecake from spring form pan).

7. Refrigerate the cheesecake 5 more hours or overnight (it’s best to make cheesecake one day ahead).

For the Strawberry Rhubarb Filling:
2 cups diced fresh strawberries
1¼ cups diced fresh rhubarb (about 2 medium stalks)
½ cup granulated sugar
1/8 cup cold water and 1 teaspoon cornstarch (mixed together in a cup)

1. Combine the strawberries, rhubarb and sugar in a 2 or 3-quart saucepot.

2. Bring to a boil and cook on medium heat for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.

3. Set heat on low and cook for 3 more minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.

4. Stir in the cornstarch mixture; cook and stir 1 more minute until thickened.

5. Transfer the filling to a glass or porcelain bowl, cover and cool on a counter. After cooling, refrigerate about 1 hour or overnight.

To serve: Remove sides of spring form pan from cheesecake. Set the cake with pan bottom on a large platter, spoon the strawberry filling over its top and serve individual slices.

*Note: Maria cookies are round, sweet biscuits. Each biscuit has perforations or holes and the name “Maria” engraved on its top surface.

Text & Photograph © 2011 Nancy DeLucia Real