Category:  Desserts, Creams & Sauces

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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

Cinco de Mayo Tabasco Parfaits

In Desserts, Creams & Sauces, Fun Foods, Holidays On May 1, 2011 0 Comments

Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for “fifth of May”) is a holiday that was created by Mexicans living in California. It is not a Mexican national holiday, but instead, commemorates the Mexican army fighting the French at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862. Although this battle was not a victory for Mexico, Cinco de Mayo symbolizes Mexican heritage and pride.

I’m celebrating this holiday by going to a “fiesta” and contributing these Tabasco Parfaits which combine Tabasco® Spicy Pepper Jelly and the French dessert “parfait”. The pepper jelly’s “bite” adds a nice surprise to the strawberry gelatin and overall flavors. My dessert unites Mexico and France – peace at last!

Active prep time: 20 to 25 minutes
Inactive prep time: 2 hours (chilling in refrigerator)
Makes: 10 parfaits (4 ounces each)

Ingredients:
One 3-ounce box lime Jell-O®
One 3-ounce box strawberry Jello-O®
3 tablespoons Knox® gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
One 10-ounce jar Tabasco® Spicy Pepper Jelly (red label)
One 8-ounce package Cool Whip®, thawed per package directions
10 lime or orange chewy candy wedges (substitute with 10 wedges fresh lime)

1. Place contents of lime Jell-O in a 1-quart bowl and stir in 1 cup boiling water until Jell-O is dissolved. Add 1 cup cold water and stir; set aside.

2. Place contents of strawberry Jell-O in a 2 or 3-quart bowl and stir in 1 cup boiling water until Jell-O is dissolved. Add 1 cup cold water and stir; set aside.

3. Fill 10 glasses or ramekins each with ¼ cup lime Jell-O liquid (glasses or ramekins should look 1/3 full). Place in freezer to set, about 18 to 20 minutes (check after 15 minutes to make sure they do not freeze).

4. Once set, top lime Jell-O with some Cool Whip (to fill the middle third of the glass) and transfer to refrigerator.

5. In a drinking glass, stir together the Knox gelatin and 1/2 cup cold water; let rest 5 minutes. Stir the gelatin mixture and the spicy Tabasco pepper jelly into the strawberry Jell-O.

6. Place the bowl with the strawberry Jell-O mixture in freezer to set, about 20 minutes, or until the Jell-O has thickened and looks lumpy (it should not set completely).

7. Using a 1/4-cup measure, pour the partially set strawberry Jell-O mixture over Cool Whip in each glass, filling it to the rim.

8. Place the parfaits in freezer to set, about 15 minutes; transfer to refrigerator for 1 hour or overnight.

9. Garnish each parfait with a lime or orange chewy candy wedge.

Note: Tabasco® Spicy Pepper Jelly is available at most supermarkets or online at the Tabasco® Country Store – http://countrystore.tabasco.com.

Text and Photograph © Nancy DeLucia Real 2011
“Fiesta” theme decoration by © Amsan, Inc.

5-Minute Sweetened Whipped Cream

In Desserts, Creams & Sauces On July 19, 2010 4 Comments

This whipped cream recipe is not only quick but lots of fun, too. Each time you stir in a tablespoon of sugar, you get to taste the cream. For those of us who are blessed with a sweet tooth, the sampling can go on for quite a while – and we love it!

Prep time: 5 minutes
Makes: 1-1/2 cups

Ingredients:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 to 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1. Pour the cream in a 1-quart mixing bowl.

2. Using an electric hand mixer, beat the cream until stiff peaks form.

3. Gradually stir in the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, tasting after each addition.

4. When the whipped cream reaches desired sweetness, do not add any more sugar.

5. Use whipped cream to garnish desserts such pastries, cakes, pies, ice cream and sorbet. It can also be enjoyed as a dip or garnish for cookies or biscotti.

Note: If using a stand mixer fitted with its own bowl, let the machine do the work!

Text and Photographs ©2010 Nancy DeLucia Real

Five-Minute Raspberry Coulis

In Desserts, Creams & Sauces On June 12, 2010 2 Comments


Many people believe coulis is a vegetable or fruit sauce that only true professionals can make. They’re all wrong. In all my years of cooking and entertaining, I’d say this is by far the easiest and most popular recipe I’ve ever made. Beginner cooks beware – you can make this raspberry coulis in your sleep. Sweet dreams!

Prep time: 5 minutes
Makes: 1 cup

Ingredients:
2 cups fresh raspberries
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
1. Puree all ingredients in a blender and strain into a bowl.

2. With a spoon drizzle the raspberry coulis onto and around desserts.

Note: Don’t be afraid to experiment with different designs. Just look at my not-so-perfect photos – the messier it is, the more artistic it appears!

Text and Photographs ©2010 Nancy DeLucia Real

 

Passionate Peach Fantasy

In Desserts, Creams & Sauces On June 10, 2010 2 Comments

I’ve been fantasizing about peaches lately, but I’ve been lazy about preparing and rolling out pastry sheets. Thanks to ready made pastry, this luscious peach dessert is assembled in only 25 minutes. Red raspberry coulis adds color and delights all your senses! When serving, take in all the “oohs” and “aaahs” – your guests will think it took you hours to create this masterpiece.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 15 to 18 minutes
Serves: 6

Ingredients:
One package Pepperidge Farm® frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed per manufacturer’s instructions
4 yellow peaches, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Five-Minute Raspberry Coulis (previously published on this blog)
Whipped cream and fresh mint leaves for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 425F and line a 12 X 18-inch baking sheet with parchment paper (alternatively, grease and flour the baking sheet).

2. On a flat surface, lay out two pastry sheets next to one another; set aside.

3. Meanwhile in a 2-quart bowl, stir to combine cut peaches with the sugar, flour and cinnamon; set aside.

4. With a pastry wheel or a knife, cut one pastry sheet in half lengthwise (vertically). Cut each half into three equal pieces – you now have 6 pastry rectangles.

5. Repeat with remaining sheet – you now have 12 pastry rectangles.

6. Divide the peach mixture evenly among 6 pastry rectangles.

7. Cover each peach filling with remaining 6 pastries; trim edges with pastry wheel or a knife to form neat rectangles.

8. Carefully transfer each peach pastry onto prepared baking sheet. Cover edges of each pastry with thin strips of aluminum foil – this prevents burning.

9. Place baking sheet with pastries on a rack positioned in center of oven for 15 minutes.

10. After 15 minutes, remove foil strips and bake an additional 2 to 3 minutes – monitor this carefully to prevent blackening.

11. Transfer baking sheet with peach pastries to a counter to cool 5 minutes.

12. Beginning at short end of each pastry, carefully slide a metal spatula between parchment paper and pastry. Gently loosen and lift pastry, placing it on an individual dessert plate. Repeat with remaining pastries.

13. Decorate each plate with the raspberry coulis; garnish pastries with whipped cream and mint leaves. Serve warm.

Variation: Using shears, cut pastries into squares, placing them on plates for decoration and garnish.

Text and Photographs ©2010 Nancy DeLucia Real