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Archive for July 3, 2014

NO-BAKE DESSERT: Strawberries & Mascarpone

If you’re a fan of no-bake summer desserts, here are two of our favorites from Driscoll’s, a California-based marketer of berries.

In both bite-size recipes, lush summer strawberries are filled with a mascarpone whipped cream, a combination of rich mascarpone and heavy cream. Mascarpone cheese gives the whipped cream filling extra body and flavor.

The strawberries are easy to fill and decorate.Prep time is just 15 minutes. Add some blueberries for a red, white and blue dessert.

RECIPE: STRAWBERRIES & MASCARPONE WHIPPED CREAM

Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 16 large strawberries
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Optional garnish: almond sliver, chopped pistachios, blueberry
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    Strawberries filled with mascarpone whipped cream. Photo courtesy Driscoll’s.

     

    Preparation

    1. CUT stems off of the strawberries and place stem-side down on on cutting board. You have two choices to proceed: (1) Cut the berry into three, including a “hat,” as shown in the photo; or cut off the pointed end and scoop out a bit of the strawberry pulp to create room for more filling. Both versions are shown in the photo.

    2. PLACE the mascarpone cheese, heavy cream, sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl and beat with an electric mixer until thickened and smooth.

    3. PLACE the mascarpone mixture in a piping bag with a star tip attached or in a plastic bag with one corner cut off. In option 1, slowly pipe the mascarpone cream atop the bottom and middle thirds of the berry and top with the “hat.” In option 2, pipe the mixture into the center of the berry, and create a rounded mound on top, and top with optional garnish.

    4. REFRIGERATE until ready to serve.

     

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    Strawberry “tulips” filled with lemon
    mascarpone. Photo courtesy Driscoll’s.

     

    RECIPE: LEMON MASCARPONE STRAWBERRY TULIPS

    Here, the simple yet elegant strawberry treat is enhanced with with a lemon-flavored filling and a tulip shape. Prep time is 15 minutes.

    Ingredients For 16 Pieces

  • 16 large strawberries
  • 1/2 package (6 ounces) fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon curd
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Garnish: grated lemon zest
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    Preparation

    1. CUT stems off of the strawberries and place stem-side down on cutting board. Cut each strawberry lengthwise into quarters, stopping just before knife hits cutting board, so berries stay intact. Place on a serving platter.

    2. COMBINE mascarpone cheese, heavy cream, sugar, lemon curd and vanilla in a medium bowl and beat with an electric mixer until cream is thickened and smooth. Place mascarpone mixture in a piping bag with a star tip attached or a plastic bag and cut off one corner of the bag to pipe.

    3. PRESS one small blueberry down through the center of each strawberry, taking care to keep berries intact. (It’s a blueberry “surprise.”) Slowly pipe the mascarpone cream into the strawberries until filled. Top berries with a single blueberry and garnish with lemon zest.

    4. REFRIGERATE until ready to serve.
     
    WHAT IS MASCARPONE

    Mascarpone is sometimes referred to as “Italian cream cheese.” It’s softer and richer than American-style cream cheese, with less of a tang.

    Mascarpone has an extraordinarily high butterfat content, unsurprising given that it’s made from the cream skimmed from cow’s milk. Truly fresh mascarpone has almost a sweet flavor, and this is a cheese with very low or no sodium. It’s highly perishable and must be kept cold.

    In Italy, mascarpone is often served with fresh fruit instead of the American preference for whipped cream. It is what gives tiramisu its creaminess. While some think mascarpone is the chief component of cannolis, it is actually ricotta. Mascarpone or ricotta is used in Italian cheesecake.

    Mascarpone is believed to have originated in the Lombardy region of Italy, most likely in the late 1500s or early 1600s. The name “mascarpone” may come from the Spanish “mas que bueno” (“better than good”), a holdover from the days when the Spanish ruled Italy.

    Another possibility is that the name derived from “mascarpia,” the local dialect term for ricotta, because both ricotta and mascarpone are made by very similar processes.

    Look for American-made mascarpone from Crave Brothers or Vermont Creamery. Try eating it from the container with a spoon!

    More about mascarpone.

      

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    PRODUCT: Pamela’s Figgies & Jammies

    It you like Fig Newtons—or wish you liked them more—there’s a better “Newton” in town.

    It’s called Figgies & Jammies and the cookies are from Pamela’s Products, maker of delicious gluten-free cookies, bars and mixes. The flavors include:

  • Mission Fig
  • Blueberry & Fig
  • Raspberry & Fig
  • Strawberry & Fig
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    Filled with real Mission figs and complementary fruits, this gluten-free version of the traditional fig cookie is so delicious, even people who don’t prefer gluten-free foods will prefer them.

    The pie-like cookie portion is more tender, the fruit flavors are brighter. The size is a bit larger than Fig Newtons.

    The cookies are not just gluten free, but egg free, low in sodium and all natural. There are no hydrogenated oils or trans fats, no cholesterol, no corn syrup.

    The line is certified gluten-free by GFCO and certified kosher (dairy) by OU (the hechsher is hidden under the fold of the seam).

       

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    Yes, they’re better than Fig Newtons. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     
    You can find a store locator on the company website, or buy them online from Pamela’s.

     

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    Four figalicious flavors. Photo by Elvira
    Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    WHY A “NEWTON¿”

    The Fig Newton was named after the town of Newton, Massachusetts. It was the custom of the original manufacturer, Kennedy Biscuit Works of Cambridgeport (now Cambridge, Massachusetts), to name cookies after towns in the Boston area.

    Kennedy Biscuit Works was affiliated with the New York Biscuit Company, which became part of the company now known as Nabisco. According to Nabisco, the cookie was invented in 1891 by a Philadelphian, James Henry Mitchell, who created the duplex dough-sheeting machines and funnels that made the jam-filled cookies possible. He thought of the soft dough with fruit filling as cookie “pies.”

    The machine was patented in 1892, and Mitchell approached the Kennedy Biscuit Company to try it out. They were impressed—all that was needed was a name. Newton, Massachusetts got the honor. Just think: We could have Fig Lexingtons or Fig Concords instead.

     

      

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    FOOD FUN: Fanciful Sweet Or Savory Pockets

    Here’s an easy way to add fun to everyday or special occasion fare. This Pocket Maker set from Kuhn Rikon lets you creating “pocket meals.”

    Each of the three fun shapes is 3.5 inches in diameter, and stamps out the dough to make mini pies, pizza pockets, filled dumplings and more.

    Just press the stamp to cut the dough, fill and press down on the lever to crimp the pocket edges together. Any dough works (think pasta dough, phyllo dough, pie dough, pizza dough), or use sandwich bread or tortillas.

    The Pocket Makers create savory or sweet fun foods, from spicy chicken empanadas for a first or main course to individual apple pies for dessert. Our favorite idea: jumbo ravioli.

       

    kuhn-rikon-pocket-maker-set-230

    An easy way to make fun food. Photo courtesy Kuhn Rikon.

     

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    Stamp, fill, bake and serve. Photo courtesy
    Kuhn Rikon.

     

    Each set includes three red pocket makers in flower, heart and round shapes, plus a recipe book filled with tasty ideas for every day and special occasions.

    This gadget set could be just the thing to coax a young person into baking…or give new inspiration to a seasoned baker.

    Pocket Makers are constructed of BPA-free plastic stamps are dishwasher safe for easy cleaning.

    The Kuhn Rikon Pocket Maker Set has a suggested retail price of $16 and is available at Amazon.com and Sur La Table stores.

    Discover more delightful products at KuhnRikon.com.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: The New Banana Split

    Yesterday for National Ice Cream Month we featured the “new” ice cream sandwich, a sandwich/sundae fusion.

    Today, it’s the “new” banana split in the photo: freed from its roots.

    The traditional banana split is a type of ice cream sundae made in a long dish called a boat (hence the alternate term, banana boat).

    The banana is cut in half lengthwise (the “split”) and placed on the bottom of the boat. The banana is topped with three scoops of ice cream—vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice cream—placed in a row between the split banana halves. Chocolate, pineapple and strawberry sauces are spooned over the ice cream, in no particular pairing. The sundae is garnished with whipped cream, crushed nuts and a maraschino cherry.

    Check out the history of the banana split, below.

    Then, plan a banana split party, where guests create their modern interpretations. It could become your signature annual event!

     

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    The new banana split: exciting. Photo courtesy SushiSamba.

     

    BANANA SPLIT HISTORY

    The soda fountains of yore were the equivalent of today’s Starbuck’s, where people met for refreshments and socializing. Soda jerks were the mixologists of their day*, inventing treats to excite customers. Malted milks, banana splits and phosphates emerged at the soda fountains of neighborhood drugstore in the 1890s.

    In those days, “jerk” was not a derogatory term; it referred to the quick, sharp pull as the attendant drew the carbonated water tap forward.

    David Evans Strickler, a 23-year-old apprentice pharmacist at Tassel Pharmacy in Latrobe, Pennsylvania†, enjoyed taking on the soda jerk role and inventing sundaes at the store’s soda fountain. He invented the banana-based triple scoop ice cream sundae in 1904.

    The sundae originally cost 10 cents, twice the price of other sundaes, and caught on with students of nearby Saint Vincent College. In those pre-digital days, news of the nifty new sundae quickly spread by word-of-mouth and written correspondence.

    It must have done well for Strickler: He went on to buy the pharmacy, renaming it Strickler’s Pharmacy.

     

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    Traditional banana split: meh. Photo courtesy California Milk Advisory Board.

       

    The city of Latrobe celebrated the 100th anniversary of the invention of the banana split in 2004. In the same year, the National Ice Cream Retailers Association certified Latrobe as the birthplace of the banana split. It hosts an annual Great American Banana Split Festival in late August (sorry, there’s no website), and the city has the original soda fountain where the banana split was created.

    Others tried their hand at the recipe. One, published in 1907, called for a lengthwise split banana, two cones of ice cream at each end of the dish and a mound of whipped cream in between with maraschino cherry on a top. One end was covered with chopped mixed nuts and the other with chopped mixed fruits. [Source: Wikipedia]

    Here’s the history of the ice cream sundae, and the long history of ice cream in general.

     
    *Their day was the late 1800s through the early 1900s.

    †Latrobe is approximately 40 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. The city population was 8,338 as of the 2010 census.
     
    PARTY TIME: BANANA SPLIT BAR

    How about throwing a banana split party, where guests can invent their on banana splits? Here’s what you need to put together:

  • Ice cream, frozen yogurt, sorbet
  • Sauces: caramel sauce/salted caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, pineapple sauce (or crushed pineapple is a good stand-in), strawberry sauce
  • Bananas, split and/or sliced
  • Chopped nuts (traditional walnuts plus pecans, pistachios and/or slivered almonds)
  • Whipped cream
  • Maraschino cherries
  • Bowls, spoons, scoopers, etc.
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    Ingredients for the “new” banana split:

  • Bananas: caramelized, foster (sautéed in butter and bourbon), fried
  • Cake cubes (the easiest to slice are loaf cakes:carrot cake, chocolate cake, pound cake)
  • Candies: caramel corn/kettle corn, chocolate chips or curls, other baking chip flavors, gummies, mini marshmallows, M&Ms, Reese’s Pieces sprinkles, seasonal candies (like candy corn), toffee bits
  • Crumbled cookies: chocolate waters, meringues, oatmeal cookies, Oreos)
  • Fruits: berries; mango, melon and/or pineapple chunks
  • Wild card: brandied cherries and tart cherries, candied bacon, edible flowers, granola, marshmallow cream
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