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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Desserts

TIP OF THE DAY: Unsweetened Whipped Cream

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Grab your hand mixer and start whipping! Photo by Robert Matic | IST.

 

If you’re putting whipped cream on a very sweet dessert, such as pecan pie or double chocolate cake, you can halve the sugar in the whipped cream or eliminate it entirely.

An unsweetened or just slightly sweet whipped cream provides a better counterpoint to the sweetness of the dessert. Otherwise, the sweet-on-sweet can be cloying.

Another tip: Make your own whipped cream. Once you see how easy it is and how much better it tastes, you’ll never go back to store-bought aerosol cans.

Just look at the ingredients comparison:

  • Reddi-Whip contains cream, nonfat milk, corn syrup, sugar, natural and artificial flavors, carrageenan (a thickening agent), mono- and diglycerides (emulsifiers, to preserve the texture of the product) and nitrous oxide as a propellant.
  • Homemade whipped cream contains cream, sugar and natural flavors (vanilla, almond extract) and no other additives. (If you use a cream whipper, then you are using nitrous oxide as a propellant.)
  •  
    The amount of heavy cream you use—one half or one pint—yields up to five times as much whipped cream.

     
    Here’s how to whip the cream in a bowl with beaters; however, if you you want an even easier way to make whipped cream that you can prepare days in advance, consider a cream whipper, also called a whipped cream maker or canister.

    RECIPE: CLASSIC WHIPPED CREAM

    You can also make flavored whipped cream, from bourbon to salted caramel; chocolate whipped cream (recipe below); and savory whipped cream for meat and fish.

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
  • Pinch salt
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CHILL the bowl, beaters and cream thoroughly before beginning. Using an electric mixer whip the cream, vanilla, and sugar in the chilled bowl until soft peaks form (3-5 minutes). Makes about 2 cups.

     

    CREAM WHIPPERS

    We’ve used a cream whipper for many years. They last forever—we still have our mother’s unit from the 1960s.

    You simply pour the cream into the canister, add the sugar and flavoring, and then aerate instantly with a nitrous oxide charger instead of whipping for 5 minutes with the beaters. All of the whipped cream is good to the last drop; it stays fresh in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

    In addition to whipping cream, you can use a cream whipper for espumas (foams), gravies, sauces and soups. In fact, there’s a thermal version that keeps the contents cold for up to eight hours with no refrigeration needed, or hot for three hours—on the kitchen counter or the buffet for people to help themselves.

    The differences between a cream whipper and beater whipped cream: The cream will be more highly aerated (airier, not thick) and will emerge from the nozzle of the whipper in a thin ribbon, as opposed to a rounded mound as large as you like, from a spoon.
     
    RECIPE: CHOCOLATE WHIPPED CREAM

    You can use dark, milk or white chocolate.

    Ingredients

  • 4 ounces chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  •  

    red-pin-cream-whipper-230

    A pint whipper from iSi. Don’t buy a half pint whipper to save money. It’s a lifetime purchase, and you’re likely to want a larger batch at some point. (Note that a half liter equals a pint).

     
    Preparation

    1. MEASURE the chocolate into a medium bowl; set aside.

    2. HEAT the sugar and 1 cup of the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until sugar has dissolved.

    3. POUR the cream mixture over the chocolate and whisk until the chocolate has melted. Let cool.

    4. ADD the remaining cup of heavy cream and beat with electric beaters (or in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment) on medium speed, until thick and fluffy.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Dessert Bites & Picks

    brie-fruit-pick-230

    Instead of full-size desserts, serve tasty
    mouthfuls: picks and bites. Photo courtesy
    Eat Wisconsin Cheese.

     

    Yesterday we published a list of hors d’oeuvre picks and bites for holiday entertaining. Today, it’s on to desserts!

    These irresistible desserts are easy to make and almost guiltless. Enjoy just a bite or two instead of a full-size dessert.

    Not only are they the best way to enjoy some sweetness at the end of a big feast, but they’re lower in calories. And you can have a few different varieties for a miniature “dessert sampler.”

    From the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (EatWisconsinCheese.com), you can see all the images and download a recipe brochure.

    Serve a selection of five or so different choices.

  • Brie Berry Pick: Mini Brie Cheese Wedge, Strawberry
  • Brie Nut Pick: Brie Cheese Log Slice, Chopped Pistachios, Raspberry Preserves, Red Raspberry
  • Brie & Fruit Pick: Strawberry, Brie Cheese Log Slice, Star Fruit Slice, Red Grape
  • Coffee Bite: Chocolate Cordial Cup, Mascarpone Cheese, Instant Espresso Crystals, Chocolate Covered Coffee Bean of Coffee Bean
  • Figgie Blue Bite: Fresh Fig, Blue Cheese, Candied Walnut, Honey Drizzle
  • Lemon Meringue Bite: Shortbread or Sugar Cookie, Mascarpone Cheese, Lemon Curd, Powdered Sugar Sprinkle, Lemon Peel
  • Tiramisu Bite: Chocolate Dessert Cup, Mascarpone Cheese Mixed with Chocolate Syrup, Small Wafer Cookies, Instant Espresso Crystals, Chocolate Covered Coffee Bean or Coffee Bean
  • Strawberry Shortcake Bite: Sugar Cookie or Short Bread, Mascarpone Cheese, Sliced Strawberry
  •  

    FESTIVE PARTY PICKS

    You can use ordinary toothpicks, but special (and inexpensive!) party picks will make your miniature desserts even tastier. Click on the links to check out:

  • Holiday party picks, silver and gold picks with a star on top
  • Christmas party picks: assorted red, green and white with Christmas trees on top.
  • Foil party picks: fun metallic fringe in blue, green, purple and silver for New Year’s Eve.
  • Conventional frilled party picks, with cellophane frills in bright colors for Thanksgiving.
  •  

    tiramisu-bite

    A tiramisu bite in a miniature chocolate shell. Photo courtesy Eat Wisconsin Cheese.

     

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Pumpkin Flan, Delicious & Gluten Free

    pumpkin-flan-kimptonhotels-230

    Pumpkin flan. Photo courtesy South Water Kitchen | Chicago.

     

    Unless you bake with gluten-free flour, Thanksgiving guests following a gluten-free diet can’t enjoy your pumpkin pie. So Roger Waysok, executive chef of South Water Kitchen in the Chicago Loop, suggests a gluten-free alternative: pumpkin Flan.

    His recipe, below, is easy for to prepare and doesn’t require a novice baker to deal with the challenges of gluten-free flour. (You can’t simply substitute gluten-free flour for regular flour; you need a recipe developed with gluten-free flour*).

    Flan is the Spanish name for a particular type of custard made with carmel syrup. The french term is crème caramel. It is the national dessert of Spain. In Mexico, dulce de leche is often used instead of caramel syrup.

    Check out the different types of custard in our delectable Custard Glossary.

     
    RECIPE: PUMPKIN FLAN

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • Caramel syrup (see Step 1 below)
  • 2 cups sugar (for syrup)
  • Nonstick spray
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice†
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling‡)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the caramel syrup: Cook 2 cups of sugar and 4 tablespoons of water over medium-high heat until it turns amber in color. Stir frequently to avoid burning.

    2. SPRAY 4-ounce custard cups or foil cups; cover the bottoms with thin layer of caramel.

    3. COMBINE milk, vanilla and salt over heat until steaming (do not scorch).

    4. COMBINE the sugar, eggs, egg yolks, spices and pumpkin purée in a separate bowl. Whisk until combined; then add the warm milk mixture until a custard forms.

    5. FILL the cups with custard. Bake in water bath at 325°F for 30 minutes. Serve warm or chilled

     
    *Gluten-free flour can sometimes require extra ingredients to bind the dough mixture, in order to create the same chemical reaction that occurs with regular flour.

    †Pumpkin pie spice is simply a blend of the traditional spices that go into pumpkin pie. Combine 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger and 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves.

    ‡Pumpkin pie filling has spices blended in. Pumpkin purée is not seasoned; the appropriate spices are included in the recipe.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Churros With Three Chile Mole Fondue

    Fondue with a south-of-the-border accent.
    Photo courtesy McCormick.

     

    For Dia de los Muertos, celebrated today and tomorrow, serve something with a south-of-the-border theme. We’ve got an exciting chile mole fondue; use churros (South American crullers) for dipping.

    This recipe, uses three types of chilies—guajillo, chilies de arbol and chipotle—to give this Mexican-inspired dessert fondue a smoky kick. Bittersweet and semisweet chocolate, nutty peanut butter and warm cinnamon make it a luscious complement to churros, fresh fruit or assorted cookies. You can also try pumpkin tortilla chips, which have matching spices and a touch of sweetness.

    Here’s a recipe to make your own churros. You can buy them in Latin American grocery stores.

    Note that the serving size in this recipe (which is from McCormick) is 2 tablespoons. If you want a larger portion, double the recipe.

     
    RECIPE: THREE CHILE MOLE FONDUE (SPICY FONDUE)

  • 4 large dried guajillo chilies, stemmed and seeded
  • 4 dried chilies de arbol, stemmed and seeded
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup blackstrap or dark rum
  • 4 teaspoons creamy peanut butter
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried ground chipotle
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame seed, toasted
  •  

    Preparation

    1. HEAT a medium saucepan on medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add the chiles; toast 30 seconds per side or until they begin to blister and change color slightly.

    2. LET the saucepan cool slightly. Add 2 cups water to cover the chiles and bring to boil. Reduce the heat to low; simmer 30 minutes until the chiles soften.

    3. REMOVE the chiles with kitchen tongs to a blender container. Add 1/2 cup chile soaking liquid from the saucepan; cover. Blend on high speed until smooth. Discard the remaining soaking liquid in the saucepan.

    4. STRAIN the chile purée through a large mesh strainer into the saucepan. Stir in the cream and corn syrup. Bring just to boil on medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

    5. ADD the remaining ingredients; stir until the chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Garnish with toasted sesame seed.

     

    churros-fuegos-melissas-230

    Homemade churros. Photo courtesy Melissas.com.

     

    ABOUT EL DÍA DE LOS MUERTOS

    Since pre-Colombian times, Mexicans have celebrated El Día de los Muertos, a ritual in which the living remember their departed relatives. From October 31 through November 2, graves are tended and decorated with ofrendas, offerings, and families expect a visit from loved ones who have passed.

    Ofrendas dedicated to the deceased, usually foods and beverages, are also put in homes on elaborately decorated altars with glowing votive candles, photos, chocolate and sugar skull heads (calaveritas).

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Pudding Toppers, Pudding Party

    creme-caramel-brittle-kaminsky-230

    Butterscotch pudding with brittle. Photo ©
    Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog.

     

    Here’s a fun dessert idea, whether for a weekday family dinner or a pudding bar at your next party.

    You can make pudding or buy it. Making it is better and lots more fun. We’ve been spending more and more time with Puddin’: Luscious and Unforgettable Puddings, Parfaits, Pudding Cakes, Pies, and Pops.

    The book, by the owner of a pudding store in New York City, has foolproof pudding recipes, from standards to modern twists. Get your copy here.

    PICK A PUDDING

    • Banana pudding
    • Butterscotch pudding
    • Chocolate pudding
    • Coffee pudding
    • Lemon pudding
    • Pistachio pudding
    • Tapioca pudding
    • Rice pudding
    • Vanilla pudding
    • Modern puddings: Dulce de Leche, Key Lime, Malted Milk, Nutella, Peanut Butter and many others
    • Seasonal favorites like Eggnog, Maple and Pumpkin Pie puddings
    PICK A TOPPING

    Cookie & Cake Toppings

    • Brownie crumbs
    • Cake cubes (from any type of cake)
    • Graham cracker crumbs
    • Vanilla wafer crumbs
    • Other cookie crumbs

     
    Sauce Toppings

    • Caramel sauce
    • Dulce de leche
    • Fudge sauce
    • Fruit sauce: berry, cherry, peach melba
    • Marshmallow creme
    • Whipped cream

     

    Candies & Nuts

    • Baking chips: chocolate, butterscotch, mint, peanut butter, vanilla
    • Candied nuts (any type, including honey roasted nuts)
    • Candied orange peel
    • Chopped brittle or toffee
    • Gummies
    • Mini candies (malt balls, M&Ms, marshmallows)
    • Mini pretzels, chopped chocolate covered pretzels
    • Reese’s Pieces
    • Sprinkles

     
    Wild Card

    • Candied bacon
    • Coconut
    • Dried berries: cherries, cranberries
     

    puddin-230

    Puddin-licious: an entire book of pudding recipes. Photo courtesy Spiegel & Grau.

     

    FOR A PARTY PUDDING BAR

    1. MAKE the pudding in large bowls. Consider adding dairy free (vegan) and sugar free options.

    2. KEEP each bowl on a bed of crushed ice.

    3. PLACE the toppings in smaller bowls, each with its own serving spoon. Refilling topping bowls as needed.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Strawberry Ghosts, A Better Halloween Snack

    strawberry-ghosts-driscolls-230

    Better for you Halloween treats. Photo courtesy Driscoll’s.

     

    BOO! These white chocolate covered strawberry ghosts are a fun treat, and a better-for-you alternative to traditional candy.

    The prep time is 30 minutes, but half of that is making the broomsticks. If you don’t have the time or the interest in the crafts portion, just dip and decorate the strawberries.

    RECIPE: STRAWBERRY GHOSTS

    Ingredients For 20 Pieces

  • 1 package (16 ounces) fresh strawberries
  • 10 ounces white chocolate chips or other white chocolate
  • Candy eyes
  • Fine-tipped black icing tube
  • Decorative twigs from a craft store
  • Broom fibers or wheat bundles from a craft store
  • Black twine
  •  

    Preparation

    1. LINE a baking sheet with parchment paper. Rinse the strawberries and dry them well with a soft cloth or paper towel.

    2. MELT the chocolate by placing it in a double boiler over simmering water. Be careful to keep the water from getting into the pan or the chocolate may seize. Alternatively, place the chocolate in a glass bowl, microwave for 20 seconds and stir with a fork. Repeat microwaving and stirring until chocolate is not quite melted. Shorten the microwave time to 5 seconds and stir. Repeat if necessary until completely melted.

    3. HOLD the berries by the stem or leaves and dip into the melted chocolate. Swirl until coated. Leave about ¼ inch of red showing below the leaves. Gently shake off the excess chocolate and place berry on prepared baking sheet to set. Repeat with the remaining berries. Meanwhile…

    4. CREATE decorative broomsticks by cutting the twigs into 2½ inch lengths and the fibers into 3 inch lengths. Gather the broom fibers into a small, rough bundle. Loop twine around the bundle, but keep it loose. Slip a twig into the center of the bundle. Adjust the twig and fibers to look like a broomstick. Tighten the twine and tie a small knot. Once the chocolate is set…

    5. PRESS the broomstick handles down into strawberries through the top center of the leaves. Pipe a small amount of frosting to the back of the candy eyes and attach them to the berries. Finally, use frosting to add a smile, a spooky mouth, fangs or other fun ideas you have.

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Pumpkin Custard With Maple Pecan Crunch

    As an alternative to pumpkin pie—or perhaps in addition to it—how about some pumpkin custard? It’s eggier and richer than conventional pumpkin pie filling, and because there’s no crust, it’s gluten free.

    This lovely recipe, from Nielsen Massey, is a guaranteed crowd pleaser. If you don’t have ramekins or custard cups, use 6-ounce tea cups.

    How is this custard different from flan and other custards? Check out the different types of custard in our delectable Custard Glossary.

    RECIPE: PUMPKIN CUSTARD WITH MAPLE PECAN CRUNCH

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 1½ cups half-and-half
  • 2 tablespoons Irish cream liqueur
  • 4 large eggs, lightly whisked
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 can (15-ounces) 100% pure pumpkin
  •    

    pumpkin-custard-maple-pecan-crunch-nielsenmassey-230

    Pumpkin custard topped with maple pecan crunch. Photo courtesy Nielsen-Massey.

     

     

    nielsen-bourbon-230

    Nielsen-Massey pure vanilla extract. Photo by Claire Freierman | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 325°F. Place 8 six-ounce ramekins onto a rimmed sheet pan or a roasting pan; set aside.

    2. COMBINE the half-and-half and liqueur in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Heat and stir, just until the mixture is warmed. Remove from the heat.

    3. COMBINE the eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt in a large bowl. Whisk thoroughly until well combined. Add the pumpkin and whisk until it is incorporated. Slowly pour the heated half-and-half mixture into the pumpkin mixture; whisk continuously until combined.

    4. POUR the custard mixture into ramekins. Place in the oven; then carefully pour warm water into the sheet pan, so custards are surrounded and the water depth is about ¾-inch high (this technique is known as a bain-marie). Bake until done, about 40-45 minutes. Remove ramekins from pan, cool completely on wire rack and place in the refrigerator to chill. You can serve the custard chilled or at room temperature.

     

    RECIPE: MAPLE PECAN CRUNCH

    Ingredients

  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • Garnish: coarse sea salt
  •  
    Preparation

    1. LINE a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

    2. COMBINE syrup, vanilla and cayenne pepper in a small bow. Whisk to combine; set aside.

    3. LIGHTLY COAT a large skillet with cooking spray; place over medium heat. Add the nuts to skillet and toast until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    4. CAREFULLY POUR the syrup mixture over the nuts. Cook and stir until the nuts are coated; then remove from heat. Place the nut mixture evenly onto the prepared baking sheet and cool.

    5. TO SERVE: Top the cooled custards with Maple Pecan Crunch. Finish with a pinch of coarse salt.

    Store any unused Maple Pecan Crunch in an airtight container. You can use it to top anything from baked sweet potatoes to green salad to vegetables to ice cream.
     
    EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT VANILLA

    Did you know that vanilla beans are the fruit of a species of orchid? Of the 110 species in the orchid family, the vanilla orchard is the only one used for food.

    While the fruit is called a vanilla “bean,” it has no close relationship to the actual bean family. After the plant flowers, the fruit pod ripens gradually for 8 to 9 months, eventually turning black-brown in color and giving off a strong aroma. Both the exterior of the and the seeds inside are used to create vanilla flavoring.

    Check out the history of vanilla, types of vanilla products (including vanilla paste and different terroirs of vanilla extracts and vanilla beans), how to buy vanilla, and our reviews of the best vanilla extracts and vanilla beans.

    Start here.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Gouda Cheese With Spicy Pumpkin Seed Brittle

    Who but the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (EatWisconsinCheese.com) would come up with this innovative pairing: Gouda cheese with pumpkin seed brittle! Serve it as dessert during “pumpkin season.”

    The result, while seemingly simple, is a complex dessert that is creamy, crunchy, spicy and sweet. (If you don’t like spicy foods, leave out the pepper.)

    RECIPE: SPICY PUMPKIN SEED BRITTLE

    Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3/4 cup (4 ounces) hulled spicy roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes and/or 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Gouda or other favorite cheese
  •  

    A seasonal “cheese course.” Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

     

    Preparation

    1. STIR together the baking soda and melted butter; set aside. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper; set aside a second sheet the same size. Butter the parchment on one side.

    2. COMBINE the sugar, water and salt in a heavy 2-quart saucepan; bring to a low boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; wash down any sugar crystals on sides of pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water. Simmer the syrup 10 to 12 minutes until it reaches 240°F on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat. With a wooden spoon, add the pumpkin seeds and pepper.

    3. RETURN the pan to medium-low heat while stirring; melt again until mixture turns amber brown and reaches 290°F (if the syrup becomes granular during cooking, continue to cook until it remelts). Remove from heat; stir in butter-baking soda mixture with wooden spoon.

    4. POUR the mixture onto the prepared cookie sheet; cover with the second parchment sheet. Press the mixture with a rolling pin to 1/4-inch thick. Remove the top layer of parchment; cool completely; crack brittle.

    5. STORE the brittle between layers of parchment in a sealed container for up to two weeks. Plate with a wedge of Gouda cheese, or serve alongside a platter of assorted cheeses.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Apple “Jell-O” With Caramel Crème Fraîche

    For sophisticated palates, here’s a riff on the Halloween caramel apple: apple gelatin with a cloak of caramel crème fraîche.

    It’s from CookTheStory.com, the website of Christine Pittman, a recipe developer and photographer. Check out the website for more delicious recipes.

    “For this recipe,” says Christine, “you combine apple juice and gelatin and then divide it among small jars before putting it in the fridge to set. Then you mix crème fraîche with caramel sauce and whipped cream and slip it on top of the jello. There’s a layer of nuts and caramel between the jello and the crème fraîche. Oh my!”

    Note that while many people use the term Jell-O generically, it is a trademark of Kraft Foods, and refers only to the Jell-O brand. Everything else is properly called gelatin.

    RECIPE: HOMEMADE APPLE GELATIN WITH CARAMEL CRÈME FRAÎCHE

    Prep time is 25 minutes. The recipe can be made up to two days in advance.

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 4 cups apple juice, divided
  • 3 packets (0.25 ounce each) gelatin powder (2.5 tablespoons powder)
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
  • ½ cup walnuts, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1½ cups caramel sauce, divided
  • 8 ounces crème fraîche (store-bought or homemade)
  •    

    apple-jello-caramel-creme-fraiche-cookthestory-230

    Photo courtesy CookTheStory.com.

  • 1¾ cup whipped cream (store-bought or homemade from 1 cup whipping cream)
  •  

    Preparation

    1. POUR 3 cups of the juice into a medium sauce pan. Bring it to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile…

    2. POUR the remaining cup of cold apple juice into a large bowl. Sprinkle the cold juice with the gelatin powder. Let stand for 1 minute. Add the boiling juice to the cold juice. Stir continuously for 3 minutes and then stir in the maple syrup or honey.

    3. DIVIDE the apple juice mixture among 8 jars, glasses or dessert bowls with an 8-10 ounce capacity. Refrigerate until set, about 3-4 hours. Once the jelly has set…

    4. COMBINE the walnuts with the cinnamon and ¾ cup of the caramel sauce. Divide evenly among the 8 containers. (Up until this point the recipe can be made up to 2 days ahead. Keep the containers refrigerated). When ready to serve…

    5. MIX the remaining ¾ cup caramel sauce with the crème fraîche in a large bowl. Add about 1/3 of the whipped cream and stir it gently. Add the remaining whipped cream and gently fold it in just until it is combined (it’s alright if there are ribbons of caramel color through the cream). Divide the caramel cream among the containers.

     

    creme_fraiche_vbc_230

    Crème fraîche. Photo courtesy Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery.

     

    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CRÈME FRAÎCHE & SOUR CREAM

    These two fresh dairy products are similar, and sometimes can be substituted for each other.

    Sour cream is:

  • Tangier than sour cream.
  • Made by thickening cream with lactic acid cultures.
  • Has a fat content of about 20%, and more protein—which is why heating it results in curdling.
  • Can include stabilizers and thickeners, such as gelatin, rennin (a protein-digesting enzyme that curdles milk) and vegetable enzymes.
  •  
    Crème fraîche is:

  • Thicker and richer than sour cream, with a fat content of about 30%.
  • Made traditionally made (in France) from unpasteurized cream that naturally contained the right bacteria to thicken it. In the U.S., which has pasteurized cream, crème fraîche is made by adding the bacteria with other fermenting agents.
  • Does not contain added stabilizers or thickeners.
  •  

    THE HISTORY OF JELL-O

    Gelatin (also spelled gelatine) has been made since ancient times by boiling animal and fish bones; aspic, a savory, gelatin-like food made from meat or fish stock, was a French specialty centuries before the day of commercial gelatin, and was very difficult to prepare, relying only on the natural gelatin found in the meat to make the aspic set.

    Powdered gelatin was invented in 1682 by Denis Papin. The concept of cooking it with sugar to make dessert dates to 1845 and an American inventor named Peter Cooper. Cooper patented a product that was set with gelatin, but it didn’t take off.

    In 1897, Pearle Wait, a carpenter in Le Roy, New York (Genesee County), experimented with gelatin and developed a fruit flavored dessert which his wife, May, named Jell-O. The first four flavors were orange, lemon, strawberry and raspberry.

    He tried to market his product but lacked the capital and experience, and in 1899 sold his formula to a fellow townsman and manufacturer of proprietary medicines, Orator Frank Woodward, for $450. Jell-O was manufactured by Andrew Samuel Nico of Lyons, New York.

    Alas, sales were slow and one day, Wait sold Sam Nico the business for $35. In 1900, the Genesee Pure Food Company promoted Jell-O in a successful advertising and by 1902 sales were $250,000. In 1923 management created the Jell-O Company, Inc., which replaced the Genesee Pure Foods Company, the purpose of which was to protect the Jell-O trade name and to keep it from becoming a generic term.

    That same year, the Jell-O Company was sold to the Postum Cereal Company, the first subsidiary of a large merger that would eventually become General Foods Corporation. Lime Jell-O was introduced in 1930.

    Today Jell-O is manufactured by Kraft Foods, a subsidiary of Phillip Morris, which also acquired both Kraft and General Foods in the 1980s and ultimately merged the two companies. There is a Jell-O Museum in Le Roy, New York.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Grilled Grapes With Burrata

    Here’s something we’d never have thought of, and we’re grateful to the folks at GQ for sending us the recipe.

    It’s a showstopping appetizer or cheese course that takes literally one minute to cook: red grapes with burrata cheese. Developed by chef Jeff Mahin, the dish has become a staple at his Stella Barra Pizzerias in L.A. and Chicago.

    “While using gas or charcoal to make it is fine, I prefer a screaming-hot wood grill,” says Jeff. “Just remember that when cooking with wood, you want to cook over glowing ruby red coals rather than the flame itself. Cooking directly over an open flame can impart a sour and soot-like flavor, which is never a good thing.”

    Note that since grapes will invariably fall off the bunch while you’re grilling them, a vegetable grilling basket will come in handy.

    RECIPE: GRILLED GRAPES WITH BURRATA

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 pound bunch seedless red grapes
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • 2 balls burrata cheese
  • Sea salt and olive oil
  • Rustic bread
  •  

    grilled-grapes-Peden+Munk-GQ-230r

    So simple, and unbelievably delicious. Photo courtesy GQ Magazine.

     

    Preparation

    1. WASH the bunch of grapes carefully under cold water and allow them to dry.

    2. WHISK together in a bowl: olive oil, 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, chile flakes, garlic cloves. Add grapes and toss until coated. Let sit for at least 10 minutes.

    3. PLACE bunch of grapes onto the center of a hot grill, using tongs. Grill for 30 seconds. Turn. Grill for another 30 seconds.

    4. RETURN grapes to marinade to cool for at least 10 minutes, coating them periodically.

    5. CUT grapes into small bunches. Plate. Drizzle on 2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar. Serve with grilled bread and a half ball of burrata (or fresh mozzarella) seasoned with sea salt and olive oil.

    Find more delicious recipes in the GQ Grill Guide.
     
    ABOUT BURRATA CHEESE

    Somewhere around 1920 in the town of Andria in the Puglia region of southern Italy, a member of the Bianchini family figured out how to repurpose the curds from mozzarella making. Burrata was born, a ball of mozzarella filled with creamy, ricotta-like curds. Cut into the ball and the curds ooze out: a wonderful marriage of flavors and textures.

    Their burrata was premium priced, made in small amounts, and remained the delight of the locals for some thirty years.

    In the 1950s, some of the local cheese factories began to produce burrata, and more people discovered its charms. Only in recent years, thanks to more economical overnighting of refrigerated products, did we find it in New York City’s finest cheese shops.

    It was love at first bite…and enough Americans thought so that burrata is now made domestically. You can find it at Trader Joe’s.

    For dessert, here’s a delicious burrata and fresh fruit recipe.

      

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