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Archive for Desserts

FOOD FUN: Rubik’s Cube Fruit & Cheese

For a fun dessert, salad course or snack, make an edible Rubik’s Cube.

Erno Rubik, born July 13, 1944, is a Hungarian architect and inventor. His immortality lies in his 1974 invention, the Rubik’s Cube, just one of the mechanical puzzles he’s created.

Crafty cooks have reinterpreted the Rubik’s Cube with cubes of cake, cheese, fruit and vegetables.
 
RUBIK’S CUBE DESSERT TIPS

A Rubik’s Cube of fruit and cheese is a summery dessert (photos 1 and 4).

  • Start by choosing two fruits and a cheese, or three fruits. With the latter, you can still serve cheese, on a skewer on the side.
  • You need fruits that are firm and won’t brown, and semi-hard cheeses.
  • Aim for different colors (our favorite combination is watermelon, cantaloupe and good feta—not overly salty).
  • If you use kiwi, which is softer, you can peel and firm them in the freezer before slicing. It can help to slightly freeze feta, too.
  • We put out all the garnishes and sauces and let guests dress their own cubes.
  •  
    While you can make a single large cube to share, it will quickly be disasembled to serve. It’s much nicer to keep the visual for a longer time by serving individual ones with one-inch cubes.

    The key to a good-looking cube is having the patience to cut every ingredient the same size. Unless you’re a pro with a knife, you might want to get a square cookie/vegetable cutter.

    RECIPE: RUBIK’S FRUIT & CHEESE CUBE

    Ingredients

  • Melon: cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon
  • Kiwi
  • Pineapple
  • Exotics: dragonfruit, jicama
  • Cheese: cheddar, feta, jack
  • Optional garnishes: chili flakes, chopped cilantro or parsley, chopped pistachios, Tajin seasoning (see below), watercress sprigs
  • Optional sauces: basil- or rosemary-infused olive oil, fruit vinaigrette (honey-lime or honey-orange juice with olive oil), fruit or vanilla yogurt sauce (thin the yogurt with kefir)/li>
     
    Plus
  • Sharp chef’s knife
  • Ruler
  • One-inch-square cutter
  • Patience and precision
  •    

    Watermelon Rubik's Cube

    Vegetable Rubik's Cube

    Rubik's Cube Cake

    [1] Fruit & Cheese Rubik’s Cube (photo courtesy Elegant Affairs). [2] Vegetable Rubik’s Cube (photo courtesy VladPiskunov.LiveJournal.com). [3] Rubik’s cake from Cookies, Cupcakes And Cardio.

     

    Fruit Cube

    [4] An all-fruit Rubik’s Cube (photo courtesy Laurentiu Iordache | 500px.com).

     

    Preparation

    1. CHOOSE the fruit and cheese combination.

    2. USE a cleaned ruler to measure; then cut the fruit and cheese into one-inch-high slabs. Next, cut the slabs into one-inch cubes, ideally with a one-inch-square cutter. Reserve the scraps for another purpose (salads, salsas, smoothies for fruit; omelets, salads, salsas for cheeses, meats and vegetables).

    3. ASSEMBLE the cube(s) on the serving plate(s). First create the base: four sides with three cubes on each side. Build the second and third layers, alternating so that no adjacent cubes are the same.

    4. GARNISH as desired. We set out different garnishes and sauces and let guests dress their own cubes.

    If you want to watch the process, check out this YouTube video. You don’t need to use sugar syrup to bind the cubes together, as is done in the video recipe.
     
    MORE RUBIK’S CUBE RECIPES

    Veggie: For a first course, here’s an all-vegetable Rubik’s cube salad made with beets, carrots, cucumbers and potatoes (photo 2 above). You can substitute cubed ham, salami or turkey for one of the veggies.

    Cake: Here’s how to make the Rubik’s Cube Cake in photo 3.

     
    WHAT IS TAJIN SEASONING?

    Made by Tajin Products, a Mexican company, this mildly spicy seasoning combines chili, lime and salt. It is delicious on fruits: citrus, cucumber, melon, and tropical fruit (mango, papaya, pineapple, etc.).

    A Mexican staple, you can find it in the Mexican foods aisle in supermarkets, in Latin American food stores, and online.

    It’s a versatile seasoning. You can use it on:

  • Cooked and raw fruit and vegetables
  • Fries, mozzarella sticks
  • Glass rimmer for cocktails or juice drinks
  • Sorbet and ice pops
  • Popcorn, eggs, etc.
  •   

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Choctál’s Singe Origin Ice Cream

    When we first reviewed Choctál ice cream in 2007, it was a unique experience. It still is.

    The California company pioneered single origin ice cream in the two most popular flavors, chocolate and vanilla. The line—four single origin chocolate ice creams and four single origin vanillas—demonstrate how the flavor varies, based on the origin of the cacao and vanilla beans.

    This means you can have one heck of an ice cream tasting for National Ice Cream Month (July).

    It’s a memorable experience, especially for people who enjoy discerning the different flavor profiles between one origin and another in chocolate bars, olive oils, sea salts, wine grapes and so forth. The flavors of these agricultural products and others are greatly affected by their growing environment (terroir).
     
    A BRIEF HISTORY OF CHOCOLATE

    In the beginning—some 4,000 years ago—there was ice cream. Here’s the history of ice cream.

    Fast-forward ahead a few thousand years—beyond the labor-intensive ice cream made by servants of the wealthy in pre-electricity Renaissance days, beyond the invention of the ice cream churn in 1851, beyond the soda fountains at neighborhood drug scores, which engendered the ice cream soda along with scooped ice cream to eat at the fountain or to take home.

    Along with home refrigerators, supermarket brands arrived in the 1950s. Many used cheaper ingredients and whipped more air into then ice cream (known as overrun) to keep gallon prices low. This engendered a USDA classification system. “Economy,” “regular” and “premium” ice creams were defined by butterfat content and overrun.

    Häagen-Daz arrived in the 1970s with even higher butterfat and lower overrun than premium ice cream, inaugurating the superpremium category. With butterfat greater than 14% (some brands have 18% and more), overrun as low as 20% and complex flavors in addition to the basic ones), there’s no rung higher to go on the classification scale—by government standards, at least.

    Some companies—including Choctál—have labeled their ice cream “ultrapremium,” but this is marketing rather than an official government standard.

    And now, there’s single origin ice cream.
     
    WHAT IS “SINGLE-ORIGIN?”

    The term is not currently regulated in the U.S., but single origin can refer either to a single region or at the micro level, to a single farm or estate within that region.
     
    It is based on the agricultural concept of terroir (tur-WAH), a French term that is the basis for its the A.O.C. system (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, or controlled designation of origin), created in the 1950s.

     

    Choctal Single Origin Chocolate Ice Cream

    Choctal Single Origin Ice Cream

    Choctal Single Origin Vanilla Ice Cream

    [1] A pint of Kalimantan chocolate, with beans from Borneo. [2] The four origins of chocolate and vanilla may look the same, but the tastes are noticeably different. [3] A pint of vanilla made with beans from Madagascar, the classic raised to the heights by Choctál (photos courtesy Choctál).

     
    These environmental characteristics gives agricultural products their character. A.O.C. and related terms like Italy’s P.D.O. (Denominazione di Origine Protetta, or Protected Designation of Origin.) recognize that different plots of land produce different flavors from the same rootstock. In the 1990s, the European Union created a new system to provide a uniform labeling protocol: Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) and Protected Geographical Indication (PGI).
     
    What IS “TERROIR?”

    Terroir, pronounced tur-WAH is a French agricultural term that is the basis of the French A.O.C. (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) system. It refers to the unique components of the place (environment) where an agricultural product is grown.

    Each specific habitat (plot of land) has unique set of environmental factors that affect a crop’s qualities, down to nuances of aroma, flavor and texture. They include the climate and microclimate, weather (the season’s growing conditions), elevation height and slant of the land), proximity to a body of water, slant of the land, soil type and amount of direct sunlight.

    This means that the same rootstock that is grown in different locations produces different flavors.

    Not only will the product taste and smell somewhat different (Sauvignon Blanc can have grass or grapefruit aroma and flavor notes—or neither—depending on their terroir), but intermediate products also create a difference.

    For example, grass with more clover, wild herbs, and so forth produces a delicate difference in an animal’s milk, and thus in artisan cheese.

    Note that processing will also affect the flavor. Neighboring wine makers, for example, can use different techniques to create wines that highlight their personal flavor preferences.

     

    Choctal Single Origin  Ice Cream

    Choctal Single Origin  Ice Cream Cones

    Choctàl pints and cones (photos courtesy Choctàl).

     

    THE CHOCTÀL SINGLE ORIGIN ICE CREAMS

    Choctàl Single Origin Chocolate Ice Cream

  • Costa Rican cacao is distinguished by sweet notes of coffee and a hint of butterscotch.
  • Ghana cacao, from the coast of West Africa, has a fudge, milk chocolate character.
  • Kalimantan cacao, from the island of Borneo in the South China Sea, produces intense cacao beans with a slight hint of caramel.
  • Dominican cacao, from the Dominican Republic on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, has a natural dark chocolate flavor profile with notes of clove and nutmeg.
  •  
    Choctàl Single Origin Vanilla Ice Cream

  • Indonesian vanilla is full-bodied, blending the creamy sweetness of classic bourbon (Madagascan) vanilla with a woody floral note.
  • Madagascar vanilla, from the island off the eastern coast of Africa, has been the world standard in vanilla for centuries, smooth and buttery. In the hands of Choctal, it may be the best vanilla ice cream you’ll ever taste.
  • Mexican vanilla has a natural touch of cinnamon. Choctàl adds more cinnamon. It obscures the single origin flavor, but makes a delicious cinnamon-vanilla ice cream.
  • Papua New Guinea vanilla has fruity, floral notes of cherry that linger on the palate during a long, lush finish.
  •  
    The line is certified kosher by OU.

    While the main experience is to taste and compared the different origins to each other, they are also splendid in everything from à la mode to floats.

     
    WHERE TO FIND CHOCTÁL ICE CREAM

    Here’s a store locator to find the nearest pint of Choctàl.

    You can also order pints and gift cards on the Choctàl website.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Meet The Wineshakes~Wine Milkshakes

    July 17th is National Ice Cream Day.

    Of course, it’s easy to head to the freezer, store or scoop shop to celebrate. But we thought you might like something special.

    Like a wineshake, a wine milkshake. Wine + ice cream = wineshake.

    Does it sound unusual? Well: The first printed reference to a milkshake dates to 1885, and referred to an alcoholic drink, a “sturdy, healthful eggnog type of drink, with eggs, whiskey, etc., served as a tonic as well as a treat.”

    By 1900, the whiskey and eggs were gone, and the term “milkshake” referred to “wholesome drinks made with chocolate, strawberry, or vanilla syrups.”

    Yet, the milkshake still contained no ice cream until 1922. Here’s more history of the milkshake.
     
    THE DAWN OF THE WINESHAKE

    The folks at California-based Winc winery have whipped up delicious ice cream and wine milkshake recipes, combining their wines with Van Leeuwen ice cream. But you can use what you have on hand or other substitutes.

    Winc has an online store where you can purchase the wines and send gift cards. We want them just to display the names and label designs: a work of art in wine bottles, so to speak. The wines are well-priced, so this is art we can afford!

    RECIPE #1: COOKIES & CREAM WINESHAKE

    Ingredients Per Shake

  • 1/2 cup cookies and cream ice cream
  • 2 ounces Alchymist Noir Red Blend (Syrah, Barbera and Valdiguié) or other “big red”
  • Giant drizzle chocolate syrup
  • Garnish: more chocolate syrup for drizzling
  • Garnish: Oreo cookies, mix of crushed and whole
  • Optional garnish: whipped cream
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BLEND the ice cream, wine, and big drizzle of chocolate syrup until you reach the desired consistency of your shake. We mixed ours in the blender, but you can use an immersion blender, cocktail shaker or whatever you have at hand.

    2. POUR the shake into a glass. Top with more chocolate syrup and add the Oreos. Drizzle the top with more chocolate syrup and top with whipped cream as desired.

       

    Cookies & Cream Wine Shake

    Chocolate Wine Shake

    Strawberry Rose Wine Shake

    Vanilla Sparkling Wine Shake

    Shake it shake it baby: Wineshakes from Winc winery (photos courtesy Winc).

     

    RECIPE #2: DARK CHOCOLATE PINOT NOIR WINESHAKE

    Ingredients Per Shake

  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate ice cream
  • 2 ounces Porter & Plot Pinot Noir or other Pinot
  • Chocolate syrup, for drizzling
  • Garnish: chocolate chips, fresh cherries with stems
  •  
    Preparation

    2. BLEND the ice cream and wine until you reach your desired consistency.

    2. POUR into a glass, drizzle with chocolate syrup and top with chocolate chips, then the cherries.

     

    Alchymist Pinot Noir

    Au-Dela Dolcetto

    [1] Winc’s Alchymist Noir Red Blend. [2] Au-Delà Sparkling Dolcetto*, a dry sparkling red wine. Au-delà means “beyond” in French (photos courtesy Winc).

     

    RECIPE #3: STRAWBERRY ROSE SHAKÉ

    Ingredients Per Shake

  • 1/2 cup strawberry ice cream
  • 2 ounces Ruza White Zinfandel or other White Zin
  • Fresh strawberries
  • Garnish: more strawberries, for garnish
  • Optional: whipped cream
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BLEND the ice cream, wine, and a handful of strawberries to taste, until you reach the desired berry flavor and shake consistency.

    2. POUR into a glass. Top with whipped cream and garnish with more strawberries.
     
    RECIPE #4: VANILLA SPARKLING SHAKE

    Ingredients Per Shake

  • 1/2 cup vanilla ice cream
  • 2 ounces Au-Delà Sparkling Dolcetto* or other sparkling red wine
  • Fresh mixed berries
  • Garnish: whipped cream, more berries
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BLEND the ice cream, wine, a big handful berries to taste, until you reach desired berry flavor and shake consistency.

    2. POUR into glass. Top with whipped cream, and garnish with more mixed berries.

     
    FLOAT, MALTED MILK, MILKSHAKE: THE DIFFERENCE

  • A float is a carbonated soft drink—cola, root beer, etc.—with a scoop of ice cream “floating” in it.
  • A milkshake blends together ice cream, milk and flavoring.
  • A malted milk, malt for short, is a milkshake with added malted milk powder†.
  •  
    MORE FOOD HOLIDAYS

    National Vanilla Milkshake Day is June 20th; National Chocolate Milkshake Day is September 12th.

    See all the food holidays.
     
    ALSO SEE FROSÉ: ROSÉ & SORBET
     
    __________________

    *Dolcetto is a red wine grape from the Piedmont region of northwestern Italy. It is now planted in Australia and the U.S. as well. Other sparkling red wines include Brachetto d’Acqui, Lambrusco and Sparkling Shiraz, among others.

    †Malted milk is a powdered gruel made from a mixture of malted barley, wheat flour, and evaporated whole milk. It was originally developed by a pharmacist, James Horlick, as a nutritional supplement for infants. Soon enough, parents discovered how tasty it was…and the rest is history.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Frosé, A Rosé Cocktail

    We were delighted with this summer refreshment idea from Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse.

    The Frosé combines Davio’s house-made sorbet with rosé wine.

    It’s a refreshing winetail, a mixed drink made with wine instead of spirits (also see beertail.)

    You can turn a Frosé into dessert by adding more fruit and less wine. You also can mix different flavors of sorbet.

    Don’t use a bone-dry rosé, but have the wine store clerk guide you to something with a hint of sweetness*. It will go better with the sorbet and fruit. We used a sparkling rosé and loved it.

    Use whatever glassware you have on hand, from tumblers to wine goblets.
     
    RECIPE: DAVIO’S FROSÉ

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • Sorbet flavor of choice
  • 6 ounces rosé or sparkling rosé, chilled
  • Fresh fruit of choice, preferably chilled
  • Optional garnish: rosemary sprig, mint sprig, citrus slice, etc.
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SCOOP the sorbet into a glass, add the fruit and then top with the rosé.

    2. GARNISH and serve with a spoon and a straw.
     
    WHAT IS ROSÉ WINE?

    Also referred to as blush wine, rosé can be made as a still, semi-still or sparkling wine.

    Still rosé wines can be made from almost any red grape varietal, or from a blend of varietals. Sparkling rosé wines, including rosé Champagne, are exceptions because they also can be made with white grapes.

    The wines get their rosy color from contact with the red grape skins. Depending on the grape, terroir and winemaking techniques, the color can range from the palest pink to deep ruby red to hues of orange or violet.

     

    Rose Cocktail

    Sorbet Cocktail Recipe

    [1] For a drink, add the sorbet and fruit to the glass and top with rosé. Photo courtesy Peabody Johansen, Culinary Concoctions By Peabody. [2] For dessert, use more fruit and less rosé.

     
    Styles range from bone dry Provençal rosé to sweet White Zinfandel and other blush wines from California. Note that rosé wines are not made to age, and should be drunk at 1-3 years old.

    The exception is top-quality rosé Champagne. A 15-year-old Dom Perignon Rosé, for example, is a joy.
     
    WHAT IS TERROIR?

    The same rootstock that is grown in different locations produces different flavors; for example, depending on where it is grown, Sauvignon Blanc can have grassy or grapefruit notes—or neither.

    Terroir, pronounced tur-WAH, is a French agricultural term referring to the unique set of environmental factors in a specific habitat that affect a crop’s qualities. It includes climate, elevation, proximity to a body of water, slant of the land, soil type and amount of sun.

    These environmental characteristics gives the wine its character. Terroir is the basis of the French A.O.C. (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) system.
     
    ALSO SEE WINESHAKES: WINE MILKSHAKES
     
    __________________
    *We first made the drink with a sparkling rosé that was as sweet as a soft drink or sweet iced tea. It was too sweet for us.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Summer Fruit Compote

    Berry Compote

    Apple Compote

    Compote Dish

    Top: Mixed berry compote atop ice cream (photo courtesy Good Eggs). Center: Compote as the main event, topped with mascarpone (photo courtesy Recipes101.com). Bottom: A modern variation of the fancy stemmed compote dishes of centuries past (photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma).

     

    With summer fruits proliferating, here’s an alternative to berry, cherry or peach pie: compote. It’s like eating homemade pie filling—hold the crust.

    You can also use it as pancake or oatmeal topping; with plain yogurt, cottage cheese or ricotta; as a toast spread, on cheesecake or angel cake, and so on.
     
    WHAT’S A COMPOTE?

    Compote is a cooked fruit dish that was very popular in medieval European. It faded out of style in the mid-20th century. People of means served it from special stemmed compote dishes.

    A compote is a mix of fruits cooked in a syrup. In fact, the name derives from the Latin compositus, mixture. It is also referred to as poached or stewed fruit.

    Compote denotes a mixed fruit recipe, but if you have a bumper crop of one particular fruit, you can bend the rules. One of our favorite combinations is blueberries with peaches and/or nectarines and cherries.
     
    RECIPE: SUMMER RUIT COMPOTE

    This recipe takes just 20 minutes on the stove top and is equally delicious warm or chilled. Enjoy it plain or garnished with:

  • Cream: heavy cream, ice cream, whipped cream
  • Cheese: mascarpone or ricotta or cannoli cream (recipe below)
  • A fresh strawberry or stemmed cherry
  • Dried fruit: apple or other fruit chip, whole apricot or prune
  • A wafer cookieor gaufrette
  •  
    Ingredients For 4 Cups

  • 4 pints fruit, washed and patted dry, non-berry fruit cut into bite-size pieces
  • ¼ to ½ cup sugar to taste (less is better and lets the fruit flavor shine through)
  • 1 lemon or small orange, zested
  • ½ cup water
  • Optional: 1/4 teaspoon spice—allspice, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger or a combination
  • Optional: 1/4 to 1/2 cup pecan or walnut halves
  • Garnish of choice
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the fruit, sugar, zest, water and optional nuts and spices in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. The fruit should be soft but not mushy.

    2. COOL slightly and serve, or refrigerate. Compote will keep in the fridge for a week, in a sealed container.
     
    3. TO SERVE: Beyond a conventional dessert bowl, you can show off your compote in a glass dish, a goblet, or a pretty porcelain tea cup. In earlier times, special compote dishes were used.
     
    Variation: Add a tablespoon or two or orange juice along with the water.

     
    RECIPE: CANNOLI CREAM AS A TOPPING

    You can slightly sweeten plain ricotta to garnish a compote (spice optional), or can make a smooth cannoli cream with more layers of flavor. This recipe has been modified to use as a dessert topping instead of cannoli filling.

    Ingredients For 2 Cups

  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 lemon or small orange, zested
  •  
    Preparation

    1. WHISK the ricotta until smooth in a medium bowl. Add the powdered sugar, cinnamon and allspice and mix to thoroughly combine.

    2. BEAT the heavy cream in a separate bowl until almost stiff. Gently fold it into the ricotta mixture, using a rubber spatula. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

    3. STIR in the lemon zest, or sprinkle it on the top of the compote.

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: The New Jell-O Mold Is A Mason Jar

    Red White & Blue Jell-O

    Red, White & Blue Jell-O Squares

    Top: Red, white and blue Jell-O mold in Mason jars (photo Victoria Belanger | eHow). Bottom: No spoon is needed with these Jell-O fingers. They’re gummy, like Jell-O shots without alcohol. Here’s the recipe from CommunityTable.Parade.com.

     

    Call them Ball Jars, Kerr Jars or Mason Jars, these 19th century inventions enabled the preserving foods for years, while avoiding spoilage and the growth of harmful bacteria.

    The original “canning” took place in hermetically sealed glass jars, invented to carry food for Napoleon’s army. Here’s the history of canning and the jars.

    The invention created an opportunity for civilians, too: to “put up” foods at harvest time to eat during the winter. But then came tin cans, and

    The growth of the artisan foods movement, small producers added charm to their jams and dilly beans by packaging them in Mason jars.

    Today, we’re presenting an idea adapted from Victoria Belanger. You can see step-by-step photos on eHow.com.

    RECIPE: RED, WHITE & BLUE JELL-O FOR MEMORIAL DAY & JULY 4TH

    Ingredients For 6 Servings
     
    For The Red Layer

  • 1 package ((3 ounces) strawberry Jell-O
  • 1 cup of boiling water
  • ½ cup cold water
  • 1 cup chopped strawberries
  •  
    For The White Layer

  • ¼ cup cold water
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin powder
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 cup vanilla ice cream, liquefied
  •  
    For The Blue Layer

  • ¼ cup cold water
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin powder
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1½ cups blueberries
  •  
    Plus

  • 6 half pint sized Mason jars
  • Garnish: whipped cream (Reddi-Whip is perfect here)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the red layer. Combine the water and the Jell-O in a bowl, stirring to fully dissolve. Add the cold water and the strawberries. Stir and divide the mixture among the Mason jars. We used a wide-mouth funnel (so the strawberries would fit through) to keep the sides of the jars clean for the other colored layers. Victoria used a different technique.

    2. CREATE the “wave” effect by setting the jars at an angle in a muffin tin. First place uncooked rice in the muffin wells to hold the jars at an angle, then refrigerate for 30 to 45 minutes. When the red layer is nearly firm…

    3. MAKE the white layer. In a medium bowl, evenly sprinkle a packet of unflavored gelatin over the cold water. Allow the gelatin to set for 2 minutes, then add the boiling water and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Add the sugar, stirring to dissolve, and then the melted ice cream. Spoon into the jars, taking careful to keep the inside walls clean for the blueberry layer. Refrigerate until firm, 20 to 30 minutes. When firm, you can remove the jars from the tin and keep them upright in the fridge.

    4. MAKE the blue layer. In a medium bowl, evenly sprinkle 1 packet of unflavored gelatin over the cold water. Allow the gelatin to set for 2 minutes, then add the boiling water and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Stir in the sugar, then the blueberries. Do not add to the jars yet, but first refrigerate the blue mixture until it thickens to the consistency of a gel (otherwise, the blueberries will float to the top of the jar).

    5. SPOON the blueberry mixture into the jars and refrigerate until firm. When ready to serve, garnish with whipped cream.
     
    MORE USES FOR MASON JARS.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Dulce De Leche & Dulce De Leche Rice Pudding Recipes

    Dulce De Leche Rice Pudding Recipe

    dulce-de-leche-imusa-230ps

    Top: Use ‘em if you got ‘em—serve pudding in cocktail glasses (photo courtesy Taste Of Home). Bottom: A ramekin of Dulce De Leche Rice Pudding (photo and recipe courtesy IMUSAusa.com.

     

    Rice is not native* to Mexico; dulce de leche caramel sauce is. Combine them to make a most delicious fusion food: Dulce De Leche Rice Pudding. It’s a treat for Cinco De Mayo or for any day of the year when your sweet tooth calls.

    WHAT IS DULCE DE LECHE?

    Dulce de leche (DOOL-say day LETCH-ay) is a caramel sauce, prepared by slowly heating sweetened milk to create a confection that can be used as a filling or sauce.

    You can buy it, but it’s easy to make—simply by heating sweetened condensed milk until it caramelizes, as in the recipe below. Before the invention of sweetened condensed milk (it was patented by Gail Borden in 1856), dulce de leech was made by more laboriously reducing milk (cow’s or goat’s) with sugar. Now, it’s easy, so let’s start by making a batch.

    RECIPE: DULCE DE LECHE

    Ingredients For 1-1/4 Cups

  • 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 425°F with the rack in middle. Pour the sweetened condensed milk into a 9-inch, deep-dish pie plate and cover tightly with foil. Set the pie plate in a roasting pan and add enough hot water to reach halfway up the pie plate.

    2. BAKE for 45 minutes, then check the water level. Add additional water as necessary, and bake another 45 minutes, or until the milk is thickened and brown. Remove the plate from the water bath and cool, uncovered.

    3. REFRIGERATE, tightly covered, until ready to use. It will keep without loss of flavors for up to 2 weeks.
     
    You can also make dulce de leche by boiling the unopened can of sweetened condensed milk in a pot on the stovetop, simmering for 2-3 hours. The oven technique is faster.

     
    _______________________
    *Rice has been consumed in China for some 5,000 years. The first documented account of cultivation appears in 2,800 B.C.E. The grain then traveled west: to ancient Greece, from Persia to the Nile Delta, wherever there was the warmth and aquaculture it required. It came to the Western Hemisphere, landing in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1685. [Source]

     

    Our father’s favorite recipe was rice pudding. The first of two recipes.
     
    RECIPE: DULCE DE LECHE RICE PUDDING

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 4 cups whole milk, divided
  • 2 egg yolks
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups dulce de leche
  • Optional garnish: powdered cinnamon
  • Optional garnish: slivered almonds, toasted (instructions below)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BRING 3 cups of milk to simmer in a small pot over medium heat. Add rice and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring with a wooden spatula every ten minutes.

    2. WHISK the egg yolks, vanilla and salt with the remaining cup of milk and set aside.

    3. SLOWLY MIX the egg yolk mixture into the rice and add the dulce de leche. Continue mixing until the contents come to a simmer and the rice pudding starts to thicken. Remove from heat and pour into individual bowls or ramekins. When ready to serve…

    4. GARNISH with cinnamon and almonds.
     
    MORE DULCE DE LECHE RECIPES

  • Cheesecake
  • French Toast
  • Dessert Grilled Cheese
  • Noche Bueno Sandwich Cookies
  • Popcorn Fudge
  •  

    dulce-de-leche- audinou-wiki-230

    Dulce De Leche Cheesecake

    Top: It may look like chocolate pudding in this photo, but in person, dulce de leche is a deep caramel color (photo Audinou | Wikimedia). Bottom: Make Rice Pudding Cheesecake With Dulce De Leche, with this recipe from Kraft.

     

     
    HOW TO TOAST ALMONDS

    You can toast slivered or whole almonds in just five minutes, in a regular or toaster oven. Toasting gives all nuts a deeper, smoother flavor. Toast 1/2 to 1 cup as a garnish. If you have leftovers, store them for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container. Use them cereal, on salads and soups, on vegetables, in muffin batter, on frosting, etc.
     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Spread the almonds in a single layer on cookie sheet or in a roasting pan. Bake for 3-4 minutes; then shake pan to for even browning.watching closely so that they don’t get over-toasted or burn.

    2. RETURN to the oven, checking every minute until the almonds are the desired color. Don’t let them get too dark; they’ll acquire a burnt taste.

    3. REMOVE from oven and immediately pour transfer to a large plate to cool in a single layer (otherwise, the almonds will continue to brown from the carryover heat.

    4. STORE, completely cooled, in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

      

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    PASSOVER: Matzoh Strawberry “Shortcake” Recipe

    Matzoh Strawberry Shortcake Recipe

    Substitute matzoh for the biscuits or cake in this Passover Strawberry Shortcake recipe. Photo and recipe courtesy Good Eggs | San Francisco.

     

    In addition to Chocolate Matzoh Crunch and chocolate-dipped coconut macaroons, we’ve added anther Passover treat to our recommendations. It’s courtesy of Good Eggs in San Francisco.

    “Shortcake“ is a stretch as a substitute for biscuits or sponge cake, but this no-cook, no-bake Passover dessert is delicious and oh-so-easy to make.

    Speaking of sponge cake, our standard family Passover dessert is Strawberry Shortcake with sponge cake, strawberries and whipped cream. Since sponge cakes are not leavened with yeast, they can be eaten during Passover when made with matzoh meal instead of wheat flour.

    RECIPE: MATZOH STRAWBERRY “SHORTCAKES”

    Prep time is 15 minutes.

    Ingredients For 3 Servings

  • 1 pint strawberries
  • 1 orange, juiced and zested
  • 8 ounces mascarpone
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 boards matzoh
  • Optional garnish: mint sprigs
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SLICE the strawberries and let them macerate in the orange juice, reserving one tablespoon. Mix the mascarpone with the powdered sugar, half of the zest and the reserved tablespoon of orange juice.

    2. MELT the butter in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When the butter is melted, add the matzoh and fry until crispy and golden-brown, about 1 minute on each side.

    3. ASSEMBLE the shortcakes: spread a generous layer of mascarpone on each piece of fried matzo, then top with sliced strawberries and mint. Dust powdered sugar over the top for an extra touch of sweetness!

     
      

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    FOOD FUN: Lucky Charms Pudding Parfait

    Lucky Charms Parfait

    Lucky Charms Parfait for St. Patrick’s Day. Photo courtesy Elegant Affairs Caterers.

     

    We love this idea from Elegant Affairs Caterers: a St. Patrick’s Day dessert or snack with Lucky Charms!

    Just use a green filling layer: pistachio Jell-O pudding, vanilla pudding or whipped cream tinted green, mint chip ice cream, etc.

    RECIPE: LUCKY CHARMS PARFAIT FOR ST. PATRICK’S DAY

    Ingredients

  • Cake layer: brownie or chocolate cake cubes, crushed chocolate cookies or non-chocolate alternative
  • Filling layer: green pudding, whipped cream, ice cream
  • Optional: chocolate sauce or other dessert sauce
  • Garnish: Lucky Charms cereal
  • Optional garnish: gold foil chocolate coins
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the optional chocolate coin at the bottom of a sundae or parfait dish. You can use any other glass vessel, from a mug to a goblet wine glass.

    2. ALTERNATE layers of cake, filling and optional dessert sauce.

    3. GARNISH and serve.

     
    This is not just kid stuff. Adults will love it, too: It’s magically delicious!

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Flavored Whipped Cream

    While classic whipped cream is a festive topping on everything from shortcakes to ice cream sundaes, flavored whipped cream tends to be memorable. While Reddi-Wip makes chocolate whipped cream, usually the only way to experience flavored whipped cream is to make your own.

    It’s not a new idea! By the end of the 19th century, the industrial revolution had enabled centrifuge-separated, high-fat cream. Cooks could buy the cream and whip it directly, without tedious hours spent skimming it from the top of milk.

    Pastry chefs went to town making a myriad of whipped cream desserts, shaped in molds, flavored with chocolate, coffee, fruits and liqueurs. Here’s the history of whipped cream.

    Today, it’s not surprising that you can buy Baileys Irish Cream Whipped Cream in Ireland. But you can make your own as quickly as making a trip to the store.
     
    RECIPE: WHIPPED CREAM WITH IRISH CREAM LIQUEUR

    How about some whipped cream for St. Patrick’s Day that’s flavored with Irish Cream liqueur? Use it on brownies, pound cake, in your coffee or hot chocolate, and anywhere you can: It’s delicious!

    If you’d like a mint-flavored whipped cream (delicious with anything chocolate), substitute green Creme de Menthe liqueur. A deep green color, it will tint the whipped cream green.
     
    Ingredients

  • 2 cup heavy whipping cream chilled
  • 1/3 cup Irish Cream liqueur chilled
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • Optional: green food color
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CHILL the heavy cream thoroughly so it will whip better. Put the cream and the liqueur in the freezer for 20 minutes prior to whipping.

    2. ADD the ingredients to a stand mixer or a large bowl (if using a hand mixer). Beat on high until stiff peaks form, about 5-7 minutes. It’s ready to serve!
     
    Tips

  • If you want to make the whipped cream an hour in advance, under-whip it; then give it a final whip by hand to right before serving.
  • If you want your whipped cream to keep its shape and not deflate, stabilized whipped cream, which has added gelatin, will keep the whipped cream stiff for days. Here’s a recipe.
  •  
    MORE FLAVORED WHIPPED CREAM RECIPES

  • Bourbon, Five Spice, Holiday Spice, Lavender, Rum & Salty Caramel Whipped Cream
  • Candy Cane Whipped Cream
  • Chocolate Whipped Cream
  • Frangelico Whipped Cream (substitute any liqueur)
  • Savory Whipped Cream Infused With Herbs Or Spices
  •  
    What do you do with savory whipped cream?

    First, you ditch the sugar and vanilla extract in favor of savory flavors. Then, you garnish a bowl of soup, top a baked potato, garnish a plate of asparagus.

    Add lemon zest to whipped cream for fish and seafood (including smoked salmon); bourbon for grilled meats; grated Parmesan cheese for soup, meats and fish; horseradish for beef; herbs or spices with vegetables.

    You’ll love how flavored whipped cream adds new life to recipes.

     

    Brownie With Whipped Cream

    Making Whipped Cream

    Pouring Baileys Irish Cream

    Pudding Parfaits

    Top photo: A brownie with a side of Irish Cream whipped cream (Piyato | Dreamstime). Second: Whipping the cream (Kuhn-Rikon photo). Third: For St. Patrick’s Day, make your flavor Irish Cream Liqueur (photo Diageo). Bottom: Whipped Cream tinted green in this cookie parfait recipe from Yummly.

     

      

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