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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

RECIPE: Pomegranate Panna Cotta

Italian for “cooked cream,” it is a light, silky-smooth egg custard made with heavy cream and gelatin and typically served with fresh fruit or a fruit purée. Panna cotta originated in the Piedmont area of northern Italy, a region known for its cream.

Smooth, silky and creamy, panna cotta is less rich than other types of custard because it’s made without eggs. (Check out the different types of custard in our delectable Custard Glossary.)

Panna cotta is a gluten free dessert, and this version with pomegranate adds a festive holiday touch. This recipe is from Karen Tedesco of Family Style Food and Go Bold With Butter. Find more delicious recipes at FamilyStyleFood.com.

RECIPE: POMEGRANATE PANNA COTTA

Ingredients

  • 1 packet (2-1/2 teaspoons) powdered gelatin
  • 1-1/4 cups unsweetened pomegranate juice
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Fresh pomegranate seeds (arils)
  •    

    pomegranate-panna-cotta-familystylefood-2-230r

    Bright panna cotta for the holidays. Photo courtesy Family Style Food.

     

    halved-pomegranate-pinkberry-230

    The arils (seeds) inside a pomegranate. Photo courtesy Pinkberry.

     

    Preparation

    1. LIGHTLY COAT 6 x 1/2-cup molds or ramekins with neutral-tasting oil or spray.

    2. SPRINKLE 1/2 teaspoon of the gelatin over 2 teaspoons of water in a small dish, and let stand a few minutes to soften and dissolve.

    3. MAKE pomegranate jelly: Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the pomegranate juice with the granulated sugar in a small saucepan; stir to dissolve sugar and heat just to a simmer. Stir in the gelatin mixture over low heat until it dissolves in the juice, then divide into the molds (about a scant tablespoon in each). Place the molds on a baking sheet and refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.

    4. DISSOLVE the remaining 2 teaspoons of gelatin in a small dish with 1 tablespoon water.

    5. HEAT the cream, confectioners’ sugar and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Heat until very warm, but not boiling. Stir in the gelatin until it dissolves. Pour the cream through a fine strainer into a container with a pouring spout, such as a four-cup Pyrex measuring cup. Set aside to cool completely.

     

    6. POUR the cream over the pomegranate jelly in the molds, dividing evenly. Cover gently with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill and set, at least 4 hours. About an hour before serving…

    7. PUT the remaining cup of pomegranate juice in a small saucepan with the remaining 1/2 cup of granulated sugar. Bring to a boil and continue cooking until reduced in volume by half (you should have 1/2 cup syrup); cool.

    8. TO SERVE: Dip the molds in very hot water for about 30 seconds (be careful not to submerge). Run a small offset spatula or blade of a small, sharp knife around the edges of the panna cotta, then invert onto plates. Drizzle some pomegranate syrup over each, and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Mexican Christmas Pudding

    christmas-pudding-GerryLerner-230

    Oh give us some figgy pudding! Photo
    courtesy Gerry Lerner | London Lennie’s.

     

    Christmas pudding is an English tradition. It has been celebrated in song since at least the 16th century. Thought to bring luck and prosperity to all those who share it, it is typically made five weeks before Christmas, on or after the Sunday before Advent, known in the Anglican church as Stirring Sunday.

    BRITISH PUDDING VS. AMERICAN PUDDING

    Christmas pudding is also known as plum pudding and figgy pudding, popular pudding ingredients along with dates. Irish recipes vary the dried fruits with raisins, currants, sultanas and citrus peel.

    These are nothing the creamy milk-and-sugar-based dessert puddings familiar in the U.S. (chocolate, rice and tapioca puddings, for example), but solid puddings with a binding—essentially, steamed cakes.

    A Christmas pudding is essentially a very wet, alcohol-soaked, boiled fruit cake. Boiling creates a similar dense texture as baking, but more moist (British puddings can also be baked or steamed).

     
    In the U.K., the soft, creamy, thickened milk-based desserts that Americans think of as puddings are called custards if they are egg-thickened and blanc-mange, the French term, if they are starch-thickened (these are our soft chocolate, vanilla and butterscotch puddings).

    Making the Christmas pudding can be a social occasion. Family and friends get together to create the dessert, each giving the mixture a stir, then making a wish with the hope that good fortune will find them once the pudding is served on Christmas Day. The Christmas pudding is traditionally decorated with a spray of holly (which is not edible). In some homes, it is doused in flaming brandy and brought to the table in a darkened room.

    If you want to make a traditional English Christmas pudding, you need to start at least 30 days in advance so the flavors can meld and the alcohol can blend into the cake. Here’s a Christmas pudding recipe: Mark your calendar.

    But if you don’t have 30 days, there are other options to make right before Christmas.

     
    *Traditional British puddings can be baked, steamed, or boiled and can be sweet or savory. They range from Yorkshire pudding (bound with a batter, similar to a popover) to black pudding (also known as blood sausage, bound with blood), to bread pudding, noodle and potato pudding (all bound with eggs, the latter two also called kugels) or plum pudding (a.k.a. Christmas pudding, bound with suet and flour or some other cereal). Savory puddings are served as a side with a main course, sweet puddings as a dessert.

     

    BUDIN DE ROMPOPE, MEXICAN CHRISTMAS PUDDING

    As easy to make as any gelatin mold, budin de rompope, eggnog pudding, is a traditional Mexican Christmas pudding made from eggnog (rompope). It can be made on the day of serving.

    The eggnog, and subsequently the pudding, was originally made by nuns in the convents of Puebla, Mexico†. (These sisters were great cooks: They also invented the classic Mexican dish mole poblano, turkey in mole sauce, among other great recipes.)

    Like other puddings, rompope can be made in a mold or in individual dessert dishes. This recipe is courtesy of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

    You can add a bit of liqueur to the fruit sauce: Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur, or a berry liqueur to match the berries used.

    RECIPE: BUDIN DE ROMPOPE or GELATINA DE ROMPOPE

    Ingredients

    For The Pudding

  • 1 cup eggnog
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 egg yolks, large
  • 1/2 cup sugar, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (1 inch long) cinnamon
  • 1 envelope of flavored gelatin
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 tablespoon rum
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  •  

    gelatina-de-rompope-gopixpic.com-230

    Boudin de rompope, an eggnog-based Christmas pudding. Photo courtesy GoPixPic.com.

     
    For The Fruit Sauce

  • 1 pint fresh or package thawed frozen raspberries or strawberries (10 ounces)
  • Sugar to taste
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon liqueur
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SCALD the eggnog and milk by heating together in small saucepan over medium heat for about five minutes, or until the temperature reaches 180°F. Set aside.

    2. BEAT the egg yolks with all but one tablespoon of the sugar, until pale and thick. Add the salt and cinnamon stick. Whisk 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture into the beaten egg yolks. Pour the yolk mixture into the remaining hot milk mixture. Cook, whisking constantly, over medium-low heat, until the mixture coats the back of a metal spoon and thickens slightly (about 4 minutes). Do not boil. Set aside.

    3. SOFTEN the gelatin in cold water and let it stand 5 minutes. Whisk the gelatin into the milk mixture to dissolve. Remove and discard the cinnamon stick. Add the rum and vanilla.

    4. CHILL in the refrigerator until the mixture begins to set, about 1-1/2 hours. Whip the cream with the remaining one tablespoon of sugar until stiff. Fold the whipped cream into the milk mixture and pour into a mold or 8 glass dessert dishes. Chill until set.

    5. MAKE the fruit sauce: Process the berries in a blender until smooth, sweetening to taste with sugar. Add optional liqueur. Strain out the seeds if desired. Pour the sauce into a glass pitcher or gravy boat and serve with the rompope.

     
    †Puebla was one of the five most important Spanish colonial cities in Mexico. It is located in Central Mexico southeast of Mexico City and west of Mexico’s main Atlantic port, Veracruz, on the main route between the two.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Better-For-You-Holiday Desserts

    apple-pie-yogurt-cup-yoplait-230

    An alternative to apple pie using Apple Pie
    Yogurt. Photo courtesy Yoplait.

     

    Looking for sweet relief from high-calorie holiday desserts? Yoplait’s limited edition winter yogurt flavors can fill in.

    The new flavors include Greek 100 Caramel Macchiato, Greek Cinnamon Roll, Original Coconut Caramel and Light Chocolate Mint. Refreshing from the cup, they can also be combined with other ingredients to make better-for-you desserts.

    For example, you can make this apple pie yogurt cup in just 15 minutes:

    RECIPE: APPLE PIE YOGURT

    Ingredients For 1 Serving

  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • Pinch ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg roll skin (6-1/2-inches square, from a 16-ounce package)
  • 1/2 cup chopped apple
  • 1 container (5.3 oz) Yoplait Greek 100 Apple Pie Yogurt
  • Preparation

    1. PLACE a 6-inch cooking parchment paper square on microwavable plate. Spray with cooking spray. In small bowl, stir together sugar and cinnamon; set aside.

    2. CUT two 3-1/2-inch rounds from the egg roll skin; discard scraps. Cut each round into 1/2-inch strips. Tightly weave the strips into a lattice pattern on parchment paper.

    3. SPRAY the strips with cooking spray; sprinkle evenly with cinnamon sugar.

    4. MICROWAVE uncovered on Medium (50%) 30 seconds; continue microwaving an additional 15 to 30 seconds, checking every 5 seconds to prevent the strips from burning in the center. Cool 5 minutes on parchment paper (the lattice will crisp as it cools). Meanwhile, stir the chopped apple into the yogurt cup.

    5. PLACE the pie crust on top of cup, and serve.

     

    RECIPE: APPLE CHIPS WITH CARAMEL-YOGURT DIP

    Or, try apple chips with a caramel-yogurt dip. If you don’t want to make the apple chips, it’s easy to buy them.

    Prep time is 10 minutes; total time including making the apple chips from scratch is 1 hour 10, minutes.

    Ingredients For 1 Serving

  • 1 large Granny Smith apple
  • 1 tablespoon fat-free caramel topping
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1 container (6 ounces) Yoplait Original 99% Fat Free Apple Crisp Yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts or pecans
  •  

    apple-chips-caramel-dip-yoplait-230

    Apple chips with a caramel yogurt dip. Photo courtesy Yoplait.

     

    Preparation

    1. HEAT THE oven to 275°F. Line a cookie sheet with cooking parchment paper.

    2. USE a sharp knife to cut the apple into very thin slices (about 1/8 inch). Place on the cookie sheet.

    3. BAKE for 30 minutes. Quickly turn the slices and bake for 30 to 40 minutes longer or until golden brown and crispy. Cool on a cookie sheet (the apples will continue to crisp up). Meanwhile…

    4. MICROWAVE the caramel topping in small microwavable bowl, uncovered on High for 30 seconds. Stir in the salt. Place the yogurt in a small bowl and drizzle the with salted caramel. Top with the walnuts and serve with the apple chips.
     
    Find more recipes on Yoplait.com.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Unsweetened Whipped Cream

    whipped-cream-230-IST-b

    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.

     
      

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    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.

      

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