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Archive for Desserts

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.

     
      

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    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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