Showing posts with label cream cheese. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cream cheese. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Spinach and cheese “meatballs”

Bolinhos de espinafre e queijo

Who follows me on Instagram has seen some of my lunch dishes: it is usually simple food, quick to put together, so I can make it and eat in on my lunch break. Rice and beans I keep ready at the fridge, so it is just a matter of roasting some vegetables, making a salad or an omelet, or getting meatballs from the fridge straight to the oven. All very quick.

But when I have a little more time, or when I get organized enough on the previous night, I like to make new recipes, food that takes a little bit longer in the kitchen, like these delicious spinach “meatballs”: I had some spinach in the fridge and wanted to use it in something different – on a busy day I would simple stir-fry it with olive oil, garlic and a pinch of nutmeg for a tasty side dish, but since I had a bit of extra time I went to my good old sources for recipes online (Donna Hay, Jamie Oliver, Gourmet Traveller, both Australian and UK Delicious magazines) and it was on the Guardian that I found something interesting. I adapted the recipe slightly and got truly delicious spinach cakes – I am calling them meatballs because I decided to roll them into balls.

I am sure these meatballs would be delicious baked, but since my oven was already full with something else I just grilled them quickly in a nonstick frying pan with a little bit of olive oil. If you decide to bake them, line the baking sheet with foil and brush it with olive oil, because the amount of cheese in these cakes will make them stick on the sheet.

Too bad the recipe does not yield much – the meatballs were gone in no time at all. :D

Spinach and cheese “meatballs”
adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's savory spinach cakes recipe

"Meatballs":
4 cups (260g) fresh spinach, tough stalks removed, leaves washed, packed
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
½ medium onion, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
½ cup coarsely grated yellow mozzarella – cheddar should make a fine substitute, or even Monterey Jack
2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan
1 tablespoon cream cheese
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 egg, lightly beaten – the egg I used was a small one, 50g; I buy organic eggs and sizes vary
salt and freshly ground black pepper

For frying the balls:
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon olive oil

In a large nonstick frying pan over high heat, cook the spinach in two batches, stirring until wilted. Transfer to a colander. Once cool enough to handle, squeeze very well with your hands, then chop. Set aside to cool completely.
Using the same frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute – don’t overcook or the garlic will turn bitter. Remove from the heat and let it cool completely.

Transfer spinach, onion and garlic mixture, cheeses, cream cheese, breadcrumbs and nutmeg to a medium bowl. Stir in the egg and season with salt and pepper. With damp hands, roll 1 ½ tablespoons of the mixture into balls, pressing slightly to compact the mixture. Transfer to a place and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Before frying the meatballs, roll them into the breadcrumbs. Heat the olive oil in the same frying pan used before over medium-high heat and fry the balls, turning two or three times to evenly brown them – be careful because they are very soft. Serve immediately.

Makes 10-11 cakes

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Apple cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing

Apple cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing / Pãezinhos de maçã e canela com cobertura de cream cheese

Baking bread is something I deeply enjoy, even though I have not done that much lately. Unless you have access to good artisanal bakeries (which are very few here in Sao Paulo), it is the only guaranteed way of having good bread on the table.

These apple rolls were my idea to turn the humble cinnamon roll into something even more special, to get people interested in them again – like Nic Pizzolatto casting Mahershala Ali for the third season of True Detective, after that not-so-great season 2. :D

I was very happy with the recipe: the rolls are tender and perfumed with cinnamon and the tangy icing compliments the apples beautifully. They disappeared quite quickly every time I made them, and next time I prepare this recipe I intend to use pears + nutmeg instead of apples + cinnamon – I believe it will be just as delicious.

Apple cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing
own recipe

Dough:
200ml whole milk
¼ cup (56g) unsalted butter, room temperature and chopped
2 ¼ teaspoons (7g) dried yeast
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons (75g) granulated sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
pinch of salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
3 ¼ cups (455g) all purpose flour

Filling:
¼ cup (56g) unsalted butter, softened
4 Granny Smith apples (about 650g/1 ½ pounds), peeled, cored and cut into small dice*
¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
¼ cup (44g) light brown sugar, packed
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

Icing:
½ cup (113g) cream cheese, very soft
¼ cup (56g) unsalted butter, very soft
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (140g) icing sugar, sifted

Start by making the dough: in a small saucepan, heat milk until it starts to boil. Remove from the heat, stir in the butter and let it melt. Once the mixture is lukewarm, pour it into the bowl of an electric mixer and stir in the yeast and sugar. Set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the egg, salt, vanilla and flour and mix with the dough hook for 8-10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Transfer to a lightly buttered large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 1 ½ hours.

Generously butter a 20x30cm (8x12in, and 13x9in also works) baking pan. Set aside.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and roll it into a 30x40cm (12x16in) rectangle. Spread the butter over the dough leaving a 1cm (½in) border. In a medium bowl, stir the apples with the sugar and cinnamon until well coated, then spread evenly on top of the butter layer. Starting from the longest side, roll the dough into a tight cylinder, then slice into 12 equal pieces. Place the slices side-by-side in the prepared pan, cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel and set aside to prove again, 40-45 minutes – in the meantime, preheat the oven to 200°/400°F.

Bake the buns for 25-30 minutes or until risen and golden. Cool in the pan over a wire rack for 5 minutes, then carefully unmold the buns onto the rack. Now, make the icing: in a small bowl, whisk the ingredients together until smooth. Spread over the buns and set aside to cool completely, or serve them warm.

* it is important to keep the apple pieces small otherwise they will not bake properly inside the dough

Makes 12

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Cream cheese and blueberry cake

Cream cheese and blueberry cake / Bolo de cream cheese e mirtilo

I have been busy at the kitchen again – thank heavens! – but I haven’t found the time to sit down and write posts – so, my apologies for those of you who have stopped by lately only to stare at the red wine cake for ages. :S

And a special hug to Ellen, a lovely and dear reader who makes the recipes and always sends me the sweetest and warmest comments. <3


A couple of weeks ago I was going through beautiful recipes online and found Emiko’s mascarpone and blackberry cake – it looked so beautiful! I felt like grabbing a slice from the screen, but since that is (still) not possible I went to the kitchen and made my version of her cake, changing a few things: there was a tub of cream cheese in my fridge begging to be used and a bag of blueberries in the freezer. The result was wonderful and pleased everyone who had a chance of snacking on it.

Cream cheese and blueberry cake
slightly adapted from Emiko Davies’ gorgeous blog

Blueberry compote:
1 cup (140g) blueberries – I used frozen, unthawed
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Cake:
1 ½ cups (210g) all purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon table salt
½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 1 large orange
½ cup (113g/1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
180g cream cheese, softened
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ teaspoons Cointreau (optional)

Start by making the compote: place the blueberries and sugar in a small saucepan and warm until the berries soften and the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes – stir occasionally. Squash the berries with the back of a spoon as you stir. Cool completely.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter a 5 ½ cup-capacity loaf pan, line it with baking paper and butter the paper as well.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, rub the sugar and orange zest together with your fingertips until sugar is fragrant. Add the butter and cream cheese and cream until light and fluffy – scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and the Cointreau (if using). On low speed, add the flour mixture mixing only until incorporated – do not overmix.

Pour the cake into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Top with the blueberries, keeping most of the juice (so the cake don’t get soggy). Swirl the berries through the cake with a butter knife. Smooth out the top without mixing too much.
Bake for about 45 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Serves 8

Monday, November 23, 2015

Yogurt lime cheesecake bars

Yogurt lime cheesecake bars / Barrinhas de cheesecake de limão e iogurte

Every time I discover something nice I like to share it with you, being related to food or not – and what makes me happy is that many of you feel the same, and I can ask you about something as far from the kitchen subject as a good product suggestion for frizzy hair that I get many answers – so, thank you. <3

Frizzy hair crisis almost averted – with the help of my Brazilian readers over on Facebook – now it’s my turn to share something special with you: one of my favorite food magazines, one that I use over and over again for both recipes and inspiration has now launched a beautiful website, packed with lots of delicious recipes and stunning photos – I hope you enjoy it!

Even though I rely on Delicious Australia very often, most of the times I tweak the recipes here and there, and this cheesecake slice is no exception: 200g of cookies would be swimming in 175g of butter, so I changed the recipe slightly and was very pleased with the result.

Yogurt lime cheesecake bars
slightly adapted from the wonderful Delicious Australia

Base:
200g digestive cookies
85g unsalted butter, softened

Topping:
½ cup + 2 tablespoons (125g) granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 2 limes
300g thick Greek-style yogurt
300g cream cheese, room temperature
3 eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
icing sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F. Lightly butter a 20x30cm (8x12in) baking pan, line it with foil leaving an overhang in two opposite sides and butter it as well.

Place the cookies in a bowl of a food processor and blitz until finely crushed. Add the butter and pulse until mixture resembles wet sand. Press firmly into base of pan. Chill for 15 minutes.

In a large bowl, rub sugar and lime zest with your fingerprints until sugar is fragrant. Add the yogurt and cream cheese and whisk to combine. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, until smooth. Stir in the vanilla and salt, then pour over base. Bake for 20-25 minutes until set and slightly golden around edges. Cool, then chill until set. Dust with icing sugar and cut into bars to serve.

Makes 24

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Lemon cheesecake tartlets - recipe with a video

Lemon cheesecake tartlets / Tortinhas de cheesecake de limão siciliano

Months ago, my sister told me she had to do a project for school: she and her colleagues would have to create a recipe video and she asked for my help. :)

The kids – they’re twenty years old, I call them kids – came to my house on a Saturday and we had an amazing afternoon together. We recorded the video – actually, they recorded me making tartlets – and it was a lot of fun (and a lot of work, too).

By the end of the session, I served cake and cookies to my guests and they told my sister that from that moment on they wanted to do all the future projects at my house. :D

So here it is: the video and the recipe right after it. I hope you enjoy watching my freckled hands in action! :)



Lemon cheesecake tartlets
slightly adapted from the always beautiful Donna Hay magazine

Base:
100g digestive cookies
30g unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Filling:
1 cup cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup sour cream*
pinch of salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 egg
100g raspberries

Butter six 8cm-tartlet pans (with removable bottoms). Place the cookies in a food processor and blitz until ground. Add the butter and process to combine. With your fingertips, press the mixture into the pans and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cream cheese, sugar, sour cream, salt, vanilla and lemon zest. Whisk in the egg, then pour it over the base. Bake for 15 minutes or until slightly firm. Cool completely then refrigerate for 1 hour.
Dust with icing sugar, pop with the raspberries and serve.

* homemade sour cream: to make 1 cup of sour cream, mix 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream with 2-3 teaspoons lemon juice in a bowl. Whisk until it starts to thicken. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 1 hour or until thicker (I usually leave mine on the counter overnight – except on very warm nights – and it turns out thick and silky in the following morning; refrigerate for a creamier texture)

Makes 6

Monday, May 19, 2014

Chocolate stout cake and a disappointing trailer

Chocolate stout cake / Bolo de chocolate e cerveja stout

Interstellar got announced last November, exactly one year before its release, and it being a Christopher Nolan movie I got immediately interested – there wasn’t much to read about the movie and the teaser did not reveal much, either, so my curiosity went through the roof.

Cut to months later – six, to be more precise – when the official trailer is finally out and for the first time, ever since I watched the amazing Memento, I don’t feel like running to the theaters to watch a Christopher Nolan movie – the trailer just didn’t do it for me. I don’t know if it was Mr. McConaughey, the cheesy family scenes, or that after what Alfonso Cuarón did with Gravity it will be pretty hard for someone else to get to that level when it comes to outer space movies, I just wasn’t thrilled after the trailer, Michael Caine and all.

As far as 2014 goes, Foxcatcher and Gone Girl have been keeping me pretty curious, and before the Interstellar trailer I thought that Nolan would be easily on that list, but no, not this time.

Favorites can be disappointing, even if it’s once in a thousand times, except for Nigella: this super moist, dense and delicious cake – one of the best chocolate cakes I’ve ever made or tried – goes to the list of great recipes only adds to the list of great recipes Ms. Lawson has brought us over the years. And if that wasn’t enough, the tangy icing is irresistible, too, and it complements the flavor of the cake perfectly.

Chocolate stout cake
slightly adapted from the delicious Feast: Food to Celebrate Life

Cake:
1 cup (240ml) stout beer
250g unsalted butter, room temperature, chopped
75g cocoa powder
2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
150ml sour cream*
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
275g all purpose flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking soda
pinch of salt

Topping:
220g cream cheese, room temperature
100g icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup (80ml) double cream (or whipping cream)

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter a 23cm (9in) springform pan and line the bottom with a circle of baking paper, buttering it as well (I used one with a removable bottom).
Pour the beer and butter into a large wide saucepan and heat until the butter's melted. Cool for a couple of minutes, then whisk in the cocoa and sugar. Beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla and then pour into saucepan. Whisk in the flour, baking soda and salt.
Pour into the prepared pan bake for 45-60 minutes (a skewer inserted in the center should come out clean). Cool completely in the pan over a wire rack.
Carefully unmold the cake, remove the paper and transfer to a serving plate.

Make the icing: using an electric mixer, whip the cream cheese until smooth, sieve over the icing sugar, add the vanilla and then beat them both together until creamy. Add the cream and beat again until it makes a spreadable consistency. Ice the top of the cake.

* homemade sour cream: to make 1 cup of sour cream, mix 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream with 2-3 teaspoons lemon juice in a bowl. Whisk until it starts to thicken. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 1 hour or until thicker (I usually leave mine on the counter overnight – except on very warm nights – and it turns out thick and silky in the following morning; refrigerate for a creamier texture)

Serves 10-12

Monday, December 9, 2013

Eggnog bars and messing up with iconic things

Eggnog bars / Barrinhas de eggnog

Many people I know are against remakes – I’m not; there are wonderful remakes out there – some are even superior to the originals – and there are bad ones, too. That’s life, right?

I think it’s hard to deal with traditional and iconic characters (unless you’re David Fincher), and maybe some of them should be left alone in all their glory. Chloë Grace Moretz has done a disservice to her career by very poorly portraying a character that Sissy Spacek elevated to perfection, and Carrie is such a bad movie in general that not even the goddess Julianne Moore can save it (and that, to me, says a lot).

Let’s mess with traditional and iconic things in a better way, shall we? Let’s get a celebrated Christmas drink and turn it into cakes, cookies and cheesecake bars – I don’t think anyone will be disappointed. ;)

Eggnog bars
slightly adapted from the wonderful The Good Cookie: Over 250 delicious recipes, from simple to sublime

Crust:
150g digestive cookies
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
9 tablespoons (125g) unsalted butter, melted

Filling:
335g (12oz) cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup (133g) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
1/3 cup (80ml) heavy cream
3 tablespoons brandy
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg + a bit extra for sprinkling on top of the bars before serving

Crust: position oven rack in the center of oven; preheat to 180°C/350°F.Lightly butter a 20x30cm (12x8in) baking pan, line it with foil so that the foil extends 5cm (2in) beyond the short ends of the pan; lightly butter the foil.
In a food processor, blitz the cookies until ground. Pulse in the cinnamon. With the motor running, add the butter and process until combined. Transfer crumbs to prepared pan and press into the bottom of the pan. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until it is slightly puffed and set.
Cool slightly over a wire rack while you make the filling. Decrease oven temperature to 160°C/325°F.

Filling: in the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and sugar at medium speed until smooth and light, about 1 minute. Beat in the cornstarch; add the egg and egg yolks, one at a time, beating until blended and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in the heavy cream, brandy, vanilla, and nutmeg. Scrape filling into the slightly cooled crust; bake for 15-20 minutes, until the filling is set. Cool completely over wire rack, then refrigerate.
Before serving, sprinkle with freshly grated nutmeg and cut into bars.

Makes 24

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Cookies and cream blondies and a TV show to eat them with

Cookies and cream blondies / Blondies cookies and cream

A couple of days ago I finished watching Hannibal and found it pretty even: it was a very good show from start to finish and I hope the second season stays that way; Cynthia Nixon will be joining the cast and there are rumors of David Bowie playing Hannibal's uncle – I mean, how cool is that? :)

No spoilers here, everyone knows that Hannibal Lecter is a killer and eats his victims, and the series is very graphic about that, which kind of eliminates the risk of wanting to eat something delicious while watching TV – I never forget the day my brother and I were watching The Fly and my father entered the room with his dinner, only to go back to the kitchen in a matter of minutes. :D

Having watched Breaking Bad, Broadchurch and Hannibal in a row, I decided to go for something lighter (so I thought), and Girls was the chosen TV show; However, after only two episodes I felt miserable with those characters, there was nothing funny about any of show. I felt so sad after that hour that all I wanted was something sweet – too bad these delicious blondies were long gone by then.

Cookies and cream blondies
slightly adapted from the always stunning Donna Hay magazine

250g all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
200g unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (175g) light brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
200g white chocolate, melted
100g cream cheese
150g Oreo cookies, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F. Lightly butter a 20x30cm (8x12in) baking pan, line it with foil leaving an overhang on two opposite sides and butter the foil as well.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, add the vanilla and beat until combined. Add the dry ingredients and chocolate and mix on low speed just until combined.
Spoon half the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Top with spoonfuls of cream cheese, then sprinkle with the cookies, distributing the ingredients evenly. Spoon over the remaining blondie batter and spread to cover the cookies and the cream cheese completely.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden and cooked when tested with a skewer. Cool completely in the pan over a wire rack. Cut into squares to serve.

Makes 24

Thursday, May 30, 2013

German chocolate cheesecake bars

German choc cheesecake bars / Barrinhas de cheesecake com chocolate, coco, pecãs e doce de leite

I love making cheesecakes but hardly ever remember to buy cream cheese. And there are times when I happily bring home cream cheese packets only to remember, upon arriving, that there are no cookies for the cheesecake base. That's me - I can remember lines from a movie I saw 10 years ago but can't write a proper grocery list. :)
Last week, however, I managed to buy all the necessary ingredients on the same day. I wanted a special cheesecake and I knew exactly where to look for it: the lovely "Tea with Bea" has several cheesecake recipes and they all look amazing. These bars are delicious and since they are very rich a little goes a long way: you can share them with your family and friends.

German chocolate cheesecake bars
slightly adapted from the oh, so beautiful Tea With Bea

Base:
150g digestive cookies
45g unsalted butter, melted

Filling:
400g cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons corn starch
½ cup (120ml) heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping:
½ cup (120ml) heavy cream
1 tablespoon honey
175g dark chocolate, chopped – I used one with 53% cocoa solids
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
37g unsalted butter, cold, cubed
4 tablespoons sweetened shredded coconut, lightly toasted and cooled
½ cup (55g) pecans, lightly toasted, cooled and coarsely chopped
¼ cup dulce de leche

Preheat oven to 150°C/300°F. Lightly butter a 20cm (8in) square cake pan, line it with foil leaving two overhangs in opposite sides and butter the foil as well.
Crust: place the cookies in a food process and process until finely ground. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles wet sand. Transfer to the base of the prepared pan and press it firmly with your hands. Refrigerate it while you make the filling.
In a large bowl, stir the cream cheese with a spatula to loosen it up a little. Add the sugar and mix until smooth. Add the egg, mix to combine. Sift the corn starch over the mixture and whisk until combined, removing any lumps. Stir in the heavy cream and the vanilla. Pour over the base and bake for about 35 minutes or until slightly jiggly in the center and the top doesn’t look shiny or wet anymore. Remove from the oven and cool completely in the pan over a wire rack. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Topping: place the cream and honey in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the honey. Heat until it starts to boil, remove from the heat and immediately add the chocolate. Set aside for 1 minute, then gently stir until melted. Stir in the salt, vanilla and butter, and mix until butter is completely melted. Cool to room temperature – the mixture will thicken as it cools (do not refrigerate).
Spread the chocolate mixture over the cheesecake. Sprinkle with the coconut, then the pecans. Spread the dulce de leche on top by the spoonfuls.
Carefully remove from the pan using the foil and cut into squares or bars.

Makes 16

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Apricot cream cheese babka + an unforgettable movie

Apricot cream cheese babka / Babka de cream cheese e damasco

A couple of days ago I could finally watch “Bullhead” – I spent months looking for the DVD with no success but luckily for me it was on cable last Saturday. It’s that kind of movie that stays with you for days, or even weeks after you watched it, and the main reason is Matthias Schoenaerts’ absolutely powerful and flawless performance – the physical transformation he went through to play Jacky is pretty impressive, but there’s so much more than that in that role, and I find it such a pleasure and a privilege to watch an actor immersed in a character like that; to tell you more would be to spoil the film, so I’ll stop at saying that it’s a great thing that there are actors still willing to go the extra mile to create performances like Schoenaerts’, and that makes me want to watch “Rust and Bone” even more – actually, I want to see more from both him and Michaël R. Roskam, and what a lovely surprise it was for me to read that they’ll be working together again, with Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace and James Gandolfini to boot. \0/

I also want to bake more from this lovely cookbook, which is full of gorgeous photos and tasty recipes – if everything else turns out as beautiful and delicious as this babka, I'm a lucky person!
Don’t be put off by the different steps in this recipe – each one of them is really simple to make and the final result is worth every second of preparation. But if I still can’t convince you to try the babka I beg of you to make at least the apricot filling – it is fantastic and would turn your morning toast into something a lot more interesting. :)

Apricot cream cheese babka / Babka de cream cheese e damasco

Apricot cream cheese babka
slightly adapted from the delicious Standard Baking Co. Pastries

Dough:
1 ¾ cups + 2 tablespoons (265g) all purpose flour
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon dried yeast
1 egg, room temperature
1/3 cup (80ml) whole milk, lukewarm
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons (28g/1oz) unsalted butter, softened

Apricot filling:
½ cup (120ml) freshly squeezed orange juice
1/3 cup (80ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 ½ cups dried apricots
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Cream cheese filling:
225g (8oz) cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Streusel:
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 ½ tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
pinch of salt
¾ cup (105g) all purpose flour
3 ½ tablespoons (50g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Egg wash:
1 egg
pinch of salt

Dough: place the flour, sugar, salt and yeast in the large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook. Stir to combine. Add the egg, milk, vanilla and butter and mix on medium speed until a smooth dough forms, about 5 minutes. Form into a ball and place into a lightly buttered large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm area for 1 hour or until doubled in volume (it was a cold day and my dough needed 1 ½ hours). While the dough rests, make both fillings and the streusel.
For the apricot filling, combine the orange juice, lemon juice, apricots and sugar in a small saucepan and simmer over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the apricots soften and the liquid is reduced by half. Remove it from the heat and cool completely. Transfer the mixture to a food processor and process until a purée forms. Set aside at room temperature.
Cream cheese filling: in a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese and sugar and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add the vanilla and salt and stir to combine. Set aside at room temperature.
Streusel: in a medium bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt and flour. Add the butter and mix with a rubber spatula until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Refrigerate.
Assembling the babka: lightly butter a 9x5in loaf pan.
Working on a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out onto a 25x60cm (10x24in) rectangle, with the long edge facing you. Spread the apricot filling evenly over the dough leaving a 1cm (1/2 in) border. Spread the cream cheese filling over the apricot filling. Starting with the bottom edge, roll the dough into the middle of the rectangle and do the same with the top edge so that the two rolls meet in the center. Visualize the long cylinder divided into three equal lengths. Fold the left third over onto the middle third. Then fold the right third over the middle third. Pick up the dough and turn it over so the seam is on the bottom. Then, holding each end, gently twist it in the middle and place it in the prepared pan. Place the egg and the salt for the egg wash in small bowl and lightly whisk it with a fork. Brush it over the babka, cover with plastic wrap and leave it to rise for 1 ½ to 2 hours in a warm place – it is ready to be baked when the dough holds a dimple when pressed lightly with a finger. Place the remaining egg wash in the fridge.
Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F. Brush the babka once again with the egg wash and spread the streusel evenly on top, pressing lightly with your hands so the crumbs adhere to the babka. Bake for about 50 minutes or until deep golden brown. Let cool in the pan over a wire rack for about 25 minutes then carefully unmold onto the rack to cool completely – carefully because some of the crumbs will fall out of the babka while you unmold it.

Serves 6-8

Monday, February 4, 2013

Lime butter drops with coconut + "Breaking Bad"

Lime butter drops with coconut / Biscoitinhos de limão com coco

Some of you read me long enough to know that when I like something I talk about it (or write about it) over and over again, and that is why I’ll write about “Breaking Bad” today: I’m in complete awe with the show! Besides the brilliant plot, there is a out-of-this-world cast, with each and every one of the talented actors giving flawless performances; add to that the amazing writing and you have a perfect show – I love it how drama and comedy are intertwined on it. I’m halfway up the second season and I can guarantee that if I didn’t have to work I’d have watched all the episodes available by now. :)

Bryan Cranston has received many awards for his role on the show and he surely deserves them – the guy is absolutely fantastic – but the supporting cast is equally great, Aaron Paul – who has received some awards, too, and is incredibly gifted –, Anna Gunn and Dean Norris being the highlights. “Breaking Bad” is so wonderful I feel like wearing a T-shirt with “WATCH ‘BREAKING BAD’” written on it. :D

I find the combo lime (or lemon) and coconut a very tasty one, and in these cookies the flavors work beautifully together; I don’t have a “MAKE THESE COOKIES” T-shirt, but I hope you guys try them anyway – they’re that good. :)

Lime butter drops with coconut
slightly adapted from the oh, so beautiful One Girl Cookies: Recipes for Cakes, Cupcakes, Whoopie Pies, and Cookies from Brooklyn's Beloved Bakery

Cookies:
¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 2 limes
2 ½ cups (350g) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon table salt
1 cup (226g/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cream cheese, room temperature

Glaze:
1 tablespoon cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, more if needed
1 cup (140g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted, more if needed
½ cup (50g) unsweetened shredded coconut – I used sweetened

Cookies: put the sugar and the lime zest in the large bowl of an electric mixer. Using both hands, rub the sugar into the zest. Add the flour and salt and, using the paddle attachment, mix on low speed for 30 seconds. With the mixer running on low speed, gradually add the pieces of butter. When the mixture begins to look like crumbs, add the vanilla. Gradually add the cream cheese. When the dough starts to clump together, turn the mixer off and finish mixing with a spatula, until all the ingredients fully combined.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Line two large baking sheets with baking paper.
Roll 1 leveled tablespoon of dough per cookie into a ball and place it onto the prepared sheets, 2.5cm (1in) apart. Gently press the ball. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden around the edges. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Glaze: it the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, the lime juice, and the confectioners’ sugar. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds. Increase the speed to medium and mix for 2 more minutes. The glaze should be as thick as glue – add more sugar or more juice if necessary (I had to add 25g of sugar to get the right consistency).
Spread the coconut on a plate. Dip the top of each cookie into the glaze, dip into the shredded coconut, and let set for 20 minutes.

Makes about 4 dozen

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Cherry brownie bites

Cherry brownie bites / Mini brownies com cereja

I've just finished watching "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" (probably for then 15th time) and it's possible that I'll watch it a couple more times in the years to come: the movie is so much fun and an absolut classic. I love classic movies (most of them) and I love classic desserts like brownies, which are an American classic and nowadays are extremely popular here in Brasil, and this bite-sized version not only is delicious with the bits of dried cherry but also they're so cute! And they pop out of the molds so easily you don't have to worry about making perfect slices or squares.

Cherry brownie bites
from the delicious Rose's Heavenly Cakes

55g (2oz) dried cherries, roughly chopped
½ tablespoon dark rum
½ cup + 1 tablespoon (127g) unsalted butter
55g (2oz) dark chocolate, chopped – I used one with 53% cocoa solids
1/3 cup (33g) cocoa powder, preferably Dutch processed
¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
55g (2oz) cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup (47g) all purpose flour
pinch of salt

Place the cherries in a small bowl and mix in the rum. Let steep for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 165°C/325°F. You’ll need fourteen lightly buttered ¼ cup capacity silicon molds or mini muffin pans – I used silicon molds and the brownies were easy to unmold; they’re very moist so I guess it would be difficult to unmold them from metal pans.
Place butter and chocolate in a small heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and stir occasionally until melted and smooth. Transfer to the large bowl of an electric mixer. Add the cocoa, beat in medium speed to incorporate, then beat in the sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. When incorporated, beat in the cream cheese until only small bits remain. Add the flour and salt and mix only until the flour is fully moistened. Drain the cherries and stir them into the batter.
Fill the molds about ¾ full and smooth the tops. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until the batter has set. The batter will puff and rise a little above the top of the cavities but sinks slightly on cooling - if pressed lightly with a finger tip they will spring back.

Makes 14 – I made the exact recipe above, used 3 tablespoon-capacity molds and got 19

Thursday, October 18, 2012

White chocolate cheesecake with passion fruit sauce

White chocolate cheesecake with passion fruit syrup / Cheesecake de chocolate branco com calda de maracujá

The sour² cake I published the other day was just the beginning of a passion fruit frenzy: not only because I love the fruit but also because I got hypnotized by its amazing smell and brought home too many at once. :D

I’m always inclined to mix white chocolate with citrus flavors because the acidity seems to cut through the sweetness like no other flavors do – that is why I could not resist Valli Little’s gorgeous cheesecake, but me being me, I slightly adapted the recipe to make mini versions of it. :D

White chocolate cheesecake with passion fruit sauce
slightly adapted from the always amazing Delicious - Australia

100g shortbread biscuits
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
75g white chocolate
2 gelatin leaves
2 tablespoons whole milk
250g cream cheese, softened
½ can (198g) sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup (160ml) heavy cream
1/3 cup passion fruit pulp
1/3 cup (66g) granulated sugar
¼ cup (60ml) water

Lightly butter four 1-cup capacity mini cake pans with removable bottoms.
For the base, place the cookies in a food processor and blitz until ground. Add the butter, pulse to combine, then press into the base of the cake pans. Chill for 30 minutes.
Filling: place chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water (don’t let the bowl touch the water), stirring until melted and smooth. Cool to room temperature.
Soak the gelatin leaves in cold water for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat milk in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until just below boiling point then remove from the heat. Squeeze excess water from the gelatin leaves and add leaves to the hot milk, stirring until dissolved. Set aside.
Whiz cream cheese, condensed milk and milk mixture in a food processor until smooth. Add chocolate and pulse to combine. Whisk cream to soft peaks, then fold into chocolate mixture. Pour over cookie base. Chill for 6 hours or overnight.
Syrup: pulse the passion fruit pulp in a food processor a few times to separate the pulp from the seeds. Strain, reserving seeds and juice. Set aside.
Place sugar and water in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Increase heat to medium-low and cook, swirling the pan occasionally and brushing down the sides with a damp pastry brush, for3-4 minutes until a golden caramel. Add passion fruit juice and 2 tablespoons cold water (be careful as it may spit), reduce heat to low and stir until smooth and syrupy. Cool slightly, then stir in some of the reserved seeds (to taste). Chill until ready to serve.
Serve the cheesecake drizzled with passion fruit sauce.

Makes 4

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Cream cheese apple cake - the most tender cake I've ever seen + another great movie

Cream cheese apple cake / Bolo de maçã e cream cheese

My good movie wave continues and apparently it is in full bloom: I watched the fantastic "Animal Kingdom" a few days ago and I’m still stunned by it.
I first read about “Animal Kingdom” at my source for all things cinema, and could not wait to watch it - as it usually happens to many great films, it took the movie forever to arrive here and it went straight to DVD. But it was worth the wait: a great script, beautifully directed and with equally wonderful performances. Guy Pierce, one of my favorite actors, was the only name I recognized from the cast, and I remembered Jackie Weaver from the Oscars, but that was it: the director was completely new to me, and he’s also responsible for the script.

* spoilers *

I might not be familiar with the cast, but everyone impressed me in a great way: James Frecheville could not ask for a more powerful debut – he perfectly nails J., dealing well with the way his character starts the movie and the curve ahead of him (not to mention the poetic ending); he’s sublime in the scene in the bathroom at his girlfriend’s house. Ben Mendelsohn’s character, who at first to me looked like a crying baby desperate for attention, asking everyone to talk to him, slowly shows why he’s the leader of the pack – he’s pure evil and also seems to be the only one not gravitating around the mother, who is brilliantly portrayed by Weaver; minutes into the film I kept waiting for the Best Supporting Actress Nominee performance to show – see, I love Judi Dench but I don’t buy that 8-minute-performance-Oscar-thing, so I wanted more from Weaver and when I started doubting her she smashingly brought it: her character looks both angelical and devilish, motherly and incestuous at the same time – just divine. Later on I learned that David Michôd had written the part especially for her – wise man. And that same wise man directs this great movie beautifully, putting his own ideas and words into action, moving the camera around at different speeds and getting the most amazing effects with slow motion (something Zack Snyder completely ruined in “Sucker Punch”, it drove me crazy and made me hate the movie), combined with a subtle yet efficient music that reminded me of the music in “The Insider”.
“Animal Kingdom” is an excellent movie, one I would love to have at home to watch it over and over again.

* end of spoilers *

The idea of mixing butter and cream cheese in a cake batter not only seems genius – it IS. This is the most tender cake I have ever seen, made or eaten and I believe that the recipe can be made in several ways: forgoing the apples for berries or chocolate chips or simply omitting them and turning the cake into a citrus treat by replacing the cinnamon with zest; just a couple of ideas I think you would like. :)

Cream cheese apple cake
adapted from the delicious and great The Grand Central Baking Book

2 ¼ cups (315g) all purpose flour
1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ cup (170g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
250g (9oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 ¾ cups + 2 tablespoons (375g) granulated sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
500g Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced into 1cm (½in) chunks
confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan.
Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon into a bowl.
Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, cream cheese, and sugar on medium-high speed until the mixture is very light in color – almost white – and the texture is fluffy, about 8 minutes. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl once or twice during the process to ensure that the butter is evenly incorporated. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients; stop mixing as soon as the flour is incorporated. Fold the apples in by hand using a stiff spatula, then scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
Bake for 45-55 minutes or until golden and risen and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let the cake cool for 15 minutes over a wire rack, then carefully unmold onto the rack.
Cool completely, then dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Serves 10-12

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Cheesecake swirled chocolate cake

Cheesecake swirled chocolate cake / Bolo de chocolate com recheio de cheesecake

I have something to write about Christopher Nolan, but that involves some "TDKR" spoilers - if you haven't seen the movie yet, scroll down for the recipe.

* spoilers *

Many of the people I have talked with about "TDKR" think that Nolan should return for another Batman movie, especially because of the way "TDKR" ended, but I disagree ; As much as I love the three films he superbly directed - and you know I am a fanatic for his trilogy - I believe that it is a cycle that ended beautifully and now it's time for him to move on as a director. That is very clear to me when I think of the amazing films he has made aside from the Batman trilogy - he even made me like Robin Williams! - and I would be absolutely thrilled to watch more films like the fantastic "The Prestige".

* end of spoilers *

I love the idea of a cake that comes out of the pan already filled, and for someone who adores cheesecake like I do this chocolate cake is just perfect.

Cheesecake swirled chocolate cake
from a lovely book I bought ages ago and hadn’t used in years

Cheesecake swirl:
225g (8oz) cream cheese, softened
¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg

Cake:
2 eggs
2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
1 cup (240ml) canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups (420g) all purpose flour
2/3 cup (60g) unsweetened cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (240ml) buttermilk*

Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter and flour a 12-cup capacity Bundt pan.
Cheesecake swirl: in a medium bowl, mix together the cream the cheese, sugar and vanilla with a whisk until creamy and smooth. Beat in the egg. Set aside.
Cake: in the large bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla until thick and smooth. In another bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture alternately with the buttermilk and beat until smooth. Spoon 2/3 of the chocolate batter into prepared pan. Using the back of a spoon, make a trough in the batter, all the way around the pan. Carefully spoon the cheese mixture into the trough. Gently cover the filling with the remaining chocolate batter and smooth the top. Bake for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan, over a wire rack, for 15 minutes, then turn onto the rack. Cool completely before serving.

* homemade buttermilk: to make 1 cup buttermilk place 1 tablespoon lemon juice in a 240ml-capacity measuring cup and complete with whole milk (room temperature). Wait 10 minutes for it to thicken slightly, then use the whole mixture in your recipe

Serves 10-12

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Chocolate peanut butter cheesecake bars + "Man of Steel"

Chocolate peanut butter cheesecake squares / Quadradinhos de cheesecake de manteiga de amendoim e chocolate

I've just had a delightful surprise during my daily visit to "Awards Daily": the lovely Sasha Stone posted not one, but two versions of the "Man of Steel" teaser, one voiced over by Kevin Costner (Jonathan Kent) and the other by the always amazing Russel Crowe, who will be playing Jor-El - if that isn't reason enough to anxiously wait for that movie I do not know what is. :)

The beautiful teaser comes with some cheesecake, a delicious peanut butter version by the always amazing Nigella Lawson.
To me, the chocolate glaze was unnecessary on the dulce de leche cheesecake bars I made a while ago, but here it’s perfect: the peanut butter has a slightly salty flavor and the milk chocolate compliments it beautifully.

Chocolate peanut butter cheesecake bars
adapted from the magnificent Nigella Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home

Base:
140g digestive biscuits
2 ½ tablespoons (35g) unsalted butter, softened

Filling:
300g cream cheese
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
2/3 cup (133g) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (80ml) sour cream*
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter

Topping:
2/3 cup (160ml) sour cream
2/3 cup (120g) milk chocolate chips
1 ½ tablespoons brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F. Lightly butter a 20cm (8in) square baking pan then line the bottom and sides with 2 pieces of foil, leaving a 5cm (2in) overhang on two opposite sides. Butter the foil as well.
Base: process the biscuits until ground then add the butter; process again until mixture resembles wet sand. Turn it out into the prepared pan and press into the bottom to make the crust. Put in the fridge while you make the filling.
Filing: place the cream cheese, eggs, egg yolks, sugar, sour cream, peanut butter and vanilla in the clean bowl of the food processor and process until very smooth. Pour into the base bake for 1 hour, though check after 50 minutes: the top – only – should feel set and dry.
Take the cheesecake out of the oven while you make the topping.
Warm the sour cream and chocolate with the brown sugar gently in a small saucepan over a low heat, whisking to blend in the chocolate as it melts, and then take off the heat. Spoon and spread the topping very gently over the top of the cheesecake, then put it back in the oven for a final 10 minutes**.
Once out of the oven, let the cheesecake cool completely in the pan over a wire rack, then cover and refrigerate overnight.
Carefully lift cheesecake from pan using foil overhangs and cut into 16 squares.

* homemade sour cream: to make 1 cup of sour cream, mix 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream with 2-3 teaspoons lemon juice in a bowl. Whisk until it starts to thicken. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 1 hour or until thicker (I usually leave mine on the counter overnight – except on very warm nights – and it turns out thick and silky in the following morning; refrigerate for a creamier texture)

** mine looked exactly the same after 10 minutes, so I baked it for 22 (until matte and firmer)

Makes 16

Friday, May 18, 2012

Rugelach - the cookie nightmare of perfectionists

Rugelach

I guess that this recipe tried to teach me a lesson: nothing worse for a perfectionist/control freak like me to realize that no, I won’t be able to shape all the cookies the same way and yes, some will be tiny and others will be huge. At least I waited for a cold day to make these (after the other rugelach fiasco) and despite the problems with the rolling and shaping of the cookies they turned out delicious – the cocoa and pecans work beautifully with the raspberry jam and the dough is so tender and flaky it resembles puff pastry.

Rugelach

Rugelach
from the delicious Sarabeth's Bakery: From My Hands to Yours

Dough:
1 cup (226g/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into cubes
226g (8oz) cream cheese, softened, cut into cubes
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
2 ¼ cups (315g) unbleached all-purpose flour
approximately ½ cup raspberry or apricot preserves

Filling:
¼ cup (28g) pecans, finely chopped
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon light brown sugar, packed
½ teaspoon cocoa powder
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese until evenly combined, scraping the sides of the bowl once or twice. Beat in the sugar, vanilla, and salt. Reduce the speed to low. Add 1¼ cups of the flour and mix just until incorporated, then repeat with the remaining 1 cup of flour. Do not overmix.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Flour your hands well and gently knead to be sure that the ingredients are evenly distributed, about 10 seconds. Divide the dough into thirds. Shape each portion into a 2.5cm (1in) thick disk and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until chilled and firm, about 2 hours.

Filling: combine the pecans, granulated sugar, brown sugar, cocoa, and cinnamon in a small bowl; set aside.
Preheat to 180°C/350°F. Line two large baking sheets with foil.
Working with one disk of dough at a time (keep the others refrigerated), unwrap and place on a lightly floured work surface. Sprinkle the top of the dough with flour, and roll out into a 32cm (13in) diameter circle. Using a small offset metal spatula, spread with about 2 tablespoons of the preserves, leaving a 2.5cm (1in) border around the edge. Sprinkle the jam with about 2 tablespoons of the filling mixture. Using a sharp pizza wheel or large knife, cut the dough into quarters, then cut each quarter into 3 wedges, to give a total of 12 wedges. One at a time, starting at the wide end, fold the corners in about 6mm (¼in) and then roll up. Do not roll the rugelach too tightly or the jam and filling will ooze out. Keep the outside of each cookie free of the jam and filling, or they’ll tend to burn. Wipe your fingers clean after making each rugelach, or you will transfer the sticky interior of the last cookie to the exterior of the next one. Place each rugelach on the pans about 2.5cm (1in) apart, with the point of each facing down. Curve the ends of the rugelach slightly toward the point to make a crescent. Repeat this process with the other two disks of dough.
Bake until lightly browned, about 30 minutes. Cool completely on the pans.

Makes 3 dozen cookies

Rugelach

Friday, May 4, 2012

Dulce de leche cheesecake squares + some great villains

Dulce de leche cheesecake squares / Quadradinhos de cheesecake de doce de leite

I’ve already told you how much I adore Christian Bale and I think he’s a perfect Batman but after watching the trailers for “The Dark Knight Rises” – cannot wait for July to come! – I have the feeling that he’ll be eclipsed by Tom Hardy on the movie just as he was eclipsed by Cillian Murphy and Heath Ledger on “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight”, respectively. I love it when great actors are cast for great characters – that’s how it should always be – and Christopher Nolan has been doing a wonderful job in his movies, with just a few exceptions (Carrie Ann Moss, Al Pacino), but I feel sorry for Bale, poor thing. :)

The original recipe for these super delicious cheesecake squares called for a chocolate glaze but I did not want it to eclipse the dulce de leche flavor; after having one square I felt that omitting the glaze had been the right decision: the cheesecake tasted wonderful and very rich, it did not need any embellishments.

Dulce de leche cheesecake squares / Quadradinhos de cheesecake de doce de leite

Dulce de leche cheesecake squares
slightly adapted from the wonderful Gourmet Today: More than 1000 All-New Recipes for the Contemporary Kitchen

Crust:
100g (3½oz) digestive biscuits
2 tablespoons sugar
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons (42g) unsalted butter, melted

Filling:
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
¼ cup (60ml) whole milk
225g (8oz) cream cheese, softened
2 large eggs
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (350g/12½oz) dulce de leche

Crust: put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 160°C/325°F. Lightly butter a 20cm (8in) square baking pan then line the bottom and sides with 2 pieces of foil, leaving a 5cm (2in) overhang on two opposite sides. Butter the foil as well.
Finely grind cookies with sugar and salt in a food processor. With motor running, add butter, blending until combined. Press mixture evenly onto bottom of baking pan. Bake 10 minutes, then cool in pan on a rack 5 minutes.
Filling: sprinkle gelatin over milk in a small bowl and let stand 2 minutes to soften. In an electric mixer, with the wire attachment, beat together cream cheese, eggs, salt, gelatin mixture and vanilla until well combined, about 2 minutes, then stir in dulce de leche gently but thoroughly. Pour filling over crust, smoothing top, then bake in a hot water bath in oven until center is just set, about 45 minutes. Cool cheesecake completely in pan on rack, about 2 hours. Chill, covered, at least 6 hours.

Carefully lift cheesecake from pan using foil overhang and cut into 16 squares.

Makes 16

Friday, November 18, 2011

Vanilla bean and blueberry mini cheesecakes

Vanilla bean and blueberry mini cheesecakes / Mini cheesecakes de baunilha e mirtilos

My initial idea was to make Nigella’s peanut butter cheesecake – that was why I bought several packages of cream cheese after all. Peanut butter cheesecake with a milk chocolate glaze... Yum, yum. But I had a surprise after opening the peanut butter jar: it was almost empty; I was furious for a couple of seconds then remembered that I’d had several spoonfuls of peanut butter lately. Too many, I guess. So I went after another cheesecake recipe and found one on my currently favorite dessert bible. The blueberries were the icing on the cake (I apologize for the lame pun – I just couldn’t help it). ;)

Vanilla bean and blueberry mini cheesecakes
adapted from the wonderful Bon Appetit Desserts: The Cookbook for All Things Sweet and Wonderful

Crust:
1 cup (100g) graham cracker or digestive cookies crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ cup (56g) unsalted butter, melted

Filling:
300g cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup (100g) sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds removed with the back of the knife
2 large eggs
½ cup (120ml) sour cream*
generous ½ cup fresh blueberries

Start by making the crust: preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter four 1-cup (240ml) capacity mini cake pans (mine have removable bottoms).
Mix graham cracker crumbs and sugar in processor. Add melted butter; process until crumbs are evenly moistened. Press crumb mixture onto bottom (not sides) of prepared pans. Place pans onto a baking sheet and bake until crust is set and deep golden, 6-8 minutes. Cool crust while making filling. Maintain oven temperature.
Now, the filling: place the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla seeds, eggs and sour cream in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Divide the filling evenly among pans. Sprinkle the filling with the blueberries. Bake until set around edges, and center moves slightly when pan is gently shaken, 25-30 minutes. Cool completely over a wire rack then refrigerate uncovered for 3-4 hour or overnight. Carefully unmold and serve.

* homemade sour cream: to make 1 cup of sour cream, mix 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream with 2-3 teaspoons lemon juice in a bowl. Whisk until it starts to thicken. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 1 hour or until thicker (I left mine on the counter overnight – on a cold night – and it was beautifully thick and silky the next morning)

Makes 4

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

White chocolate cupcakes with candied kumquats and a big thank you

White chocolate cupcakes with candied kumquats / Cupcakes de chocolate branco com quincans em calda

Thank you for your book suggestions – you guys are wonderful! I’m about to decide which book I’ll read first and thanks to you I have enough ideas to choose from now and in the months to come.

Since I’m inclined to choose a classic book, I bring you something classic, too: cupcakes. But I mean classic, not plain: the candied kumquats add not only a splash of color but also a delicious and unexpected flavor.

Make sure you use really good white chocolate, because the flavor is absolutely evident, especially in the cakes.

White chocolate cupcakes with candied kumquats
slightly adapted from the always beautiful and so delicious Bon Appetit Desserts

Candied kumquats:
½ cup (120ml) water
½ cup (100g) superfine sugar
12 kumquats, sliced and seeded

Cupcakes:
225g (8oz) high-quality white chocolate, chopped
1 ¾ cups (245g) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (200g) superfine sugar
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks/170g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
½ cup (120ml) canned unsweetened coconut milk

Frosting:
125g (4 ½ oz) high-quality white chocolate, chopped
168g (6 oz) cream cheese, room temperature
6 tablespoons (84g) unsalted butter, room temperature
¼ cup (35g) icing sugar, sifted
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Start by making the candied kumquats: stir water and sugar in small saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and bring to boil. Add kumquats and return to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until fruit is tender and liquid is syrupy, about 20 minutes. Transfer to bowl; cool to room temperature. (Can be made 1 week ahead. Cover and chill.)

Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F. Line eighteen 1/3-cup (80ml) capacity muffin cups with paper liners.
Place white chocolate in metal bowl set over pan of barely simmering water. Stir until melted and smooth, then remove from heat and cool slightly.
Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat sugar, butter and vanilla in large bowl until blended and creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape sides of the bowl. Add the white chocolate to the batter and stir to combine. Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with coconut milk in 2 additions, beating batter just to combine between additions.
Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Bake until lightly golden and a skewer inserted into center comes out clean, 20-25 minutes. Cool completely. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature.)

Make the frosting: stir white chocolate in metal bowl set over saucepan of barely simmering water until melted and smooth. Cool slightly. Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese, butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt in medium bowl until fluffy. Gradually beat in melted white chocolate. Let cool until thickened to spreadable consistency (refrigerate if necessary).

Assembling: spread frosting over cupcakes. Drain candied kumquats and arrange the kumquat slices decoratively atop cupcakes. (Can be assembled 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)

Makes 18 – I made 2/3 of the recipe above for I have only one muffin pan (with 12 cavities); I got exact 12 cupcakes

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