I can smell the peach aroma as soon as I walk into the market. It is sweet, floral and distinctive. Instantly, the peach scent produces an urge in me to make a pie. I follow the scent to their location and examine the peaches, taking in the glory of a massive display. Once satisfied, I look and listen to any orange hued fuzzy globes that speak to me, then make a selection and breath in its’ perfume. I wonder how many days must pass before they are ripe enough to eat. The summer sunset colors are seductive, so I gather up a collection and bag them for home.
Once home, my peaches are carefully placed on my kitchen windowsill to soak in the western sun. With gratitude and anticipation, I watch over the sun-drenched peaches and wait for the fruit to ripen.
My favorite way to eat peaches is as nature intended ripe, fresh and unadorned. Typically, I eat them standing in front of the kitchen sink, and with each bite into the sweet and yielding flesh, I feel the squirt of peach juice dripping down my chin. The taste is sweet and refreshing at the same time, like the first morning sip of orange juice after a long nights’ sleep. Ah, how I love summer peaches in all their glory.
Originally, I planned to make a galette. I love galettes and often make them for dessert. However, I changed my mind because I wanted to make something different. Once I get that curiosity itch I can’t stop. An idea came to mind for making a dessert I have not made in a long time, sabayon. Sabayon layered with fresh fruit is a delightful dessert and one that deserves to be served on a regular basis.
Sabayon is the French name for Zabayon, which is an Italian egg foam dessert. It is a delicate dessert made with egg yolks and wine, or Marsala. Eggs and wine are gently warmed and whisked together, creating a luscious and foamy sauce. It is light and creamy with a sweetness that perfectly complements fresh fruit.
Sabayon is usually chilled and the egg foam is folded into whipped cream. The whipped cream gives it a similar texture to mousse, and is less foamy than Zabayon. Because it is also chilled, sabayon is prepared ahead of time. Thus, it makes a perfect dessert for entertaining. Unlike sabayon, zabayon does not have cream and is served immediately while still warm and frothy. Both options are elegant dessert sauces.
Peaches and Bourbon Sabayon
Peaches combined with berries and complimented by the sweet boozy sabayon is smooth, nutty and airy. I forgot how exquisite this dessert is. Every bite is a fruity explosion tempered with warm and subdued notes of bourbon, basil and sabayon. Bourbon sabayon is not as airy as my Lemon Mousse, but it satisfies just the same.
Sabayon is a great way to dress up a fresh fruit dessert. It does not take long to make, but it does take some practice, confidence and whisking power. It is important to control the heat and prevent the egg yolks from cooking and scrambling. The eggs require gentle heat and constant whisking. The process can take anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes, depending on your set up and how many eggs you are using. The result is all about keeping the yolks at the right temperature and vigorously whisking them into a thickened foamy sauce.
Traditionally, Marsala or a sweet sparkling wine, is used for sabayon and zabayon. Bourbon and peaches pair well together so I decided to try it with sabayon. I also added a touch of orange juice and zest to cut some of the sharp boozy notes. However, I noticed a difference in texture between sabayon with bourbon vs. with Marsala. The bourbon sabayon does not get as frothy, but it still works and I like the caramelized flavor with the peaches.
Summer Loves Peaches
This post is part of a collaborative project between food enthusiasts and bloggers. On June 29th, 2017, we are all celebrating the summer by posting a recipe featuring peaches. You can follow along on social medial and see what everyone else made using the hashtag, #summerlovespeaches. Below are links to all the #summerlovespeaches participants websites.
Do you have a favorite recipe using peaches? I would love to hear about it. Please post your favorite way to serve peaches in the comments section below my recipe.
Peaches and Berries Layered with Bourbon Sabayon
- 4 egg yolks
- 2 TB 27 g granulated sugar
- 3 TB 45 ml Bourbon
- 1 TB 15 ml fresh squeezed orange juice
- 1/2 cup 125 ml heavy cream
- zest from half an orange
- 2 cups 500 ml fresh or frozen raspberries
- 2 TB 27 g granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup 75 ml water
- Lemon juice to taste around 1 teaspoon
- 6 ripe peaches
- 2 TB basil thinly sliced - chiffonade (optional or substitute with fresh mint leaves)
- 1- 6 oz 175 g basket raspberries
- 1- 6 oz 175 g basket blackberries
- 1/4 cup 60 ml raspberry sauce
Prepare a medium saucepan and fill with about an inch of water. Measure the bourbon and orange juice and keep in a measuring cup close to your work area. Add the egg yolks to a bowl that will easily fit over your saucepan, but will not touch the water. Add the sugar to the egg yolks placing the sugar to the side of the yolks.
Turn on the heat to medium and place your bowl over your saucepan. Vigorously whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in the bowl. Continue to whisk the eggs until it gets light and frothy. Slowly add the bourbon and orange juice and continue to whisk. The eggs should double in volume, become lighter and creamy looking. You do not want to scramble the eggs, so keep the temperature low and constantly whisk. You can move the bowl on and off the heat while you are whisking to control the temperature and make sure your water is not boiling.
The eggs are done when they have doubled in size, and there is no liquid left in the bowl, and everything is frothy. About 10 - 15 minutes, depending on the shape and size of your bowl and temperature. A recommended temperature when the sabayon done, is around 150F (65C) on an instant read thermometer.
Remove the bowl with the eggs off the heat and continue to whisk for another five minutes to cool.
Cover the frothy eggs with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator.
Whip the heavy cream and zest from half an orange until soft peaks are formed. Fold the whipped cream into chilled sabayon. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to assemble.
Make the raspberry sauce
Add the raspberries, sugar and water to a small saucepan. Bring the fruit to a boil and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Cook the berries at a high simmer for 3 minutes. Pour the raspberry liquid over a fine mesh strainer, catching the sauce in a bowl underneath. Press the pulp through the strainer. This will take some time, as the pulp clings to the seeds, but keep at it and you will be rewarded with a delicious berry sauce. The back side of a flat spoon is a great tool to press the pulp through the mesh. Scrape off any pulp from the underside of the strainer and add to the bowl. Discard the seeds. Cover and chill the sauce until needed. Will last 3 days in the refrigerator.
Prepare the fruit
Fill a large stock pot with water and bring the water to a boil. Partially fill a large bowl with ice and water. Set aside near your stove.
Lightly score the peaches with a crisscross pattern across the pointed south pole of the fruit.
When the water is boiling, add the peaches and boil for 30 - 40 seconds. If your peaches are large and not as ripe, they will need the longer time. Quickly remove the peaches from the boiling water and put them in the ice bath to stop the cooking.
Once cooled, peel away the skin from the peach flesh starting at the crisscross center. The skin should easily peel away. Use a sharp paring knife to assist you at any stubborn parts.
Cut the peaches in half and slice into 1/2 inch wedges and place in a bowl. Add the basil and gently mix together. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to serve the sabayon.
Assemble the Sabayon
You have at least two choices for how to present the sabayon. Use a tall wine glass or flute, and layer the sabayon between layers of fruit and raspberry sauce. Or, fill each glass with fruit and raspberry sauce, then top off the fruit with sabayon. Either way looks inviting and tastes delicious.
Assemble the sabayon right before you serve it for dessert.
Best eaten the day it is made.
The most time-consuming part is peeling and slicing all the peaches. Everything else is done within a 15-minute time frame.
The peaches will get soggy and discolor if you slice them too early, and it sits around for a while.
Deborah Madison recommends you can make the sabayon earlier in the day, then fold in the whipped cream one to two hours ahead of time. Peel and slice the peaches before you sit down for dinner. Assemble the dessert right before serving.
Click the see more for links to Orchards in the Hudson Valley where you can visit and pick your own peaches.
© 2017 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
Every celebration deserves a fun dessert, and for Cinco de Mayo I discovered Coconut Pie. This pie is from the Yucatecan region of Mexico with a nutty crust and a creamy fresh coconut filling. This is not a custard pie, more like a giant nutty coconut macaroon. Coconut pie has a nice balance of sweet, nutty and light caramel flavors with crumbly and chewy textures.
This recipe originated from Rick Bayless, Yucatecan-Style Fresh Coconut Pie, in Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen. My intention was to make his coconut pie recipe as directed with fresh coconut, then adapt it. Unfortunately, my first pie did not work out as I planned, and left me with more unanswered questions than not.
The truth is, after cracking open my coconut, the shell had moldy looking spots on the inside. This unappetizing vision shattered my tropical dream and forced me to consider if the coconut was going bad. So, instead of reveling in fresh coconut perfume and fantasizing about sunny Mexican beaches, I scoured the world wide web. Google, “Do coconuts go bad?” The unanimous answer is, yes. Normally I am up for any culinary adventure, but this experience left me feeling there was too much work involved for something with a high chance of not working out.
Nowadays, coconut products are widely available in all stores. Purchased coconut water and dried shredded coconut may not be fresh, but they have their merits. The biggest merit being, I could confidently buy them seeing the expiration date in clear view. But more importantly, buying the coconut water, coconut flour, and shredded coconut made it easier to make this delicious pie.
About Double Coconut Pie
Traditionally, Pay de Coco, Estilo Yucateco has an almond and breadcrumb crust and filled with grated fresh coconut, slivered almonds and condensed milk. Rick Bayless altered the traditional coconut pie recipe by replacing the condensed milk with a reduction of fresh coconut water and heavy cream. He essentially made a condensed milk, but with extra coconut flavor.
I liked his idea of using coconut water, but because I planned to buy it, I needed to figure out how much to use. Based on the amount of coconut water that dribbled out of my expired coconut, I estimated a 1/2 cup of coconut water. You could add more, 3/4 cup, but keep in mind the time needed to reduce the cream will take longer.
Gluten Free Double Coconut Pie
As much as I wanted to make a traditional Mexican dessert, the original crust seemed dry. Additionally, I wanted to make a gluten-free pie. Alice Medrich has a delicious gluten-free pie crust recipe in Flavor Flours, using coconut flour and shredded coconut. I believed if I adapted her recipe and substituted it for the traditional one, the integrity of the Yucatecan pie would still be intact. Also, this gluten-free coconut pie crust adds extra cookie-like texture and doubles the coconut flavor. I included ground almonds in the crust with the shredded coconut to keep the warm nutty flavor of the traditional coconut pie recipe.
Hungry for more Mexican Food? Try Poblano Chili Cream Sauce with Grilled Chicken
With my recipe adjustments, I made coconut pie easier to make, yet maintain the appeal of the original recipe. By using store-bought products I cut down on the time commitment, and the risk of buying a bad coconut. If I ever live in a tropical environment, I will certainly make it with fresh coconut. Until then, my tropical daydreams will continue while enjoying coconut pie. Not only is this a great dessert to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, it will be well received any time of the year.
Taste of Mexico: Double Coconut Pie
- Pie Crust:
- 1 cup / 122 g almond slivers
- 1/2 cup / 112 g granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup / 40 g coconut flour
- 1/2 cup plus 1 Tb/ 50 g unsweetened dried shredded coconut
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
- 6 Tbs / 85 g unsalted butter - very soft
- 1 large egg white
- 1/2 cup / 125 ml coconut water
- 1 cup / 250 ml heavy cream
- 2/3 cup / 147 g granulated sugar
- 2 1/2 cup grated dried coconut - flaky coconut 1 1/4 cup / 94 g and shredded coconut 1 1/4 cup / 105 g - plus more flaky coconut for garnish
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 tsp vanilla
Preheat the oven for 325F / 160C / Gas Mark 3. Place the almonds on a sheet pan and toast in the oven until lightly golden, about 7-10 minutes. Halfway through the toasting, stir the almonds and turn the sheet pan from front to back.
Once toasted, measure 1/2 cup / 61 grams of the almonds and set aside for the pie filling.
Put the remaining almonds and the sugar in a food processor and pulse until the almonds have a fine texture.
In a medium size bowl, mix the almond-sugar, coconut flour, shredded coconut, baking powder, salt, softened butter and egg white until well combined. Your clean hands will do the best job of getting everything all mixed through.
Press the coconut / almond mixture evenly across the bottom and up the sides of a tart pan. The sides should be thicker than the bottom of the pan.
Place the pan on a sheet pan and bake in the oven for 12 minutes, or just starting to turn golden at the edge. Remove the crust from the oven and set aside.
Raise the oven temperature to 350F / 175 C/ Gas Mark 4
While the crust is baking, simmer the coconut water, heavy cream and granulated sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce the liquid to 1 cup / 250 ml. It could take from 15-20 minutes from the time the cream reaches a good simmer. The cream will become thicker and lightly golden. And bubbles will be larger and less foamy. I measure it in a heat proof liquid measure just to make sure.
Add the reduced cream to a mixing bowl, then add the reserved slivered almonds, shredded and flaky coconut, egg yolks, and vanilla. Stir until well combined and spoon into the pie crust. Make sure the filling is up against the sides. Place the pie on a sheet pan then bake in the middle rack in the oven for 30 - 35 minutes until lightly golden. Check the pie half way through and make sure the crust is not browning too much. Cover the edge with foil if needed
While the pie is baking, scatter a couple of handfuls of flaky coconut on a sheet pan and toast in the oven with the pie, until it is just beginning to brown in the oven. Watch the coconut carefully so it does not get too dark and burn. About 4-5 minutes. Slide the toasted coconut on a plate to cool. Set aside.
Once finished, cool the pie on a wire rack for 10 minutes then slip off the rim of the tart pan by placing the tart on top of a secure glass, and easily slide the side rim down. This will help prevent the crust from sticking.
The pie slices easier when it is cool or cold, but tastes best warm. If you wish, completely cool the pie or chill it, then slice the pie into serving pieces and warm in the oven.
Garnish with toasted coconut flakes and creme fraiche.
© 2017 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
A song fills the room interrupting the gentle quiet of thoughtful work. “Love and happiness….. Yeahhhhh. Something, make you want to do wrong. Make you do right. Yeahhhhhh. Loooooooovvvee……” Spurred on by the anticipated snap, snap, snap, snap of the drum sticks, I am energized from Al Green’s soulful voice and welcome the interruption. The song and my mood are no longer still and quiet. Al Green serenades me as I work and invites me to sing aloud and dance. He is generous that way and knows how to get the romantic heart pumping.
I’m empowered at the stove. With a wooden spoon in hand, I stir, sway and sing “Love and Happiness,” while creating a love song of my own with dark chocolate and Nutella. The name of my love song is, Chocolate Nutella Pots de Creme, a silky custard that could easily give Al Green some competition. This chocolate dessert has the right notes to create a sensual melody. A silky-smooth custard set the base notes while deep dark chocolate and Nutella establish a soulful rhythm. Sriracha punctuates with syncopated upbeats, downbeats and heartbeats. A final touch of flaky sea salt ties it all together like the last ting from a symbol at the end of a song. A soulful love melody.
I first discovered this recipe a few years ago while watching, The Best Thing I Ever Made: Chocoholics on Food Network. Aarti Sequeira created Chocolate Hazelnut Pots de Crème and she is absolutely right on claiming it is the best thing she ate. Lucky for me I stumbled upon this episode, because Chocolate Nutella Pots de Crème is not just the best chocolate dessert, it could be one of the best things I have ever had, period. It tops the charts in all categories. A swoon worthy chocolate hazelnut love song I sing again and again. “Yeeahhhh..”
Clues for Success making Chocolate Nutella Pots de Crème
- The only challenging part is getting the custard cooked to just the right consistency and temperature without scrambling the eggs. This is accomplished by slowly cooking the custard over medium heat and stirring constantly. Keep stirring as it prevents the custard and egg yolks from sticking to the pan and solidifying.
- The finished custard will have the consistency of thick paint. It will coat the back of a wooden spoon in an even layer. Swipe your finger across the back of the custard covered spoon. If the edges of the line run and drip down, it needs more time to cook. The custard is done when the line stays intact and the custard is thick. The temperature for the finished custard will be between 175°F and 180°F. Above 185°F the eggs will scramble.
- Often, my custard reaches 175°F but is not thick enough. Keep stirring and control the heat by turning down the heat or take the pan off the heat for a minute then place it back on the heat. Keep stirring.
- Trust your judgement.
- Once assembled and in placed in the refrigerator, give Chocolate Nutella Pots de Creme enough time to set, at least four hours. When set, it should have the consistency of pudding.
If you are not a chocolate fan but still want an elegant dessert try Peaches and Berries layered with Bourbon Sabayon and substitute the peaches with seasonal fruit. Or, make the light and airy Lemon Mousse. Another winner is Lemon Pavlova with Kiwi and Passion Fruit Sauce.
For Your Listening Pleasure
Here is a link to my unfinished play list of love songs on Spotify. It is an eclectic list of music, with an R & B foundation. Enjoy it while you are creating Chocolate Nutella Pots de Creme or a love song of your own creation. Yeahhhh! Love is….. Making dessert for someone.
What is your favorite Love Song? Let me know in the comments section below.
Chocolate Nutella Pots de Creme
- 1 cup 10.5 oz / 303 g Nutella, or another chocolate-hazelnut spread
- 3.5 oz 100 g dark chocolate (70 percent) chopped
- 1 ½ cups 375 ml whole milk
- 1 cup 250 ml heavy cream
- ¼ cup 2 oz / 54 g granulated sugar
- ¾ tsp Kosher salt
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1- 2 tsp Sriracha sauce 2 tsp if you like it spicy hot
- ½ tsp instant espresso powder
- ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
- Lightly sweetened whipped cream or crème fraiche
- Cocoa powder for dusting
- Minced hazelnuts for garnishing
- Flaky sea salt I like Maldon
Spoon the Nutella into a medium mixing bowl (or the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade), then add the chopped dark chocolate. Set aside.
Add milk, heavy cream, egg yolks, sugar and Kosher salt to a medium size nonreactive saucepan. Turn the heat up to medium temperature. Briefly whisk together the ingredients. Switch out the whisk with a wooden spoon and cook the custard stirring constantly, scraping along the bottom and crevices of the saucepan to make sure the custard does not stick or burn. After the custard has cooked for a while, about 8-10 minutes, you will notice the custard beginning to get thicker. This is an indication your custard is getting finished.
Look for these three clues that indicate the custard is done cooking; first, dip your wooden spoon into the custard to coat the spoon then run your finger across the back of the spoon to paint a line. Hold the spoon sideways, if the line edges stay intact, not runny, then the custard is ready. Second, the temperature of the custard should register between 175˚F and 180˚F (79°C - 82°C). Above 185˚F (85°C) the eggs will start to scramble. Third, the custard will look thicker, almost as thick as good quality house paint. Depending on the temperature of your stove, the cooking time should take between 10-15 minutes.
When the custard is done, turn off the heat and pour the custard through a fine mesh strainer into the bowl with the chocolate and Nutella. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, organize 6 -8 oz (250 ml) serving glasses, ramekins, or small coffee mugs on a rimmed baking sheet.
Thoroughly stir, or process in your food processor, the custard and chocolate until the chocolate is all melted and thoroughly mixed together. Then add the instant coffee, sriracha, and vanilla extract and stir again double checking the chocolate is melted and the custard is well mixed.
Pour the chocolate into a container with a spout then pour the chocolate custard into serving dishes. Tap each glass against the countertop to remove any air bubbles in the chocolate pots de crème.
Place the pots de creme in the refrigerator and chill until the custard is just chilled, about one hour. Once the pots de creme are cooled, cover each serving dish lightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until chilled and set, at least 4 hours or overnight.
Serve chilled and garnish each serving with whipped cream or crème fraiche, sprinkled coco powder, sea salt and chopped hazelnuts.
© 2017 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
My family knows, they can always give me a cookbook as a gift. It does not matter if the cookbook is an older publication or a new one, I will always welcome any addition to my collection. This year my husband gave me The Baking Bible Cookbook by Rose Levy Beranbaum. I am familiar with Rose Beranbaum’s work because I own another book of hers, The Cake Bible. She is a one of a kind baking guru and a significant authority about the science involved with baking. If you are curious about culinary science, she is the number one resource. Learning from her cookbooks will make you a better baker.
As I turned each page of my new book I made mental notes to myself of baking projects to try later. Ultimately, my goal was to find inspiration for something I could make immediately. Upon first sight of her recipe Stilton Baby Blue Cheesecakes, I decided this was the one. These baby cheesecakes enriched with blue cheese instantly grabbed my attention. They were beautifully photographed with slivers of Bosc pears draped over their tops. Additionally, the crust of the baby cheesecakes is made with one ingredient, crushed walnuts. They are a new twist on the classic pairing of walnuts and blue cheese. Add some champagne to serve with these baby blues and you have an elegant party spread for all to enjoy.
Another great feature of these baby cheesecakes is the blue cheese itself. The combination of blue and cream cheese creates flexibility for the cheesecakes to be served as either an appetizer or a dessert. I can add additional blue cheese to make them more savory, or less to make them sweeter for dessert. As well, they can be made in advance, which is always a plus. I am not usually a cheesecake fan, however this recipe for baby cheesecakes came across as a pleasant surprise. They are savory, sophisticated and unexpected all in one bite.
One change I made to the original recipe was to switch the type of blue cheese. The original recipe called for Stilton cheese, which I like, however I love Point Reyes Blue Cheese. It is creamier and not as sharp as Stilton, yet still maintains that distinctive blue bite. This is my favorite blue cheese, and is made in the sacred land of my childhood, the Point Reyes National Seashore in California. I can’t help myself when it comes to Point Reyes Blue Cheese or any of the other cheeses from Cowgirl Creamery. Their cheeses remind me of home and help me feel connected to this treasured seashore.
Dinner Ideas when serving Point Reyes Blue Baby Cheesecakes
Serve Point Reyes Blue Baby Cheesecakes as a cheese course along with fresh and/or dried fruits at the end of the meal.
My new book, The Baking Bible, has been christened and I have a new recipe using one of my favorite cheeses. Point Reyes Blue Baby Cheesecakes are an elegant, versatile and creamy bite of bliss.
Cheers to a beautiful, happy and healthy 2017. Enjoy!
Helpful Hints Making Point Reyes Baby Cheesecakes:
- If using a metal muffin pan, do not skip the step of placing parchment paper into each muffin cup. Even if you have a non-stick pan the parchment will make it a lot easier to lift the baby cheesecakes out of the cups. Additionally, the parchment paper will stick to the pan so you will not have to pull the paper off the bottoms.
- Boil water in a tea kettle and then pour into a medium bowl. Use the hot water to heat up a metal spatula or knife and then wipe clean with a kitchen towel. The heated and cleaned knife will make lifting the cheesecakes out of the tins easier and smooth out the edges.
- Garnish the baby cheesecakes with fruit, nuts or minced arugula combined with chopped walnuts and pears. Lightly dress the greens with extra-virgin olive oil and sherry vinegar.
- If serving as an hors d’oeuvres, serve them on a multigrain cracker. It will taste great and will be easier to manage.
- For a first course serve the Blue Cheese Baby Cheesecakes with a salad of arugula and pears, lightly dressed with extra-virgin olive oil and sherry vinegar.
Point Reyes Blue Baby Cheesecakes
- 1 shy cup (84 g) walnut halves
- 1/4 cup plus 2 TB (75 g) granulated sugar
- 1 Tb (9 g) cornstarch
- Kosher salt a pinch
- 1 1/3 cups (12 oz / 60 g) cream cheese at room temperature and cut into pieces
- 1/4 cup (35 g) sour cream
- 2 -3 Tb (35 - 52 g) Point Reyes Blue Cheese*
- 2 large eggs lightly beaten
Prepare the muffin pans
2 - 6 cup silicone muffin pans set on a wire baking rack and placed into a sheet pan Or 1 - 12 cup muffin tin.
For the silicone muffin pans - lightly coat the muffin pans with cooking spray then place them on a wire rack set in a baking sheet.
For the muffin tin - coat each muffin cup with shortening or butter and cut small circles of parchment paper to set in the bottom of each cup. Lightly spray each cup with cooking oil spray.
Toast the walnuts
Set the oven rack in the middle of the oven and pre-heat the oven at 350˚ F/175˚ C/Gas Mark 4. Let the oven heat up for twenty minutes before you toast the walnuts.
Spread the walnut halves evenly over a small baking sheet, place in the oven and toast the walnuts to bring out the oils and enhance their flavor. Toast for 7 minutes turning the walnuts over a couple of times while baking.
When finished spread the toasted walnuts over a clean lint free dish towel and fold one end over the walnuts to cover. Place your hands over the covered walnuts and gently rub back and forth to loosen and remove the walnut skin. Rub off as much of the walnut skins as you can and place the walnuts in the bowl of a food processor. Discard the skins.
Lower the oven temperature to 225˚ F/107˚ C
Pulse the food processor to finely chop the walnuts. You want an even consistency without turning the walnuts into flour.
Spoon 1 Tb of ground walnuts into each muffin cup and press down evenly to pack the walnuts together.
Using a stand mixer or hand held mixer, mix the sugar, cornstarch and salt until just mixed together. Add the cream cheese and beat on low speed until the ingredients are evenly combined. Increase the speed to medium and beat until very smooth, about 1 minute. Scrape the batter down the sides of a bowl.
In a small bowl, mix together the sour cream and blue cheese until evenly combined. A fork is great for this job. Add the blue cheese mixture to the cream cheese and mix together on low speed until just combined, about 15 seconds.
Add the lightly beaten eggs and mix until evenly combined. The batter consistency should resemble sour cream.
Pour the cheesecake batter into each muffin cup almost up the top, about 1.8 oz/50 g in each muffin cup. Smooth over the tops of each cheesecake with an offset spatula.
Bake in the 225˚ F/107˚ C oven for 15 minutes. Rotate the muffin pan in the oven from front to back to encourage even baking and bake for 15 to 20 minutes longer. The muffins are done when an instant read thermometer reads 160˚ F/71˚ C. The batter will jiggle somewhat and the centers of each muffin will spring back when touched. Put muffin tin and/or baking sheet on a cooling rack.
Allow the cheesecakes to cool in the muffin pan for 30 minutes. Cover the muffin pan(s) with plastic wrap lightly coated with cooking spray and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before unmolding.
For the metal muffin pan: run a small spatula or knife, heated up with hot water, around the edge of each muffin cup. Press the spatula or knife up against the side of the pan to not scrape the sides of the cheesecakes. Clean the spatula with warm water and wipe clean with a cloth for every cheesecake. Lift the cheesecakes out of the muffin cups with a spatula. Smooth the sides of each cheesecake using a small metal spatula that has been heated with hot water and wiped clean.
For silicone muffin pans: Rose Levy Beranbaum recommends placing a baking sheet on top of the plastic wrap-covered muffin pan and turn it upside down. Then place a dish towel in very hot water. Wring out the excess water and drape it over the muffin pan. Make sure to press the hot wet towel into the recesses of the pan. Let it sit for about 2 minutes. Remove the towel and carefully lift off the muffin pan. If the cheesecakes do not release, repeat the above steps, and try again after another minute. Once released, place a second sheet pan on top of upside down cheesecakes and turn them right side up.
Place the cheesecakes on a serving platter and serve.
Store, refrigerated for up to 5 days.
*To make the cheesecakes more savory add the total 3 Tb blue cheese to the batter. If you want the cheese cakes for dessert use 2 Tb blue cheese.
© 2016 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
A thank you. A greeting. An introduction. A small gesture… A homemade gift can be all those things. Homemade treats do not have to be fancy or time consuming to make, a simple gift will do. They are always appreciated. I like making gifts, but I do not get around to making them as much as I would like. I usually think of an idea for a homemade gift too late and eventually buy something along the way. When I found this recipe for chocolate bark, I had an ah ha moment. I can do this. This recipe for chocolate bark is unusual, simple to make, beautiful to look at, and satisfies all chocolate cravings.
I have been a fan of chocolate bark for some time now and must admit to be a total dark chocolate fanatic. A day does not go by without a chocolate snack. My dessert choice usually has chocolate as the main attraction. I can’t help myself and totally find chocolate irresistible. I discovered this recipe while reading, Seasonal Fruit Desserts, by Deborah Madison. Yes I see the perplexed expression on your face: a chocolate bark recipe in a fruit dessert cookbook? Yes, Deborah Madison is no dummy and included this recipe in her dried fruit and nuts chapter. There is something for everyone in all of her cookbooks.
Her chocolate bark recipes are different, which was the main attraction for me. Laden in her chocolate bark are dried fruit, nuts, rose petals, citrus zest, and other floral attractions, reminding me that chocolate bark can be whatever I want it to be. The add-ins do not need to be limited to pretzels, peppermint and coconut. It can hold up to any variety of flavors that compliment chocolate, like citrus, chili, cinnamon, coffee, sea salt, ginger, and all nuts, just to name a few. One could go crazy with add-ins for chocolate bark and have a surprise in every bite. I do not recommend going too crazy, the flavors do need to get along and marry with each-other and the type of chocolate.
Chocolate bark is a welcome dessert by itself or with fruit, nuts, cookies, or sorbet. You can keep it in your refrigerator to have on hand to serve for an impromptu dinner party. Chocolate bark will also make a lovely hostess gift, or a small gift to the chocolate lover(s) in your life. A homemade gift that can easily fit into anyone’s busy schedule.
Tis the Season: Chocolate Bark
Dark Chocolate Bark -makes one 10 x 6 inch slab of chocolate bark
- 4 oz dark chocolate between 60% to 70% cocoa butter
- 2-3 Tb chopped candied ginger
- 2-3 Tb chopped dried apricots
- 3 Tb salted green pistachio nuts some chopped and some nuts left whole
- Pinch of flaky sea salt like Maldon
White Chocolate Bark makes one 8 x 5 inch slab of white chocolate bark
- 4 oz white chocolate good quality such as Lindt - or Lindt white chocolate with coconut
- 2 Tb finely chopped salted green pistachios
- Orange zest removed with a citrus zester in thin strips
- 1/2 tea lavender or other dried edible flower pedal like hibiscus or rose petals
Dark Chocolate Bark
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
Put the broken up chocolate in a bowl fitted over a pot of simmering water. If you want to add any dried spices add them now as well. Make sure the simmering water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Just a small amount of water is all that is needed, no more than an inch high. Gently stir the chocolate while it is melting, and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
When the chocolate is melted stir in half of the chopped fruit and nuts.
Spread the melted chocolate over the parchment paper in a thin slab, then sprinkle the remaining fruit and nuts evenly across the bark. Gently press down of the fruit and nuts so they will stick to the chocolate when it sets. Sprinkle lightly with flaky sea salt.
Refrigerate the chocolate until it is set, at least an hour.
White Chocolate Bark
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper large enough to hold a 10 x 6 inch slab
Add the chopped white chocolate bark to a bowl and place over a pot of simmering water. Keep the heat low and stir and scrape down the sides of the bowl while the white chocolate is melting.
When the white chocolate is melted, pour it out on the parchment paper and spread the chocolate into an even slab.
Sprinkle the remaining ingredients decoratively and evenly over the white chocolate and gently press them to adhere to the chocolate.
Refrigerate until set, at least an hour.
Break up the bark into irregular pieces and serve by itself or with other nuts, fruit, cookies or ice cream.
Keep the chocolate bark in an air tight container and wrapped in parchment or wax paper. Keep in the refrigerator.
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