Category Archives: Latin American

Flan Napolitano de Queso (Caramel Cheesecake Flan)

I’m loving all things flan, pudding and custard lately. Originally I had planned on making an egggnog flan for our Christmas dinner, but then I found this recipe for a caramel cream cheese flan on Morsel & Musings and just had to make it.

Flan-making is pretty standard: prepare caramel, mix liquids, steam-bake and chill for a few hours/overnight. Variation comes in the form of all the different milks, creams and extracts you put in. For Thanksgiving, I used coconut milk, condensed milk and coconut flakes, which yielded a smooth, lighter pudding. This time I used cream cheese, condensed milk and evaporated milk, which resulted in a denser, creamier and tangier flan. Other possible variations could be to use eggnog, pumpkin, soft cheeses, (mascarpone or ricotta perhaps), yogurt or quark, chocolate, or different extracts (vanilla bean, almond, hazelnut, rosewater, pistachio, etc.)

Rich, decadent and silky smooth is how I would describe this flan.

And it tastes just as good as it looks!

Enjoy!

Flan Napolitano de Queso (Caramel Cheesecake Flan)

recipe slightly adapted from Morsel & Musings

printable recipe

INGREDIENTS

6 eggs

1 can evaporated milk

1 can sweetened condensed milk

250ml (1 cup) milk

250g cream cheese

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

3/4 cup sugar

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 355 F/180 C.
  2. Carefully melt the sugar in a saucepan and allow to brown gently to form a caramel. Pour into a cake tin or flan mold. (I used a 8″ x 8″ x 1-1/2″ square pan).
  3. Mix all of the other ingredients together in a blender.
  4. Add the blended ingredients into the tin on top of the caramel, then cover tightly with aluminum foil. (Oops, forgot to do this. Luckily no harm done.)
  5. Place inside a bain-marie in the oven for approximately 50 minutes or when an inserted knife or skewer comes out clean.
  6. Leave to set in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  7. When cooled, turn upside down and serve.

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Flan de Coco (Coconut Flan)

Christmas is only 9 days away and I’m still posting about Thanksgiving! So, no time for witty anecdotes–just a recipe for this unbelievable coconut flan, my new favorite dessert. Flan is so versatile! I’m making an eggnog version for Christmas!

By the way, for the perfect caramel, I referred to David Lebovitz’ post “Making the Perfect Caramel” found here.

Enjoy!

Flan de Coco (adapted from Laylita’s Recipes)

printable recipe

INGREDIENTS

1 cup sugar

6 eggs

1 can of coconut milk

1 cup grated coconut (I used dried unsweetened, but perhaps fresh would have been better)

3/4 cup sugar

1 can of evaporated milk

3 tbsp corn starch

Pinch of salt

METHOD

  1. Start with an even layer of sugar in a saucepan over medium high heat to make caramel. Bring to a boil, dragging the sugar at the edges inward as it browns. Cook until the caramel starts to turn a light brown honey color, but be careful as it can burn very quickly.
  2. Pour caramel into ramekins or flan mold and distribute evenly. (I used a square 8 x 8 x 1.5 inch baking pan.)
  3. Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Place water in a large baking pan, the water should fill up to no more than 1/2 of the height of the ramekins or baking pan.
  4. Using an electric mixer, mix eggs, coconut milk, grated coconut, sugar, evaporated milk, corn starch and pinch of salt together until all the ingredients are well blended.
  5. Add the flan mixture to ramekins or baking pan.
  6. Place the ramekins or baking pan into the prepared pan with water and bake for 40-50 minutes. Allow to cool completely, remove from the molds or baking pan and serve. (I refrigerated mine overnight, so that the caramel could completely liquify and become nice and syrupy!)

Peruvian Potato and Tuna Salad Rolls (Rollos de Causa Rellenos con Atún)

Causa is Peru’s version of potato salad and it’s also one of my favorites. It seems unfair to compare it to the yellow, mayo-laden, eggy stuff we have here in the US. Causa is actually more like a cold gratin with layers of creamy pureed potatoes, tuna (or chicken or crab), avocado and a garnish of tart olives and hard-boiled eggs.

The recipe I found in a newspaper article from The Olympian is excellent and seems pretty close to authentic (at least to me). Especially helpful is the explanation on how to make aji amarillo (yellow Peruvian chile) paste with dried chilies. You can find a lot of “exotic” ingredients in Portland, but it’s still rather limited compared to the selection available in bigger cities. Here in San Francisco, I can buy frozen aji amarillos, but in Portland, I only found dried, which are available at Whole Foods. In any case, the recipe lists the chilies as optional, but I wouldn’t dream of leaving them out; they’re used a lot in Peruvian cooking and also provide a very particular spice, color and heat to the food.

In making this, I should have paid better attention to the ingredients list. First, I didn’t use Yukon gold potatoes, which are a must because of the characteristic yellow color and texture they give. I used regular baking potatoes, which I found too starchy and also a lot less pretty. Also, I forgot to garnish the top with olives and boil eggs; instead I used only chopped parsley.  Another thing I did differently, on purpose, is that I didn’t make mine in gratin form, but rather made mine maki-sushi style, i.e. rolled. I’ve seen it served both ways and since there was already so much food, I think the smaller pieces fit better.

I’ll definitely be making Causa again—it’s simple, comfort kind of food, which I love, but can be dressed up to be super elegant too.

Enjoy!

Rollos de Causa Rellenos con Atún (adapted from an article found in The Olympian)

printable recipe

INGREDIENTS

Potato Paste

1 1/2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes (ca. 8-10), washed and scrubbed, but not peeled

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup lime juice, or more if necessary

1 tbsp aji amarillo paste, optional

salt to taste

Filling

2 cans tuna, drained (I used white tuna in water)

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 tbsp chives, finely chopped

1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped

1 tbsp red bell pepper, finely chopped (optional)

1/4 cup frozen corn, peas and carrots mix, thawed and drained

salt and pepper to taste

2 medium avocados, peeled and sliced thinly lengthwise

Garnish

3 hard boiled eggs, cut into wedges or sliced into rounds

6 kalamata olives

METHOD

For the Potato Paste

  1. Cook potatoes until tender. Peel when still warm, then put through a ricer. Mix riced potatoes with oil, salt and aji amarillo. Add lime juice and stir the mix until the dough is soft and well blended. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.

For the Filling

  1. Add mayonnaise, thawed vegetables, chives, cilantro, salt and pepper. Mix well and add salt if necessary.

For Assembly

  1. Maki-sushi style: Line a bamboo maki mat with plastic wrap. Spread a portion of the potato paste to the edges of the mat.
  2. Then, spread filling over the potato paste, leaving 1/4 inch space at each edge. Distribute evenly 1/4 of the avocado slices on top.
  3. Roll, pulling out the plastic as you go and wrapping it around the roll to finish. Repeat for remaining paste and filling. Place wrapped rolls on a platter and refrigerate. When ready to serve, unwrap and place back on platter. Slice into 1 1/2 inch pieces, sprinkle chopped parsley on top and serve.
  4. Traditional Squares: use a square baking pan, lightly oiled. Spread half of the potato paste in it, then spread the chicken filling. On top of the chicken filling spread the other half of the potato paste. Cover the baking pan and keep in the refrigerator until serving. Causa is a cold dish. When ready to serve, cut the causa into squares. With the help of a spatula, transfer each piece to a salad plate. Once on the plate, use the slices of avocado, egg and olives to decorate each piece. Each piece should have an olive and the same number of egg wedges and slices of avocado. (I didn’t add the olives or eggs; just topped mine with more chopped parsley)

Hint: You can make your own aji amarillo (yellow Peruvian chile pepper) paste with one pound of fresh aji amarillo and 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Place aji in a saucepan with water and boil for 5 minutes. Change the water and repeat procedure twice. Cut, seed and devein ajies. You can peel some ajies to reduce spiciness. Blend with oil until you get a creamy paste.

As an alternative to fresh aji amarillo, you can use dried chilli-peppers (known as dried aji mirasol), which are easier to find outside of Peru. The procedure is similar to the fresh ajíes, just add some water when blending until you get the creamy paste.

Tex-Mex Shredded Pork Lasagna

I don’t really know what to call this. Except delicious. I saw a picture for a Seven Layer Tortilla Dip on Let’s Dish and was totally smitten at first sight. I didn’t follow the recipe, but it became my inspiration when putting together my version.

Think of this dish like a deconstructed “super burrito”. Everything you love about those fatty monster wraps is in there: tortillas, refried beans, rice, spicy and tender shredded pork, and of course, lots and lots of cheese. My favorite part? The pork. It stewed and softened for three long hours, and then practically fell apart on it’s own as I shredded it. (Is it weird to get so much satisfaction from shredded meat? Seriously, it’s the best.) Another cool thing about this dish is the use of the braising liquid as kind of an enchilada sauce to pour over the finished dish. The juice, having stewed and developed for three hours, is craaazy—full of the flavor of the pork and all those aromatic herbs. It also saves you the effort of having to make another sauce.

A little time consuming to prepare, but seriously worth it!

Enjoy!

Tex-Mex Shredded Pork Lasagna (inspired by Let’s Dish)

Serves 6-8

INGREDIENTS

Shredded Pork

1 1/2 lbs stewing pork, cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks

olive oil

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 medium onion, choppped

2 tsp cumin

2 tsp oregano

2 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1-2 tbsp tomato paste

water, enough to just cover pork

1 bay leaf

Rice

2 cups cooked rice (I used a combination of white and red)

1/2 can stewed tomatoes

1/2 cup water

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp oregano

1 tsp salt

Assembly

6 tortillas (I used whole wheat)

1 can refried beans (I used refried black)

1 cup shredded cheese (in my case, Monterey Jack and Pepper Jack)

1/2 can black olives, sliced

reserved stewing liquid

METHOD

Shredded Pork

  1. Season pork with a little salt and pepper. In a medium pot, sear sides of meat in a little olive oil over high heat, about 1-2 minutes. (I did mine in batches, in order to maintain a high temperature in the pan.) Remove from pot and set aside.
  2. In the same pot, saute the garlic, onion, cumin, cayenne and oregano in a little more olive oil over medium heat. Once just golden, stir in the tomato paste and cook for another minute.
  3. Put pork back into pot, add enough water to just cover the meat, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to the lowest setting, stir in salt, pepper and bay leaf. Cover and let stew until meat shreds easily with a fork, 2-3 hours. Test for seasoning; add more salt and/or spices to your liking. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  4. Once cooled, remove the meat from the pan, reserving the stewing liquid for later. Use two forks or your fingers to shred the pork.

Rice

  1. In a small saucepan, bring stewed tomatoes and water to small boil; reduce heat to low. Stir in rice, cumin, oregano, and salt. Check for seasoning and add additional salt or spices if necessary. Cook until warm. Remove from heat.

Assembly

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 F.
  2. Line the bottom of a large gratin dish with two tortillas. (My tortillas overlapped a bit; I also cut them to fit better in the form) Next, spread one third of the refried beans over the tortillas, followed by a third of the rice, shredded pork, sliced olives and grated cheese. Repeat this process for the second and third layers. When assembling the final and top layer, wait to sprinkle on the cheese.  Pour the reserved stewing liquid over the gratin, shifting around the dish to ensure the juice reaches the bottom. Now you can add the last layer of cheese.
  3. Cover dish with foil tent. Bake for 40 minutes. During the last 10 minutes of baking, remove the foil and allow the cheese to melt further and become golden.


Arroz con Pollo (Peruvian-style Chicken and Rice) and Herby Roasted Potatoes

There seem to be endless versions of this well-known dish. So no surprise, Perú has it’s own version which gets its principle flavor and color from cilantro. Normally this is served with an onion-aji amarillo-lime salsa, but I was too lazy and also didn’t think the fresh onions would go over well with the students. (I don’t think it would have mattered; they scraped the pot clean—I guess they liked it!)

This turned out so great! I love learning new dishes to cook when I am abroad and am always really excited to try it out at home. However, often my version never tastes quite the same. The source of the ingredients is different and sometimes, as was the case this time, you have to substitute less common ingredients with ones you have around the house. The aji amarillo chiles are really important for an authentic flavor, so I was worried about how my version would turn out. Luckily, though, it came out great. Actually, I think it was the lime that saved it. So, definitely don’t forget the lime!

Enjoy!

Arroz con Pollo

Serves 4.

INGREDIENTS

Arroz con Pollo:

1 1/2 lbs. chicken pieces (I only had chicken breast on hand, but dark meat is tastier, i.e. more tender)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 large onion, chopped finely

2 medium carrots, peeled and diced into small cubes

olive oil

1 bunch cilantro, stalks trimmed

5 aji amarillo, deseeded, deveined and roughly chopped (Use a spoon to clean the chiles—they’re hot! This time, I didn’t have any, so used mild yellow chiles, plus ca. 1 tsp cayenne)

1/2 bottle of beer, preferably dark

salt and pepper to taste

1 1/2 cups rice, well-rinsed

3-4 cups water, divided (my guesstimate)

1/2 cup frozen or canned peas (In Perú they use fresh)

1/2 cup fresh hominy corn (I didn’t have this, so left it out. You could put regular yellow or white in, however.)

juice of 1 lime

Herby Roasted Potatoes:

5 medium to large size baking potatoes (I used russets), scrubbed but not peeled and diced into large pieces

juice of 1 lemon

1 tbsp salt

1 tbsp dried oregano

3-4 tbsp olive oil (or more—it should be generous enough to completely coat the potatoes)

METHOD

For the chicken and rice:

  1. Pat the chicken dry; season with salt and pepper. Then in a large stockpot, brown the pieces in a little olive oil, in batches if necessary. (If you overcrowd the pot, the chicken won’t brown properly.) Remove and set aside. Also empty pot of excess grease.
  2. In your blender, liquidize the cilantro and aji (or in my case, mild yellow peppers), adding 1 cup of water to help in the process. Set aside.
  3. In the same pot used to fry the chicken, fry the onion, garlic and carrots until just golden. Pour in the cilantro-aji liquid and the beer. Bring to a boil and cook until reduced to half. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting
  4. Put the chicken back into the pot, cover and simmer until cooked. Remove and set aside. (I deviated from the traditional method here in that I added a little more water to the pot and allowed the meat to braise for 2 hours. As I only had chicken breast, I wanted to tenderize the meat a bit more.)
  5. Add the rinsed rice, the remaining 2-3 cups and salt to the water to the pot and increase the heat, bringing the liquid to a boil. The liquid should taste salty. (I also added the cayenne at this point.) Once boiling, reduce the heat once again to the lowest setting and cover. Allow to cook for ca. 20 minutes or until almost cooked. (I did this differently as well by keeping the chicken in the pot and allowing it to cook with the rice.)
  6. Once the rice is just cooked, stir in the peas and corn. Replace the cover for 1-2 minutes until the vegetables are warmed through.
  7. Just before serving, season for salt and pepper and then optionally, squeeze into the pot the juice of 1 lime. Or you can just serve lime wedges with the meal, which is how is normally done.

For the herby roasted potatoes:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 F. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well.
  2. On a foil-lined baking sheet, bake for 30-40 minutes, or until golden and crispy.
  3. Remove and let sit for about 5 minutes before serving.

Carrot Cake with Dulce de Leche Buttercream

A lot of things got put on hold after I left for Peru, including this blog! But now I am back and so is Little Baker SF 🙂 I made this cake for someone’s birthday a few months back, but never got around to posting it…probably because the only picture I took I ended up trashing. It looked like someone had attacked it with claws! Actually, “it” was 50 hungry birthday guests 😛 I’m taking it as a compliment!

In making this, I pulled from two sources: Vanilla Sugar for the cake itself and Joy the Baker for the buttercream and for assembly help. Both awesome recipes (and amazing blogs), I’m really pleased with the way they paired together in the final product. (Not that there could ever be anything wrong with carrot cake, dulce de leche and frosting—together or apart.)

The cake has everything a carrot cake should: sweetness from the carrots and raisins, spice from the cinnamon and nutmeg and crunch from the pecans. And the dulce de leche buttercream…dreamy.

Make it. You’ll love it.

Believe me.

Birthday Carrot Cake with Dulce De Leche Buttercream

Makes 1 two-layer 23 cm cake

INGREDIENTS

Carrot Cake (via Vanilla Sugar)

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/8 tsp ground cloves (I omitted this.)

1/2 tsp table salt

1 lb. medium carrots (about 6-7), peeled

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar (I omitted this too.)

4 large eggs

1 1/2 cups vegetable or canola oil

1 1/2 cups raisins

1 cup pecans, roughly chopped

Dulche de Leche Buttercream (from The Pastry Queen via Joy the Baker)

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened

3 tbsp heavy cream (I used reduced-fat milk)

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 cups powdered sugar

a pinch of salt

3/4 cup prepared dulce de leche (I used Nestle’s Manjar Blanco available in Peru)

METHOD

Cake

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350 F / 175 C. Spray two 23 cm springform tins with nonstick cooking spray. Line bottom of pan with parchment and spray parchment.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in large bowl; set aside.
  3. Shred carrots, which should yield about 3 cups. Transfer the carrots to a bowl and set aside.
  4. With a whisk or hand mixer, process granulated and brown sugars and eggs until frothy and thoroughly combined, about 20 seconds. Still whisking or with the hand mixer running, add oil in a steady stream. Whisk or mix until the batter is light in color and well emulsified, about 20 seconds longer. Scrape mixture into medium bowl. Stir in carrots and dry ingredients until incorporated and no streaks of flour remain. Finally, gently stir in the raisins and chopped pecans until just combined.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake at 350 F / 175 C until toothpick or skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 45-50 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking time. Cool cake to room temperature in pan on wire rack, about 2 hours. (If you omit raisins and nuts, reduce baking time by 10-15 minutes.)

Buttercream

  1. Cream together softened butter and powdered sugar on low using an electric mixer.
  2. Add the milk and vanilla and beat on medium speed until smooth and no lumps appear.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  3. Add the prepared dulce de leche and beat to incorporate.  Set aside until ready to use. (Do not refrigerate; it will harden and will not spread if you do.)

Assembly (adapted from Joy the Baker)

  1. On your cake platter or plate, lay the first cake layer top-side up. If uneven, use a serrated knife to trim.
  2. Put about 3/4 of the frosting into the center of the cake layer. Then with an frosting spatula, spread the frosting evenly around the cake surface until you reach the edges.
  3. On a second cake plate, lay the second cake layer, again, top-side up. As with the first layer, if it is uneven, trim with a serrated knife. Next, carefully lay it top-side down onto the first cake layer, onto the frosting.
  4. Gently press the top of the cake down to make sure it is even. Dollop about 1 cup of frosting onto the center of the top of the cake and, again, using your frosting spatula, spread the frosting evenly around the cake surface towards the edges of the cake. Smooth the center. (Frosting will accumulate at the edges if there is excess, which is fine. You will use it to frost the sides.)
  5. Run the frosting spatula under hot water. (This will help you smooth the icing out.) With your clean spatula, scoop up some frosting and spread it across the sides of the cake. Keep doing this until, turning the cake, until all sides are frosted and somewhat smooth. (Don’t worry if it’s not smooth; you will smooth it out the second time you apply frosting.)
  6. Clean your spatula again. With a light but firm touch, place the front edge of the icing spatula along the seam where the side of the cake meets the top of the cake.  (Icing has accumulated here and is creating a rough border to the cake.)  Hold the spatula firmly in one place along this icing seam and slowly being to rotate the revolving cake stand—moving the cake, but not the knife, to smooth the top.  You can leave the icing as rough and rustic, or smooth as you’d like. Clean any stray icing at the base of the cake, or on the cake board with a damp paper towel.

Lúcuma Cream Tart

Today is the last day of my Spanish “class” (not sure whether 2 students qualifies as a class). I stumbled upon this free class by chance and it’s turned out to be one of the best things I’ve done all year. It’s close to work, it’s fun and is the motivation I need to improve my Spanish speaking skills.

Anyway, in celebration of our final class, I decided to bake a tart and also to introduce my teacher and classmate to my beloved lúcuma.

The recipe is one I found on Radishes and Rhubarb—straightforward, nothing complicated about it. I tweaked it slightly for my lúcuma version (the original is for banana cream pie).

I used my springform thinking I would get a prettier and easier- to-serve tart. However, removing the crust from the sides of the pan turned out to be not so easy. As you can see in the photos, I ended up with an uneven and crumbly crust—not nearly as pretty as I was hoping for. The taste, thank goodness, is exactly what I hoped and totally makes up for any imperfections in appearance.

The  custard is all about la lúcuma: dreamy creamy thick, sweet and caramelly. I could have strained the mixture, but chose not to—I really enjoy the starchy texture of lúcuma and wanted it to stand out. As for the chantilly cream (which is just whipped cream sweetened with sugar and vanilla), it’s smooth and light and is a good contrast in texture to the custard.


In case you are wondering WHERE outside of the Andes you can find lúcuma: here in San Francisco, I know of only one place. It’s a little market on Mission, between 20th and 21st, which sells the fruit in frozen puree form and costs about $5.00 for 16 oz. Other small markets nearby have frozen passion fruit, guava and guanabana, but no lúcuma. Maybe next time I’ll try a version with passion fruit.

Enjoy!

Lúcuma Cream Tart (adapted from here via Radishes and Rhubarb)

Crust

1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers

1/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup butter, melted

Custard

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

2 cups whole milk (I’m sure low-fat would work too)

1 cup lúcuma puree

4 egg yolks

1 tablespoon butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 bananas sliced

Chantilly Cream

1/2 cup whipping cream

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

METHOD

For the crust:

  1. In a small bowl, stir together the melted butter, sugar and graham cracker crumbs until the crumbs are moistened and the mixture begins to clump together.  Pour the mixture into the bottom of your pie plate and, using your hand, press the crumb mixture to evenly coat the bottom of the pan and up the sides. Set aside.

For the custard:

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch.  Stir in the milk. Cook over medium high heat, stirring constantly until the mixture is thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat to medium low and cook and stir 2 minutes more. Remove from heat.
  2. In a small bowl, lightly beat your egg yolks and then stir in the lúcuma puree.
  3. Whisking constantly, slowly add 1 cup of your warm milk mixture to the yolk and lúcuma mix.  This will temper the yolks to bring them slowly up to the temperature of the milk so that you do not create scrambled eggs. Pour into the remaining milk mixture in your saucepan. Cook and stir over medium low heat for two minutes more to thicken the custard.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract and tablespoon of butter. If desired, you can strain the custard through a fine sieve to ensure it is smooth and there is no cooked egg in the mixture.

Assembly:

  1. Cover the bottom of your prepared crust with the banana slices and pour the custard over top.  Smooth the top with a spatula and cover with plastic wrap.  Place in the fridge for 6-8 hours to allow the custard to set and the tart to cool completely. You can prepare the tart the night before if you wish.

For the Chantilly Cream:

  1. In a stand mixer or with a handmixer on high speed, beat the cream until soft peaks form.  Add the sugar and vanilla and beat about 1 minute more until firm peaks form.  Right before serving the tart, spread the top with the whipped cream and garnish with banana slices.

Cream Puffs con Crema Pastelera de Tres Tipos

Made these in two rounds.

Round 1: FLOP. The plan was to impress a friend of mine on her birthday with homemade mini profiteroles filled with lucuma pastry cream (the same fruit I used to make cheesecake). I did give them to her, though there was nothing impressive about them. They were these completely deflated, doughy disks that tasted more like pancakes than anything else.

I learned the hard way just how important timing is here. I followed the recipe (found here, courtesy of Closet Cooking) exactly, and everything was fine until I started baking. I don’t think it was the instructions. I think it was a combination of factors—my oven, room temperature, ingredients, measurements, etc., but mostly, I think it was my oven. The puffs were still too moist after the initial 7 minutes of baking, and it being my first time, I didn’t realize that if the puffs aren’t dry enough, they will collapse, which is exactly what happened. Oh, the dissapointment. And I had already told my friend that I was bringing them…

I also had problems with the pastry cream: too much lucuma puree made the cream runny. Actually, this was a problem in Round 2 as well. Will have to work on the amount for next time.

Round 2: SUCCESS! Light, fluffy and crisp puffs that were not only easy to fill, but also were delicious and cute!! And the difference this round? Bake-time. Though I did watch the clock, I actually paid more attention to the look of the puffs as they baked.

After the initial 7 minutes, they still looked moist and even had little beads of moisture on their surface. So I gave them another 3 minutes before sticking the wooden spoon in the door.

I also increased the time with the door ajar (from 5 minutes to 8).

So by the time I was to rotate the tray, the moisture beads had dissipated and seemed dry enough to turn without causing deflation and then bake again. I increased the time from 8 minutes to 10.

Following baking, I very gingerly removed the puffs from the oven, placed them gently onto the counter top and left them to cool for a few hours. And they held up beautifully until it was time to fill them.

Loved all three filling flavors. As I mentioned before, however, I still need to figure out the lucuma puree to pastry cream ratio. Since I’m using frozen puree, it might be wise to strain some of the liquid out next time. If you have access to fresh lucuma, you should definitely use that instead of the puree.

Enjoy!

Cream Puffs con Crema Pastelera de Tres Tipos / with 3 Types of Cream

adapted from Closet Cooking’s adaptation of a Pierre Herme recipe

Cream Puffs (Pate Choux)

1/4 cup whole milk

1/4 cup water

1/2 stick unsalted butter (cut into 8 pieces)

1/8 teaspoon sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

3 eggs (room temperature)

Pastry Cream

1 cup whole milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 egg yolks

3 tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch (sifted)

1 1/4 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)

1 tbsp lucuma puree, for the lucuma cream

1 oz. dark chocolate, for the chocolate cream

METHOD

Cream Puffs

  1. Bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to a roiling boil.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium and mix in all of the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together.
  3. Continue to stir for 2-3 minutes. The dough will be soft and smooth.
  4. Pour the dough into a bowl and beat in the eggs one at a time.
  5. Form the dough into the desired shapes on parchment paper lined baking sheets.
  6. Bake in a pre-heated 375 F (190 C) oven and bake for 7-10 minutes. (It’s very important that the puffs bake long enough, i.e. dry out enough, so they don’t collapse. I learned this the hard way on my first try.)
  7. Stick the handle of a wooden spoon into the oven door to hold it ajar and bake for another 5 minutes (I baked for 10).
  8. Rotate the baking sheet from front to back and, again with the door ajar, bake for another 8 minutes or until the eclairs are puffed and golden brown. (Again, baked for 10, rather than 8.)
  9. Let the puffs cool for a few hours.

Pastry Cream (Pastelera de Lucuma)

  1. Bring the milk and vanilla extract to a boil in a saucepan.
  2. Mix the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch in another sauce pan.
  3. Temper the egg yolks with a few tbsp of the milk and then add the remaining milk.
  4. Bring the mixture to a boil while whisking and continue to whisk for a minute.
  5. Transfer the cream to a bowl and set the bowl in an ice water bath to cool while still stirring.
  6. Once the mixture has cooled off a bit, stir in the butter.
  7. Return the bowl to the ice water bath and continue to stir until completely cooled.
  8. For the 3 kinds of cream, split the pastry cream between three small bowls.
  9. In a small ramequin, melt the chocolate (I did this in the microwave) and allow to cool slightly. Stir into the first bowl of pastry cream until combined.
  10. Into the second bowl of pastry cream, add in the pureed lucuma and stir until combined.

Assembly

  1. Put a small-sized pastry tip into your pastry bag. Then fill the bag with the plain pastry cream.
  2. use the pastry tip to poke a hole into each cream puff and squeeze to fill.
  3. Repeat the process with the chocolate and lucuma creams.
  4. Serve immediately.


Taste Testing

My friend Elizabeth is a brilliant chef in the making. And as it is her dream to one day open her own Peruvian restaurant, she’s decided to hold monthly dinners to test-run dishes and drinks for friends. Taste testing? I’m happy to lend my taste-buds to the cause! (^_^)

Last week was the first of the dinners. My favorite (surprise, surprise) was the lucuma cheesecake. Elizabeth gave me the recipe, which I hope to try soon (lucuma’s already in the freezer 😛 )!

The Menu


Steamed Mussles with Pico de Gallo


Fried Potato Croquette Filled with Sweet Ground Beef and

Topped with an Onion Salsa and Fresh Yellow Chili Sauce

Peruvian-style Creamy Seafood Chowder

Lucuma Cheesecake Topped with Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce and Served with Lucuma Ice Cream


Little Baker to the Rescue: Orange Flaxseed Cake

This is another rescue recipe. The objects in need of rescuing this time: oranges bought with good intentions and left to wrinkle in the fruit bowl.

I don’t mind this kind of baking. It’s budget-friendly, and it makes me feel resourceful, as in it is really possible to make something with just the ingredients one has at home.

That is exactly what I did—a total fly-by-the-seat-of-my pants effort, actually. I found a simple recipe (apparently it’s Brazilian) and then did whatever I felt like doing. I felt like using up the oranges—which I discovered also included a few blood oranges—so I did; I also felt like throwing in some ground flaxseed and almond flour—so I also did that. One other thing, instead of reserving half the juice to pour over the top after baking, I mixed the entire amount into the batter and baked for an extra 5 minutes. It turned out fine. Super moist and almost healthy tasting. Flaxseed is good for you, right? And no butter/oil/fat—that’s good for you, too!

I love that I used up all those oranges; my only complaint, however, is the lack of zip that you would think would be really strong in a cake with so much citrus in it. Maybe oranges when baked don’t maintain a sour flavor. Perhaps using lemon zest next time would balance this out.

All in all, I like it. It’s a humble, little house-cake that is going to taste great with a big cup of tea!

Orange Flaxseed Cake (adapted from a recipe found on The World Wide Gourmet )

Makes one-20cm springform cake (I halved the recipe and made a mini-cake.)

INGREDIENTS

4 eggs, at room temp., separated

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

2/3 cup almond flour

1/4 cup ground flaxseed

1 tbsp baking powder

2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice (I used 6 small oranges—2 blood and 4 regular.)

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F (180° C). Grease and flour a 13 X 9-inch (3.5 L) metal cake pan.
  2. In bowl and using an electric mixer, beat egg whites until stiff.
  3. In a separate large bowl, beat egg yolks with sugar. In another bowl, sift together flour and baking powder; add to yolk mixture alternately with 2 cups  orange juice, making three additions of dry and two of wet. Fold in egg whites. Pour into prepared cake pan.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean.
  5. Let the cake cool in the pan completely. Optionally, you can dust the top with confectioners’ sugar and then slice and serve.