Tag Archives: Fruit

Classic Apple Pie with a Braided Crust

There are no surprises when it comes to apple pie, which is probably one of the reasons it’s such a classic and beloved dessert. Flaky crust; sweet and tart filling–a good one will soothe and fill every heart, soul and tummy with content!

That said, this pie did surprise me: First, by it’s interesting cook-before-you-bake filling and second, by its overwhelming popularity. It was more popular than the coconut pumpkin (recipe to come soon) AND I was asked to make a second, larger one just two days later!

It’s basically one recipe I used here, from Butter. The filling requires stewing before baking, which was a new concept to me. I was worried that the apples would end up a smushy mess, but they didn’t. They totally held they’re shape. The cooking softened the tartness and allowed the juices and spice to really marry and develop. As for the crust, it’s basic and really good–flaky, buttery, light. As with any crust, just be careful not to over work it when you roll it out–it’ll be hard and heavy if you do. The cool shaping into braids idea came from Food For My Family. I saw her photo on Tastespotting and decided to try to recreate it the effect. It turned out to be super simple and so very delicate and pretty!

I love this pie: yummy filling, lovely crust. The first one was great and the second was even better! I threw a handful of raisins in with the apples. They added a nice juicy pop, I thought. Also, I was able to serve the pie still warm and it was awesome. I’d definitely suggest serving it warm if you can.

Enjoy!

Classic Apple Pie (recipe courtesy of Butter and Food For My Family)

Serves 8-10.

INGREDIENTS

Crust

3 cups plain flour
1/2 cup super fine sugar
250g (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
2 egg yolks
4 tbsp cold water
1 tsp vanilla extract

Apple Filling

8 large Granny Smith apples
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp cornflour

METHOD

For the crust

  1. Put the flour, sugar and butter into a food processor or stand mixer. Mix on a low speed until mixture resembles very coarse breadcrumbs.
  2. Add the egg yolks, cold water and vanilla, and process until a dough forms.
  3. Take a third of the dough, shape it into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. This will be your lattice. Form a disc with the remaining dough and wrap it in plastic wrap. This will be your crust. Refrigerate for at least an hour.

For the filling

  1. Peel, core and chop the apples into 2cm (1 inch) cubes.
  2. Combine the apples, sugar, cinnamon and water in a saucepan. Cook, over a low heat for 20 – 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. The apples should be soft but still hold their shape.
  3. Drain the juice from the apples into a small bowl. Stir in the cornflour until it dissolves and return this mixture to the apples. Mix to combine. Set aside.

Assembly

  1. When you are ready to make your pie, remove the larger disc of pastry from the fridge. Preheat the oven to 365 F and grease a pie dish well.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, or between two sheets of baking paper, roll out the dough until it is big enough to line your pie dish.
  3. Lightly flour the dough and gently roll it up onto your rolling pin. Then unroll it into your pie dish, easing it in and pressing it into any edges. Trim the excess pastry, leaving a 2cm (1 inch) overhang.
  4. Fill the pastry shell with the apple filling.
  5. Remove the smaller disc of dough from the fridge. On a lightly floured surface or between two sheets of baking paper, roll out the dough until it is big enough to cover your pie dish. Trim the extra dough so that you create an even lip that just reaches the edge of the dish.
  6. Roll out the excess dough and cut into thin, long strips. Then braid and line the edge of the pie. Press gently to seal.
  7. Brush the entire pie with water or egg wash. Sprinkle with a little sugar.
  8. Bake for 40 minutes to an hour, until the crust is golden brown.

Pretty braided crust

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Lemon Peach Scones

I made these ages ago. I’m sure I would have been able to write a quirky short story to accompany this recipe. Back then. Now, however, all I can do is keep things short and sweet and just post the dang recipe.

Before I do, let me just say two things:

1) The lemons: My former CEO let me raid the lemon tree in his “Babeland” backyard. (He’s German and according to him, there are a lot of babes in the Marina.) Serious huge lemons–the size of a small child’s head actually–and, surprisingly, they were not completely dry and flavorless. On the contrary, every gigantic pulp bit was bursting with juice.

2) The peaches: Handpicked from the Haight Street Farmer’s Market. It may have been a while ago, but I STILL remember just how gorgeous they were. And also huge–again, the size of a small child’s head.

This recipe I found on Always With Butter is awesome. Super simple. I picked it because it used A LOT of lemon. I also thought it would be able to handle the addition of my farmer’s market peaches.

Giant lemon + giant peach = epic combo for scones!

Oh, the original recipe included a glaze, but I skipped it. Too sticky. These are good just on their own. Hope you like them 🙂

Lemon Peach Scones (recipe adapted from Always With Butter)

INGREDIENTS

2 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold and cubed

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

2 tsp grated lemon zest (I used like 1 tbsp!)

1 large peach, cut into bite size chunks

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat oven at 350 F.
  2. Sift together baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar.
  3. Cut in butter until it forms coarse crumbs.
  4. Mix in juice and grated zest.
  5. Quickly and gently fold in the peach chunks.
  6. Form into two disks and cut each into 4 pieces.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Let cool before serving

 

Heavenly Pear Custard Kuchen

When I’m an old lady with a dozen little grandkids at my knees, this is what I will make for them. The original recipe is actually from someone’s grandma, so you know it’s good. I changed it ever so slightly and only because I didn’t have all the ingredients listed.

Normally I like to use my favorite sweet pastry crust recipe for pies, but in her post, Jules talks about the cookie-like crust and how it is really the star of the pie, so I went with hers. You know, I’m glad I did because the crust really is something special—it’s crumbly, crunchy and full of sugar and spice. The custard is lovely too, not too sweet and tastes incredible in combination with the pears. Instead of the called for whipping cream, I used evaporated milk because that’s all I had. I don’t think it affected the flavor or texture very much. One thing about the pears: it’s important that they are soft. If you use canned, then you don’t have to worry, but if you use fresh, be sure to poach them first. I happened to have two fresh pears at home already, which is why as part of my prep, I peeled, halved and cored them and then poached them in water flavored with lemon juice and a little sugar until soft yet still firm. The original actually called for canned plums, which I’m sure would also taste amazing, as would perhaps apple and peach.

Grandmas always make things with love, which I suspect is the real secret ingredient to this pie. So make it with a full heart and share it with the ones you love.

Enjoy!

Heavenly Pear Custard Kuchen (adapted from Jules Food)

printable recipe

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup butter, at room temp.

1 cup sugar

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour, sifted

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp baking powder

1 can pear halves or 2 fresh, which have been peeled, halved, cored and poached

1 cup whipping cream (I used evaporated milk)

1 large egg, at room temp.

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 F. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl.
  2. In a separate, smaller bowl, mix together flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and baking powder.
  3. Add dry mixture to the creamed butter and sugar and blend together. Reserve one-third for later use. Press the remaining dough mix into a 9-inch tart or springform pan.
  4. Distribute the pear halves over the crust. Sprinkle the reserved dough mix evenly over the top. Bake at 375 F for 15 minutes.
  5. Whisk together the egg and whipping cream (or in my case, evaporated milk).
  6. After the first baking phase is finished, pour the custard over the pears and continue to bake until the top is golden and the custard is set, 25-30 minutes.

Blueberry Flan Tart


I wish I had the energy to write a better post about this cute tart. My mind, however, is consumed with too many things right now, leaving little room for more creative prose.

The blueberry flan filling is fresh and light from the yogurt and lemon zest. And 3 cups of blueberries? Oh, yes! As for the crust, though I liked it, it wasn’t as good as my favorite sweet tart dough recipe from TipTopf.

Enjoy!

Blueberry Flan Tart (adapted from The Three Cheeses)

INGREDIENTS

Crust:

scant 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

generous 1/3 cup cold butter, diced

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla

3 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (frozen may take longer to bake)

Filling:

2 tbsp all purpose flour (Forgot to add this, but turned out OK)

2 cups plain yogurt (I used non-fat, which was fine)

1 large egg

2/3 cup sugar

2 tsp lemon or lime zest, finely grated

1 tsp vanilla

pinch each of salt and vanilla

METHOD

  1. In bowl or with a food processor, combine crust ingredients until well mixed. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Press doug somewhat firmly into a large (10″ or about 25 cm) cake tin or springform pan.
  3. Whisk or process together the filling ingredients until very smooth. Set aside.
  4. Sprinkle blueberries over top of the crust.
  5. Pour prepared filling over blueberries.
  6. Place cake pan in oven and bake at 375 F / 185 C for about 60 minutes, until nice and golden on the top. Serve warm or cool. (Joni, one of the Three Cheeses, suggests waiting overnight before cutting into, which is what I did. It was a good idea–the next day, the custard had firmed up even more and the crust had softened slightly, but was still nice and crumbly!)

Fruit Galette for Summer


Oregon. Winter is cold and rainy. Spring? Fall? Yup, cold and rainy. But summer, oh, summer–mildly hot, dry, and sunny, they are seriously the best. All you want to do is be outside, hiking, biking and swimming. And when you’re not doing that, you’re popping u-pick berries into your mouth and eating the sweetest peaches, plums and cherries, their juices dribbling down your chin.

I haven’t gone hiking yet (but am going tomorrow), but I’ve definitely eaten my fair share of summer fruit. What with the seemingly endless supply of nectarines, peaches, blueberries and grapes at my parents’ house right now and with the whole family being home, I decided to make a summer pie. Actually, I made a galette, i.e. a free-form pie, but which sounds way more shi shi in French 😀

I ended up making two galettes, each with a different filling (blueberry-nectarine and red grape), and relied on two recipes, one for the crust and blueberry-nectarine filling (via In Erika’s Kitchen) and one for the  grape filling (via Mac and Cheese). As for changes, for the crust, instead of using only all-purpose flour, I used half whole-wheat and half all-purpose. For the grape filling, I used lime zest instead of lemon (didn’t have any lemons at home).

Oh my goodness, there are no words to describe just how delicious each galette turned out. The crust was flaky, soft and so buttery. And the fillings—both amazing. I’d have to say I preferred the grape over the nectarine. Just a personal preference thing, I think.

Make this, make this, make this. And then tell me how it all turns out!

Enjoy!

Fruit Galettes for Summer: Blueberry-Nectarine and Grape (adapted from In Erika’s Kitchen and Mac and Cheese)

Makes two 8-inch galettes

INGREDIENTS

Crust

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I used 1 1/4 c. all purpose, 1 1/4 c. whole wheat)

1/2 tsp salt

2 tbsp raw cane sugar

2 sticks (1/2 lb.) unsalted butter, frozen and cut into small cubes (I grated with a cheese grater.)

1/4 cup ice water

1 large egg

2 tsp milk

sugar, for sprinkling

Blueberry-Nectarine Filling

3 cups thinly sliced nectarines

1 cup blueberries (I only had frozen at home.)

1/8 cup cornstarch

1/4 cup raw cane sugar

Grape Filling

4 cups grapes (I used red.)

1/2-3/4 cup raw cane sugar, depending on the sweetness of the grapes

the zest of 1 lemon (I used lime.)

2 tbsp cornstarch

METHOD

Crust

  1. Place the flour, salt, and 2 Tbsp sugar in the food processor and give it a spin to combine. Open the processor and sprinkle the bits of frozen butter over the flour mixture. Pulse five or six times, or until the whole thing inside looks like wet sand. (If doing by hand, combine flour, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl. Then, grate the frozen butter into the bowl and gently rub ingredients together with your fingers.)
  2. Sprinkle over about 1/4 cup of ice water and pulse again in your food processor is such that when you pinch some in your fingers it holds together. If necessary, continue adding small amounts of ice water and pulsing until it does this. (If doing by hand, form a small well in the flour-butter mixture and pour in the water. With a fork, gradually work the dry ingredients into the water. Then, with your hands, very briefly knead until a dough just begins to form.) Turn the dough out onto the counter, divide in half and shape into two disks. Wrap the disks in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Filling

  1. Blueberry-Nectarine: Put the prepared blueberries and nectarines in a mixing bowl with 1/4 cup of the raw sugar and the cornstarch, and mix thoroughly. Let them sit in the sugar-cornstarch mixture at room temperature while the dough is chilling. This will help the fruit juice flow once you get the pie in the oven.
  2. Grape: Crush 3/4 cup of the grapes in a saucepan. Add remaining grapes, sugar, lemon zest, salt, and cornstarch to the crushed grapes. Heat fruit on stove, stirring occasionally until the juice has thickened. Allow to cool.

Assembly

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 450 deg. F. Roll out one of the dough disks into a rough circle. (Don’t worry if it’s not perfect.) Transfer the dough to baking pan lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Arrange the nectarines in a spiral fashion in the middle of the dough, leaving about a 2-inch wide edge around. Fold the edges up over the fruit, leaving the middle part of the arranged fruit exposed. Repeat the same process with the grape filling. Note: If there is excess juice, use a slotted spoon to transfer the fruit, in order to avoid making a big, wet mess. (Oops, I forgot to do this…my wet mess turned into baked solid caramel mess. Still looked and tasted good though!)
  2. Combine the egg and milk, and then with a pastry brush, brush over each galette. Sprinkle sugar over each. Bake for about 40 minutes or until the crust is golden. (I covered them with aluminum foil for the last 5 minutes of baking to avoid over-browning.)
  3. Remove from the oven and allow to cool at least 30 minutes before slicing.

Summer Fruit Cake

Ah, summer in San Francisco. Only here on a warm 80 deg. day is it necessary to pack a sweater and scarf in your purse/bag just in case it gets chilly…and believe me, it always does.  The fickle nature of the weather here has made me truly appreciate those rare run-around-in-shorts days. This Saturday was one of those days. Sunday, too, actually.

I spent most of the weekend outside laying out in the sun, trying to make up for being cold for a year. The only time I was inside was when I was baking this cake. I went a little crazy at the Farmer’s Market—organic peaches and apricots for $0.75/lb. and cherries for $1/lb.? I couldn’t help myself—so had a lot of fruit to use up.

After looking at like 50 recipes for cakes, galettes, and pies, I finally decided on a Joy of Baking recipe for Cherry Cake. It’s a no-fuss, yet pretty cake that is texture-wise a cross between a cake and a clafoutis, i.e. it’s very moist. Flavor-wise, it’s mildly citrusy and sweet and super fruity. I love how the juice from the fruit flavors and sweetens the batter, and also, how you get a piece a fruit with every bite! Tastes like summer…yum.

Enjoy!

Summer Fruit Cake

(adapted from a recipe found on Joy of Baking)

INGREDIENTS

1 lb (454 grams) fresh fruit (I used cherries, peaches and apricots)

1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

2 large eggs

3/4 cup (150 grams) sugar (I used evaporated cane sugar)

1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter,  melted and cooled

1/3 cup (80 ml) milk

1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped

Zest of 1 lemon

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 400 deg. F (205 deg. C).  Butter and flour an 9-inch (23 cm) spring form pan and line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.  Set aside.
  2. Rinse, dry, and prepare the fruit however you see fit, i.e. peel, remove stone fruit pits, and slice. (I peeled the peaches, then halved and removed the pits from the peaches and apricots, and sliced. For the cherries, I used the end of a round-tipped chopstick to push out the pits, then cut each in half.)  Set aside about 1/2 of the prepped fruit and set aside for topping the cake later.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of your electric mixer, with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs and sugar until thick and lemon colored (about 3-5 minutes).  Add the melted butter, milk, vanilla, and lemon zest and beat just until incorporated.  (I warmed the milk in the microwave just slightly and added in the vanilla bean to infuse in more flavor.) Add the flour mixture and stir just until moistened.  Gently fold in the fruit (but not the half that you have reserved for the top of the cake).   Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with an offset spatula.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from oven.   Quickly arrange the remaining fruit (cherries cut side down) on the top of the cake.  Return the cake to the oven and bake for a further 20 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the cake portion comes out clean. (Mine was not very golden, so I turned the broiler on high and let the cake brown for a minute or two.)
  6. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool slightly.
  7. Serve warm or at room temperature with a dollop of softly whipped cream.

Feelin’ Fine French Pear Tart

I can’t explain why, but lately I just feel like celebrating—celebrating Spring, family, and my peaceful life. And I have chosen to show my gratitude the best way I know how: by baking.

I couldn’t wait to get home yesterday and make this French pear tart. It’s another Dorie masterpiece: elegant pear fans baked into a rich almond cream sitting atop a light, buttery crust. (Oh my goodness, I’m almost drooling over my own words.)

This may look complicated to make, but really it isn’t. I was pleasantly surprised at how uncomplicated it actually was to put everything together. The only adjustment I made to the recipe was to use a sweet pastry dough recipe from my Swiss TipTopf cookbook. The thing I love most about this dough is that I can do it by hand. Maybe it’s just me, but I love the feeling of cold butter and flour rubbing between my fingertips. For once, it’s actually a good thing to have cold hands (besides the whole “cold hands, warm heart” thing :P)—the butter doesn’t melt when I mix it into the flour.

Apart from the dough, I followed everything Dorie said to do. You know, it really does pay off to the follow directions and to measure exactly (and I was exact down to the gram). I don’t know why my pears are so brown. I’m not too upset about it because the taste more than made up for the slightly odd appearance. The golden crust is flaky and crisp, the pears are tender (but not mushy) and the almond cream—infused with sweet pear juice—is so incredibly smoooooth.

So will I be making this again? Oh, yes! What a way to celebrate all the good things in life!

Enjoy!

French Pear Tart (adapted from TipTopf and Dorie Greenspan’s recipe from Baking From My Home to Yours)

Makes one 26 cm springform tart

Sweet Tart Pastry (Muerbeteig)

200 g all purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

100 g very cold unsalted butter, diced

2-3 tsp evaporated cane sugar

zest of 1/2 an organic lemon, grated

1 egg, at room temp. , whisked

2 tbsp cold water

Almond Cream

3 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temp.

150 g evaporated cane sugar

150 g ground almonds

1 large egg

1 tsp flour

1 tsp cornstarch

1 tsp vanilla extract

Tart

3 pears

METHOD

Sweet Tart Pastry

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Add the butter and with your fingertips, gently rub flour and butter together until evenly combined.
  2. Mix in the sugar and grated lemon zest.
  3. Make a well in the dry mixture. Pour the egg and water into the well and with a fork, very quickly whisk the flour into the egg (working from the outside in). Once the dough starts forming, use your hands to gently pat it into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. (Or you can press the dough into the springform first—I put a plastic sandwich bag on my hand to do this, in order to avoid sticking and overhandling—and then chill.)
  4. While the dough is chilling, pre-heat the oven to 428 F (220 C).
  5. Fit a piece of tin foil tightly against the dough. Bake for 15-20 minutes on the center rack. Once finished baking, carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed up, use the back of a spoon to gently push it back down.

Almond Cream

  1. Put the butter and sugar in the workbowl of a food processor and process until the mixture is smooth and satiny. Add the ground almonds and continue to process until well blended.
  2. Add the flour and cornstarch, process, and then add the egg.  Process for about 15 seconds more, or until the almond cream is homogeneous. Add the rum or vanilla and process just to blend.

If you prefer, you can make the cream in a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a bowl with a rubber spatula.  In either case, the ingredients are added in the same order.  Scrape the almond cream into a container and either use it immediately or refrigerate it until firm, about 2 hours.

Assembly

  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Have a lined baking sheet at the ready.
  2. If you are using fresh (unpoached) pears, peel them now.  If you are using poached or unpoached pears, cut them in half from blossom to stem and core them; rub the unpoached pears with lemon juice.  Whatever pears you have, make sure to pat them dry – really dry – so that their liquid won’t keep the almond cream from baking.
  3. Fill the baked crust with the almond cream, spreading it even with an offset metal icing spatula.
  4. Thinly slice each pear half crosswise, lift each half on a spatula, press down on the pear to fan it slightly and place it, wide-end toward the edge of the crust, over the almond cream.  The halves will form spokes.
  5. Put the crust on the lined baking sheet, slide the sheet into the oven and bake the tart 50 to 60 minutes, or until the almond cream puffs up around the pears and browns.  Transfer the tart to a rack to cool to just warm or to room temperature before unmolding.
  6. Right before serving, dust the tart with confectioners’ sugar.  If you prefer, prepare a glaze by bringing about 1/4 cup apple jelly and1/2 teaspoon water to the boil.  Brush the glaze over the surface of the tart.

Lucuma Cheesecake

I made this amazing cheesecake TWO WEEKS AGO, but never got around to posting the recipe. Why? Because my life has been crazy (not fun-crazy; I mean, crazy-crazy). I was moving out, then I wasn’t. Now I moving out for sure, which means I have to find a sub-letter my roommate and her boyfriend approve of AND find a new home. Actually, I’m OK with the situation now. I’ve decided that I have a choice: sink or swim. So I’m swimming/doggy-paddling through this whole upheaval of hearth and home, and seriously, this decision has made all the difference. I think I’m going to be OK!

Anyway, this cheesecake is not just any cheesecake, it’s LUCUMA (my new favorite fruit—forever and ever)

Lucuma is a sub-tropical fruit native to Peru and is known for it’s sweet potato-like flesh and caramel/maple syrup-reminiscent flavor. It is now grown in other South American countries, but it is definitely not available here in San Francisco. Mission Market (Mission and 22nd) carries it in frozen form apparently, but only occasionally. (Not right now—just checked and was told that it wouldn’t arrive until April)

Photo courtesy of http://www.elportalperu.com

The recipe is from Yanuq, a website I mentioned in a previous post as being a great source for Peruvian recipes. I wasn’t all too pleased with ingredient amounts or method. (I’ve made cheesecake many times before, so this time I know it wasn’t me.) Despite following the instructions to a tee, my crust was glued stuck to the cake pan bottom, which made it nearly impossible to slice. Then again, there wasn’t much slicing going on, rather, a lot of scooping. As soon as I removed the springpan form, the filling starting oozing and collapsing. I blame it on the gelatin; it totally failed me. The next time I make this, I will use a butter-based graham cracker crust rather than egg-white. I will also investigate other no-bake cheesecake recipes for filling ingredients and amounts.

I wish I had a beautiful picture to show you, but I don’t. First, because I was so busy playing hostess that I forgot to take a picture. And second, because it wouldn’t have been worth it anyway—too ugly. Oh well, at least it tasted good. No, it tasted out-of-this-world incredible—creamy, smooth and tangy from the cream cheese and rich and caramelly from the lucuma. It was like eating a great, big piece of Peru. Yum!

Enjoy!

Lucuma Cheesecake (adapted from Yanuq – Cooking in Peru)

INGREDIENTS

Crust

3 egg whites

1 tsp baking powder

1 cup sugar

1 cup ground pecans or almonds

1 cup graham crackers, crushed

1 tsp vanilla extract

Filling

4 lucumas, halved, pit removed and flesh scooped out

1 can evaporated milk

1 cup sugar

10 1/2 oz. (300 g) cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 tbsp confectioners’ sugar

1 sachet unflavored gelatin

1/4 cup water

METHOD

Crust

  1. Whip egg whites until stiff in mixer. Add baking powder.
  2. Add rest of ingredients folding carefully with spoon or spatula.
  3. Transfer mixture to a 10-inch (20 cm) removable bottom cake pan, previously buttered and floured. Bake in a preheated oven 350° F (175° C) for 30 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven and separate borders from pan with a knife. Cool. Leave in pan.

Filling

  1. Process lucumas with evaporated milk until thick and creamy.
  2. Add gelatin diluted in 1/4 cup water.
  3. Beat cream cheese with sugar and fold into lucuma mixture.
  4. Whip the cream with confectioners sugar until thick and add to lucuma mixture.
  5. Pour cream on top of pecan crust. Cool in refrigerator until cheesecake sets.
  6. Remove sides of pan and decorate with chocolate shavings and cream. Serve with a light chocolate sauce.

The Fruit Salad that Saved Dinner. And a Friendship.

I had this long weekend all planned out. Dinner with friends on Friday, hiking and studying my Spanish on Saturday. And for Valentine’s Day, one of those independent girlie in the city dinners.

But today is Valentine’s Day. And where am I? Sitting alone in a cafe, wondering how I ended up here. And by here I mean not at my V-day dinner and in particular, not with Dennis. (Btw, does anyone else get weirded out by the abbreviation “V-day”? Am I the only one who, instead of thinking of love, thinks of The Vagina Monologues? Maybe it’s just me. But all day I’ve been getting texts from people wishing me a happy V-day…and it weirds me out every time.)

ANYWAY, as it turns out, my “alone in the city” girl Valentine’s dinner was actually YESTERDAY. I was sitting at home last night about to prepare a quick bite before getting ready for some masquerade party over at Pier 39 (total bust, btw). And then comes the text from my friend asking when I’m coming over for dinner…shiiiiiit. Somehow I was able to throw all my stuff together and cab it over to her place in under 30 minutes—mumbling and grumbling the whole way over. (All that stress—I swear I can feel it shortening my life. It’s so unhealthy!)

All my cooking plans were ruined. I was going to make Peruvian-style Arroz con Pollo, Papa a la Huancaina (both Dennis’ mom’s recipes) and an Ecuadorian fruit salad I read about on Laylita’s Recipes. The only thing I managed to put together was the dessert—and thank goodness for that. I already felt like the biggest bonehead ever for nearly missing the dinner I co-planned. So I was glad to be able to contribute at least something. Really, it saved the day. And possibly a friendship.

Now my only problem is all the other groceries I’m now stuck with because of my bonehead mistake.

Anyway, this fruit salad is awesome. Easy to put together, healthy, sweet. I especially love the flavor of all the juices combined. It also looks great served in drinking glasses.

Enjoy!

Come y Bebe or Ecuadorian Drinkable Fruit Salad (from Laylita’s Recipes)

INGREDIENTS

4 1/2 cups fresh squeezed orange juice (ca. 10 oranges)

1 large papaya, peeled, seeded and diced

1 pineapple, peeled, cored and diced

6 bananas, peeled and sliced

sugar or honey to taste (I used brown.)

honey whipped cream to serve (optional)

METHOD

  1. Combine the diced papaya, pineapple and banana in a large, non-reactive bowl.
  2. Mix in the freshly squeezed orange juice, add sugar or honey if needed.
  3. Serve immediately or chill for 30 minutes if you prefer it very cold.