Tag Archives: Latin American

Shakshouka (Egg in Tomato Sauce)

Quick din-din for one: Shakshouka. Wikipedia says it’s Tunesian. Thinking about it now, though, maybe it’s more Tex-Mex? It’s almost like a low-carb Huevos Rancheros. I don’t know; I was hungry and threw together whatever was in the fridge. And this delicious, little dish was the result.

Enjoy!

Shakshouka – Tex Mex Style (Eggs in Tomato Sauce)

Recipe inspired by The Three Cheeses

printable recipe

Serves 1.

INGREDIENTS

small splash olive oil

1 clove garlic, roughly chopped

1/4 cup red onion, roughly chopped

1 leaf mustard greens

1/2 cup diced stewed tomatoes

1 egg

1/4 cup canned beans (I used pinto)

1/4 tsp dried oregano

1/4 tsp ground cumin

pinch of red chile flakes

salt and pepper to taste

grated cheese to top, optional (I used Jarlsberg, but any kind would work)

plain yogurt to top, optional

METHOD

  1. In a pre-heated (medium-high) small pan or saucepan, sauté onion, garlic and mustard greens in olive oil until slightly golden. Then add in tomatoes, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Stir and allow to simmer over low heat until liquid reduce somewhat, ca. 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in beans and crack an egg over the top. Cover and reduce heat further to lowest setting. Cook ca. 5 minutes. At about the half way point, sprinkle optional cheese over the top. Then cover, turn off the heat and allow to finish cooking and the cheese has completely melted. Be careful not to overcook the egg–the yolk should be sticky, golden and still a little runny. (If you like it cooked all the way through, cook it longer.)
  3. Top with plain yogurt and eat!

 

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.

Crazy for You Coconut Rice Pudding

I do love rice pudding: it’s rich and creamy, involves very little chewing (I’m not lazy, just a slow eater) and can be eaten with a little spoon, slowly, one delicate bite at a time. I also adore coconut and in all forms, edible and not: in savory dishes and sweet desserts, in body lotions, in candles and in perfumes. So you can imagine how happy coconut rice pudding makes me!

This recipe (an adapted Dorie Greenspan courtesy of Slow Like Honey) is actually incredible. I think it’s because most of the “cooking” is actually done in the refrigerator. The pudding sits in the fridge for at least 6 hours, the rice slowly absorbing the coconut milk. I never want to eat plain rice pudding ever again! Oh, joy, and this is so simple to make too. I changed the amounts a bit, but followed the directions as stated. That said, I think you could just as easily skip some of the steps, like the whole parboiling business—I’m pretty sure no major harm would come of skipping this. However, though listed as optional, do please add raisins and do serve it topped with chopped almonds; they make every biteful full of crunch and juicy pop.

Enjoy!

Coconut Rice Pudding (adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home To Yours via Slow Like Honey)

printable recipe

INGREDIENTS

scant 1/2 cup Arborio rice

2 cups water

1-13.5 oz can unsweetened coconut milk

1 cup whole milk

1/3 cup sugar

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup raisins or other dried fruit of your choice (optional)

handful almonds, roughly chopped (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Put the rice and water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the temperature and cook the rice, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Drain the rice in a strainer and rinse it; set aside.
  2. Rinse out the saucepan, then pour in the whole milk and coconut milk, stir in the sugar, and set the pan over medium heat. When the milk mixture boils, stir in the parboiled rice and raisins. Reduce the heat to low and let the mixture bubble away gently, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes. As the pudding gets close to done, the rice kernels will be visible in the boiling milk- you’ll see them floating under the top layer of milk. The pudding won’t be thick- that’s okay (it will thicken in the refrigerator)- but the rice will be soft and it will have absorbed 80 to 90 percent of the milk.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and decide what flavor you’d like the pudding to be- add either the vanilla or chocolate and stir gently until it is fully blended in to the pudding.
  4. Pour the pudding into a serving bowl or into individual cups or bowls. Press plastic wrap against the surface of the pudding to prevent it from forming a skin, and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, until thoroughly cold. Serve topped with chopped almonds.

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.

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.

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.

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.