Cheesecake Perfect for Passover

This light, ethereal cheesecake is perfect Passover fare.  In addition to cream cheese, this Italian version includes sour cream for tang and ricotta for lightness.  The citrus zest is a must.  Cake meal easily replaces the traditional wheat flour.

Ingredients

1 lb. whole milk ricotta cheese

1 lb. sour cream

1 lb. cream cheese (or mascarpone)

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

1 stick sweet butter, melted

Pinch of salt

3 large eggs

½ cup cake meal, divided

1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 ½ T pure vanilla extract

Finely grated zest from one orange and one lemon

Directions

1. Have all filling ingredients at room temperature.  Grease and coat with 2 T cake meal the bottom and sides of a 9 X 3-inch springform pan.

2. In a stand mixer beat together ricotta, sour cream and cream cheese until well mixed.

3. Beat in sugar and then melted butter and pinch of salt.

4. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

5. Add 6 T cake meal, lemon juice, vanilla, and zest, beating until completely mixed.

6. Transfer to prepared pan and bake in a preheated 300 degree oven for one hour.

7. Turn off heat and let cake stay in oven, door closed, for another hour.

8. Remove and let cake cool completely in pan, set on a wire rack.  Cover and refrigerate.  Remove sides of pan before serving and serve slightly chilled.

Raspberry Coulis

In a small saucepan, mash and heat ½ pint of fresh raspberries with 6 oz. raspberry preserves and 1 T Grand Marnier, stirring until syrupy. Strain syrup and mix with ½ pint fresh raspberries.  Serve withcheesecake.

Photo by sweetpaprika

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pineapple Upside-down Cake

pineapple upside cake 2

Pineapple Upside-down Cake

All those upside-down cakes of yore topped with canned pineapple rings with maraschino cherries adorning the centers will seem like a bad memory after you’ve tasted this fresh pineapple version.  Select a pineapple that is fragrant and has a little give when pressed. The subtle tang of the buttermilk and tender crumb are irresistible.    The glistening caramel gives the cake a glorious finish. A dash of dark rum on the finished cake is a delightful touch.

Needed: a 9-inch silicone cake pan, rimmed baking sheet, wide-bottomed light-colored saucepan (such as stainless steel).

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar

1 large ripe pineapple

For the Cake:

1 stick (8 T) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

½ t pure vanilla extract

1 ½ cups unsifted all-purpose flour

1 t baking powder

¼ t salt

½ cup nonfat buttermilk

Procedure— Caramel:

1. To a heavy, wide-bottomed saucepan, add 1 cup sugar.  Don’t use a dark-colored pan as you won’t be able to see the color of the caramel change.

2. Over medium heat let the sugar melt swirling pan but not stirring it.

3. When the caramel reaches a light amber color, remove it from the heat and pour immediately into the silicone pan. Carefully swirl the pan to coat the bottom.  Set aside on a rimmed baking sheet. (This can be done well ahead.)

The Pineapple:

1. Cut the top off the pineapple and a slice from the bottom so the pineapple will sit upright. Quarter the pineapple.

2. Core, peel and slice into ¼” slices.

3. Arrange the slices on top of the hardened caramel, overlapping them with the flat edges pointing upward.  Remember that this will be the top of the cake.

The Cake Batter: Heat oven to 350 degrees.

1. Cream the butter in an electric mixer.  Add the sugar gradually and beat until the mixture is light.

2. Add the eggs one at a time and beat after each addition for 15 seconds.

3.  Add the vanilla extract.

4. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together.

5. With the mixer on low speed, add half of the dry mixture to the butter mixture. Mix just until the flour disappears.

6. Add the buttermilk and mix again.

7. Add the remainder of the flour mixture and again, mix just until the flour disappears.

8. Scoop large dollops of the batter over the pineapple taking care not to disturb the arrangement of the slices.  Smooth out the batter.

9. Bake until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean and the cake is golden brown (about 50 minutes).

10. Run a knife between the cake and edge of the pan.  Set a serving platter on top of the pan and invert.  Carefully lift off the cake pan.

Photo by Michael Kirigin

Adapted from a recipe by Margery K. Friedman

Rosy Grapefruit Sorbet

IMAG0751Sugar tames the tartness of the grapefruit in this refreshing palate-cleansing sorbet.  With only two essential ingredients, it is a breeze to make. (You’ll need an ice cream maker.)  Should you come across a sorbet recipe with water added to the juice, drop it immediately from your browsing.  A sorbet must be intense with fruit flavor and there should be no watering down.

Ingredients (Makes about a quart)

4 large Ruby Red grapefruits

¾ cup granulated sugar

2 T grapefruit vodka*

2 T Campari bitters*

Directions

1. Squeeze juice from grapefruits.  Strain.  You should have about 3 cups of juice (If you have more, add more sugar accordingly.)

2. In a small saucepan mix sugar with ½ cup of juice. Heat and stir just until sugar is dissolved.

3. Cool and add to remainder of juice.  Stir in vodka and bitters.

4. Chill in refrigerator overnight or until cold.

5. Prepare in ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s directions.  This should take about 20 minutes.

6. Scoop into a container with a tight-fitting lid and place in freezer.

* The vodka will prevent the sorbet from freezing hard.  It’s not essential if you’re going to eat it the same day, but otherwise highly recommended.  The Campari marries well with the grapefruit flavor, slows down the hardening and gives the sorbet a lovely rosy color.

You can, of course, use unflavored vodka, but I always look for ways to intensify flavor.

IMAG0755

Photos by Michael Kirigin

Chocolate! Chocolate! Chocolate!

Chocoholic Heaven: Chocolate Mousse

Is there a more romantic dessert than chocolate mousse?  Simple, yet elegant.  The quintessence of velvety richness.  Topped perhaps with a dollop of freshly whipped cream and a few chocolate shavings.  However, it can certainly stand on its own.  Many identify Julia Child’s chocolate mousse as the classic version and true, it has a unique mouthfeel that is airy, almost foamy.  However, it uses eggs that are never cooked and, even though there is only a tiny chance of salmonella, I prefer a safer version that is rich and velvety.

There are just a few ingredients so the quality of the chocolate plays an important role in the outcome. Also, I suggest a bittersweet or semisweet chocolate containing between 50 and 60% cacao.  A higher percentage will produce a drier result.  Be sure to serve the mousse in pretty dessert goblets. And ladies, if you have ever doubted that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, you’ve never served him chocolate mousse.

Ingredients (8 servings)

2 cups heavy cream

4 yolks from large eggs

3 T superfine sugar

1 t pure vanilla extract

7 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted

Directions

1. In a small saucepan heat 2/3 cup cream just until it starts to steam.

2. Whisk together egg yolks and sugar in a separate bowl.

3. Slowly add half of the hot cream to the egg yolk mixture until thoroughly combined.

4. Add the warm egg-cream back into the hot cream in the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture reaches 165 on a digital thermometer.

5. Off heat, stir in the vanilla and melted chocolate.

6.  Chill thoroughly.

7. Whip remaining 1 1/3 cups cream in a separate bowl until stiff peaks form.

8. Stir about 1/3 of the whipped cream into the chocolate custard and then gently fold in the remainder until no streaks appear.  Serve chilled.

(Adapted from a recipe by Rebecca Franklin)

Chocolate Reveries

by Victor Ribaudo

Some of my fondest gastronomic memories involve chocolate.  I’d venture to guess that I’m not alone here.  What is it about chocolate that causes our hearts to skip a beat when it’s presented to us in its many sumptuous forms?  Nay . . . even the thought of chocolate for some can trigger and inner longing that may lead to heady, euphoric ecstasy – causing faintness of breath!  OK, maybe I exaggerate, as I am wont to do.  (After all, I am Italian.  It’s genetic.)  The point is chocolate to most of us is a luxury we cannot do without.  I’m in that league.

When I was a child, my grandmother often made me chocolate sandwiches.  Yes, you read correctly.  She’d take crusty Italian bread, toast it in the oven, and then sandwich a chocolate bar in between the slices.  She’d press it with her hands, and the heat from the toasted bread sufficiently softened the chocolate bar to a silky consistency.  I was in heaven.  And I wanted more of it.  She also prepared something called cuccia for me on St. Lucy’s Day (December 13th).  This was a pudding made from cooked wheat berries, milk, candied fruit and chocolate.  Oh yes, it was as good as it sounds.  There were usually lots of wheat berries left over.  These were served to me the rest of the week for breakfast, swimming in warm chocolate milk.  Beats cold cereal any day.  Of course, I was often treated to the chocolate candies, cakes and brownies every kid begs for at the supermarket.  What can I say . . . they spoiled me!

At Easter . . . well, is there anything more heartwarming than a chocolate bunny?  My Mom procured the best, of course, from a chocolatier shoppe on 86th Street in Brooklyn.  The ears were solid, and so they were my preference.  And let’s not forget the chocolate drives at school.  My aunts and uncles would buy boxes of those bars from me, only to hand them right back for my sister and me to enjoy.  I especially loved the smell that wafted from the boxes as I opened them.  Those bars of chocolate were ridiculously delicious – melt-in-your-mouth velvetiness and studded with tons of roasted almonds to boot.  Amazing!

So you see, I was predestined to love chocolate.  Naturally, as my culinary tastes grew more sophisticated, I searched for even more heightened chocolate experiences.  Not hard to find.  Every fine restaurant has at least two chocolate creations on the dessert menu.  My first foray into that world began with chocolate mousse.  (Please check out Phyllis’ recipe above (it’s outstanding.)  Then I was enamored by the molten chocolate cake.  Who could resist that hot chocolate lava oozing from a petite cake.  Looks innocent until your fork breaks the crust. Then watch out!  Black Forest Cake also became an uncontrollable passion for me.  After all, chocolate and cherries were destined to fall in love.

And so it goes.  Double, triple, quadruple chocolate cakes and pastries…love them all.  Hot or cold chocolate puddings…bring them on.  Chocolate covered donuts…hot fudge sundaes…chocolate chip cookies…chocolate dipped strawberries…chocolate liqueurs.  Can’t get enough of them.  Extravagant?  By all means.  I mean, we must live to eat.  That’s my motto.

Want someone to fall in love with you?  Bake something chocolaty for them.  If the recipe calls for hard baker’s chocolate, be sure to melt it in a double boiler. Easy.  Just place a mixing bowl over simmering water, and stir continuously until the desired consistency is achieved.  Then you’re good to go with whatever recipe you have on hand.  Watch out though;  it’s intoxicating.  The person you serve it to might take this as a proposal of marriage.  The rest is up to you.

Photographer Bill Brady
Written by Victor Ribaudo
Recipe by Phyllis Kirigin
Food Stylist BrianPreston Campbell
Blog syndicated at the datingsymbol.com

  1. Chocolate … in all it’s glory! Fantastic photos and lovely memories!
    Debbie :-)

  2. I love your pictures with all of the light. And I also love your chocolate mousse recipe, keep up the great work!!
    Charlie, 12 year old food blogger

  3. carine says:

    Oh…chocolate…Glorious chocolate….You made my day…thanks~

  4. Beautiful photos. I have a hankering for some chocolate now.

Holiday Rum Cake

How about a lovely aromatic rum cake for the upcoming holidays?  This is basically a pound cake yet redolent with just the right amount of dark rum to pique your palate.  Should you want a more intense confection, poke a few small holes in the finished cake and brush on a little more rum.  Adorn with a dollop of freshly whipped cream.

Ingredients

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

½ t salt

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

4 large eggs

3 yolks from large eggs

2 t vanilla extract

½ cup quality dark rum

Whipped cream for topping

Directions

1. Adjust rack to lower third of the oven and heat to 325 degrees.

2. Place flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and affix paddle attachment.  Add butter and beat on lowest speed until well mixed.

3.  In another bowl, whisk together eggs, egg yolks, vanilla and rum, mixing well.

4. Add 1/3 of the wet ingredients to the stand mixer bowl and beat at medium speed for 2 minutes.  Scrape down bowl.

5. Add another 1/3 to the mixer and beat for 2 minutes, scraping down bowl again.

6. Add final 1/3, beat and scrape as before.

7. Scrape batter into a buttered and floured 12-cup Bundt pan, smooth top and place in oven.

8. Bake for about 60 to 75 minutes or until a toothpick inserted between edge and center of pan comes out clean.  There may be a few dry crumbs attached.

9. Let cool on a rack for about 10 minutes, then invert  and release from pan to continue cooling.  Add a dollop of whipped cream to each serving.  Store by wrapping in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil.

Photos by Michael Kirigin

Blueberry Buckle

You may have tried blueberry muffins, crisps, cobblers, grunts (yes, grunts), pies and tarts, but how about a buckle?  A buckle not only shows off blueberries at their best but just about any mix of fresh berries. Cakelike under a firm and crispy crust, buckles make great breakfast treats.  Serve a buckle with whipped cream for dessert or as a tasty snack just about any time.

Blueberry Buckle

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9X13-inch baking pan

Ingredients

Cake

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 t baking powder

½ t salt

½ cup (1 stick) butter at room temperature

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup light brown sugar

2 eggs

½ cup milk

1 ½ t vanilla extract

2 cups fresh blueberries

Topping

½ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup light brown sugar

½ cup quick rolled oats

½ t ground cinnamon

Pinch of salt

4 T butter, cut into small cubes

½ chopped walnuts or pecans

Procedure

For cake:  Sift the dry ingredients together and set aside. Cream the butter and sugar mixture in a mixer.  Add the eggs one at a time.  Add the dry ingredients alternating with the milk and vanilla. Fold in the blueberries and pour the batter in to the baking pan.

For the topping: Combine all the ingredients with a pastry blender or fork until the butter forms pea-size lumps.  Sprinkle over top of cake.  Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool.  Run a knife around edge. Cut and serve.  Whipped cream makes a lovely addition.

Photo by Michael Kirigin

 

Happy Birthday, Sweetpaprika!

Three years ago today I started my food blog.  As much as I love cooking and writing about food, I wondered if I would be sufficiently resourceful  to post on a  weekly basis.  Here it is three years and 194 posts later and I have averaged well more than a post a week.  It is a labor of love and I have many more ideas I hope you will consider blogworthy.  So stay tuned for more to come.

In honor of sweetpaprika’s third anniversary, I thought I would repost my favorite cake, the  one that  everyone in my family requests for a birthday cake.  It’s rich, decadent and luscious.  Chef John Clancy taught me how to make the buttercream frosting.  I have scoured my cookbook collection and the Internet for the perfect chocolate cake.  This is as close as I have come.

I have made two changes from Christopher Kimball’s chocolate cake in The Cook’s Bible.  First I have substituted an extra ¼ cup of cocoa for ¼ cup of flour to make it more chocolaty.  Secondly,  I have used a technique I learned from cake decorator Scott Woolley for helping to assure a moist cake.  Instead of allowing the cake to cool off when removed from the oven and thereby losing moisture, he wraps the layers immediately in aluminum foil and places them in the freezer.  This also makes frosting the cake easier as there are no loose crumbs.

Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

1 ¼ cups cake flour

¾ cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa

2 t instant espresso powder

¼ t baking powder

½ t baking soda

½ t kosher salt

12 T unsalted butter, softened

1 ¼ cups sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

1 egg white, room temperature

1 ½ t vanilla extract

1 cup buttermilk

Procedure

1. Grease the bottom of two 8-inch baking pans.  Line with parchment paper.  Grease paper (I use butter) and four pans.  Turn pans upside down and lightly tap  to remove excess flour.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place oven rack in the middle position.

3. Sift flour, cocoa, instant espresso, baking powder, baking soda and salt onto a sheet of waxed paper.

4. Add butter to the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 1 minute or until light-colored.

5. Add sugar gradually and beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes until mixture is very light-colored and fluffy (scrape down 2 or 3 times).

6. Add whole eggs and egg white one at a time, beating for 20 seconds after each addition.  Add the vanilla and beat for 10 seconds.

7. Add the flour mixture in three parts alternately with the buttermilk.  Beat on low speed after each addition and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Do not overbeat.

8. Pour batter into pans and bake 25-30 minutes.  Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick.  It should come out clean.

9. Now here’s the part that might surprise you.  Don’t let the cake cool. Instead, wrap well in aluminum foil and place in freezer.  This will help to insure a moist cake that will be easy to frost.

Mocha Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients

¾ cup milk

3 egg yolks

1 ¼ cups confectioners sugar

¾ lb. unsalted butter (3 ticks) softened but cold

2 T instant espresso

Procedure

1. Place the egg yolks and sugar  in a heavy sauce pan and with a wooden spoon, mix them together until well blended.

2. Put the milk in a small saucepan and heat it over medium heat until bubbles form around the edge of the pan.

3. With a wire whisk, beat hot milk gradually into sugar mixture.  Cook on low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon until mixture is thick enough to coat a spoon.*

4. Place the hot yolk mixture in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Beat on high speed until double in volume and down to room t temperature.  Add the instant espresso.

5.Turn the mixer down to medium speed and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time.**

6. After all the butter has been added, turn the mixer up to high speed and beat for about 2 minutes until the buttercream becomes light in texture and forms soft peaks.

7. Remove cake layers from freezer.  Place one layer on the pan it was baked in turned upside down.  The cake and the pan will line up perfectly thereby allowing you to frost the sides and transfer the cake to a platter without any mess.  Spread frosting on the top of the layer.  Then place the top layer on. Spread frosting on the top of the cake and then the sides.  Allow the cake to rest in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Optional: Make a syrup of 1/3 cup cold water and 3 T sugar. Stir and cook until sugar dissolves, 4 to 5 minutes.   Add 2 T Amaretto or Kahlau liqueur to syrup and brush on cake layers.

*The way I tell that the mixture is thick enough is that it begins to thicken on the bottom of the pan.  At that instant, scrape it into bowl of mixer.

**At this point the frosting will look gloppy, to use a technical term, but fear not.  It will come together and become glossy when beat at high speed.

Photo by sweetpaprika

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