Rhubarb Parfaits w/ Hazelnuts & White Chocolate

I realize this is the third rhubarb recipe I have posted this season but who’s counting?! I actually adapted this idea from a trifle recipe. Although both parfaits and trifles are aesthetically pleasing desserts, they are not the same.

The word ‘trifle’ means something of little consequence or significance. In food terms, its anything but! A trifle is a custard and/or cream layered with fruit, placed over cake, that has been marinated in brandy or liqueur. Trifles are traditionally made in a large, deep glass bowl so you can see all the layers.

The French word ‘parfait’ means perfect and was originally made with layers of frozen custard, served in a tall glass. Currently, parfaits can simply have a yogurt base and topped with granola and fresh fruit. Though, originating from France, the parfait is now a world traveler with endless variations.

This turned out to be so good even if it was a bit time consuming.

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Rhubarb Parfaits w/ Hazelnuts & White Chocolate
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Servings
PARFAITS
Ingredients
Cake Circles
Rhubarb Compote
Creme Filling
Servings
PARFAITS
Ingredients
Cake Circles
Rhubarb Compote
Creme Filling
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Instructions
Cake Circles
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a bowl, whisk eggs with sugar until fluffy. Fold flour & baking powder into egg mixture.
  3. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a large rimmed baking sheet. With a pencil, trace about 36 circles on the paper (use a small glass with the inside circumference of your parfait glasses as a guide).
  4. Place a spoonful of cake mixture in the center of each circle. Spread mixture evenly within the traced lines. Leave a little room for the mixture to expand a bit. Bake the cake circles for about 5-6 minutes. Allow to cool.
Rhubarb Compote
  1. In a saucepan, whisk together water & sugar; add rhubarb & cook for 6-8 minutes over very low heat. Remove from heat, add vanilla & transfer rhubarb pieces carefully to a bowl. Continue to cook syrup for a few minutes to thicken more before pouring over rhubarb. Let rhubarb cool completely. Reserve 6 pieces for garnishes.
Creme Filling
  1. In a small bowl, whip heavy cream. Add half of the white chocolate & half of the hazelnuts to the cream before adding the cooled rhubarb.
Assembly
  1. Alternate cake circles with rhubarb mixture in each of the four parfait glasses. Starting with cake on the bottom, ending with rhubarb mixture. Top each with a piece of reserved rhubarb, remaining white chocolate & some remaining hazelnuts.

Saskatoon Berry Cream Puffs

This week we celebrate my husband Brion’s birthday. As we grow older, it comes clearer everyday, what a special privilege it is to simply have each other to share life with. I have always appreciated Brion’s strong support of my endeavors and for being the ‘wind beneath my wings’. Since it’s the time of the year when those wonderful saskatoon berries are available, I thought they would be nice in some ‘birthday’ cream puffs.

There have been many terms used to describe the humble cream puff. While the basic four ingredient recipe remains the same, how the ingredients are prepared and baked led to many names …. choux, puff, profiterole and buns. Often they were created in elaborate shapes such as swans or pyramids and filled with chocolate or vanilla custard. What was once the dessert of royalty is now a bakery aisle staple. At most supermarkets the frozen ones are available but nothing beats the taste of homemade cream puffs.

Many would describe the taste of a saskatoon as having a sweet, nutty almond flavor. Like their apple cousins, saskatoons continue to ripen after they are picked. In North America, these berries have a variety of names including: prairie berry, serviceberry, shadbush or juneberry.

I took this picture of Brion when we were in Merida, Mexico early this winter (January 2019). We managed to have a nice vacation there before the Covid-19 virus put the world in total disarray.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MY LOVE … YOU’RE THE BEST!

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Saskatoon Berry Cream Puffs
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Servings
PUFFS
Ingredients
Cream Puffs
Almond Custard
Saskatoon Berry Compote
Servings
PUFFS
Ingredients
Cream Puffs
Almond Custard
Saskatoon Berry Compote
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Instructions
Cream Puffs
  1. In a saucepan, heat water & butter to a light boil. Sift together flour, baking powder & salt. When butter is melted, add the flour mixture all at once. Stir vigorously & continuously until it forms a ball of dough that leaves the sides of the saucepan clean. Remove from heat & cool 5 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add 1 egg & beat well, until fully incorporated. Repeat with the other two eggs. Drop or pipe mounds of batter onto baking sheet. Space them well apart as the puffs will double in size.
  3. Bake for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 350 F. Continue baking until the puffs are lightly browned about 10-15 minutes for a small sized puff. PRICK EACH PUFF WITH A TOOTHPICK to allow steam to escape & prevent them from flattening. Turn off the oven & with the door slightly ajar, let the shells dry out for a further 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven & let cool on a wire rack.
Almond Custard
  1. In a bowl, whisk together sugar & egg yolks for 2-3 minutes until mixture is pale yellow. Beat in flour; continue beating & slowly add the boiling milk a dribble at a time in the beginning.
  2. Pour into a saucepan & over medium heat bring sauce to a boil, whisking continuously. Lower heat & cook for 2-3 minutes WHISKING to make sure the custard does not scorch. Remove from heat & whisk in the butter & almond extract. Cover with plastic wrap, making sure to have it touching the top of custard.
Saskatoon Berry Compote
  1. In a saucepan, combine water, cornstarch & sugar, then add the rest of the compote ingredients. Bring mixture to a simmer & reduce to a thickened sauce.
Assembly
  1. When the shells are cool, cut a slit in the side of each puff; spoon in a dollop of the custard & top with some berry compote. If you prefer, dust tops with powdered sugar.

German Potato & Cauliflower Salad

When I think back to my childhood days, I have a very fond memory of my mother’s potato salad. This is probably the case with many people, but one has to be careful. Trying to create the taste of childhood is a slippery slope filled with our adult expectations. Time and distance change many things such as memory, experiences and knowledge.

Potato salad is widely believed to have originated in Germany and was brought to America by German immigrants. The thing I remember most about my mother’s potato salad was that it consisted of only a small ingredient list and had a nice slightly sweet but tart dressing. If I’m not wrong, I believe she used a bit of juice from her bread & butter pickles in the dressing. The other magic ingredient was some of her new potatoes from the garden. As the saying goes, it was ‘to die for’.

I’m not sure how popular potato salad is anymore but since its the season, I wanted to share a couple of salad recipes.

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German Potato & Cauliflower Salads
Instructions
Potato Salad
  1. In a large pot, cook potatoes in salted boiling water. Cool, peel & cube. Boil eggs & coarsely chop. In a saucepan, fry bacon until crisp. Remove from pan & blot on paper towel reserving bacon drippings for dressing. Crumble bacon. Slice green onion & radishes. Place everything EXCEPT the radishes in a large bowl.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together reserved bacon drippings, light salad dressing, vinegar, sugar, mustard, salt, celery seed & dill weed. Blend well. Pour over potato mixture & carefully combine well. Cover & refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
  3. Just prior to serving, add radishes & add more salt if necessary. Carefully combine & serve.
Cauliflower Salad
  1. In a saucepan, fry bacon until crisp, Remove from pan, reserving bacon drippings.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with foil & coat with cooking spray. Spread cauliflower florets on foil; sprinkle with salt & pepper to taste. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until cauliflower begins to brown slightly. Remove from oven & cool slightly.
  3. While the cauliflower bakes, saute the onion in bacon drippings until tender. Set aside. Cook, peel & cube potatoes.
  4. In a small dish, combine salad dressing, cider vinegar, sugar, mustard & garlic salt. In a large bowl, combine potatoes, cauliflower, sauteed onion & dressing. Fold together & taste to see if more salt is needed. Serve as is or chilled.
Recipe Notes
  • I found, if you add the radishes just before serving keeps them crisp & prevents them from 'bleeding' their color into the salad.
  • In regards to the cauliflower salad, I have also made it leaving the cauliflower RAW & substituting the white onion for green. I liked that added bit of 'crunch'.

Angel Food w/ Coconut Whipped Cream & Fruit

Angel food cake is one of Brion’s absolute favorites. Its one of those iconic cakes that seems to have been around forever. The women of my mother’s generation seemed to have no problem baking this very tall, feather light cake from ‘scratch’. Fast forward to the present and all we have to do is buy a ready made mix, add some water and there you have it …. one big, lovely angel food cake.

Of course you can eat it plain or dress it up …. a blank canvas waiting for something interesting to happen! Did you know you can make a decadent whipped cream by using a can of coconut milk? Not only is the technique simple, but you can use it just like regular dairy whipped cream. Coconut whipped cream is a good choice for desserts, smoothies, over a bowl of fruit, on a pie or fruit crisp even pancakes.

The pairing of coconut cream with sugared kiwis, a sprinkling of blackberries and some angel food cake tastes amazing. For today’s blog, I’m using individual bundt pans. The recipe only makes four and is perfect for a summer evening.

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Angel Food w/ Coconut Whipped Cream & Fruit
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Servings
Ingredients
Coconut Whipped Cream
Sugared Kiwis
Mini Angel Food Cakes
Servings
Ingredients
Coconut Whipped Cream
Sugared Kiwis
Mini Angel Food Cakes
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Instructions
Coconut Whipped Cream
  1. Chill the can of coconut milk in the fridge for at least 24 hours. About an hour before making the coconut whipped cream, chill a mixing bowl & beaters in the freezer.
  2. After chilling the can, remove it from the fridge & FLIP IT UPSIDE DOWN. Open the can & scoop the solid white coconut cream into the chilled bowl. Save the coconut water for another use (such as a smoothie).
  3. Using a mixer, whip the cream until fluffy & smooth. Add in sweetener & vanilla. Return whipped cream to fridge until ready to use. It will firm when chilled & soften at room temperature.
Sugared Kiwis
  1. In a bowl, place sliced kiwi, add a sprinkling of sugar across the top. Gently give it a stir & cover it with a lid or saran wrap. Place bowl in the fridge & allow to sit for at least 4 hours or overnight. The sugar softens up the kiwis & brings out its own juices to make a syrup. More sugar generally will mean more syrup.
Mini Angel Food Cakes
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. You will need 4 mini bundt pans OR mini angel food pans.
  2. In a small bowl, sift together flour & 4 Tbsp sugar.
  3. In a large bowl, on high speed, beat egg whites until foamy, about 1 minute. Add lemon juice, vanilla & salt.
  4. Gradually beat in the remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Then continue beating on high speed until STIFF peaks form, about 4-5 minutes.
  5. Fold in the flour mixture using a rubber spatula until all of the flour is incorporated, being careful not to deflate the egg whites.
  6. Divide batter between 4 mini bundt or angel food pans. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown & tops spring back when touched. Cool completely. Assemble desserts & serve.
Recipe Notes
  • Some brands of canned coconut milk will be better than others for making whipped cream & even some cans within the same brand can vary quite a bit. 
  • Always look for a full-fat can that does NOT have guar gum listed in the ingredient list.
  • I used the full-fat  AROY-D brand & it worked quite well.

Raspberry Pistachio Muffins w/ Peaches

For some reason, when I was making these muffins, they made me think about when Brion & I had traveled in Europe years ago. You were offered a ‘continental breakfast’ with your hotel stay. Its all pretty common place these days, but as always, the history behind it is interesting.

A continental breakfast is defined as, ‘a light breakfast in a hotel, restaurant, etc., that includes baked goods, jam, fruit, and coffee’. All of which were shelf-stable items in portion sizes that are perfect for large groups of people.

The term continental breakfast originated in Britain in the mid-19th Century. To the British, the continent refers to the countries of mainland Europe. A continental breakfast describes the type of breakfast you’d encounter in places like France and the Mediterranean. Its a lighter, more delicate alternative to the full English or American breakfasts.

Along with being cost effective … you don’t need much staff to tend a few trays of bagels, pastries and carafes of orange juice & coffee in the lobby. Guests like the convenience of the food and the perceived value of getting something for free.

Today, the continental breakfast included in the price of the room is pretty much standard in most hotels worldwide.

Long story short, these little fruit filled muffins fit the bill perfectly!

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Raspberry Pistachio Muffins w/ Peaches
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper baking cups.
  2. In a food processor, pulse pistachios until finely ground. In a medium bowl, whisk together pistachios, flour, sugar, baking powder & baking soda. Add peaches, stirring to coat them.
  3. In another bowl, whisk yogurt, butter, eggs, vanilla & orange zest. Fold in the dry ingredients making sure not to over mix. Divide batter between the 12 muffin cups. Insert 2 or 3 whole raspberries into each muffin. Sprinkle with some slivered pistachios. Push them down a bit into the batter so they don't fall out when the muffins rise.
  4. Bake for 25 minutes or until risen & golden. Cool in muffin tin for 10 minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if you wish.

Raspberry Sour Cream Pie

The perfect pie for a summer evening. First off, if your not accustomed to using sour cream in a sweet pie filling you will probably cringe. My first encounter with this idea was many years ago and I’m still addicted.

Sour Cream has worked its way into many facets of my baking and cooking, so for me its a basic fridge staple. I know for some people it happens all too often … you pick up a container of sour cream to have on some tacos and then what to do with the rest before it spoils??

This pie recipe makes an extra deep dessert. It works well in a spring-form pan or a deep pie dish. The crunchy, buttery brown sugar streusel on top is lightly accented with cardamom spice & fresh lemon zest. It is the perfect foil to the lush, rich sour cream and raspberry filling.

I should mention, its best not to use light or fat-free sour cream. Another thing, is to bake the pie until the filling is set THEN top with the streusel and bake until golden. This is a pie that is best served cold or just slightly warm as it will not be firm enough to slice if it is hot.

Raspberries lovers … this one is for you!!

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Raspberry Sour Cream Pie
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Servings
Ingredients
Shortbread Crust
Raspberry Filling
Servings
Ingredients
Shortbread Crust
Raspberry Filling
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Instructions
Shortbread Crust
  1. In a bowl, combine butter & sugar; beat until light & fluffy. Mix in flour & baking powder; blend together. Pat dough in a 9-inch spring form pan or a deep dish pie pan.
Raspberry Filling
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. In a bowl, combine sugar, flour & salt; whisk in eggs, sour cream & vanilla until smooth. Place raspberries in pie shell & pour filling over top. Bake for 30-35 minutes OR UNTIL FILLING IS JUST SET.
Streusel
  1. In a bowl, combine all streusel ingredients until well blended. After the pie filling is set, remove from the oven & turn the heat down to 350 F. Squeeze the streusel between your fingers & palms to create clumps ranging in size from small to large grapes then top pie with it. Bake an additional 10-15 minutes OR until streusel is golden brown.
  2. Remove from oven & allow pie to cool completely on a wire rack to thicken further. Serve warm or at room temperature. Refrigerate any leftover pie.
Recipe Notes
  • Even though I mentioned you should use a full fat sour cream, I chose to use a fat free one too lighten up on the calories.
  • The only difference is, it will take longer to bake & the filling is not quite as firm in the end result.
  • As far as the taste goes, there is no difference. It's heavenly!!

Rhubarb Pastries

Here we are at that time of year when rhubarb makes an appearance once again. As always, if you read my blog, you know I can’t resist featuring numerous rhubarb recipes during its growing season. The question is … do you love it or hate it? It demands an opinion. Is it fruit or a vegetable? Is it red or is it green? Doesn’t matter …. rhubarb is rhubarb. It is what it is and doesn’t care if we love it or leave it.

Today, I have made some rhubarb pastries. The tartness is there, as it should be, but is mellowed a bit by the velvety cream cheese so the sharpness is balanced. The night before just put the frozen puff pastry in the fridge to defrost. Make up the rhubarb compote and cream cheese mixture so they can chill overnight. The next morning its nothing more than a quick assembly job before you are ready to bake them.

Great little ‘upscale’ breakfast pastry!

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Rhubarb Pastries
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Rating: 5
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Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine American, European
Keyword rhubarb danish
Servings
Ingredients
Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine American, European
Keyword rhubarb danish
Servings
Ingredients
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Rhubarb Compote
  1. In a small pot, place rhubarb, orange juice, sugar, cinnamon, anise, vanilla & ginger. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low; simmering for about 10 minutes. Rhubarb should be tender but still hold its shape. Set aside to cool completely.
Cream Cheese Filling
  1. In a bowl, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, egg yolk, salt & vanilla together until well combined. Store in fridge until chilled. As with the compote, the cream cheese bakes better in these when it is chilled.
Assembly
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Lay puff pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface & use a pizza cutter to create 16 small triangles (first cutting eight rectangles & then splitting them into 2 triangles each). Spread each triangle with a thin layer of cream cheese mixture & top with some rhubarb compote. Starting at the long end, roll each triangle into a crescent shape. Transfer pastries to a parchment lined baking sheet with space in between each one.
  3. Refrigerate pastries for 10 minutes then beat together egg white & water. Brush the surface of pastry with egg wash & bake 12-15 minutes or until golden. Allow to rest on baking tray for 5 minutes, then move to a cooling rack.
Topping
  1. In a bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, extract & milk. Drizzle over danish & garnish with toasted almond slices. Serve warm.
Recipe Notes
  • Usually puff pastry is packaged containing 2 sheets. I only wanted to make one but you will definitely have enough of the cream cheese & rhubarb fillings to make both sheets if you wish.

Avocado Dinner Buns w/ Major Grey’s Mango Chutney

Although, avocados are most traditionally used as a main ingredient in guacamole or to top a salad or sandwich, used in baking they are amazing.

When adding them into yeast bread recipes, you can replace all the butter with equal amounts of room temperature, mashed, ripe avocado. The ripeness of the avocado is very important as it needs to be very soft for it to work perfectly.

In addition to their creamy texture and mild flavor, avocados have a high water content so they can help to make baking softer, chewier and less likely to crumble.

You can freeze mashed, fresh, ripe avocados if you want to have an ’emergency supply’ on hand. To freeze, mash the avocados with a fork or blender. Add some lime juice and mix well. For every avocado use about 1 tablespoon of lime juice to prevent them from browning. Fill a freezer weight zip-lock bag with this puree. Remove the air from the bag, then zip closed and freeze. Best to use frozen avocados within 4-5 months of freezing.

I thought some Major Grey’s mango chutney would be a perfect compliment to these avocado rolls. Major Grey’s chutney is a style of chutney not a brand. The ingredients in Major Grey’s chutney vary both across commercial brands and recipes, but a few elements seem to remain constant like mangoes, raisins, citrus, onions, a sugar of some sort, and warm spices. The chutney is sweet and tangy with a nice ‘kick’ of heat at the end that’s enough to compliment the different layers of flavor without consuming them. You will often see it served with curried dishes or as a compliment to meats and cheeses.

Major Grey’s chutney is considered by many the gold standard of all chutneys. Complete with its own legend of a 19th Century British Army officer who presumably lived in British India and created this unique condiment.

The great part about making your own chutney is that you can tailor the ‘sweet & heat’ balance to your own preferences. Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with just picking up a jar at the supermarket!!

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Avocado Dinner Buns w/ Major Grey's Mango Chutney
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Servings
ROLLS
Servings
ROLLS
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Instructions
Avocado Rolls
  1. In a small bowl, place yeast, lukewarm milk & 1 tsp sugar. Stir; cover & set aside until frothy, about 10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together remaining 1/4 cup sugar, mashed avocado, eggs. Add yeast mixture & stir to combine.
  3. In another bowl, whisk flour & salt. Add flour mixture to yeast mixture gradually, combining after each addition. Once all flour has been added, knead on a lightly floured surface for about 2 minutes.
  4. Lightly grease the large bowl, place dough in it & cover with plastic wrap & a tea towel. Allow to rest for at least an hour in a draft-free place until dough has doubled in volume.
  5. Punch dough down. Divide into 18 equal pieces in shape into balls. Place into a greased baking dish & cover with plastic wrap/towel. Allow to rise until doubled in volume, about an hour.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake rolls about 20 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven; cool for just a few minutes then brush with the Tbsp of butter. Serve with Mango Chutney.
Mango Chutney
  1. In a saucepan, combine all chutney ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, stirring, until reduced & thick. Refrigerate any not used on rolls.

Sweet Potato & Clementine Loaf Cake

Vegetables may seem like unusual ingredients to use in baked goods, but this style of cooking is actually the perfect combination of savory comfort and earthy, wholesome flavor.

I know this isn’t a new concept. We have all eaten our fair share of zucchini bread and carrot cake but if you haven’t tried using sweet potato in baking, you should.

The naturally sweet, super-creamy ingredient can go way beyond the classic Thanksgiving casserole dish. Sweet or savory, sweet potatoes are versatile magic-makers. Not only will they add a pop of color but they can reduce the need for some of the expected flour, eggs and/or sugar as well as help in retaining moisture to keep baking from drying out.

In this loaf cake, I paired the sweet potato with some clementine orange, resulting in a real nice flavor!

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Sweet Potato & Clementine Loaf Cake
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Ingredients
Candied Clementines
Cake
Servings
Ingredients
Candied Clementines
Cake
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Instructions
Candied Clementine
  1. Thinly slice clementine orange into 1/4-inch rounds. Remove any seeds. Boil sugar & water in a saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low, then carefully add slices. Simmer until slices look slightly translucent, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat; lay candied slices on a wire rack & reserve syrup for cake batter.
Cake
  1. Prick unpeeled small sweet potato several times with a fork. Microwave on high until tender, turning halfway through, 5-8 minutes. Allow to cool about 20 minutes. Cut in half & scoop into a small bowl. Mash until smooth. Reserve 1/3 cup for cake. The rest can be used for something else or eaten as is.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line or spray a 9 X 5-inch loaf pan.
  3. Rub 1/2 cup sugar & orange zest in a medium bowl with your hands to release natural oils. Whisk in flour, baking powder & salt.
  4. In large bowl, whisk eggs, oil, 1/3 cup mashed sweet potato, orange juice & reserved candied clementine syrup. Stir in flour mixture until just combined. Scrape into prepared loaf pan & smooth top.
  5. Bake 35-40 minutes or until tests done. Cover loosely with foil if browning too quickly. Allow loaf to cool for 10 minutes in pan; remove to a rack to cool completely.
Glaze
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, marmalade & lemon juice. Brush loaf with glaze, then decorate with candied clementine slices.
Recipe Notes
  • Clementine rind is a little to bitter for our liking so I just removed it after it was candied & used the flesh.

Strawberry Lime Cheesecake Cups

The flavor of lime has not always been one that I have enjoyed. It always seemed to have an overall harsh characteristic about it. After we spent a few holidays in the Yucatan, Brion started using lime juice in his chicken soup and really enjoyed it. From there I swapped out the lemon juice for lime in our guacamole. Now here I am putting it in cheesecake. Who knew it could be that good!

A squeeze of lime juice is vital to many classic dishes. It’s the kick in a margarita, the spark that ignites many curries and the tart foil to sweetness in a host of desserts. Conveniently, for such an indispensable ingredient, limes are available year round.

Lime pairs well with apple, berries, cherry, ginger, papaya, plum and strawberry to name a few. Today, I’m using it in a cheesecake filling. It seems like a nice little dessert to start off the month of June.

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Strawberry Lime Cheesecake Cups
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Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine American, French
Keyword cheesecake
Servings
Ingredients
Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine American, French
Keyword cheesecake
Servings
Ingredients
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Cheesecake Filling
  1. In a bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar & lime juice & beat well. When cookie cups have completely cooled, pipe the filling in them & top with a fresh strawberry. Refrigerate until served.