This simple but elegant dessert lets us enjoy a taste of the tropics right here at home this summer. It’s probably not hard to guess that Brion & I enjoy the flavor of mango by the number of recipes I’ve featured on the site.
The word brulee simply means burnt in French and we’ve come to know it through the dessert called ‘crème brulee’. If its not familiar, it is simply a soft custard that’s sprinkled with sugar and then caramelized with a butane torch. The surface bubbles and then hardens to a paper thin, crisp crackly sweet crust that shatters when you dig in.
I think mangoes are so good, they don’t need anything done or added to them but a few extra touches can make it into a simple but elegant dessert.
For this mango brulee, I have sprinkled brown sugar and spices over the cut sides and placed them under the broiler (or use a brulee torch) until the sugar has browned and bubbled. The sugar forms a thin crust, just like the classic French crème brulee.
Turn on the broiler; position the rack 6-inches below the heat source. Line a baking sheet with foil.
Cut through the mango on either side of the pit as evenly as possible.
In a small bowl, combine sugar & spices & sprinkle on top of each mango slice. Place mango slices on the prepared baking sheet. Make sure the mango slices are level so the sugar does not spill out. If you need to, use crumpled foil paper to steady the mango.
Broil for 3 minutes or until the sugar has caramelized.
Its hard to say if its the bright color of the fruit or the crisp flavor …. lemons just remind me of spring. I think, when you incorporate some limoncello liqueur into dessert recipes it takes them to a whole new level. Its tangy, refreshing and balances the sugary sweetness of cookies, cakes and many other confections.
Our first introduction to the taste of some authentic limoncello was in the town of Sorrento on the Amalfi Coast of Italy. In 2013, Brion & I had a wonderful holiday travelling throughout Italy. The Amalfi coast is known for its production of limoncello liqueur. It is only here, thanks to the Mediterranean climate, lemons grow with a thick skin that is rich with essential oils, fragrant and with a strong aroma. The lemon skin is the most important ingredient when it comes to making limoncello.
Stunning Amalfi , with its electric blue sea, terra cotta rooftops, bright white sand beaches, emerald hillsides and lemon tree lined streets, will be forever etched in our memories.
The hint of limoncello in the icing gives these simple little shortbread cookies such a nice flavor.
Pistachio Limoncello Cookies
Preheat oven to 325 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.
In a bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch & salt.
In a large bowl, beat butter & sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy & aerated, 4-5 minutes. Add milk & limoncello liqueur; beat for 1 minute.
Sift in half the flour mixture, then fold in with a spatula until just combined. Repeat. Spoon half of the shortbread batter into a piping bag fitted with a large, open star tip.
Pipe batter into 1 1/2-inch wide rosettes, 1 inch apart on a prepared sheets.
Bake shortbread ONLY until edges are lightly browned, 15-16 minutes. Let cool for 3 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool.
While shortbread cookies are baking, combine powdered sugar & limoncello. Drizzle over warm cookies. While icing is still wet, sprinkle the chopped pistachios over the tops. Allow to set before serving.
- Trace 1 1/2 inch circles onto parchment paper. Flip the paper over & use circles as a guide when piping rosettes.
Although we may change the way we celebrate Easter this year, we can still enjoy some great food. One of the special things about any holiday is the brunch that seems to come with it and Easter is no different. The word itself sounds like coziness.
The practice of creating special breads to celebrate holidays, harvests, religious rites and other occasions worldwide, dates back thousands of years. In some cases, breads aren’t symbolic as much as traditional, baked as a reminder of family, togetherness and celebration. They often contain warm spices like cinnamon or cardamom. Some have a touch of liqueur added to them while others are created in special shapes or have little surprises baked in them.
Cardamom may not get the acclaim of cinnamon, nor does it pop up in recipes as often as ginger, but its flavor pairing capabilities are extensive. This is a flavor that you may love or hate, but for me it is very addictive. Warm, subtly spicy, exotically aromatic, a flavor that transforms both sweet and savory recipes into heavenly dishes.
With some simple snipping and shaping, this cardamom sweet dough turns into adorable bunnies for Easter brunch. Edible table décor!
Cardamom Lime Easter 'Bunnies'
In a small bowl, whisk together yeast , 1 tsp sugar & lukewarm milk. Set aside until yeast mixture begins to form a frothy foam, about 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, remaining sugar & salt. Add yeast mixture, melted butter & egg. Knead until dough comes together in a ball & no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. Transfer dough to a greased bowl & cover with a tea towel. Set aside in a draft free place until dough doubles in size, about an 1 hour.
In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, lime zest, cardamom & butter. Mix well. Set aside.
In a small bowl, beat together cream cheese, butter & lime juice. Add powdered sugar & mix until glaze consistency. Set aside until buns are baked.
Assemble & Bake
Turn dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide in half; roll each half into a rectangle about 12x10-inches. Sprinkle filling evenly over one of the rectangles. Place the second sheet of pastry on top. Lay a piece of plastic wrap over the pastry & lightly roll with a rolling pin.
With a pizza cutter cut 14 strips. You will use 12 of the strips for 'bunnies' & 2 strips for their tails. To form bunnies, overlap one end of strip over the other to form a loop; bring the end that's underneath up over the top end, letting one end extend on each side to make ears.
Place the shaped 'bunnies' on a parchment lined baking sheet, leaving about 2-3-inches between them as they will expand a bit. Cut each of the remaining strips into 6 equal pieces. Roll each into a ball & place it in the loop to form the tail. Loosely cover the 'bunnies' & let them rise for about 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Brush bunnies with egg wash & bake for about 15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven & allow to cool slightly on a cooling rack.
While still slightly warm, brush bunnies with glaze. Sprinkle with lime zest & top tails with whites candies.
- If you prefer your bunnies to be a bit more plump, instead of making 12, just make 8 or 10.
The ultimate Easter bun! Who doesn’t love hot cross buns?! Given the baked good’s long history, legends and superstitions have had ample time to develop and grow around them.
Hot cross buns are inseparably linked to Easter and to Christianity. But in reality, they probably have pre-Christian origins. Cross buns were baked to celebrate ‘Eostre’, the Germanic Goddess after which the season of Easter is said to be named.
Over the years, the bun has evolved and changed. Victorian recipes suggest various glazes to top the bun with after baking, including molasses or a honey/turmeric combo. The buns have become spicier too, with the addition of mace, caraway seeds and even coriander.
While some hot cross buns appear on grocery and bakery shelves as early as New Year’s Day, the sweet bun is usually associated with the end of Lent.
Every year I like to try and make a different version of these traditional, seasonal treats. This year I’m going with a ‘rum raisin‘ idea. Should be good!
Rum & Raisin Hot Cross Buns
Rum & Raisin Filling
In a bowl, combine raisins, warm rum & sugar. Cover with plastic wrap & allow to sit for at least 40 minutes. Strain, discarding liquid.
In a large bowl, combine lukewarm milk, yeast & 1/4 cup sugar. Let stand until mixture is frothy, about 10 minutes.
In a bowl, whisk together 5 1/3 cups flour, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg & allspice. When yeast mixture is ready, add half of the flour mixture to it, beating until just combined. Beat in melted butter, eggs & rum/raisin mixture. Gradually add remaining flour mixture, kneading until smooth dough forms. Add remaining 1/3 cup flour if needed as the dough should not be sticky.
Grease a large bowl, place the dough in it& turn to grease top. Loosely cover & allow to rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Cream Cheese Filling (Balls)
In a shallow dish, combine sugar & cinnamon. Cut cream cheese into 12 cubes. Roll each into a ball shape then roll them in the cinnamon sugar, coating evenly. Divide dough into 12 pieces. Place a cream cheese ball in the center of each piece of dough, pinching to seal seam. Roll each piece of dough into a ball & place in PARCHMENT lined muffin cups. Cover & let stand in a warm, draft-free place for about 20 minutes.
In a small dish, whisk together egg & a Tbsp milk. When buns are ready to bake, brush with egg wash. Bake until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. While the are baking prepare RUM GLAZE & CROSS PASTE.
Rum Glaze & Cross Paste
In a small saucepan, place water, spiced rum & sugar. Over medium heat, bring ingredients to a simmer & allow to bubble gently for 3-5 minutes. The volume of the mixture should drop by at least half. Remove from heat & set aside until ready to use.
In a small dish, whisk together cornstarch, flour, sugar & water until a thick paste forms. You want your paste to be stiff enough to be able to pipe in a clean line, but still manageable.
Brush warm rolls with rum glaze & allow to cool. Using a pastry bag fitted with a piping tip, pipe paste over top of buns to form a cross.
- If you prefer, don't hesitate to make these buns without the cream cheese inside. I'm sure they will be just as good --- they're hot cross buns!!
HAPPY ST PATRICK’S DAY!
It’s that time of year when everything goes green in honor of Ireland’s patron saint. What was once simply a religious feast day back in the 17th century has somehow evolved into a grand celebration of Irish culture.
Of all the Irish myths that exist, the story of the leprechauns and their pots of gold, seems to have infiltrated American culture the most. There are many old European stories describing fictitious creatures that hoard treasures. In Irish folklore, fairies put a pot of gold at the end of each rainbow with leprechaun’s guarding it.
These moist cupcakes use fresh avocado in the batter then are filled with raspberry filling & topped with a lime cream cheese frosting. I think they definitely make a real ‘pot of gold’ treasure fitting for St Patrick’s Day.
Pot of Gold Cupcakes
Lime Cream Cheese Frosting
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line muffin pan with 8 cupcake liners.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking powder & sugar. Add butter to dry ingredients & rub in until it resembles crumbs.
In a blender. place avocado, egg, milk & lime juice; blend until creamy & smooth. Stir into flour mixture until JUST mixed.
Divide batter between the 8 paper cups. Bake 20-25 minutes or until they test done. Remove from oven & allow to cool before filling & frosting.
In a bowl, using a hand mixer, cream avocado with butter & cream cheese until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar. Once all the sugar is incorporated, add the lime juice & vanilla. Add milk as needed until frosting is light & fluffy. Beat on medium spread for 5 minutes.
When cupcakes are cool, cut a cone shape out of the center of each cupcakes with a sharp knife. Fill a piping bag, fitted with an opening that the raspberry will pass through. Pipe filling into each cupcake. Cut a small piece (of cake) from your cake 'cones' & place over filling.
Fill another piping bag (fitted with a star end). Pipe a swirl of lime frosting on top of each cupcake. Sprinkle your little 'pots of gold' with some gold pearls & lime zest if you wish.