Dutch Apple Pumpkin Cheesecakes

For Canadians, Thanksgiving is just a couple of days away. Even if the basics are the same across the country …. turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes …. every family has their own special twist they put on it somewhere. That could easily come in the form of dessert.

There are few flavors that say autumn better than pumpkin and ginger but why not switch up the traditional pumpkin pie for something extra special. I’m thinking, what’s wrong with combining a number of our favorites in one dessert!

Starting with a gingersnap crust for the base, then a pumpkin cream cheese layer topped with cinnamon apples. The thing with ‘Dutch apple’ (pie) that sets it apart is the crumb/streusel topping. So in keeping with the name of this recipe, I’m making a streusel topping as the final layer of our Thanksgiving dessert. Of course, you can always add a scoop of ice cream.

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Dutch Apple Pumpkin Cheesecakes
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Servings
Ingredients
Gingersnap Base
Pumpkin Cheesecake Filling
Apple Filling
Streusel
Servings
Ingredients
Gingersnap Base
Pumpkin Cheesecake Filling
Apple Filling
Streusel
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Instructions
Gingersnap Base
  1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Line mini cheesecake pans with paper liners.
  2. In a food processor, add gingersnap cookies & process until you have fine crumbs. Place in a bowl; add butter & mix until fully combined. Evenly distribute the mixture between the mini cheesecake pans. Press each one down firmly & bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven & set aside to cool.
Cheesecake Filling
  1. In a bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, vanilla & spice for 1-2 minutes until smooth & creamy. Add in the pumpkin puree & mix until fully combined. Turn mixer to low speed & add egg; beating ONLY till just combined.
Apple Filling
  1. Prepare apples & combine with cinnamon, sugar & flour.
Streusel
  1. In a small bowl, combine oatmeal, flour, brown sugar & cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly.
Assemble & Bake
  1. Evenly distribute the cheesecake filling over the gingersnap crusts. Top with apple filling then spoon an even layer of streusel over each cheesecake cup.
  2. Bake at 325 F. for 10-12 minutes or JUST until cheesecakes are set. Remove from oven & allow to cool at room temperature for at least an hour.
  3. Serve topped with a bit of whipped cream or ice cream if desired.
Recipe Notes
  • I have always loved Dutch 'Speculaas' spice so I used it in all 3 parts of the filling instead of what I listed in the recipe. It has a unique combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cardamom, aniseed, mace & black pepper.
  • This recipe can be easily halved if 36 is too many for you.

Purple Yam (Ube) Tarts

If you follow our blog, you have probably noticed my love for ube (pronounced ‘ooh-bae’), the starchy vegetable also known as purple yam. This veggie isn’t just any old root vegetable. Although it is similar to taro & sweet potatoes, it is neither. Yams, for one, grow on vines, while sweet potatoes grow underground. Though ube is originally native to the Philippines, its become an international sensation for its unique color and sweet, starchy flavor.

There are endless things you can make with these purple yams. I’m keeping it simple today with some tarts, but I’m going to make a special ‘Breton Shortbread’ pastry for them. It’s hard to describe its texture – kind of a cross between cake & shortbread. When you first take a bite, there is a crispiness to the exterior, but then you reach a dense, almost cake-like interior full of buttery goodness.

Brittany is a region in the North of France, very close to the UK, with which it shares some traditions and cultural aspects. The region is famous for two of its local products: butter & sea salt. Breton is a Celtic language spoken, along with French, in Brittany, which is where this recipe originates.

There are many variations on the classic buttery, sandy-textured French version of shortbread cookies. The beauty of the Breton dough is its ease of mixing and shaping. In addition to using this dough for cookies, it can be used for dessert bases or tart shells as I’m doing today. It seemed like the perfect choice combined with ube jam topped with salty cheese.

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Purple Yam (Ube) Tarts
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Servings
TARTLETS
Ingredients
Ube Tart Filling (BEST MADE A DAY AHEAD OF USING)
Breton Shortbread Tart Shells
Topping
Servings
TARTLETS
Ingredients
Ube Tart Filling (BEST MADE A DAY AHEAD OF USING)
Breton Shortbread Tart Shells
Topping
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Instructions
Tart Filling
  1. In a medium, heavy saucepan, melt butter. Add cocoanut & condensed milks; stir until heated. Add thawed, grated purple yam & combine well. Cook over a low heat.
  2. It is important to stir the mixture often during cooking to prevent it from forming a 'crust'. This process takes about 40-50 minutes until yams are cooked. The mixture should be thick & sticky. Transfer to a glass bowl, cover with plastic wrap (touching the pudding surface) & set aside to cool. Refrigerate until used.
Tart Shells
  1. In a medium bowl, cream butter with sugar, salt & vanilla; add the egg yolk.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour & baking powder; add to creamed mixture. Blend well.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  4. Divide dough into 48 small portions & place them in silicone muffin pans (it should not be too thick. No need to press the dough down as that will be done after baking).
  5. Bake shells for 12 minutes. IMMEDIATELY after removing the shells from the oven, press the middle of each shortbread with a small pestle. The dough then rises up the sides & a hollow forms in the center for the filling.
Assembly
  1. Fill cooled tart shells with chilled yam filling. Sprinkle with grated Edam cheese. Serve.
Recipe Notes
  • These are best eaten after filling the shells as they will soften overnight.

Chai Spiced Sweet Rolls

Its the fall season, so bring on the chai flavored recipes! Fall can encompass many different flavors including apple, pumpkin, maple, cranberry and ginger just to name a few. To me, baked goods and chai spices are a no-brainer. Traditionally, chai is made into a tea which consists of milk, spices, sweetener and black tea. Chai spices can be used for so much more than just tea. Once you make your basic chai spice recipe, there are so many different ways to utilize it.

Chai can include a number of different spices. Cardamom is the most common ingredient, followed by some mixture of cinnamon, ginger, star anise and cloves. Pepper and coriander, nutmeg and fennel are also used but they are slightly less common.

In the winter of 2011, Brion & I traveled to Turkey for a month. That trip we were meeting up with a Trafalgar tour group in Istanbul. Arriving a day early gave us time to ‘snoop’ around a bit. Next to our hotel was a Starbucks, so we went in. When Brion ordered my coffee, they gave me a ‘Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte’ by mistake. The flavor was so incredible, I have been addicted to it ever since.

A stay in Istanbul would not be complete without a traditional and unforgettable boat excursion up the Bosphorus, that winding strait that separates Europe and Asia. Its shores are a mixture of past and present, grand splendor and simple beauty. Modern hotels stand next to shore-front wooden villas, marble palaces in contrast to rustic stone fortresses and elegant compounds neighbor small fishing villages. Since Turkey actually straddles two separate continents, its culture features strong elements and traditions from both east and west. At that point in time we found Turkey a relaxed country to travel in which made our time there very enjoyable.

This bread is literally like the food version of your favorite chai drink.

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Chai Spiced Sweet Rolls
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Ingredients
Dough
Glaze
Servings
Ingredients
Dough
Glaze
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Instructions
Dough
  1. In a small dish, combine yeast with lukewarm milk (or water) & 1 tsp of the sugar. Allow to sit for a few minutes until frothy.
  2. In a large bowl, slightly melt butter; cool a couple of minutes then whisk in egg. In another bowl, whisk together flour, salt & remaining sugar. Combine yeast mixture with butter mixture; then add flour mixture. Combine then turn onto a floured work surface & knead for about 5 minutes. Dough will be very soft but not sticky.
  3. Lightly grease bowl, place dough ball in it & cover with a tea towel. Place in a draft-free place to rise for about 20 minutes.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl, combine brown sugar & chai spices to make filling.
  5. When dough has risen, place on a lightly floured work surface & roll out into a rectangle about 12 x 16 inches in size. Spread with softened butter & sprinkle with brown sugar/spice mix.
  6. Beginning with one of the long edges, roll the dough up, pulling it first up & over the filling & working it carefully until you've created a tight log. Press/pinch along the seam to seal.
  7. Using a sharp knife, cut roll in a zig-zag fashion about 2-inches apart. Place wedges on prepared baking sheet, spacing to allow room for the buns to spread a bit. With a wooden skewer, press each wedge down across the center to form their unique shape. Cover & allow to rise until oven is ready. If you wish , make a bit of egg wash & gently brush over buns before baking.
  8. Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake rolls for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Place on a wire rack to cool.
Glaze
  1. In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar, milk & vanilla. Stir to create a smooth glaze. Once the rolls have cooled for about 10 minutes, drizzle with glaze.

Italian Rice Pudding Tarts (Budini di Riso)

This week we celebrate my husband, Brion’s birthday. In previous years I would be able to post a ‘birthday pic‘ with a wonderful holiday background …. you know the kind with tropical plants, ocean, and such. Due to the covid pandemic keeping us close to home for the last year or so, my birthday picture of Brion is in our back yard but notice we have a tropical Canna close by!! During the interlude away from being able to travel, Brion has had to wear another ‘hat’, and has been there for me through numerous surgeries. I am incredibly grateful for that and the speedy recovery that comes through such love & care.

I had read about this little treat sometime back but had put it on hold for a special occasion and today’s the day!

Named after the principal ingredient used in the filling, budini di riso is a typical pastry coming from Siena, a medieval city in the region of Tuscany, located in the north of Italy.

Every summer, from May to July, until the 1960’s (and even 1970’s in some places), thousands of female seasonal workers would make their way to the Po Valley in northern Italy. Here, in the rice fields, they went to work as ‘mondine’. Their task was to remove weeds that could stunt the growth of the rice plants.

The compensation of these women consisted not only in money but also 1 kg of rice for each day of work. Hence the wide spread use of rice throughout the region in both savory and sweet preparations.

This rice custard tart is a combination of a creamy, vanilla scented rice pudding with a caramelized top, all baked in a crisp shortbread pastry crust. There are many variations for this Italian classic. Some like to make it with a crust, others prefer it without. Other recipes may also add fresh squeezed lemon juice for a citrus flavor.

Today, rice is the world’s most widely consumed cereal grain, which means that virtually every culture has a rice pudding they call their own.

Part pie … part rice pudding, these little tarts can be eaten for breakfast, as an afternoon snack or for dessert, they are just plain good anytime.

BIRTHDAY WISHES TO MY LOVE, YOU’RE THE BEST!

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Italian Rice Pudding Tarts (Budini di Riso)
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Servings
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Short Crust Pastry Shells
Rice Pudding
Raspberry Topping
Servings
Ingredients
Short Crust Pastry Shells
Rice Pudding
Raspberry Topping
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Instructions
Tart Shells
  1. In a bowl, sift together flour, rice flour, powdered sugar, salt & baking powder. Add butter & rub together with fingertips to make soft crumbles.
  2. In a small bowl, beat egg; add to flour mixture & work into a smooth ball of dough. DO NOT OVERMIX. Flatten dough ball & wrap in plastic wrap; chill in refrigerator.
Rice Pudding (Filling)
  1. Place rice in a saucepot. Cover with water & bring to a boil. Rinse rise; return blanched rice back in saucepot & cover with milk. Add cinnamon stick & lemon zest. Cook over low heat, stirring often until rice has absorbed most of the milk & rice mixture becomes soupy.
  2. Remove rice-milk mixture from heat & add butter; stir well. Place rice mixture in a bowl to cool. Stir & cool for about 20 minutes. In a bowl, combine eggs, sugar & vanilla; add to cooled rice mixture.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  4. Roll out the chilled pastry to a 1/8-inch thickness. Traditionally these little rice tarts have straight sides. The fastest way to do this is to cut out pastry disks with a glass or lid as big as the bottom of the muffin tin & press them gently in. Next cut with a knife some pastry strips to line the sides of the muffin tins. Press the pastry lightly with your fingers to seal the bottom with the side strips.
  5. Spoon the rice pudding into the pastry shells & bake about 30-40 minutes or until golden brown on the edges. Prepare raspberry topping.
Raspberry Topping
  1. In a saucepan, place frozen raspberries & heat until thawed. Stir in the sugar & bring to a slow simmer. In a cup, dissolve the cornstarch in water & stir into raspberry puree. Bring to a boil & simmer for about 1-2 minutes or until thickened. The mixture will thicken a bit more as it cools.
Serving
  1. Serve rice tarts warm or cold with raspberry topping & yogurt, whipped cream or ice cream. If you would prefer, just a dusting of icing sugar or as is works just as well.

‘Twisted’ Mango Pie Bread

Bread shaping as an art form has a long history. Some types of dough lend themselves well to particular shapes. For instance, a high fat mixture like a brioche can be shaped or braided easily, while a sticky variety is better suited to something simpler.

Apart from braiding bread into a variety of shapes you can simply use the twisted method. No different than making a cinnamon twist but with a bit more prep work involved.

The filling is where you can let your personal imagination and creativity take over. I chose to make some mango filling for ours but any choice that appeals to you works. A note worth mentioning about filling though is that filled strands need more care during handling and twisting as they are prone to tearing.

The question to egg wash or not to egg wash? The main purpose of it is to enhance the top crust with a shine and crispiness. Even though I’m going to brush my bread with cream cheese glaze, I think its still a good idea.

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'Twisted' Mango Pie Bread
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Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword mango pie bread
Servings
WEDGES
Ingredients
Bread Dough
Mango Filling
Cream Cheese Glaze
Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword mango pie bread
Servings
WEDGES
Ingredients
Bread Dough
Mango Filling
Cream Cheese Glaze
Votes: 1
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Instructions
Bread Dough
  1. 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.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, 1/4 cup sugar & salt. Add yeast mixture, melted butter & beaten 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 damp towel. Set aside to rise for about 20-30 minutes.
Mango Filling
  1. While the bread dough is rising, place all ingredients for the mango filling (except cream cheese), in a heatproof bowl. Combine & microwave for 1-2 minutes until it resembles puree. Allow to cool. With a handheld mixer, mix mango puree & cream cheese to make the filling for bread.
Assembly & Baking
  1. Deflate dough slightly & divide into 4 equal parts & form into balls. On a lightly floured work surface, roll each ball into roughly 12-inch circles.
  2. Divide the filling into thirds. Spread 3 of the dough circles with mango filling. Layer them, ending with the circle that was left without filling. Using a pizza cutter, divide the layered dough into 10 equal strips.
  3. Line a 12-inch round pie dish with parchment paper. Carefully twist strips & place in pie dish, side by side. Cover with a greased piece of plastic wrap & allow to rise in a draft free place for about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  5. Brush with egg wash & bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven & allow to cool for about 10 minutes. While the bread is cooling make the cream cheese glaze.
Glaze
  1. In a small bowl, Beat together cream cheese,, butter & vanilla. Add sifted powdered sugar & beat to a smooth consistency. When bread is still warm brush with glaze.

Lemon Cardamom Crinkle Cookies

The flavor of lemon always seems to give such a refreshing taste to everything its used in. I think these lemon crinkle cookies are just perfect for celebrating spring.

Many of us recall the original chocolate crinkle cookies from the 1960’s ….fudgy & sweet with such a unique look. Most cookies have top crusts that remain relatively soft and flexible as the cookies set during baking. However, if the top surface dries out before the cookie is finished spreading and rising, it hardens, cracks and pulls apart, producing an attractive crinkly, cracked exterior.

Historically these were a wintertime or Christmas holiday cookie. A women by the name of Helen Fredell of St. Paul, Minnesota, USA is believed to have created the first actual crinkle cookie. The original recipe contained molasses and spices such as cloves, cinnamon and ginger. The recipe was later published in Betty Crocker’s ‘Cooky Carnival Cookbook’. I have also seen a reference to the crinkle cookie having originated in the Philippines.

Whatever the origin, they have definitely evolved over the years. Once you’ve got the hang of the basic recipe your flavor options are endless. For example, a few suggestions are Kahlua, pumpkin, ginger, mocha, peppermint, sesame, cinnamon, peanut butter, matcha, orange, red velvet, egg nog & purple ube etc. etc. Amazing!!

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Lemon Cardamom Crinkle Cookies
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COOKIES
Servings
COOKIES
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cardamom, baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, lemon & orange zest; set aside. Sift powdered sugar into another dish to ensure there are no lumps; set aside.
  3. In another bowl, cream together butter & granulated sugar on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl with a spatula, add the eggs one at a time until incorporated. Add vanilla & beat until blended. With a spatula, fold in flour mixture.
  4. Divide batter into 24 pieces (about 1 1/2 Tbsp each), then roll the portioned dough into balls. Roll the balls in the sifted powdered sugar & place on baking pan at least 2-inches apart.
  5. Bake 12-14 minutes, until the surface of the cookies has cracked & puffed up. The cookies will not be browned. Cool on a wire rack.
Recipe Notes
  • Creaming the butter & sugar together is such an important step because you are cutting little holes in the butter with the abrasive sugar. Those little holes will expand from the leavening properties of the baking powder during baking ensuring that the cakey, tender texture characteristic of this cookie is achieved.

Swiss Roll w/ Ube Halaya

Ube (pronounced ooo-bae) originated in the Philippines and refers to a bright purple yam. Ube is a very versatile ingredient. It is not a purple sweet potato or taro, it is a purple yam. Its unique taste reminds one of vanilla, pistachios or chestnuts. The vibrant purple color inside and out is uniquely photogenic.

Fresh ube seems to be fairly difficult to find in North America but with a little persistence it is possible. There are a few different forms it is sold in. Dehydrated powder, extract, ube halaya (or paste) or as a grated frozen product. Ube is not an exotic ingredient in the Philippines but a common everyday staple.

This brings us to today’s recipe. Rolled cakes have been around for years but still have such a unique and modern look to them. In North America the terminology evolved from Jelly Cake (1852), Roll Jelly Cake (1860), Swiss Roll (1872), Jelly Roll (1873) and Rolled Jelly Cake (1876).The name ‘Jelly Roll’ was eventually adopted. I recall my mother’s version as a yellow sponge cake with a red jam rolled inside.

In the Philippines a rolled variant has a very simple filling of sugar and butter. Modern versions, however, are commonly frosted and can include a variety of fillings flavored with ube.

My love for ube continues as this is now my fourth blog centered around it. It seems that unique flavor and gorgeous lavender color is finding its way into an endless variety of desserts these days.

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Swiss Roll w/ Ube Halaya
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Course dessert
Cuisine Filipino
Servings
Ingredients
Ube Halaya (Jam) Filling
Course dessert
Cuisine Filipino
Servings
Ingredients
Ube Halaya (Jam) Filling
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Instructions
Ube Halaya (Jam)
  1. In a medium saucepan, melt butter. Add coconut & condensed milks; stir until heated. Add thawed, grated ube & stir everything together. This process takes about 40-50 minutes until the ube is cooked. The mixture will be thick & sticky. It is important to stir the mixture often during cooking process to prevent it from forming a crust. When cooked, transfer the ube halaya to a container. Cover it with plastic wrap, making sure it is touching the ube paste to prevent a skin from forming & set aside. I find, making this filling a day ahead makes everything come together a lot easier.
Roll Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 10x15x1-inch jelly roll pan with parchment paper (bottom & sides). Lightly grease the parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the yolks with a hand whisk until lighter in color. Add 1/4 cup sugar & continue to whisk the mixture until it has slightly thickened. Add the milk, oil & vanilla to the bowl. Whisk until incorporated.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour & baking powder. Gradually add this mixture to the yolk mixture & beat with the hand whisk until smooth & lump free.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar & beat until soft peaks form. Add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar gradually while the mixer is running & continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Fold the beaten egg whites (meringue) into the yolk batter in three additions using a rubber spatula until the color of the batter is uniform.
  5. Pour half of the batter into another mixing bowl. Gently fold in some violet food color. Spread the plain batter on the pan, using a rubber spatula to help spread it evenly. Gently pour the colored batter on top of the plain batter. Spread this batter out very gently so the two batters don't get mixed together.
  6. Use a chopstick & start drawing a pattern horizontally first in a continuous motion & then vertically in a continuous motion as well. Gently tap the baking sheet on your work surface once or twice to release air bubbles. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. While the cake bakes, grate the cheese; set aside.
  7. Remove the cake from the oven & lift it out of the pan immediately to a cooling rack & peel off parchment paper from the 4 SIDES. Let it cool for about 5-6 minutes then place a new piece of parchment paper, larger than the cake, on top of the cake & flip over to the other side. Peel off the parchment paper from bottom.
  8. Use a serrated knife to trim about 1/4-inch of the 4 edges. This makes rolling the cake easier. You should roll parallel to the direction of the last hurricane line you drew earlier or the pattern won't show when you cut it. If you trim the side that will be on the bottom at an angle, you cake will sit better when its rolled up. On the side you are going to start rolling, make 4 shallow slices about an inch apart. This helps the cake to roll easier without cracking.
  9. Spread the ube halaya on the surface of the cake. You want to spread most of it near the side you are going to roll up from. There should be less filling towards the other end because as you roll up, the filling will get pushed forward & by the time you roll to the other end, it should be just the right amount of filling.
  10. Very gently use one hand to lift the parchment paper up to help you roll the cake up until you reach the other side. Remove the parchment paper & place the cake on a serving plate. Sprinkle with grated cheese. Loosely tent cake with parchment paper being careful to not have it touching the surface of the cake. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Decorate & Serve
  1. When cake is cool & 'set', decorate with additional ube paste & slice. Serve.
Recipe Notes
  • I used about 2 cups of the ube filling for inside the roll. Don't worry if you have extra when your finished decorating, it is so good you will probably enjoy eating any leftovers by the spoonful!

Fig Bread

Today, March 28th, marks the date of my mothers birth. Although she left this earth 43 years ago, her memory remains crystal clear. She was a wonderful mother who made our lives so much better in ways we never realized. She set a good example just by the way she lived the ‘best version of herself’.

When this date rolls around each year, I like to post something on the blog that I think she would have enjoyed to make. Baking was a ‘job’ she really seemed to enjoy and our family certainly reaped the benefits of that.

Since Easter is only a week away, I thought a fig bread would be nice. Fruit appears in myths from around the world with figs being regarded as a sacred symbol by many.

Velvety soft on the outside with sweet crimson flesh within, the fig is a captivating food. Widespread and abundant throughout the Mediterranean region, figs have been eaten fresh and dried for storage for thousands of years. The fig found its way to America with Spanish missionaries who brought the fruit to Southern California (USA), in the 1700’s. The variety became known as ‘Mission’ figs.

Easter and Good Friday inspire a particularly rich array of decorative breads and buns that make some of the nicest edible centerpieces.

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Fig Bread Wreath
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Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine American, European
Keyword Fig bread
Servings
Ingredients
Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine American, European
Keyword Fig bread
Servings
Ingredients
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Bread Dough
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together yeast, 1 tsp sugar & warm milk. Set aside for about 5 minutes until frothy
  2. 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. Allow to rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
Fig Filling
  1. Coarsely chop figs. In a bowl, cream together butter, sugar, cinnamon & cardamom; add figs. Stir to combine & set aside.
Assemble & Bake
  1. Fit a piece of parchment paper to cover bottom & sides of a 10-inch round springform baking pan. Deflate dough & divide into 6 parts. One small part of the dough will be used to for the middle. Roll out in a round circle & place a scoop of filling in the center. Pull sides up around filling & pinch together. Place the 'bun' in the middle of the pan, seam down. Roll out another small piece of the dough into a circle. Cut it into parallel strips then place strips over bun in a weave pattern.
  2. Next roll each of the remaining 4 strips into long rectangles (about 6" x 16" each). Divide filling between 2 of the strips, placing a row down the center of each one. Bring sides together over filling & pinch to seal.
  3. Lay one filled strip over each of the 2 remaining rectangles of pastry (seam side down). Cut angled strips on either side of filled pastry. Using these strips, form a braid over top.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 F. Transfer braids to baking pan forming 2 circles around the center ball. Beat egg wash together & brush over surface of bread wreath. Allow to rise for about 15 minutes in a draft-free place.
  5. Bake until golden brown about 30 minutes. Remove from oven & place on a wire rack to cool.
Cream Cheese Glaze
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together cream cheese, butter, vanilla & powdered sugar until smooth. Drizzle or pipe over fig bread. Decorate with fresh figs if desired.

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.

Pearl Couscous Pudding w/ Poached Fruit

While names may be confusing, if you have never tried ‘pearl couscous’, you should. Because of its size and shape, Israeli couscous is sometimes marketed as pearl couscous. Yet in Israel, it goes by neither of these names … its called ‘ptitim’ which roughly translates to ‘little crumbles’. To make it even a bit more confusing … although it is called couscous, technically its not but more like a pasta.

Unlike the finely grained North African couscous made of semolina, Israeli couscous has larger granules, resembling tiny pearls. They are made from a paste of moistened, finely ground, hard wheat flour which is forced through a machine to make round pellets and then toasted dry in ovens. The toasting process seals in the starch to prevent the ‘pearls‘ from falling apart when later cooked in liquid. It also gives the pasta a bit of a nutty taste.

Whatever name you prefer, it is a tasty alternative to rice or pasta. Not only will it serve as a base for vegetable and herb packed salads, it can be stirred with stock to make creamy risottos or use it as a replacement for tapioca or rice in dessert puddings. Its even good just as a side dish tossed with oil or butter, lemon and fresh herbs.

I was able to buy just a small amount at the bulk store so I could make this pudding. The poached fruit makes such a nice topping for it as well.

Print Recipe
Pearl Couscous Pudding w/ Poached Fruit
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Servings
Ingredients
Pudding
Poached Strawberries & Rhubarb
Servings
Ingredients
Pudding
Poached Strawberries & Rhubarb
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
Pudding
  1. In a saucepan, combine coconut oil with cardamom spice over medium-low heat. Add couscous & toast, stirring occasionally, just until the couscous has turned a light golden brown.
  2. Add coconut milk, making sure to get all the fat from the can, along with the sugar & salt. The pan should be hot enough that the coconut milk will bubble up & fizz a little then add vanilla.
  3. Bring mixture to a simmer then turn the heat down to low & cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. After 5 minutes turn off the heat, cover & allow to sit for 5 minutes then remove the lid & stir. Pudding thickens as it cools.
Poached Fruit
  1. In a large saucepan, place water & sugar over high heat & stir until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to low & add strawberries & rhubarb. Simmer for 10 minutes or until fruits are softened but still retain their shape. Cool.
Assembly
  1. Serve pudding at room temperature otherwise it becomes a solid mass when cold. If it's too thick you can stir in a bit more coconut milk to help thin it out, adding a tablespoon or so at a time until you have the desired consistency. Divide pudding between serving dishes & top with poached fruit to serve.