Archive for the ‘Puddings, Custards and Mousses’ Category
I always prefer to bring a homemade dessert to parties and family events when I can, but I know that there isn’t always time to put together an elaborate cake, a homemade pie or even a batch of cupcakes. Fortunately, there are plenty of easy desserts out there that still look absolutely stunning and will wow anyone at your next event. This Easy Pumpkin Tiramisu is one of them. The recipe is no-bake and starts out with just a few ingredients that, when combined, turn into a luscious, creamy and spicy dessert.
The cream for this recipe is made with mascarpone cheese, cream cheese and pumpkin puree. I found that cream cheese adds a little extra dimension to the pumpkin and a nice overall flavor to the dessert. I sweetened it up with some confectioners’ sugar and a hint of maple syrup, then added in pumpkin pie spice (my homemade blend) and vanilla to bring all the elements together. The end result is delicious – light and creamy, with a good pumpkin flavor but one that is milder than a pumpkin pie. It feels light, so it’s not hard to eat a piece after a big meal, either.
Like most tiramisus, I dipped my ladyfingers in espresso (very strong coffee also works well) before adding them to the dessert. Espresso and pumpkin may seem like an unusual combination, but just think about how popular pumpkin spice drinks are at Starbucks and other coffee shops in the fall and you’ll realize that the flavors actually go quite well together! I added a little vanilla and a pinch of pumpkin pie spice to flavor the coffee and to help really tie the coffee in to the rest of the dessert.
This dessert doesn’t take much time to make, but it does taste best if it has a couple of hours to sit so that the flavors can meld together. Make it the night before and leave it, covered, in the fridge overnight. Three or four hours in the fridge will do the trick, too (so you can chill it while you’re eating Thanksgiving dinner, for instance!), if you want to speed things along even more. Serve it with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar or a little dollop of whipped cream.
Sweet potato casserole is a must-have Thanksgiving side dish for many. It isn’t one that my family ever served when I was growing up, but after you’ve had a taste of one it is easy to see why the sweet side dish is such a favorite. I used it as inspiration for this Sweet Potato Bread Pudding with Marshmallow Topping. It’s a tribute to that side dish – complete with a layer of toasted marshmallows on top – that is meant to be served as dessert.
This bread pudding is made with sweet potato puree, brown sugar and a warm blend of cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg. The custard mixture looks and smells a lot like a very liquidy version of sweet potato pie filling. It is poured over cubed bread and left to soak for a bit before being poured into a baking dish and baked in the oven. I bake the bread pudding until it is set, then sprinkle the marshmallows over the top and slide the dish back under the broiler for a minute to toast them. I like the look of mini marshmallows, but full sized marshmallows make a fine topping, as well.
The bread pudding is rich, but not too heavy, and you can really taste the sweet potato. The spices – especially the hint of cardamom, which I love with sweet potato – give it a really nice depth of flavor, too. The bread pudding isn’t too sweet on its own (unlike some sweet potato casseroles!), so the sweetness from the marshmallow is a nice finish for this dessert, and also means that you don’t need to make a separate sauce for serving.
I typically use challah when I make bread pudding, as the tender and eggy loaves make a great base for a sweet dessert. If you don’t have challah, you can use something like brioche or even plain white bread. While you can pretty much use any kind of bread to make a bread pudding, I prefer not to use whole grain breads because some of them have a strong flavor and take away from the dessertiness of a sweet pudding. And since you’re topping this particular bread pudding off with a layer of toasted marshmallows anyway, you might as well not worry about whether you’re getting whole grains in it when you’re indulging in a slice.
Rice pudding is a dish that is typically served quite plain. If anything, it is usually flavored with a vanilla and topped with a little bit of cinnamon. It rarely gets dressed up. This is because rice pudding is known as comfort food, the kind of dish that you enjoy on a quiet night by yourself at home, rather than the kind of dish that you serve to guests. Like vanilla ice cream, however, a good rice pudding can be a blank canvas that you can put all kinds of flavors on. This Cherry Pie Rice Pudding is just one example of how to dress up a simple rice pudding and turn it int a company-worthy dessert that is still comfort food.
Cherry Pie Rice Pudding starts with a little bit of homemade cherry pie filling, made on the stovetop. The filling is divided into dessert cups and then vanilla rice pudding is layered on top of it. The cherries and vanilla blend well together, and it can be served warm or cold, depending on your preferences (and how patient you are before digging in!). It’s an easy dessert to make, but because of the dramatic color contrast, it is always impressive when it is served.
This rice pudding starts out with rice that has already been cooked or steamed. You can use plain, leftover rice from Chinese takeout (I always make rice pudding with leftover takeout rice!) or boil some yourself in water. Either way, let it cool down before using it. I typically use frozen or jarred cherries – I prefer sweet, black cherries when I have a choice – for the cherry portion of this dessert, as they have a great flavor. Frozen cherries do not need to be defrosted, and jarred cherries only need to be drained before using.
Pie wouldn’t be pie without a little bit of pie crust. I didn’t want to make a whole pie crust just to garnish my pudding, though. Instead, I garnished each dessert with a piece of graham cracker. The cracker lends a little bit of crunch and definitely evokes a graham cracker crust here. Plus, it gives each cup a very nice finished look.
Yogurt is one of my favorite ingredients to work with, and I use it regularly. I am particularly fond of thick, Greek-style yogurt and use the FAGE brand often because I like the rich and creamy consistency that it has – and the fact that it is all natural and high in protein doesn’t hurt either! I always have it on hand in my kitchen because it is so versatile. The tangy flavor of the yogurt compliments many different flavors, and works well in recipes from sauces to baked goods.
Panna cotta, or “cooked cream” in Italian, is a dessert that consists of a lightly sweetened cream mixture that is set with a small amount of gelatin. It is a delicate dessert, but very high in fat. I’ve had great results lightening up this Italian classic by using yogurt as the base instead of cream – and it is a great example of the versatility of the yogurt, because you might not expect to see it used in a recipe like this one!
Greek-style yogurt has the richness that you want in a panna cotta that you can’t really get from “regular” yogurt. The plain, lightly tangy flavor of FAGE Total is also a good base for other flavors. This particular panna cotta is flavored with passion fruit puree. Passion fruit is a tropical fruit that has a bold, almost citrusy flavor to it. It plays well with the natural tanginess of the yogurt and stands up to it easily. Passion fruit puree can be found in many grocery stores, either frozen or canned in the specialty foods section. You can also frequently find fresh passion fruit in the produce section, and can make your own puree by straining the seeds from the pulp of the fruit. Be sure to reserve a little of the passion fruit for garnishing the panna cottas, to add a little color and an extra punch of flavor before serving.
I used Fage Total 0% Greek yogurt in this recipe and still got a dessert that had a creamy consistency and was very satisfying. You can even use nonfat milk to make it even lighter! That said, you can use FAGE Total 2% or FAGE Total Classic Greek yogurt in this recipe, as well, so experiment with what you have on hand. Passion fruit works very well with the yogurt, but if you can’t find it, you can substitute other fruit purees or juices. Lemon adds a nice zestiness to this dish, and fresh orange juice also works well if you reduce the sugar in the panna cotta slightly.
If you’re a fan of FAGE Total, and like to experiment with it in your own kitchen (or want to play around with this recipe), you should also take a little time to enter a neat recipe contest that the brand is running. Visit the FAGE Total Plain Kitchen (http://www.fageusa.com/plainkitchen/) and submit your favorite FAGE Total recipe by 10/9/12 for a chance to have it served on the FAGE Total Plain Kitchen menu by master chef Bobby Flay, and be one of three winners to receive an all-expense paid trip to NYC for the FAGE Total Plain Kitchen Grand Opening Event.
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Legal residents of the 50 United States (D.C.), 21 years or older who did not purchase any equipment for the purposes of entering this contest. Enter Contest by: 10/9/12 at 12:00 p.m. ET. To enter and for Official Rules, including prize descriptions, visit www.fageusa.com/plainkitchen. Void where prohibited.
Key lime pie is a favorite dessert of mine in the summertime. This is not only because I like lime in general, but because the pie is so refreshing. These Key Lime Pie Parfaits put a little twist on the traditional key lime pie by dressing it up in neat little dessert cups that make for a very elegant presentation of a classic dessert.
The parfaits have the same components that you’ll find in a regular key lime pie: graham cracker crust, key lime filling, and whipped cream topping. The filling is made with sweetened condensed milk, lime juice and lime zest. The lime juice – key lime juice is idea, but fresh juice from regular limes works well, too – causes the sweetened condensed milk to thicken when it is added to it, and since this dessert is to be served in cups, it doesn’t need to get as firm as a regular pie filling would. You could use plain whipped cream for the topping, but I opted for the Vanilla Yogurt Whipped Cream that I used in some strawberry shortcakes the other day, so that the whipped cream would have a little more body and flavor to it.
I’ve seen similar key lime parfaits before and they all have one big problem: soggy crusts. Just like with a regular pie, your graham cracker crust needs to be baked to ensure that it does not immediately get soggy when you add the filling to it. I mixed up my crust mixture, spread it onto a baking sheet and baked it until it was crisp and golden, then broke it up into small crumbs. This gave my parfaits not only a delicious crumb crust element, but one that stayed crispy long after the parfaits had been assembled.
These parfaits are easy to make and are absolutely delicious. I would say that they might even be more delicious than a regular key lime pie, because the crust is always crispy and the filling has a tremendous amount of lime flavor, plus you don’t need to worry about your filling setting up properly in the oven. I used some dessert cups I have to assemble these, but you can use any kind cup, glass or small bowl. I recommend using something clear so that you can see the layers. I’ve given some guidelines for dividing up the three elements here. Feel free to make changes based on your serving dishes and how big you want your parfaits to be!