Desserts

If you go to Spain, they call them Tostadas de Crema and they are part of the Carnival food, which is fantastic. The Carnival is celebrated to commemorate the arrival of Easter and it is when people use costumes, there is music and food, food and more food. Or that is what they say, as I have never been to Spain (but it is in my bucket list). Obviously the dessert is also eaten in Mexico, but there they call it Leche frita (literally fried milk) and it is served in many spaniard restaurants and some traditional Mexican restaurants they serve it too, claiming that it is a Mexican dessert. I honestly can't see how this would be a Mexican dessert as before the Spanish Invasion there were no cows in Mexico. Go figure.

In any event, it is a fantastic dessert to make and a crowd pleaser (who doesn't like fried food?...I already talked about it not long time ago). They serve it warm and it is delicious. The current wife who claims to be Mexican and that she comes from a long line of Mexican people going all the way to Quetzalcoatl. I have to admit, when she gets upset she does look like a feathered snake with red eyes and about to eat you, so I believe...well, she had never tried this dessert, so proudly I had a chance to show her something Mexican that she had never eaten. Ha!

This is a great dessert. It really doesn't take that much time, but it takes...muscle. Stir and stir and stir... but, at the end, the result is so tasty that you don't care (and gives you an opportunity to complain which can be good to your marital relations...looking for sympathy). Try and see...


Fried Milk (Leche Frita) AKA Cream Toasts (tostadas de crema)

Cooking Time: 60 Minutes   Makes 20 units
Ingredients

600 ml Milk

80 g Corn Starch

90 g Sugar
5 Egg Yolks

1 Cinnamon Stick 

-The peel of half a lime or lemon

1 Cup of flour

2 Eggs (beaten)

To prepare part II

1 Cup Canola oil or

3/4 Cup canola oil and

125 g Butter (choose either all canola oil or the mix canola-butter)

To Finish

1 Cup sugar
2 Tbsp Powdered Cinnamon

Cooking Instructions 

1. Using 100 ml of the milk, we’ll mix the corn starch with the little bit of milk that should be  cold, so is easy to mix. Reserve


2. Ina medium size pan, over high heat, warm the milk but do not reach  boiling point, adding the cinnamon sticks and the lime peel. Keep it in medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes so the flavor of the lime and the cinnamon is absorbed by the milk. Turn off the heat and reserve. 

3. In a medium size bowl mix the egg yolks with the sugar (mix for about 5 minutes so the sugar is 100% dissolved). Reserve

4. Place the bowl with the egg yolks-sugar mix on top of a pan with some water and warm it up using medium heat. Once is lukewarm add the milk with the cinnamon stick and the lime peel, in batches, stirring often so it incorporates to the egg mix. Once all milk has been incorporated to the egg yolks, keep stirring at
medium heat.

5. Now, let’s add the corn starch-milk mix and keep stirring. This is when the mix will start to thicken, so keep stirring for about 10 to 15 minutes. The mix will start to thicken (be patient!) and we will keep stirring until we get a firm mix with the consistency of mash potatoes. This is the point where we turn off the heat and reserve. It is extremely important that the mix is thick, otherwise the recipe will not work!!

6. Butter a glass (or metal) square pyrex baking dish, making sure that the bottom and the sides are perfectly buttered. Pour the mix, flatten with a metal spoon, cover with plastic film and put in the fridge for 3 hours, so the custard hardens a bit.


7. Now we are going to start our frying process. Mix the two eggs in a small bowl until incorporated and reserve. Fill with flour a second small bowl and reserve and start heating the oil (or the oil-butter mix). The difference will be in the flavor and the butter-oil mix will get you a crispier dessert. Keep it hot (frying temperature) and reserve.

8. Cut in small squares (about 2” x 2” or so) the custard with a knife. Now we’ll start the frying part: cover in flour each square and then cover in the egg mix and very carefully start frying three or four at the time, turning them once when the bottom starts to brown. Once they are golden all over, put them on a paper towel to get rid of the excess oil. Reserve

9. In a medium bowl mix the sugar and the powdered cinnamon. Dip each square into the mix (cover them perfectly) and serve them warm.

10. Enjoy!

Notes:

  1. If you use the oil-butter mix the batter will get crispier than with the oil, but in Mexico and in
    Spain they use canola oil, so that is what I use.
b) If you have leftovers, put them in the fridge and cover with plastic wrap. They will release some juice…it doesn’t matter. Once you are about to eat them, put them in the toaster-oven and bake at 375˚F for 10 to 15 minutes, then cover them again in the sugar-cinnamon mix and serve. 

c) If you have a heavy bottom pan, you can heat up the mix if you stir often so the custard doesn’t stick to the bottom. This is the method I use (less to wash, though)






































Budino di Panettone (Sweet Panettone Pudding)

Life is good, more so when I am able to find and try a new recipe that challenges me but at the same time combines ingredients that I like. Panettone is by far one of my favorites of all times -even though I have never baked one, but I will- pretty much along with the Colomba di Pascua which is a fantastic sweet bread-, rum and Marsala. How can you go wrong with these ingredients?

In one of my classes one of my students is Italian and she lent me her favorite cook book where I got this recipe. I did return the book but without the page (ha!) ... she'll never find out unless she reads this website which...she actually reads...oh... sorry Diana....

In any event, I decided to bake this Bread Pudding and see what happened. I was hesitant as I have never done a bread pudding before but, hey, there is only one life. The timing was perfect as the current wife was starting a diet and I was decided to make her break it (it is the Lanister's blood in me) so I did . The end result was fantastic. The baking time was kind of funny because I doubled the amount of Rum (but this recipe has been corrected for the non crazy people, even though I will do it with 1/2 Cup of rum next time as we did like it like that). So 2 hours into the baking and...nothing; 2 1/2 hours...nothing...pretty much wet....3 hours and is was kind of OK...so I left it for another 1/2 hour and voila! It was ready.

The house smelled like a cantina that was the Peaky Blinder's favorite fight bar, but wow...the smell, the flavor and, the best of all...the wife broke the diet! Now she is back to it, so I'm preparing a new dessert today...let's test her will.

For those who are not on a diet or want to be part of the Lanister's family...just go for it. It is amazing. Honest. 




Budino di Panettone (Sweet Panettone Pudding)

Cooking Time: 60 Minutes   Makes 10 servings

Ingredients

3/4  Lb Sliced Panettone (stale?…even better!)

1/4 Cup Rum (guilty...I used 1/2 but you go with the 1/4)


1/4 Cup Marsala wine

5 Cups Milk, room temperature

- Grated rind of a lime (or lemon)

1/8 Tsp Cinnamon

5 Large eggs, room temperature

1/2 Cup Caster Sugar

- Butter to prepare the baking dish 


Baking Instructions

1. Soak the Panettone slices in the Rum-Marsala mix, cover with plastic so the aromas don’t evaporate. Reserve.


2. Bring the milk to a boil, stir in the lime (or lemon) rind and the cinnamon and allow it to cool.

3. Separate the eggs. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until incorporated, then add 1/2 cup of the lukewarm milk and mix it together. Whisk like crazy otherwise the mix will be ruined!

4. Once the egg/sugar/milk is one smooth mix, incorporate the rest of the milk and mix again.

5. Add the egg-milk mix to the already soaked in rum-Marsala mix trying not to break the
Panettone (as much as you can, though). We don’t want a mushy mix, we are trying to keep the bread as a unit.

6. Beat the egg whites stiffly and FOLD them carefully into the bread mixture (again, it is essential not to break up the slices…try…) 

7. Once is 100% blended, pour the mix into a buttered baking dish. Remember to butter all the baking dish… this mix will grow all the way to the top.

8. Turn on the oven to 300˚F and put water in a baking pan with hot water (I don’t have one large enough so I used a Pyrex square dish that covered 1/4 way up the side of the baking dish with the Panettone mix, but if you have a large one then try to keep the water level so 1/2 way up the baking dish is covered)

9. Bake for about 2 hours until the pudding is firm. Mine took actually longer, a bit more than 2 1/2
hours but better check at the 1 1/2 hour mark. I did insert a wooden skewer just to verify how easy would go in… when I felt it was firm enough -didn’t feel wet when out but a bit sticky- then I knew that it was time to turn off the oven and allow it to cool with the Panettone inside the oven. It didn’t wobble at all, that was my cue.

10. Once cold, let it cool a bit more outside the oven (2 hours or so) and then put it in the fridge. Serve it cold.


11. Enjoy!







Vanilla and Chocolate Pudding

Cooking Time: 20 Minutes   Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

Vanilla Pudding

1/3 Cup sugar
3 tbsp Corn starch (sifted)
1/4 tsp Salt
2  + 2/3 Cups milk
1 Large egg
2 tsp Vanilla extract

Chocolate Pudding

1/2 Cup sugar
1/3 Cup cocoa powder (sifted)
3 tbsp Corn starch (sifted)
1/4 tsp Salt
2  + 2/3 Cups milk
1 large egg
2 tsp Vanilla extract



Cooking Instructions

1. In a medium bowl we are going to mix together our dry ingredients: sugar, sifted cornstarch and salt. Reserve

2. In another bowl we beat the egg and the 2/3 cup of milk and beat well (I use a large beater, works great). 

3. In a medium sized sauce pan we pour the rest of the milk (the 2 cups) , medium heat, until you see that the milk is lukewarm (like as if you were to give it to a baby -if you don’t remember that, then go and make a baby and come back-)

4. Gradually we add in three stages the dry mix and we whisk until completely dissolved. If you have any lumps (the corn starch!) then just remove them with a colander. 

5. Gradually we add the egg mixture over the hot milk whisking the whole time. When is fully incorporated, then we bring it to a boil and keep stirring like crazy!…the mixture will thicken (2 minutes or so). We remove from the heat immediately.

 6. Finally, we add the vanilla extract and stir until incorporated. Reserve.

 7. The chocolate mix: In the medium bowl where we mixed the dry ingredients, now we are going to do the exact same but we are going to add  the sifted Dutch cocoa powder.

 8. Now, we repeat all the steps from step 2 to step 6 (sorry but you need to use another medium sized sauce pan… let the kids do the dishes after!)


9. We pour the chocolate pudding into six glass serving dishes, and clean any spills you have on the glass walls.

 10. Now we pour the vanilla pudding and we clean again any spills (so it looks neat! 

11. I place plastic wrap directly on surface of the pudding and chill for at least  3 hours (who likes it warm?)

12. When we are ready to serve, we add on top some fresh fruit (strawberries are a great choice!) or nuts or sifted cocoa powder or… nothing.

13. Enjoy!


 Grand Marnier Valrhona Chocolate Cheesecake

Eating a cheesecake is like tasting a bit of heaven. Somehow cheesecake is one of those cakes that almost everybody likes. I do...quite a bit.

I do quite often cheesecakes at home because are a crowd pleaser and I have baked many many versions of it. The most complicated has been the New York style, because of the scale and the most laborious have been the individual sized ones. Adding some additional flavor makes each one a bit different. This one combines Grand Marnier, Valrhona chocolate and cocoa nibs. Can;t get better that that. It is one of my favorites, no doubt.

Now, making cheesecake can be easy, but making a good cheesecake is another game. To me texture is the key. A good cheesecake is smooth, light and creamy. It really doesn't need anything else to be enjoyed. That is why we have to pay attention when we bake it... we want to enjoy the best..and this recipe will give you that. Promise

Also you might ask...why not to substitute the expensive Grand Marnier with something...more affordable. That is OK, just change the recipe's name. I like this one a lot.

Grand Marnier Valrhona Chocolate Cheesecake

 Cooking Time: 60 Minutes   Makes 12 servings

Ingredients

1 Cup of Graham Cracker Crumbs

1/3 Cup plus 3/4 Cup Caster Sugar, separated


6 Tbsp Butter, melted
 

1/3  (225 g ea) Packages of Cream Cheese, softened and room temperature

3 Large eggs, room temperature

1/4 Cup Grand Marnier

1 Tbsp Vanilla extract

1/4 Cup Cacao Nibs



Cooking Instructions

1. In a medium size bowl combine the cracker crumbs with 1/3 of the granulated sugar and the melted butter until fully incorporated. 

2. Cover the bottom of  a 9” springform pan with parchment paper and butter the sides. 

3. Pour the cracker mix into the pan and distribute evenly only on the bottom, not the sides, and press firmly so we get a compact base for the cake. Reserve

4. In the bottom of the oven -or the bottom rack- place a shallow baking pan with boiling water and turn on the oven to 300˚F. The rack for the cheese cake will be in the middle.

5. In a mixer combine the cheese with the rest of the sugar until combined, then add, one by one, the eggs and keep mixing until incorporated (you will get a semi-liquid mix…don’t panic, that is what we are looking for).

6. Add the vanilla and the Grand Marnier and mix a bit more until incorporated. Take a deep breath because the aroma is fantastic.

7. Finally fold the cocoa nibs and pour the mix into the prepared pan.

8. Place the pan into the oven (middle rack), which will be a bit steamy. Allow it to cook between 20 to 30 minutes, but it might take longer (if so, verify every 5 minutes). Here is the most important part:
-We know that the cheese cake is ready when we shake the pan -lightly- and we see the center part wobble but the sides not. It is shinny on the top. If it does not wobble…you over cooked the cake (still is good but not fantastic) and if you take it out when is not ready…you will have a mess. Keep an eye on the “wooblyness of the cake”

9. When ready, remove and place the cake in a cooling rack for 2 hours without opening the mold.

10. While the cake cools down we are going to prepare the Valrhona chocolate cover. First pour some water into a medium size pan that can fit a glass or metal bowl on top -without the bowl touching the water- and put it on the stove, medium-high.

11. Put the metal bowl on top of the boiling water pan and pour the Valrhona chocolate pieces so it melts slowly. Keep stirring until all is melted and forms a smooth texture.

12. Remove the spring form outer ring from the cake and put a tray or a piece of parchment paper on the bottom of the cake’s cooling rack and pour the melted chocolate on top trying to distribute it evenly -only on the top-. It will drip a bit on the sides… that is what we want. Recycle the drippings so we use all the chocolate -put it back and melt it a bit-

13. Once the chocolate cover is even, put the cheese cake in the fridge and allow it to cool for at least 4 hours, then with care remove the bottom of the spring form pan and put the cheese cake in a presentation plate.



14. Enjoy!