Showing posts with label sweet. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sweet. Show all posts

Monday, February 11, 2013

Super Easy Lemon Curd in the Vitamix

some people are sweet and tart
some people are deep and dark
some people are on the fence...?

BUT this dessert ?..... 'til death do us part.

please excuse my attempt at Valentine's poetry, but someone has to get a bit sappy around here.    Valentine's Day is all about cards, flowers, chocolates and desserts of any kind, but in my books it's yet another FREE-DAY of all treats coming my way.

this one is super easy to whip up.  the lemon curd takes minutes and you can make some delicious truffles ahead of time.  i have quite a few truffle recipes to browse if you go to the search bar in the right column.  OR in a pinch...just go out and buy some at your favorite chocolatier.
IMPORTANT must use a high powered blender such as a Vitamix or maybe a Blendtec.

5 minutes prep
5 minutes blend
wait for it to set...OR DON'T

try not to lick the container with sharp blade until your tongue falls off.

photo sitting in the car...lolololl.

so easy i made it in the garage !...
let me explain...i was all "mise en place" in the kitchen, but "someone" wanted to watch football in the kitchen with his lunch.  my Vitamix and i moved to the garage.

done in 5 minutes !

recipe from the VITAMIX CREATE book
i found the recipe through Holly at"A Baker's House"on Pinterest...a fabulous blog with delicious goodies galore.

1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice
zest from 3 Meyer lemons
5 large eggs
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp.
1/2 vanilla bean scraped

put juice, zest, eggs, sugar and salt in the blender starting on variable #1...slowly increase to #10.  let it rip for 5 minutes.  lower speed to #3.  remove small lid cap and add butter and vanilla bean scrapings.  blend for 30 more seconds.  remove, strain through fine mesh strainer, let come to room temp. and refrigerate for a few hours.  will keep in the fridge for at least a week.

NOTE...this has a light and airy texture.  not like regular curd that seems to be a bit more heavy like pudding.  i do not think it will hold it's shape if using in a large lemon tart and cutting perfect slices.  maybe it's best for individual tartletts....or maybe i will play with the ingredient amounts...a little less juice perhaps ?
oh just go ahead and spread it on anything...ENJOY


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Rosemary Almond Salted Caramel Chocolates

add some smoked salt caramel and roasted almonds?...done deal

just trying to squeeze in as many chocolates as possible before it's too late.  i'm obsessed with tempering chocolate, learning new tricks and trying new flavors.
 although chocolates make great gifts anytime of the year, this one looks and tastes very "winter holiday-ish".
if you temper your chocolate they will keep for quite a while and package up nicely with a little fresh sprig of rosemary...nice aroma burst when opening the bag.  there's no dipping involved and the only pain is going the extra step with the caramel center...but trust me, the oozing caramel is a fabulous hidden surprise.

BIG NOTE...if i have left anything out of the recipe or instructions in my mad dash to get this post done before X-mas...or you have any questions, please leave a comment and i will get back ASAP.
my measurments might not be exact...i tend to have all these things on hand during treat making time and sometimes i throw in extra here and there.

makes about 25 depending on size

1 pound good DARK chocolate, tempered
1 cup (have extra on hand) roasted salted almonds, chopped
7-8 oz. Werther's chewy caramels
1 Tbsp cream
1 1/2 tsp fresh oven dried rosemary, minced as fine as possible
smoked salt

do your caramel first.  unwrap caramel pieces and put in a microwave safe glass bowl with 1 Tbsp cream.  melt in small increments and stir in between so as not to over heat...heat and stir until combined and liquid.  pour onto light sprayed parchment paper and sprinkle with a little rosemary, smoked salt and cumin.  put in fridge to set for about 1 hour.
when set...make small balls of caramel.  roll in a little bit of chopped almonds.  make about 30 of these small balls.  you don't want this ball too big because it has to fit in the cup and be covered with another layer of chocolate.  refrigerate caramel balls so they do not spread.  if they DO spread, just ball them up again before placing in chocolate.'s helpful to have the caramel balls separate and ready when the chocolate is ready.

put paper cups in a mini muffin tin...makes them stable and easier to deal with.  set aside.

temper the dark chocolate.  click HERE for "how-to microwave temper and Tips and Tricks information.
mix about 3/4 cup chopped almonds and about  1 tsp. of rosemary into tempered dark chocolate.
spoon a small amount into paper one tray of 12 at a time.  now put a small caramel/almond ball in the cup on top of chocolate.  push in ever so slightly.  cover with another spoonful of chocolate/almond mixture.  tap the tray on your work surface gently a few times.  if any caramel is showing add more chocolate mixture to cover.  you can sprinkle a few almonds and some smoked salt on top or just leave to set.  if your room isn't cold enough, put the chocolates in the fridge for about 15 minutes...then remove from fridge.  if tempered, they will be fine at room temperature.
ANOTHER might want to do a taste tester...make one up and stick it in the freezer for a quick set.  see if you need to add some more rosemary?...salt? might have left over caramel...but i'm sure you'll find a few takers to polish it off.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Spicy Dark Chocolate Bacon with Roasted Almonds

YES, chocolate bacon has been around for a few years...BUT if you haven't tried it...


if you have tried it and weren't too impressed, i guarantee this is far better than the pathetic scrap you paid big $$$ for at the local fair. will amaze your friends with your chocolate making abilities.  there are still loads of people out there who haven't tried it and are in shock and awe with their new found love of the sweet savory chocolate covered pork belly bits.  when tempered correctly, it makes a fabulous gift and or party treat for any occasion.

the 3 main tricks to fabulous chocolate covered bacon are...

#2...the room should be cold.  wear a sweater, but don't turn the heat or the oven on.
#3...mise en place!  get everything out you will need.
#4...chocolate is a messy job.  cover your work area.
#5...use microwave tempering chance of water being introduced to your expensive chocolate.
#6...use a hair dryer to keep chocolate at working temperature.  again, no water is involved.
#7...use a larger bowl lined with a dish towel to place chocolate bowl in while working...the snuggle effect helps keep it warm.
#9...only put dipped chocolates in the fridge to set if necessary for about 10-20 minutes.  then remove.  you don't want condensation.
#10...have extra dipping stuff on hand because there is always that extra bit left that you don't want to waste.  pretzels, cookies, potato chips, fruit...your finger!
#11...keep finished items airtight in the coolest room of the house..even in the garage if necessary

FINAL TIP...websites i found VERY informative...
ALSO...i must add...i am NOT a professional Chocolatier 


1 12oz package bacon, cooked crispy
1 pound good coverture Dark Chocolate, in discs or chopped
roasted salted almonds, chopped
red pepper flakes
smoked finishing salt
ground cumin and chipotle powder for cooking the bacon.

first get everything ready...put almonds, red pepper flakes, and salt in separate bowls for sprinkling on wet chocolate..  prepare a few cookie sheets with parchment to place dipped bacon.  get a hair dryer out and introduce it to the kitchen... you will use it to rewarm the chocolate if necessary.
think the process through so you are ready when the chocolate is ready.

cook bacon in the oven.  one layer on an aluminum lined cookie sheet.  start in a cold oven at 380 F approx. 25-30 minutes ( i use convection), turning once or twice.  drain off excess fat half way through and sprinkle with chipotle powder and cumin.  then flip all pieces over and proceed to cook until crispy.  drain fat again if necessary.  BACON MUST BE CRISP.  set the slices on paper towels and dab off excess bacon fat.  let cool completely.

adapted from Alton Brown's Microwave Tempering Method found HERE.  he uses "pure cocoa butter".  i find seeding with 1/4 of your chocolate quantity works well.

put 12 oz. of the DARK chocolate in a glass bowl.  set 4 oz aside.
microwave chocolate for 30 seconds.  STIR.  microwave again for 30 seconds...STIR.  one more time 30 seconds...STIR.  now microwave for 15 second intervals (should be 2-4 times) stirring between each run until it reaches 100 F.  STIR.  microwave for 10 second intervals (maybe 2-3 times) until it reaches 115 F for dark chocolate.
stir in the other 4 oz. of chocolate.  stir well with spatula, cleaning the sides of the bowl and incorporating the chocolate.  the fresh chocolate will soon melt and will bring the temperature down.  this process is called "seeding" i read that a lot of stirring helps bring back the i stir well.  you are looking for 90 F degrees.  at this point your chocolate is dip-worthy.
at 90 F  place the chocolate bowl in another bowl lined with a dishtowel...this is to help keep your chocolate warm and snugly while working.  STIR chocolate periodically.  if it is getting too thick, take the temp.  give it a shot with the blow dryer and STIR to keep from getting hot spots.  do not reheat the chocolate too fast or too high.  it will lose it's temper.

start dipping.  let excess chocolate drip off and place slices on prepared parchment.  sprinkle with red pepper flakes and almonds while the chocolate is still wet....then a little finishing salt.  do about 4-5 slices at a time so you can get your toppings on before the chocolate sets.  stick in the fridge for about 10-20 minutes if necessary.  then let come to room temp before putting them in an air tight container.  do not close them up with condensation on them.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Moroccan Cherry Preserves


YES..they're expensive.  they aren't quite as dark, plump and sweet as they are when they are in perfect season, but they are worth it for jam and preserves.  Fabulous add to your Holiday breakfasts, brunch, dinners or desserts AND a little jar of this is a much better gift than the last minute scarf or pair of socks.

this recipe lends itself to the sweet AND the savory.  yes, it's delicious on a nice hot scone, but fabulous paired with any main dinner course.  i'm going to serve it along side my Christmas ham.
but for this post i just so happened to be grilling some salmon for a recipe i intended to be about the Beluga Lentils.  when the plate came together for the photo, i thought the preserves were absolutely the star of the show.
it dawned on me...i forgot to post about this fabulous cherry concoction.

so here it is...another jam/preserves recipe.  this one is a winner.
i found the Moroccan spice mixture from a great blog called Anja's Food For Thought.  she has all kinds of healthy interesting goodies, so please visit her site.  Anja used the spices for some delicious looking roasted mushrooms.  my brain was in jam mode, so i quickly bought up a pile of sweet cherries and went to work.  the end result has received rave reviews form my taste tester guinea pigs...i say guinea pigs with love intended.  i don't know what i would do without my faithful (sometimes daring) friends.


2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 chili powder
1/2 sweet paprika
1/2 ground cinnamon
1/4 ground ginger
1/8 ground clove


2.5 pounds TOTAL pitted cherries
1 lb. whole pitted cherries...approx.  3 cups
1 lb. 8 oz. halved pitted cherries...approx. 4 cups
6 slices granny smith apple...approx. 3/4 of apple
juice from 1 lemon and 1 lime
zest from 1/2 lemon and 1 lime
5 cups sugar...4 would be okay
cheesecloth pouch with seeds and membrane of lemon and lime
1 chipotle pepper in adobo with seeds..fine mince pepper seeds
1 tsp dried rosemary, chopped as fine as possible...(might want a little more)
1 Tbsp Moroccan spice...(might need to add more after taste test)..recipe above

if you are canning...get all your mise en place ready.  small plates in freezer, big stock pot on the stove heating for the canning, sterilize your jars and keep them warm.  for more info on the specifics please visit my Tips and Tricks post or check out Pick Your

in a large stock pot add all the pitted cherries, halves and wholes.  add sugar and let sit while you are getting the other stuff done.  they will macerate a little.  zest and squeeze your citrus right into the pot.  make a small cheesecloth pouch with the citrus seeds and membrane (seen here).  cut apple slices and remove seeds.  slices should be at least 1 inch thick.  you will be removing them when jam is ready.  add the chipotle, rosemary and Moroccan spice.  keep some of these last 3 on hand if you need to add some after your taste test when jam is almost done.

start pot on low-ish heat to get things going.  when cherries have released a lot of juices you can turn the heat up to medium high.  don't go far from the pot.  it can start to bubble over.  you should stir a bit every now and then to keep an even heat.  when the jam begins to thicken and it reaches 220 degrees, do a plate test.  DO A TASTE TEST, but beware it is molten HOT!  add extra spices if you see fit.  when the jam looks like it is set to your liking, remove from stove and fill sterilized jars.
proceed with canning process...or seal jars and let come to room temp and refrigerate.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Parmasen Pound Cake #3-Light Crumb and Texture

Parmesan Pound Cake #3

yes...#3.   i admit...i border on obsession in the pound cake department.  i hope you all saw Parmesan Pound Cake #1 and Parmesan Pound cake #2.  go ahead and check them out...they were also a big hit around here.
this one has a beautiful crumb with a light and airy texture.  folding in the sweet meringue really sets this one apart from the others.  it might not be as parmesan-ie, but it sure is a fabulous way to create a lovely light pound cake worthy of any dessert, breakfast or maybe an afternoon snack with a warm cuppa tea.
all three are different, but all three are fabulous.  i would say Parmesan Pound Cake #1 IS #1 in my books, but it is a lot different than what would normally be considered a "pound cake".
this one, as you can see in the photos, resembles a good classic pound cake...tight crumb and buttery smooth.

crisp edges, warm and fluffy regular cake with pound cake texture.
with a hint of Parmesan, a little cream cheese, a splash of vanilla and the pillowy meringue folded into the batter...this makes a delicious anytime cake.

adapted from
i changed a few things so definitely check out the original and the beautiful blog from Dhi in Pudong, Shanghai

makes 3 med. loaf pans...8x4
NOTE...the original was in grams so i weighed and measured everything out.  i thought it might help a little in case you do not go by weight.

cake flour...400g or 3 cups and 3 Tbsp
salt...6g or 3/4-1 tsp
cream cheese...20g or 2 Tbsp...i used 1/4 cup
unsalted butter...250g or 2 sticks plus 1 1/2 Tbsp
sugar...160g or 3/4 cup plus 2 tsp
egg yolks...170g or i used 7 yolks from large eggs
vanilla extract 1 Tbsp
Parmesan cheese 20g...equals 3 Tbsp, but i used 1/2 cup

for the meringue to be folded in...
egg whites...250g or 7 whites
sugar ...250g or approx. 1 cup and 2 1/2 Tbsp

preheat oven to 350F and prepare loaf tins with butter and parchment
sift flour and salt in mixing bowl and set aside.
beat cream cheese, butter and sugar until fluffy.  gradually add in yolks, vanilla and Parmesan cheese.
fold in flour mixture and set aside.
prepare meringue.  mix egg whites until foamy, add sugar and continue whisking until fluffy with medium peaks.
put 1/3 meringue mixture into the batter and gently mix until well incorporated...then fold in the next 1/3 with a little more delicate touch and again the last 1/3 until it is well mixed, but still fluffy.
bake for 25-30 minutes...i tented the cakes after 15 minutes to prevent browning too much.
my cakes took 37-38 minutes.
remove cakes from oven and let cool completely.

i am a true believer that pound cakes are best after a good night's rest, but you'll have 3 cakes so go ahead and break into one of them...then let the other 2 rest.

i also find that if kept in the fridge, not only will they keep for over a week, but they also cut very well for a nice clean slice.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Chipotle Bacon Pecan Caramel Apples...

there are no words to describe...


and YES...

especially when it's got a little kick of chipotle.

better late than never...i've been dreaming about this for weeks.
now it's crunch time and i found myself scrambling for these simple ingredients.
i would normally have gone with the old classic...individual wrapped Kraft Caramels.  i was willing to unwrap as many of those little suckers as, they are a pain.  i could not find them anywhere today...and i needed them TODAY.  i had a bee in my bonnet.  2 days 'til Halloween and i had to get this done.  i finally found some Werther's Chewy Caramels...a little bit more pricey...and individually wrapped of course, but like i said...i had to get it done...that bee was a buzzin' .

i thought the chews were the right texture, but i did find confirmation that they were right for the job at their website with helpful simple apple dipping instructions....found HERE.

here's what you need to go buy...NOW

4-5 granny smith apples
11-12 oz chewy caramels...Werther's or Kraft
lollipop sticks...wood popsicle sticks would have been better.
2 Tbsp cream.
1 lb. bacon...cooked extra crispy, chopped into small pieces.
i cooked a 12oz package and ran out after 4 sad.
ground chipotle powder and cinnamon...optional.
i sprinkled ground chipotle pepper and cinnamon on bacon 3/4 way through cooking in the oven
a handful of pecans, chopped...sweet & spicy pecans found at Trader Joes.
dark chocolate  for a nice drizzle?  or double dip ???...
DARN...i ran out of sad

for clear cut easy caramel dipping instructions go to WERTHER'S CARAMELS or the KRAFT WEBSITE...

here is what i did...
wash might need to scrub them or wipe dry very well to remove any waxy coating.
pop clean apples in the fridge for about 15 minutes.
remove stem and push in stick.
prepare a flat surface with parchment that can fit in the fridge.
melt caramel and cream in the microwave on high, stirring frequently, for about 2-3 minutes (depending on microwave).
dip apple and let excess drip from the bottom.
roll in bacon and pecans.
WORK QUICKLY...the caramel sets fast and the bacon won't stick.  you might need to apply bacon and pecans in some missing areas.
quickly put the beautiful bacon pecan apples in the fridge on the parchment.  let set for at least 15 minutes.

NOTE...they should stay chilled until presenting them....
they will begin to sag from the weight of the POUND of BACON you have applied.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Forbidden Rice Pudding


in  few words ?...

unique, exotic, satiating, DELICIOUS... and HEALTHY ?!!!

forbidden rice...

often served in south east Asia for breakfast this unique pudding can just as easily cover you for a surprisingly fabulous interesting dessert.
once upon a time this exotic looking grain was reserved for the emperors of Asia...also known as "The Emperor's Rice" it was forbidden to anyone else.  there are records of black rice being grown around 150 BC, and it is considered lucky as well as nutritious.

if you believe in the gods they say... seeing black rice is an indication that your day will be successful.

i'm all for that.  i'll be eating "Lucky Rice"  every day from here on out ! 

it's even being touted as one of the new super-foods

"this rice provides the richest nutritional value, providing a higher level of vitamins, minerals and fiber of any bran rice, as well as a comprehensive range of amino acids, proteins, vegetable fats and essential trace elements needed by the body." (more info like this found HERE and HERE)


1 cup black rice
3 cups water
1/2 tsp salt (will be divided for rice and for pudding)
1/2 cup sugar...i used sug. substitute, Zsweet
1 (15oz.) can unsweetened coconut milk...i used "lite"
3-4 star anise
1 stick cinnamon

bring rice, 3 cups water and 1/4 teaspoon salt to a boil in a 3-4 quart heavy sauce pan.  then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered with a tight lid for 45 minutes...rice will be cooked but still a bit wet.
meanwhile, while that's cooking...heat the coconut milk in a small pot with 3 star anise and a small cinnamon stick.  bring it to almost boil, then turn it off and let the flavors steep.  lid on.
when rice is done, stir in the sugar, a scant 1/4 tsp of salt and the can (or 1 1/2 cups) coconut milk.  bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally until mixture thickens and rice is tender, but still slightly chewy...about 30 minutes.
NOTE...this rice will not get as tender and mooshy as regular rice, but that's part of it's charm.
ALSO...i left in the star anise and cinnamon stick until it was all the way done then fished them out before serving.  do a taste might want to remove them before making the pudding if it's strong enough for you...i like star anise.
serve as is or pour a little coconut milk over the top, as shown, for people to mix in as they choose.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Banh Gan. Vietnamese Flan...aka "Liver Cake"


YES...this is the color of Banh Gan.
translation..."LIVER CAKE"


BUT...this has got to be one of the top 5 weirdest things i have ever baked.  make that top 3.
and as you know......i know some weird stuff.

i was introduced to this odd dessert one day when i took my mother on an adventure to Little Saigon here in Westminster, CA.  our goal was to go to 2 of the establishments where they make fresh tofu and serve their wares right on the spot...Tan Tan Tofu seemed to be the most popular on the Internet...closed on Wednesday.  on to  Dong Phuong Tofu just the next street over.  
sorry to say, but the experience was less than we had anticipated...we felt like aliens.  i'm used to feeling out of place because i go to some out of the ordinary places, but the employees (probably the owners) didn't really want to help us AT ALL.  knowing that i was out of my element i was as nice as nice could be, but to no avail.  even my little mother felt uncomfortable.  we muddled our way through the language barrier, with no help from the guy behind the counter...bought a few pieces of fried tofu...good, but not great and didn't see any of the fresh tofu i was hoping that point i didn't dare ask.
BUT at the register there was this odd flat squishy brownish looking dessert.
i saw the word "flan" and threw it in with our small purchase.

when we got home i had to check this "flan" out...
to be honest...first bite?...ewe!  this is NOT the flan i was used to.  way too sweet, gummy, odd texture and a waste of money, might have to throw it out...
second day?...second bite...hmmm, not too bad.  it would be wasteful to throw out...i'll keep it.
third day?...hey, i think i like this.  WHAT THE HECK IS IT?  i liked it so much i ripped off the label and googled Bahn Gan to see what exactly i was eating.  maybe i could find the recipe.

i only found 2...two recipes that really resembled the strange brown spongy liver looking block that i had become fascinated with.
most of the recipes out there looked like regular flan or creme caramel.  as you can see this is not your basic a matter of fact, it barely resembles a flan.  maybe a well cooked "WOOPS, I OVER COOKED THE FLAN" type of flan.

i wish i could explain exactly how weird this was to cook, but i will
cut to the chase...
this post is getting too long.  i could go on and on.
in short...i have already cooked this dessert 3 times and have more to report with a different recipe involving espresso and chocolate that is equally as good as this one.  i will post about banh gan #2 and #3 later.

if you want to try something out of the ordinary and totally weird, BUT DELICIOUS...
whip one of these up.  i have had quite a bit of fun asking friends to try it.  when i explain there is no liver involved at all, only then are they willing to give it a try.
i've already been asked for the recipe twice.

BANH GAN #4 is in the works...

by the way...what's the weirdest dessert you've ever come across ?...

very slightly adapted from QlinArt

7 large eggs
1 cup good quality coconut milk
2/3 cup dark brown sugar or raw cane sugar
1/4 tsp each...powdered cinnamon, anise, cloves.
i did not have powdered anise so i steeped 3 star anise in the coconut?sugar mixture.
1 tsp ginger juice (use garlic press)
1 tsp baking soda

preheat oven to 350 F degrees
grease a 8"x 3"x 4" loaf pan.  i used a glass pyrex because that's what i though would be good for a custard.  ALSO, i wanted to see what it was looking like from top to bottom.

melt sugar in coconut milk over medium high heat in  a medium sauce pan and boil or simmer for about 15 minutes.
add spices, ginger juice and baking soda.  whip with whisk for about 1 will foam up a bit.
remove mixture from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.
add slightly beaten eggs in a slow steady stream and beat the mixture until smooth with a whisk.
pour batter through a strainer into a preheated greased loaf pan

bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes in regular oven.
i think mine was in for 45 minutes.  i kept a close eye on it...not knowing what it was supposed to look like, i waited until the center looked like it had risen enough and i knew the eggs were cooked through. 
BY THE was soooo odd looking while it cooked...something out of Alien.  it looked like it was alive all bubbling underneath it's thin brown crust.  i've never seen anything like it.

remove from oven and let the cake stand for at least 15 minutes for it to cool before removing from pan.
as the cake cools it will deflate considerably.  don't be alarmed.  it will condense into a firm custard.

chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
another BY THE WAY...right out of the oven this thing smelled like rotten eggs...sulfur in fact.  i thought, what the heck is this? can this be edible?  i put it in the fridge for a few hours and gave it a try...ewe, still rotten eggs.  yikes.  i was going to throw it out, but knew i needed to blog about it.  i let it sit in the fridge while i thought about it.   a day or two later i brought it out again...after messing around for about an hour taking pictures i realized the smell had gone away.  miraculously the smell had disappeared.

again...cut to the chase....
after it is cooked, put it in the fridge for at least a day or two.  then bring it out and give it a try.  maybe it will need some airing out as well.
i know this doesn't sound all that tempting to a lot of you out there, but it sure makes for great conversation.  if you take the chance and make it, i hope you will be pleasantly surprised like i was...
i'm still fascinated.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Garam Masala Nectarine Jam fresh fruits are on their way out.

i've had so much fun canning this summer, i don't know what i'll do without all this beautiful fruit to chose from.  i know... here in So. Cal. we have all the fruits and veggies we could ever ask for all year 'round, but it's just not the same when you know it's been sitting in a warehouse getting ripe before it hits the store.

nectarines have always been one of my favorite.  when i found out they are full of pectin and perfect for for jams and jellies i knew this would be a good one.
AND you don't need to peel them as you do peaches...the pectin is in the skin.
TIP....don't pick the ripest fruit.  at least 1/2-3/4 of your fruit should be firm...maybe even a few nectarines could be considered "not ripe".  pectin fades when the fruit gets ripe.

Garam Masala is a fabulous warm blend of spices mostly used in Indian and Middle Eastern cooking.  it usually includes coriander, chili, cumin,  cinnamon, cloves, mustard, black pepper, nutmeg, cardamom.   as i've mentioned before Garam Masalas can vary in flavors.  you can find it at some specialty stores like Savory Spice Shop or markets such as Mother's Market, Whole Foods or i get mine at a great Middle Eastern market called Wholesome Choice.  the one i use is by Sadaf, called Garam Masala Seasoning.

i absolutely recommend trying this jam...
it's better than plain old peach and it will be a pleasant surprise in the pantry on a cold winters morning...i promise.

Garam Masala Nectarine Jam
adapted from by Kathy228

6 cups nectarine, diced WITH peels
3 cups sugar
4 Tbsp lemon juice
zest from 1 lemon.  i use a potato peeler, then cut the strips into very fine slivers
1 Tbsp (a little over) garam masala
1 tsp almond extract

wash and sterilize your jars.  i put mine in the oven at 210 for 20 minutes then turn the oven as low as it will go until ready to fill jars.  hot jam must go into warm jars.
put 1-2 small plates in the freezer for your plate test.
start your huge water bath stock pot so it will be ready when it's canning time.

put all ingredients in a large heavy stock pot and start on low.  when your sugar has dissolved and liquid has seeped from nectarines you can raise the heat to medium high.  get a good simmer going, actually a mild boil.  stir softly so as to keep an even heat all around and no hot spots on the bottom.   when temperature reaches about 215 F add your garam masala and extract.  stir that in, softly...and do a taste test.  i always have to say be very careful with the taste IS scolding HOT...and add a little more flavor in if needed, but don't over power the nectarine.  at 220 F degrees do a plate test.......skim any obvious foam off at this point.   when  it has reached the wrinkle stage on your plate test remove from heat and ladle into sterilized jars.
process in water bath for 10 minutes.

if you are new to canning check out Food Safety

this jam was exceptionally good slathered over the Cardamom Vanilla Bean Pound Cake i posted about just a few days ago.  i haven't tried it with anything savory yet, but i bet it would be fabulous paired with a crispy skinned duck of some sort.  maybe a dipping sauce for some egg rolls?...hmmm

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Guinness Extra Stout Caramel Sauce

are you a caramel freak ?...

grab your keys
go buy the Guinness
make this caramel sauce !!!

sometimes the best things happen on the way to the destination...

my goal, or destination, was sweet red cherry preserves swimming in malty Guinness syrup.

i ended up with this incredible extra stout vanilla maple caramel sauce

i looked around for Guinness reductions and found quite a few. most were for "dipping" sauces or for savory applications like beef, steak, lamb, pork, ribs etc... they didn't quite sound like what i was looking for...i didn't quite know what i was looking for !  one found HERE at Key is meant for dipping Irish Soda Bread...a simple reduction of equal amounts of Guinness and sugar...YUMMMM!   and another found HERE has balsamic and honey...sounds tasty...might try that one, but i'm a little tired of balsamic at the moment.

so...with that in mind i poured the whole bottle of Guinness Extra Stout in the pot with some brown and white sugar.  fascinated by the foaming and bubbling, i stirred and stirred, tasted and re-tasted...Vanilla!...needs vanilla to mellow out the bitter taste.  still bitter...hmmmmm....Maple syrup?...that did it.

friends and guinea pigs were so mesmerized by this glistening amber pot of gold that ideas started to fly.  strawberries?...pretzels?...brownies?...milk shakes?...BBQ ribs? cream sundae?...caramel cappuccino?...frappuccino?...chocolate?...BACON ?


enough said...make the sauce !

i will preface this with...
i have only made this once and it was incredible.  i pretty much made it up as i was going...or at least i haven't seen any recipes like it for you to refer to.  so bear with me on the instructions.
basically you are just reducing the ingredients down to a caramel consistency.

1 large bottle (1 pint 6 oz.) Guinness Extra Stout
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 Tbsp maple syrup (might want more, but don't hide the Guinness flavor)
2 tsp vanilla bean paste, or 1 scraped vanilla bean.  i used  paste

start with a large heavy bottom pot...large because this will bubble up quite a bit...a lot.
add Guinness, sugars and maple syrup.  start on low until sugar dissolves.  bring it up to medium and reduce, reduce, reduce.  stir, stir, stir...this will help prevent burning and keep the foaming up to a minimum.  i suggest you keep a watchful eye.  when it starts to thicken, add the vanilla paste.  do a taste test.  at first mine was a little too bitter so i added the maple syrup...check yours to see if you might need more than i have suggested.  keep cooking and stirring until it gets to a caramel texture.  be careful not to let it burn.  when it coats your spoon, it should be done.  let cool to room temp.

NOTES...i never refrigerated my jar...i carried this around and gave spoonfuls away the next day.
I DID make the Caramelized Sweet Cherries that i will try to post about soon.
my point is...this could get really hard if refrigerated.
AND...what is left in the jar has turned a little more syrupy, darker, with crystallization on the sides.  still delicious and great for a "dipping sauce".
SO... i do not know the shelf life or stability of this, but IT'S DELICIOUS !

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