Oh Sweet Day!

Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream Cake

August 27, 2014 by Fanny | 4 Comments

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Are you getting your kids and even yourself ready for school? Not us. Yet. We may still have at least a week or two after Labor Day before we are informed that our kids are able to go to school if the teachers’ strike is over. That’s just my hope because it could go another month. Kids anywhere else are all excited to go back to school. Except those in British Columbia, Canada, who totally suck! And their parents? Suck more!

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So what do we do? We are trying to enjoy our last breath of summer. Making and eating too much ice cream. Not that you can’t have ice cream in winter, but it makes you happier to have ice cream in summer. Summer and ice cream simply belong to each other. And it’s more cheerful to see an ice cream cake. All colorful and freezy and creamy and sweet. Probably the best dessert for summer.

The ice cream layer here is strawberry cheesecake! Imagine eating ice cream and cheesecake together. SO GOOD! Really good that if you don’t bother to make a cake. It’s totally fine to just churn up a batch of this addictive strawberry cheesecake ice cream.

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Ingredients (one 8-inch cake):

Vanilla Cake Base
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream
3 cups strawberries, hulled and halved
1/2 cup and 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large egg yolks
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
Topping
1 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon sprinkles
 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease two 8-inch cake pans and line bottoms with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix well.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix eggs and sugar until well combined. Gradually add oil and vanilla, mix until just blended.

With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture; mix until just blended. Add the buttermilk, mix until just blended. Slowly add remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula, as necessary, until just blended.

Divide the batter and pour into the prepared pans, smoothing the surface with a spatula. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Place the cakes (in the pans) on a wire rack to cool. Then invert the cakes onto a greased rack.  Let cool completely.

Reserve one of the cake layers for future use. Place another cake layer in the bottom of an 8-inch springform pan.

To prepare strawberry puree for the ice cream, place strawberries and 3 tablespoons sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer until sauce starts to thicken, about 10 minutes. Let cool slightly, then puree the mixture in a blender until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To prepare the ice cream, in a medium saucepan, combine milk, heavy cream, 1/4 cup sugar and salt. Bring mixture to simmer, stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside.

Whisk egg yolks and remaining sugar in a medium bowl until pale, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in half of the warm cream mixture, mix until blended. Stir yolk mixture into the remaining cream mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick enough to coat a wooden spoon, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Add cream cheese and stir until completely melted and mixture is smooth.

Strain custard into another medium bowl. Let cool over a bowl of ice water, or chill in the refrigerator, stirring occasionally.

Whisk in the strawberry puree.

Process the mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Add graham cracker crumbs in the last minute of processing. Spread the soften ice cream over the cooled cake base. Place the pan in freezer to firm up, at least 30 minutes.

To prepare topping, whip the heavy cream and sugar until stiff peaks form. Spread the whipped cream over the ice cream layer. Smooth the top and garnish with sprinkles.

Store in freezer for at least 4 hours to firm up the ice cream. Before serving, place a hot towel around the outside of the springform pan for 30 seconds to release the ring of the pan.

Dark Chocolate Cheesecake

August 25, 2014 by Fanny | 8 Comments

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Last Friday was my cousin Kaman‘s birthday. Her very first one away from home. Her very first one with our family. She told me chocolate cheesecake was her favourite when I asked about it a month ago because I knew her birthday was coming. The day before her birthday she wasn’t sure if I remembered and asked me, “Hmmm…I was wondering what cake are you going to make tomorrow?” And that’s all 17-year-olds concern – Do I get a cake? Or do I get a new phone for my birthday?

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Of course I remembered. Here we had a family dinner and this decadent, rich and very chocolatey cheesecake on a summer evening for Kaman’s birthday. May not be a typical celebration for a teenage girl, but definitely a fresh and memorable one.

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Ingredients (8-inch cake):

Crust
2 1/2 cups Oreo cookie crumb
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
Filling
2 packs 8-ounce cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, separated, room temperature
4 ounces dark chocolate, melted 
Topping
1 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
1 cup chocolate curls
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
 

Directions:

Preheat oven at 350F. Grease an 8-inch spring form pan.

Make the crust by mixing all the crust ingredients together in a food processor or with a fork.

Press the mixture onto the bottom of the spring form pan. Bake crust for 15 minutes. Set aside to cool. Turn down oven temperature to 300F.

To prepare filling, beat the cream cheese, sour cream and sugar on medium speed until smooth in a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Then add egg yolks and chocolate, mix for 2 minutes or until well blended.

In a clean bowl, whip the egg whites until stiff. Gently fold in the cream cheese mixture.

Pour the filling over the cooled crust. Tap the pan on counter a few times to release all the air in the batter. Bake for an hour, or until the edge of the cheesecake is puffed but the center is still wobbly and wet looking.

Turn off the oven with the door slightly opened, let the cheesecake sit in the oven to cool completely, at least an hour.

Chill for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight.

Garnish with raspberries and chocolate curls. Sprinkle powdered sugar on top before serving. 

Steamed Mussels in Coconut Curry Broth

August 20, 2014 by Fanny | 8 Comments

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I don’t normally post a lot of savory dishes. Not that we only eat sweets. NO. God No! We eat a lot of rice, pasta, meat, seafood, salad… Just when it comes to dinner time, it’s always chaotic because collecting my kids to the dinner table is one hell of a task. Not to mention grabbing my camera and taking pictures.

My kids don’t eat mussels. And sometimes you just don’t want to make too many dishes to please different people around the dinner table. You will make one big dish so everyone will dig in. No hassle. But I had a severe crave for mussels the other day, and I was in good mood. So I decided to make this for adults and mac-and-cheese for the kids. Everyone happy!

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I can’t fully express my love for these mussels. I could eat this over and over again and DRINK the broth. The flavour is insane. Have a crowd to serve? Just double or triple the recipe. Put 20 minutes TOP for this dish. And everyone loves you!

Ingredients (serves 4):

3 pounds mussels
3 tablespoons coconut oil
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 onion, diced
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoon red curry paste
1 3/4 cups coconut milk
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 cup Italian parsley, chopped
 

Directions:

Clean and scrub the mussels. Remove the beards. Discard any open ones.

In a large stockpot, heat oil over medium heat, sautee garlic and onion until fragrant. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper, and cook for another 2 minutes until tomatoes are softened.

Add curry paste, stir until it’s well distributed.

Add coconut milk and broth, continue cooking until the mixture is smooth and starts simmering.

Toss in mussels. Cover the pan and steam the mussels until they open, about 3 to 5 minutes. Shake the pan occasionally to help them cook.

Check the mussels. Discard those unopened ones. Arrange the mussels on a serving plate. Garnish with parsley. Serve with toasted French bread.

To Maya – I prefer wrestling with you

August 18, 2014 by Fanny | 4 Comments

Dear Maya,

I won’t lie. I’ve never enjoyed cooking with kids. Or you and your brother specifically. I know cooking with kids is supposed to be fun and “relationship building” and blah blah blah and YOU AS A MOM SHOULD TOTALLY DO IT!

But the problem is your lack of ability to listen and follow instructions. And you constantly smell, lick, smear and EAT whatever on the kitchen counter in the process of cooking.

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I think I prefer wrestling with you. Less yelling. Less bloodshed.

Love,
Mommy

Pumpkin and Cream Cheese Muffin with Walnut Streusel

August 15, 2014 by Fanny | 23 Comments

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I can’t tell if it’s the crunchy streusel, or the creamy cream cheese filling, or the moist cakey muffin that makes these muffins so addictive.

I had one for breakfast and one for afternoon snack yesterday.

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I opened a can of puree pumpkin a few days ago for these pumpkin spice macarons. I just couldn’t resist to use the rest right away. And that’s how I came up with these muffins, which are totally insane, considered how flavourful, crunchy, moist and full of spice they are! And the cream cheese surprise in the middle is simply divine.

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Ingredients (12 regular size cupcakes):

Muffin
2 cups all-purposed flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cream Cheese Filling
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Topping
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup walnut, chopped
3 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease muffin tin or line with muffin liners.

In a small bowl, mix together with a spoon the cream cheese mixture ingredients until smooth. Set aside.

To prepare the topping, combine all the streusel ingredients until crumbly. Set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, spice and salt.

In another bowl, lightly beat the pumpkin, eggs, oil and vanilla.

Pour the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture. Mix with a spatula until moistened.

Evenly divide half of the batter among the muffin cups. Place 1 to 2 teaspoons of the cream cheese filling in the center of each cup, pressing it gently into the batter. Fill with the remaining batter.

Sprinkle around 1 tablespoon of the walnut streusel on top of each muffin.

Bake until risen and browned, about 20 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan.

Pumpkin Spice Macaron

August 14, 2014 by Fanny | 8 Comments

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One of my clients called to order a gluten-free dessert for his aunt who is crazy about pumpkins. When it comes to pumpkins, the most logical dessert would probably be pumpkin pie or cake. And they can easily be converted into gluten-free baked goods. However, it’s not fall yet, it doesn’t seem right to have pumpkin pie during summer!

So I suggested to make him these pumpkin spice macarons. The cookie shells are infused with a couple different spices, and they are absolutely interchangeable. I used ground cinnamon, turmeric and all-spice, but ground ginger, clove, nutmeg are all welcome. The filling is simply a mixture of cream cheese and pumpkin puree. No sugar! And the combination of this slightly less sweet filling and the very sweet cookie shell was fantastic. The notoriously sweetness was gone as the cream cheese filling balanced out the flavour. If you are looking for a solution to make your macarons less sweet, try to use cream cheese filling. It works great with all sorts of flavors.

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Ingredients (around 20 sandwich cookies):

Macaron Shells
1 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup almond flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground all-spice
2 egg whites
1/4 cup granulated sugar
a drop of orange food coloring paste
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Filling
1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup fresh or canned pumpkin puree 
 

Directions:

Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Put a master template under the parchment paper or draw about 12 1 1/2-inch circles in rows on the paper, about 1 inch apart.

Process powdered sugar, almond flour and all the spices in a food processor until finely ground. Sift the mixture through a sieve. If there are more than 2 tablespoons of large chunks left in the sieve, grind them and sift again. Set the mixture aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitter with a whisk attachment, beat egg whites at medium speed until frothy. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Increase the speed to high and beat until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes.

Sift the almond flour mixture over the egg whites. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the almond flour mixture into the egg whites until the ingredients are just combined. Add food coloring to tint the batter. Continue to fold the mixture until it has loosened and falls in a ribbon from the spatula.

Fit a pastry bag with a 1/2-inch round tip and fill the bag with the batter. Using the template as a guide, pipe circles onto the parchment papers.

Tap the bottom of each sheet on the work surface to release trapped air bubbles. Let the cookies stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. This allows the cookies to develop their crusts.

Preheat oven to 300F. Bake the macarons for 10 to 12 minutes, until set but not browned.

Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let the macarons to cool completely on the pans. Once cooled, gently lift half of the cookies from the parchment paper and turn them upside down.

To prepare filling, combine cream cheese and pumpkin puree, and mix thoroughly.

Spoon or pipe a teaspoon of filling onto each of the upside-down cookies. Top with the remaining cookies.

Double Chocolate Ice Cream Cake

August 12, 2014 by Fanny | 6 Comments

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I know. I know. We just can’t get enough home made ice cream. Never enough. Simply because it’s too good to resist. I found home made ice cream really the best. And the fact that you can improvise whatever flavour you want is just unbeatable.

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This cake with chocolate ice cream and Oreo crumbs is nothing new, because everyone knows that chocolate and Oreo together will never go wrong. But all I want to talk about is this double chocolate ice cream. The stellar combination of cocoa powder, espresso powder and dark chocolate creates the tremendous amount of depth and richness to this ice cream. Indulge yourself with this because this ice cream is pure indulgence.

Ingredients (one 8-inch cake):

Oreo Crust
2 1/2 cups Oreo cookie crumbs
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
Double Chocolate Ice Cream
1 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon espresso powder
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
4 large egg yolks
100 gram dark chocolate
Topping
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup chocolate sprinkles
 

Directions:

To prepare the Oreo base, place Oreo crumbs and melted butter in a bowl and mix to blend. Reserve 1/2 cup, and firmly press the rest of the mixture into the bottom of an 8-inch springform pan. Place crust in the freezer to chill.

To prepare the ice cream, in a medium saucepan, combine milk, heavy cream, 1/4 cup sugar, salt, espresso powder and cocoa powder. Bring mixture to simmer, stir until sugar, espresso and cocoa powder are dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside.

Whisk egg yolks and remaining sugar in a medium bowl until pale, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in half of the warm cream mixture, mix until blended. Stir yolk mixture into the remaining cream mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick enough to coat a wooden spoon, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Add chocolate and stir until completely melted and mixture is smooth.

Strain custard into another medium bowl. Let cool over a bowl of ice water, or chill in the refrigerator, stirring occasionally.

Process the mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Spread the soften ice cream over the firm Oreo crust. Place the pan in freezer to firm up, at least 30 minutes. Transfer the rest of the ice cream to a container and place in freezer.

Remove cake from the freezer. Sprinkle the reserved Oreo mixture on top. Place pan back in freezer to chill for 10 minutes.

Let the other half of the ice cream soften in room temperature for 10 minutes, and spread it over the chilled Oreo layer. Place pan back in freezer to chill.

To prepare topping, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Transfer the whipped cream to a piping back with a big star tip. Pipe a decorative border on the top edge of the cake. Garnish with chocolate sprinkles.

Store in the freezer. Before serving, place a hot towel around the outside of the springform for 30 seconds to release the ring of the springform ring.

To Ethan and Maya – Higher! Higher!

August 11, 2014 by Fanny | 0 comments

Dear Ethan and Maya,

We spent our day at the park on Saturday. Besides the unlimited rounds of What time is it Mr Wolf? and hide-and-seek, you attached to this swing screaming Higher! Higher! pretty much THE WHOLE TIME.

Except nothing is higher for you.

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Love,
Mommy

Walnut Shortbread Dulce de Leche Ice Cream Sandwich

August 7, 2014 by Fanny | 10 Comments

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I have no idea how to describe these ice cream sandwiches. The first bite of it just makes you totally speechless. Buttery, nutty, caremely, crunchy, sweet, chilly, rich, decadent… Just so many words come out from your head that you will have a hard time picking the perfect one for these treats!

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Now let’s talk about the dulce de leche ice cream. The ice cream base is a relatively simple one because it doesn’t require custard, meaning no egg yolks! You can easily whip up the base, make it into ice cream and eat it by spoonful, which you will absolutely already die for it. However I figured that such decadent ice cream could definitely go with something even more sinful. Like buttery shortbread and nutty walnuts. Can you handle the imagination of these three ingredients combined?

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Ingredients (about 15 sandwich cookies):

Walnut Shortbread
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dulce De Leche Ice Cream
1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cup dulce de leche
Others
1 cup chopped walnuts
 

Directions:

To prepare cookie dough, sift the flour and salt in a large bowl. Mix in walnuts. Set aside.

Cream butter and powdered sugar in a bowl of a standing mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla.

Reduce the speed to low and beat in the flour mixture until just incorporated.

Gather dough and form a dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes to chill.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into 3-inch rounds using a floured cookie cutter. Place on the prepared baking sheets and place in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes.

Bake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, or until cookies are lightly browned.

Remove from oven and let the cookies cool a few minutes on the baking sheet before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

To prepare ice cream, combine milk, heavy cream, salt and dulce de leche in a medium sauce pan. Bring mixture to simmer, until dulce de leche is dissolved. Remove from heat.

Strain the mixture into another medium bowl. Let cool over a bowl of ice water, or chill in the refrigerator, stirring occasionally.

Process mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to a 9 x 13-inch baking pan, level the top, cover and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.

To assemble the sandwiches, remove ice cream from the freezer, use a cookie cutter to cut out a disc of ice cream and place it on top of one cookie. Place another cookie on top of the ice cream. Lightly press to adhere the sandwich.

Roll or sprinkle the sides with chopped walnuts.

Serve immediately. Or wrap each sandwich with plastic wrap and place them in the freezer.

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