Monday, October 21, 2013

Vanilla Cake with Passion Fruit Curd Filling and Cream Cheese Frosting

Yvonne and I recently made desserts for a friend's wedding. She requested an assortment of over 500 mini desserts. It was a daunting task, but we were up for the challenge!

 One of her requests was Mini Vanilla Cupcakes with Passionfruit Buttercream. Not having worked with Passionfruit in baking that much, I knew I wanted the flavor of the Passionfruit to shine, so I wanted to find Passionfruit in it's most concentrated form. No watered down, diluted juice or fake extracts. After searching high and low in numerous Asian markets, I just happened to find this frozen Passionfruit Puree in a local Mexican market. Who knew!?
Needless to say, the flavor was exactly what I was looking for & the Passionfruit Buttercream turned out amazing. You could smell the fresh Passionfruit. At the last minute, I decided to bump up the Passionfruit flavor even more by filling the cupcakes with a Passionfruit Curd. And boy am I glad I did! I have to say that this Passionfruit Curd is one of the most delicious curds I have ever tasted in my life. It was mind blowing good! Sorry Lemon Curd, there's a new favorite in town....
This curd is so good (and so easy to make), I knew I had to share the recipe. Please, please, please, find some Passionfruit Puree and make this curd. You will not be disappointed.

Passionfruit Curd
Makes about 2 cups 
6 egg yolks
1 cup of granulated sugar
1/2 cup Passionfruit Puree
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
dash of salt
In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the sugar, egg yolks and passionfruit puree. Whisk to combine and continue whisking until the mixture turns bubbly and thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon (this takes a few minutes).
Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter and dash of salt until thoroughly combined.
Strain through a wire mesh strainer (into a glass bowl or jar) to remove any small clumps of egg. Tip: You can skip this step if you don't have a strainer, but straining will give you a smoother curd.
Cool to room temperature before refrigerating.
Store tightly covered in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Use as a cake, cupcake or tart filling, as a topping for scones or toast or wherever you would normally use a fruit curd. Or just eat it with a spoon! I won't tell....

Recently, I used it as a filling for a Vanilla Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting garnished with toasted coconut. It was delicious!

Just use your favorite Vanilla Cake and Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe. Layer with the Passionfruit Curd and garnish with toasted coconut.

Here's the link to the recipe I used. It was easy to make and delicious! Just follow the cake and frosting recipe & fill with the Passionfruit Curd instead of the Lemon Filling.
Time Saving Tip: Make the curd the day before you make the cake.



Monday, October 7, 2013

Apple Blossom Cheesecake with Cinnamon Graham Cracker Pecan Crust

Fall is in the air and that means apple season! While apples are not on the top of my list of favorite fruits, I love apples baked into desserts; Apple Pie, Apple Streudel, Apple cake, Apple Crisp! The smell of apples and cinnamon baking is heavenly. This Apple Blossom Cheesecake with Cinnamon Graham Cracker Pecan Crust really captures the essence of these delicious Fall flavors.

I know, baking a cheesecake (especially one that looks fancy but really isn't), can be intimidating but is actually pretty easy when you follow the basic rules for baking cheesecake:
1. Your cream cheese and eggs absolutely must be at room temperature. This means taking them out of the fridge several hours before you use them. Cold cream cheese is a no-no and will make it difficult to blend resulting in a lumpy cheesecake batter.
2. Don't overmix. This incorporates too much air into the batter which may result in a cracked cheesecake.
3. Bake low and slow. Your oven temperature should be no higher than 300-325F max. Trust me on this one. A fussy water bath is not needed when you bake at a low temperature.
4. Don't peek! Opening and closing the oven too many times affects the oven temperature which can cause cracking.
5. Cool slowly. Again, this prevents cracking. The cool down process can take several hours. Be patient, it's worth it.
6. Don't stress! If, after all your best efforts, your cheesecake happens to crack, just cover it up with a topping! In the end, it's the flavor that matters anyway...
7. Plan ahead - cheesecakes are best when allowed to refrigerate overnight or 10 hours minimum.
So now that you're a cheesecake "expert", I hope you'll give this recipe for Apple Blossom Cheesecake with Cinnamon Graham Cracker Pecan Crust a try this Fall while apples are in season.

Apple Blossom Cheesecake with Cinnamon Graham Cracker Pecan Crust
Makes one 8-9" cheesecake (serves 10-12)

Cheesecake Ingredients:
3  8oz packages cream cheese, softened to room temp
1 1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs, room temp

Crust Ingredients:
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup melted butter
2 tablespoons light brown sugar

Apple Topping Ingredients:
4-5 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced into 1/3" slices
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter


Make the apple topping:

Melt the butter in a large sauce pan or skillet. Add the apples, brown sugar and cinnamon. Cook over medium-low heat until apples are softened (approx. 5 minutes).

Transfer to a large bowl and cool completely.

Make the crust:

Preheat oven to 350f

Add the graham crackers and pecans to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the pecans are finely chopped.

Place the crumbs into a medium size bowl and add the cinnamon and melted butter. Toss with a fork until well combined and crumbs are moistened.

Press into the bottom and up the sides of your 8-9" spring form pan. Bake for 5-6 minutes. Remove from oven.

Make the filling:

Reduce oven temp to 300f

Place the cream cheese in a large bowl and beat with your electric hand mixer  at low speed just until creamy. If your cream cheese is properly softened, this should take less than 15 seconds.

Add the brown sugar and vanilla extract at beat at low speed until combined. Tip: Make sure your brown sugar doesn't have any lumps before adding.

Beat in the eggs one at a time at low speed mixing just until combined and scraping down the sides & bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula after each addition.

Pour the filling into the springform pan. Place on a baking sheet.

Arrange the apple slices in a circular pattern (slices should be facing in the same direction) starting at the outer edges and finishing in the center.

Bake at 300 for approx. 60-70 minutes. or until sides are set but center is just slightly jiggly.

Turn oven off and prop oven door open slightly with a wooden spoon. Allow cheesecake to cool slowly in oven for 1 hour.

Remove from oven and cool on counter until room temperature (approx. 1 more hour).

Cover and refrigerate overnight or at least 10 hours.

Before serving, gently trim off any overly browned edges off of the apples (if desired) and lightly brush the apple topping with a little apple jelly to give the topping a shiny look. Tip: You can also sub apricot jelly if you don't have apple jelly. Be sure to stir the jelly to loosen it up before brushing it on if needed

Slice and serve with a dollop of fresh cinnamon whipped cream!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Easy Apple -Cranberry Strudel

When your apple tree give you apples, what do you do.. make strudel of course.  Well... maybe not, but that is what i made.   I have always loved strudel but actual thought it would be hard to make. So for my first attempt, i learned that its pretty easy, just a bit time consuming.   The layers take a bit of time to make since you need butter each layer. But once that is done, the rest is quite easy.   And two slices later, trust me, it is definitely worth the time.  The buttery layers filled with the sweet favors of cinnamon apples mixed with the tartness of the cranberries were so Delicious!

6-7 Phyllo Dough sheets
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 apples (cubed and cut)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup butter (melted)
2 tablespoons white sugar(for top)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (for top)

**Special Note: Phyllo dough drys up very quickly.  Do not unfold until you are ready to start working with it.

Prep work:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Peel and chop apples and put into medium bowl (set aside)
3. Mix the 2 tablespoons white sugar with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (set aside)
4. Melt butter
5. Remove Phyllo Dough from Refrigerator. Its usually frozen to make sure you have let it completely defrost as directed on box.
6. Foil a large jelly roll pan


1. Take one sheet of the Phyllo dough, lay flat, brush the top layer with butter until the sheet is covered. Lay next sheet of Phyllo dough on top of the butter one, continue till all the 6 to 7 layers are done.

2.Add brown sugar, cranberries, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon to chopped apples. toss together till all the apples are coated.

3. Add filling to the left side of the rectangle. Leave about 1 inch to the top and bottom.

4. Fold right side over on the left side, covering the filling.
5. Fold over the edges abour 1 inch up.

6. Brush butter on the top, sprinkle sugar cinnamon mixture on top.

7. Carefully place on Foiled baking sheet.
8. Bake for 30 minutes. top will be light brown color
9. Cool and cut!