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    Mango-lime frozen bites

    Summer is rapidly creeping back into our lives and I am fortunate enough to have the ultimate summer fruit in my backyard –  mangos!

    I adore mangos – I think they’re amazing and versatile – they go extremely well with both sweet and savoury dishes, and you are not going to get enough of them this summer.  Mango chicken, mango salsa, mango lassi and more – so many great things can be created with this amazing fruit!

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    the following recipe is a simple summer refresher – one that can be easily prepared on a lazy summer afternoon when you crave something sweet, delicious and easy to make.

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    Mango-lime frozen bites

    One ice tray/ 4 small popsicles
    Ingredients

    • 2 large ripe mangoes
    • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
    • 3 tbsp sweetened condensed milk
    • 2 tbsp light corn/glucose syrup

    Method of preparation

    Whiz up the ingredients in a blender. Pour into an ice tray/popsicle molds and freeze until firm.

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    Goat Cheese & Passion Fruit Cheesecakes In a Jar

     

    About a month ago, I was asked to participate in a project that required me to create a new interpertation to good ole “cheesecake”.

    So instead of making the regular baked cheesecake (which I LOVE), I decided to do individual cheesecakes in a jar, but instead of using cream cheese, I chose to use tangy goat cheese and to pair it with the creaminess of passion fruit curd (with some lavender notes) on top of a crunchy Kadaif noodles base. Oh and to give the whole dessert another fancy kick – I sprinkled the curd with some granulated sugar and used my burner to give it that creme brulee taste and finish.

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    The outcome? absolutely and utterly delicious – the tang of the goat cheese mousse went perfectly with the passion fruit curd, the lavender (which is totally optional) gave another summery boost and the crunchy kadaif base made everything a lot more interesting (and delicious).

    Funny, but as complicated as this dessert may sound, it is one of the simplest yet most impressive desserts one can execute. the crunchbase doesn’t require kneading, rolling and forming, the cheese mousse involves just a handful of ingredients and utensils, and even the passionfruit curd, which is the most time consuming of them all can be made well in advance and used for so many other great things that I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes a staple in your kitchen.

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    Goat cheese & Passion Fruit Cheesecakes in a Jar

    serves 4

    ingredients

    Kadaif noodles* base:

    • 250g dried/thawed Kadaif noodles
    • 4 tbsp white sugar
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 100g melted butter
    *Kadaif noodles – the noodles are wheat based and can be found in the frozen section at Middle Eastern/Arab grocery stores. The base can be easily substituted for your preferred crumble/cookie base.

    Goat cheese mousse:

    • 250 crumbled goat cheese (I prefer Chevere style goat cheese)
    • 1 cup/ 250 ml heavy cream
    • 3 tbsp instant vanilla pudding powder/ whipped cream stabilizer
    • 3-4 tbsp powdered sugar, to taste
    • pinch of salt

    Passion fruit – lavender curd:

    Brulee caramel

    Preparation

     

    Preheat oven to 160C/320f. Mix the noodles, melted butter, sugar and salt in a bowl. Spread on a cookie sheet and bake until golden brown. Cool to room temperature.

    For the goat cheese mousse, mix the cheese, powdered sugar and salt in a bowl until combined. Whip the heavy cream and the powdered pudding until firm yet soft enough to handle (careful from over mixing!). Fold the cream into the cheese mixture. Chill until ready to assemble.

    To make the curd, heat water in a small pan (no more than 2 inch /5 cm or so). Create a double boiler by placing a glass bowl over the pan with the simmering water. Add the passion fruit juice/puree, egg yolks, sugar and lavender and mix constantly until thickens (can take up to 10 min). Strain the mixture into a bowl, add the butter, mix and chill.

    Assemble

    Layer the Kadaif noodles base in the jars. Top with the mousse and curd. Sprinkle the top of the curd with one tbsp sugar and scorch with a blow torch until the sugar caramelizes.  Serve.

     

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    Extravaganza Cake!

    First blog post. exciting, enticing. fun. hopefully 🙂

    I finally made that brave first leap into the world of blogging, and hopefully this journey is going to be full of delicious

    and inspiring food, a pinch of health and a lot of fun.

    I’m Dana. I love food and especially the way  food translates into art. We all eat with our eyes, and for me, there is nothing more tempting than beautiful food. I search about food, food how-to’s, exotic recipes, food photography and creative desserts on pinterest for hours. And I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only one.

    As a first blog post I thought that the most appropriate thing to feature would be one of my most recent creations  – one that I can only refer to as the “Extravaganza Cake” . This cake was a special treat for my boss’s 50th birthday and was big enough to feed 100 people: 8 layers of moist chocolate cake, fluffy vanilla-marshmallow filling, belgian chocolate frosting, salted caramel frosting and a LOT of chocolate treats on top – some of which were covered in edible gold. It was enormous, it was impressive and above all –  it was delicious.

    The actual preparation of the different cake elements (i.e fillings/frostings/layers) is pretty simple, and once you get a hold  of the techniques and have everything close at hand, it’s pretty darn simple to make.

    It is not necessary to make this cake that big, of course. The basic cake recipe  I’ll be showing you below would produce a very nice 6 layer cake (that is – three layers of sponge and three layers of filling in between) that would be good enough to feed 15-20 people, depends on their appetite, naturally.

    This cake is also highly versatile and ‘customizable’ – the basic italian meringue buttercream can be flavoured with an endless variety of flavours and is practically fool-proof.

    For best results, I really do urge you to bake the cake layers separately  – that is, divide and bake the layers in 3 separate cake pans instead of in just one. it makes the whole process less messy and saves the time and trouble of cutting the cake layers lengthwise once cooled.

    So without further ado, let’s get to work, shall we?

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    Extravaganza Cake

    The cake
    • 2 cups/ 250 g/8.8 oz. all-purpose flour
    • 2 cups/400 g/14 oz. superfine sugar
    • 1 cup/100 g/3.5 oz. very dark unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 3/4 tablespoon baking soda
    • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
    • 3/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 1/4 cups/300 ml/10 fl oz. buttermilk or greek yogurt
    • 3/4 cup/200 ml/7 fl. oz. strong espresso/ 1 teaspoon powdered coffee dissolved in hot water
    • 3/4 cup/150 ml/5 fl. oz. vegetable oil
    • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    • 3 eggs, at room temperature

     

    Basic Italian meringue buttercream
    • 7 large egg whites
    • 1.5 cups/155 g/5.5 oz. sugar
    • pinch of cream of tartar
    • 1/3 cup water
    • 450 g/ 15.5 oz. butter
    chocolate variation
    • 1/2 recipe Basic Italian meringue buttercream
    • 150 g dark chocolate
    Marshmallow creme variation
    • 1/4 cup cream
    • 100 g marshmallows
    salted caramel frosting
    • 2 cups/480 g/17 oz. unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 4 cups/500 g/17.5 oz. confectioners’ sugar
    • 1/3 cup/80 ml/2.7 fluid oz. whipping cream
    • 1/4 cup/60 ml/2 fluid oz.  sour cream/crème fraiche/ yogurt
    • 1 cup salted caramel (ready or home-made)
    Salted caramel
    • 1 cup/120 g/ 4 oz. sugar
    • 1/4 cup water
    • 1/2 cup heavy cream
    • 40 g/1/3 cup/1 oz. unsalted butter
    • 1 generous pinch of salt
    Mirror chocolate glaze
    • 150 g/5 oz.  best-quality bitter-sweet chocolate, chopped into pieces
    • 150 g/5 oz. unsalted butter, cut into cubes
    • 1 tablespoon corn/glucose syrup
    • Pinch of salt

     

    Preparation

    Cake: Preheat oven to 175 f/ 350 c oven. for the chocolate cake, sift dry ingredients into a bowl. Mix the wet ingredients in a separate bowl.

    slowly whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients (and NOT vice versa as it will generate a lumpy mixture).

    Divide the batter evenly into 3 8” /20cm cake pans. Bake 18-25 min, until mixture is set and no longer vibrating. Be careful not to over bake the cakes.

    Italian meringue buttercream :Pour the egg whites and cream of tartar in a bowl of a stand mixer. With the whisk attachment in place, begin to beat the eggs on low until foamy. While the mixer is working, heat the water and sugar in a small sauce pan until they reach 240°F/115°C.

    Increase mixer speed to high, and slowly pour the hot mixture in a steady stream, making sure that the mixture doesn’t touch the whisk itself. Mix on high for 3 min, then reduce to medium and keep beating until the bowl of the mixture is cool to the touch.

     

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    make the variations: for the chocolate variation, melt the chocolate and cool. add to half of the italian meringue mixture and set aside until ready to use.

    for the marshmallow variation, burn the marshmallows until scorched, heat the cream and add in the marshmallows until melted. Chill the and add to rest of the italian meringue mixture.

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    For the salted caramel :Heat 1 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water in a saucepan until the mixture becomes amber in color. Gradually add 1/2 cup warm cream until dissolved. Remove from heat. Add the cold butter and chill. Add salt.

    For the salted caramel frosting: whip the cream until medium peaks form. set aside. Whip the butter, sugar and chilled salted caramel sauce until light and fluffy. fold in the sour cream and whipped cream.

    Mirror chocolate glaze: In a double boiler or carefully in the microwave (in 20 sec intervals), melt the chocolate, butter, salt and corn/glucose syrup. Mix until shiny and smooth and set aside.

     

    Assembling the cake

    put the first layer dome side down on a round-revolving decorator’s table. Cut the three cake layers lengthwise to create 6 layers. Put the first layer of cake and top with a dollop of chocolate frosting. Spread evenly with a small palette knife. (*Note: the thickness of the frosting should be approx. half the size of the actual cake layer). Insert to the refrigerator for 15-20 min to cool. Once cooled, put the second cake layer (again, dome side down) and top with the marshmallow filling. chill for additional 20 min. alternate the fillings until you reach the ultimate cake layer. Once the last layer is used up, coat the entire cake with a thin layer of caramel frosting (a process called “crumb coating”, as it seals in the cake crumbs.  Cool for 20 min. Coat with an even layer of the caramel frosting until you achieve the desired look. Cool until firm. Bring the Mirror glaze to a spreading consistency. Pour the glaze in the center and with a back of a spoon use circular motions to spread the glaze so it drips down the sides of the cake. Top the cake with an assortment of your favorite sweets and pop in the fridge until the glaze is set.

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