Tag Archives: honey

Goat Cheesecake with a Pistachio Crust

You know what I enjoy? Adaptations. Alterations. Taking an overused concept and transforming it into some distinct but parallel form.

If anything, I think it’s in our nature. It’s sort of like how everyday, I’ll change one small thing about my routine, just to force myself into some new conditions, under which I’m forced to reconsider what I’ve previously accepted. It can take the form of me doing everything with my non-dominant hand, or taking a different road on my way to work, or trying to write journal entries in a voice that I’ve never used before. It’s simply an exercise in reconditioning my brain to adapt to, and integrate, new experience.

In life, as in baking, adaptation is always useful. I have a number of qualms with traditional cheesecakes:

-the filling is too dang heavy
-the crust is too dang boring, and
-the flavor pairings are too dang simple

I assure you, this cheesecake falls under none of these categories. The filling is a rich, tangy goat cheese, augmented with fat free cream cheese, so you get the full flavor without the overly full feelings afterwards. The crust? A coarse crumble of toasted pistachio. Atop the whole thing sits a honey drizzle, perfectly sweetening and accenting each slice. Ah, the wonders of adaptation.

Goat Cheesecake with Pistachio Crust

Crust- Ingredients
2 cups pistachios, unsalted
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp almond extract
5 tb unsalted butter, cubed

Pulse pistachios in food processor until crumby but with some larger pieces intact. Add in sugar and almond extract, and give a few quick pulses. Add in cubed butter, all at once, and pulse until combined.

Press crust into springform pan, using the base of a measuring cup to flatten and press against sides. Poke a few holes in crust bottom, and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Let cool completely before filling.

Filling-Ingredients
(adapted from Dash of East)
12 ounces goat cheese
12 ounces fat free cream cheese*
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
2 eggs

Combine goat cheese and cream cheese in food processor, and mix until smooth and creamy. Add in lemon juice, vanilla, and sugar, and pulse until combined. Last add eggs, one at a time, pulsing between additions until fully incorporated.

Pour filling into cooled crust. Place springform in pan with 1 inch of water, reaching about halfway up the side of the springform. Bake at 325 degrees for 50 minutes. When done, turn off oven with the door cracked a few inches to cool evenly and prevent top from cracking. When cheesecake is room temperature, let cool in fridge for at least two hours. Drizzle with honey before serving.

*You could certainly use regular cream cheese, though I think that would make this already dense cheesecake a tad heavy.

Lately I’ve been really utilizing my Netflix Instant Watch. So it should come as no surprise that I recommend curling up on a couch at 3 am with this cheesecake and watching something… eerie. Maybe it’s the juxtaposition of comfort food and unsettling television, but they do pair well, I swear. Maybe some Twin Peaks, or X-Files, or this strange but promising Chinese horror film.

Happy nomming,

Danny


Hummingbird Soufflés with Ginger Orange Blossom Icing

 Sometimes, things just sort of fall into place.

Well, in life maybe. In baking, everything is measured. Soufflés are not a naturally occurring substance, although that would be a beautiful, beautiful thing.

Yes, see here there’s lithium and silicon and polonium and soufflé and…”

~

Alas, as many know, the soufflé is a fickle, fickle creature. A monster of the bogs, a bird of the highest mount, a chupacabra of… nevermind. The point is, these things are a labor of love.

Hummingbird cake, for those not in-the-know, is a delightful combination of pineapple, banana, and carrot into a deliciously sweet trifecta of flavors. But, like a hummingbird itself, this adaptation is light, airy, and delicate as can be.

The soufflé itself is quite similar to a carrot cake, with a complementary banana flavor. One of my favorite parts of this recipe, though, is the moist layer of pineapple on the bottom of each ramekin:

Additionally, the icing adds a subtle spice from the ginger and a delicate aroma of citrus from the orange blossom honey. If I were Oprah (someday world, someday) orange blossom honey would be on my monthly list of Favorite Things. It’s so dainty and warm, sweet and tart – I can’t get enough of it.

So yes, things do sometimes fall right into place. Like two of these soufflés falling right into my mouth.

Okay whatever, it was really three.

Pretty soon, this hummingbird will be too stuffed to fly.

~

Hummingbird Souffles

Ingredients
16 oz crushed pineapple, drained
4 egg whites
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/8 cup white sugar
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup carrot, finely grated
1 mashed banana
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1 tb dark brown sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 8 ramekins with a pastry brush and softened butter. Use vertical strokes around ramekin edges to guide souffle as it rises. Dust insides with powdered sugar, tapping out any excess.

Drain the crushed pineapple, and press or pat dry in a towel to remove excess juice. Divide evenly amongst ramekins and place in layer on bottom of each. Refrigerate ramekins until ready to fill.

In medium metal bowl (the metal is very important, do not use plastic), begin to beat egg whites. When they begin to foam, sprinkle with just a pinch, about 1/8 tsp, of salt and the cream of tartar. Keep beating and gradually add in 1/8 cup white sugar. Beat whites until just shy of stiff peaks. It is much better to under-beat them than over-beat them.

In separate bowl, combine egg yolks (note: only 3 yolks, as opposed to 4 whites) with grated carrot, banana, cinnamon, vanilla, and brown sugar. Add 1/2 cup of egg white mixture into yolk batter, and fold until incorporated. Keep folding in about a cup of egg whites at a time, making sure batter is light and airy. Streaks are okay, as it’s better to leave streaks and under-fold than to mix the batter too much and let out air.

Fill chilled ramekins 3/4 of the way full. Run a finger around the edge of each, making a 1/4 inch deep perimeter to ensure they rise evenly. If desired, fit each with a parchment collar to guide the soufflé in rising. Bake in preheated oven (important: the oven must be pre-heated), and bake for about 15 minutes, until tops are a golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool on baking rack.

Ginger Orange Blossom Icing

Ingredients
4 oz cream cheese, softened
2 tb orange blossom honey
1/2 tsp ginger
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Mix all ingredients on medium speed until combined, about 1 minute. Drizzle onto warm soufflés, and dust with additional cinnamon and powdered sugar.

Drizzle dat sweet, sweet orange-ginger-honey goodness.

~

 A quick shoutout to the inspiration behind this recipe: my dad. These are really for him, because carrot cake is his favorite dessert of all time and whatnot. Hope you don’t mind the slight adapatation of my usual carrot cake recipe, and happy Father’s Day old man!

Happy nomming,

Danny

(It Ain’t Easy Bein’ Green) Honey Flax Smoothie

So I recently saw one of my absolute idols, Andrew Bird, in concert in Boston. It was a great way to finish off the semester, mostly because I’d been a fan for years, but had never seen the man live. The experience was a curious mixture of catharsis and revelation.

The one song that really got me was his cover of “It Ain’t Easy Bein’ Green.” I actually teared up.

~

Well, that was a few weeks ago now. But today I found myself whistling the song in the car, and I thought about some different interpretations, or more specifically, how I could translate the song into a recipe.

It’s hard getting in all the greens we’re supposed to eat in a day. I’ve been dabbling in veganism the past few weeks, and I’ve noticed a dramatic increase in the sheer quantity of food I have to consume. Not that I’m complaining. (Really, really not complaining.)

So I came up with this smoothie, which gives you a huge green boost without sacrificing flavor. The pudding mix I used is sugar free, low calorie, and high fiber, giving you extra nutrition without empty calories. It helps thicken up the smoothie, though I’m sure it’d still be delicious without the mix. The honey sweetens and covers the taste of the greens, while the flax seeds add a perfect texture.

Sorry Kermit, turns out it’s pretty easy bein’ green.

Honey Flax Green Smoothie

Ingredients
1 cup light soy milk (or sub. almond, dairy, etc.)
3-4 cups baby spinach leaves
1 packet Better Bowls vanilla instant pudding (0.9 oz)
2 tb honey (sub. agave nectar for vegan)
1 1/2 cups crushed ice
3 tb flax seeds

Add the milk and spinach leaves to a blender, and blend until smooth. Add instant pudding mix with honey, and blend. Next add crushed ice, and pulse until the smoothie has an even consistency. Next stir in flax seeds with spoon. Serve immediately for best taste and texture.

Happy (healthy) nomming,

Danny

Cardamom Macarons with Honey Rose Buttercream

Nom nom nom.

Hey there! The blog is up and running, and meanwhile I’m running out of reasons to procrastinate. I have no patience for long introductions, so why don’t we get right to the good stuff- it’s what you’re here for, amiright?

Image

I made these macarons a few weeks ago during (a much needed) Spring Break. They go lovely with a good Vonnegut book and a cup of espresso… with 3-4 caffeine pills dissolved in it for optimum effect. I mean really, these things don’t bake themselves.


Cardamom Macarons

Ingredients
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
3/4 cup almond flour (I substituted Swans Down flour, twice sifted)
2 large egg whites, room temperature
1 1/2 tsp. cardamom
1/4 cup superfine sugar (I used crème brûlée sugar)

Whip egg whites with superfine sugar until soft beaks form. Peaks should hold their shape, but the tips of the whites should droop ever so slightly. They should also look glossy. Sift confectioners’ sugar, flour, and cardamom until free of lumps. Combine roughly 1/2 cup 0f dry ingredients into egg white bowl at a time, tapping the bowl between additions to remove any air bubbles. Fill a pastry bag with a round tip and pipe 1 in. diameter circles onto a silicon baking mat. Let the macaron batter sit for 20 minutes on the counter, then place on the middle shelf of a 325 degree oven for 10 minutes. After baking, let cool 10 minutes on silicon mat before moving to a plate.

Honey Rose Buttercream

Ingredients
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tsp rose water
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tablespoon rosewater

Combine all ingredients and mix with an electric mixer on low speed. Add a few drops of orange or pink food dye, if desired. Assemble macarons by piping slightly over a teaspoon of buttercream onto a cookie and sandwiching. Serve within 12 hours for best taste and texture.

Check back in over the next few weeks for more posts- school’s quickly coming to a close and my recipe queue is bursting at the seams.

Happy nomming,

Danny