Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Fruit & Cheesecake Parfaits

I've been in transition the last few weeks.  I finished up my school year, spent a few days in Madrid, headed home for summer, and then spent several days dealing with the repercussions of travel and jet lag.

Madrid was lovely.  The weather was perfect.  The streets were beautiful and full of interesting people.  And, the food wasn't too shabby. (Minus one nasty empanada. Bleh.)

I particularly enjoyed the churros and chocolate. Oh, hello.  Freshly fried churros + chocolate to dip them in?!  Genius.  Those Spaniards really nailed it on the head with that one.

And now on to these delicious fruit and cheesecake parfaits . . . The perfect treat for summer.

This post is LONG overdue.  Like, I made these in March for book club, overdue.  But, regardless of how late I am, this recipe is worth sharing.  These parfaits are simple (always a favorite recipe attribute of mine), beautiful, and semi-healthy since they are mostly fruit.  Use fruit that is in season and won't cost you a fortune.

And, speaking of book club, have you read eleanor and park?  Good read.

  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar (divided)
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • fresh fruit: blueberries, kiwi, mango, and strawberries

Using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment or a hand mixer, beat the cream until it begins to thicken.  

Add in 1/4 cup of powdered sugar.   

Continue to beat mixture until stiff peaks begin to form.

NOTE:  Stiff peaks = the cream holds its shape and stands up straight when beaters are removed.  Be sure you've got stiff peaks, otherwise your cheesecake mixture will be too soupy.   

Set aside in refrigerator.  

Beat cream cheese until it is smooth. 

Add in remaining powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk.  

Gently fold in the whipped cream until just combined.  

Place fruit in the bottom of the glass, followed by a layer of the cheesecake mixture.  

NOTE:  I put the cream cheese mixture in a pastry bag and piped it into the glasses.  It was easier and didn't muck up the glasses.  

Continue layering.  Finish with fruit on top.  

Here's a 4th of July version I made recently.  Fun and festive.

Source:  Glorious Layered Desserts by Glory Albin 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Pastry Cream

As a kid, my Nana always made English trifle for Christmas dessert.  Colorful, layered, fruity.  There were always two trifles; the sprinkled one signified the kid-friendly, alcohol-free version. Man, I loved those sprinkles.

My British friend Robert recently celebrated a birthday and requested trifle, which worked out well since I'd been wanting to try it out.  The version I put together wasn't totally traditional since it included chocolate cake and pudding, but it did include pastry cream (custard), which is a prerequisite for true English trifle, which is where this recipe comes in to play.

This particular trifle included chocolate and vanilla pound cake, whipped cream, strawberries, and, of course, pastry cream!  It was quite tasty and especially delicious as breakfast the next day.  And, per the usual, I used my little Ikea glasses since I don't own a trifle dish.  They turned out pretty darn delicious!

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Bring the milk and vanilla bean to a boil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat and set aside to infuse for 10-15 minutes.

Whisk the egg yolks and granulated sugar until light and fluffy.

Add the cornstarch and whisk vigorously until no lumps remain.

Whisk 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture into the yolks until incorporated.

Whisk in the remaining hot milk mixture.

Pour the mixture through a strainer back into the saucepan.

Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until thickened and slowly boiling.

NOTE:  This seemed to happen quickly, so pay attention and remove it from the heat as soon as the thickening starts!  

Remove from the heat and stir in the butter.

Let cool slightly and cover with plastic wrap, lightly pressing the plastic agains the surface to prevent a skin from forming.

Chill at least two hours or overnight.

Source: modified slightly from Food Network