Wednesday, July 8, 2015

No Bake Cherry Cheesecake

 Super easy and everyone loves it. 

No Bake Cherry Cheesecake

2 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
8 T. melted unsalted butter
2 T. sugar

Mix all ingredients in a bowl.  Press into pan.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes until lightly golden.  Remove and let cool completely. 

Cheese Filling
2   8 ounce packages room temperature cream cheese
1 can sweeten condensed milk
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Beat all ingredients in a mixer until creamy and smooth.  Pour over prepared graham cracker crust.
Pour one can of pie fruit filling such as cherry, blueberry, raspberry, etc.  Spread fruit filling with offset spatula to cover cheese filling.  Place in fridge for at least 5 hours to set, best over night.  

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Baklava Rolls

Baklava Rolls

4 cups water
3 cups sugar
1 stick cinnamon
juice of 1 lemon and rind

Boil, reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for about 45 minutes,  until syrup is thickened like maple syrup consistency.  Set aside and cover with top of pot.   Cool Syrup.  Now you can prepare baklava.

2 pounds phyllo dough number 4
2 pounds unsalted butter
4 pounds ground walnuts
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. clove

In a large bowl, mix ground nuts, with spices and sugar.  Set aside.  

In a sauce pot melt butter.  Set aside.  Unwrap one pound of phyllo at a time, do this gently.  Place a damp cloth on top of phyllo to keep moist.  This is important do not skip this step.  

Take a total of 5 sheets of pastry for each roll.  Butter each one, one at time placing another sheet on top of the last one you just buttered.  Sprinkle about 1 cup of nut mixture over the  5 sheets of layered buttered phyllo.  Roll up jelly roll style, from the longest side.  Roll tightly.  Cut each roll about 1 inch thick with a sharp serrated knife.  Place in a buttered pan.  I use 10x15.  Continue this until you use all your sheets of phyllo and your pan is filled.  

Pour remaining melted butter on top of baklava.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from oven, pour cooled syrup over very hot baklava. Set aside to cool.  Keep covered with a sheet of foil when cooled completely in a dry place.  Last for weeks.   Makes about 50 pieces.  

Special note:  You can change up the flavors.  Add sweetened ground coconut, mini chocolate chips, different nuts, dried chopped up fine fruits, ex: apricots, dates or cranberries.  Can use orange rind  and orange juice instead of lemon.  Have fun! 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Ekmek Kadaifi

 Ekmek is a Greek dessert that is a favorite among pastry shops in Astoria, New York.  It has a layer of shredded dough, soaked in syrup with a top layer of pastry cream and whip cream.  It's delicious.

Kadaifi (dough layer)
1 pound frozen Kadaifi (save other half for another time)
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Defrost kadaifi.  Grease a 9 x 13 pan, glass pan preferably.  Defrost kadaifi.  Pull apart the shredded threads of dough and gently pack down on pan.  Pour melted butter all over.  Bake until lightly golden brown.  Around 20-30 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Prepare syrup below.  Pour hot syrup all over kadaifi.  Set aside and let cool completely.

1 3/4 cup sugar
1 3/4 cups water
one lemon rind
juice of one lemon
1 orange rind

Place all ingredients in a sauce pot.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and let simmer for about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Discard rinds.  Pour hot syrup over cooked kadaifi.  Set aside to cool completely.

2 Tablespoons flour
4 Heaping Tablespoons Corn Starch
1 cup sugar
4 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
7 egg yolks

2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 T. Butter

In a Sauce pot add all ingredients except extract and butter.  Whisk all the cold ingredients until dissolved.  Place pot on stove top over medium heat and whisking all the time, until the custard thickens and you see the first steam bubble popping up out of custard.  Remove from heat.  Add butter and extract, stir well.  Pour hot custard over kaidaifi.  Place a clear plastic wrap on top of custard.  The wrap can touch custard.  You do not want custard to form a skin.  Place in fridge.  Cool completely.  Remove plastic film and cover with sweeten whip cream and slivered almonds. 

Whip Cream Topping
3 cups whippping cream
1/2 cup powder sugar

Whip all ingredients until peaks form.  You can spread on custard with offset spatula and pipe a border for a festive design.  Add slivered almonds or pistachios on top. 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Sugar Cut Out Cookies

 Sugar Bear

I am making these cookies for a Baby Shower.  The theme as you can tell is Teddy Bears.  These are the samples I made earlier.  They are adorable.  I am so pleased with how they came out.

Sugar Cookie Cut Out Recipe
Preheat Oven to 350 degrees
2 Cookie Sheets with silpat or parchment 

2 cups room temperature unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
2 large room temperature eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
5 cups all purpose flour, plus more for rolling
pinch salt

Special note:  There is no leavening in this recipe.  The cookies hold shape and do not spread. This is ideal for cutouts holding their shape.  It is a delicious, shortbread cookies.  You can use lemon or almond extract instead of vanilla or use the seeds of one whole vanilla bean for intense vanilla flavor.

In a stand mixer, cream butter with sugar, until light and fluffy.  Add room temperature eggs and continue to cream.  Add extract and pinch salt.  Slowly add flour until dough is well incorporated.

Place dough into fridge for 30 minutes to chill.  Roll out dough into desired shape.  If I have time I will place cutouts into fridge to firm up.  They will even hold their shape better if chilled before going into oven.  However, when you are doing volume and you are baking from a home kitchen this is impossible.  I still have great results skipping this step. 

Bake for about 8 to 12 minutes depending on how thick you cut them.  For these cookies they were thick and I baked for close to 15 minutes.  You want a slightly golden brown on bottom, not too dark.

Place on cooling rack and decorate as desired.

Royal Icing:
1 pound confectioner's icing
3 Tablespoons powder meringue (I use wilton)
1/2 tsp. cream of tarter
water: approx. up to 1/2 cup plus more for thinner consistency

If you want to flood cookie you need to thin out accordingly.  First use a thick royal icing to outline the border of each cookie.  Then use a thin icing to flood. You can use a toothpick when flooding to help spread thinned out royal icing and pop air bubbles.  It works like a charm.   Let cookies dry for 24 hours then you can pipe on with a thicker consistency of royal icing to decorate using a piping bag and specialty tips.   Let that dry before wrapping. 

In a stand mixer, mix confectioner's sugar, cream of tarter with meringue powder.  Slowly add water until desired icing consistency is reached.  You might have to use less or more water depending on what consistency you desire.  If too watery, just add more confectioner's sugar.  

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Ravani Greek Sponge Cake

Ravani is a syrupy Greek Cake. It is very popular dessert to all Greeks.  However, it is typically made with semolina or a combination of farina, coconut and flour.  I find the semolina and farina make it heavy and add a grainy texture.  I prefer my families version much better.  My mother  makes a beautiful sponge cake with a lemon syrup.  It's light, airy with hints of lemon. There is no added fat to this cake other than the egg yolks.

 Many Greek desserts are drenched in syrup, this is typical to many Middle Eastern Desserts.  You can eliminate the syrup and just serve with berries and cream.  However, I do recommend trying this version.  The cake is heavily drenched in syrup and the sponge cake soaks it all up.  It might be shocking at first at how much syrup you add, but try it out.  You can serve with fresh berries and whip cream.  It's a sophisticated dessert. I also dust the tops of cake slices with powder sugar. 

Cake Ingredients
6 jumbo eggs, room temperature separated
1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup water, room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla

2 cups cake flour (must use cake flour)
3 tablespoons corn starch
2 tsp. baking powder
Pinch salt

1 tsp. Cream of tarter (to be added to egg whites when whipping)

In a stand mixer,  beat egg yolks  and sugar, add a little water from the 2/3 cup water if needed at this time.  Beat until creamy and smooth for 5 minutes.  Add remaining water slowly and continue to beat.  Sift all dry ingredients and slowly add to egg yolk/sugar mixture. Mix well.  Place batter in a big bowl.  Clean your mixing bowl very well, add egg whites plus one tsp.  cream of tarter. Beat into stiff moist peaks.  Gently fold egg whites into batter. Be careful not to deflate.

Grease and flour a 10x12 pan with 2 inch plus sides.  If using a 9x13 it must have 3 inch sides or you will have too much batter. I use disposable aluminum pans that are used for chafing pans. They are 10x12x2.

Gently pour batter into prepared pan.  Even out batter with back of spatula.  Do not tap down pan on counter.  You do not want to deflate batter.  Place in a 350 degree oven for 55 minutes until golden.  Do not be tempted to open your oven until at least 45 minutes.  You can do the toothpick test to make sure cake is done.  

3 cups sugar
3 1/2 cups water
Rind of one lemon
Juice of one lemon

Place all ingredients in sauce pot and bring to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer on a medium boil for 15 minutes.

Bake sponge cake first.  Cool cake completely.  Cut into diamond cuts using a serrated knife. Poor very hot syrup all over cake.  I use a ladle and do this gently, making sure all pieces are drenched.  Cover cake loosely with foil and let the cake rest for a few hours soaking up liquid. When ready to serve dust each piece with powder sugar.

Note:  Store soaked cake covered at room temperature for up to 3 days.  

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