Just letting you all know that we are going on a little Holiday season break here at itstimefordinner.com. We will be back the beginning of the year with all new content. In the meantime, check out my Holiday Treat Series. You’ll find the link to all my past Holiday Treat recipes and videos from years past, which I hope will inspire your Holiday baking.
Blueberry Mousse Cheesecake decorated with fresh and dried blueberries and blackberries and dusted with powder sugar
I was asked to bring a dessert to a dinner party a few weeks back and I thought I would use it as an opportunity to test out a few different ideas. The first was to try to reproduce pastry chef Christina Tosi’s corn cookies. Chef Tosi recently opened the lone LA outposts of her chain of dessert bar/bakeries MilkBar. MilkBar is well known for their Crackpie and super tall Birthday Cake with the undecorated sides. But for me the hidden gem is the corn cookie. Its a perfect blend of salty buttery sweetness. I was able to successfully reproduce the recipe and made a pretty good facsimile of the corn cookie. To avoid possible copyright infringement issues, I’m going to link to the cookie recipe via the Washington Post website, here.
I thought corn and blueberries would pair really well together so I decided to use the corn cookies as crust for a no-bake cheesecake. I also took inspiration from the corn powder used in the cookies (which is just ground up freeze dried corn) and though I could do that with blueberries and that would allow for a really intense blueberry flavor, without adding a lot of extra moisture and sugar to the mousse which fresh berries would have.
I used 4 corn cookies to make the crust I just smashed them up with a couple of teaspoons of melted butter and pressed the crumbs into the bottom of a spring for pan and then placed the pan into the fridge to chill. While the crust was cooling I set about making my mousse
2 packets unflavored gelatine
1 cup mascarpone cheese
½ cup of granulated sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
¼ blueberry powder*
1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon extract
1 tsp lemon zest
Using a double boiler or a heavy bottom pot, slowly heat up 1 cup of milk over low heat. Empty the contents of the 2 envelope into the warming milk and stir with a whisk and set aside to allow the gelatin to bloom. In a large bowl whisk the mascarpone, vanilla and lemon extract, lemon juice, blueberry powder and lemon zest together until well combined. In another large bowl, whip the heavy whipping cream and slowly add in the sugar. Whip until it has doubled in volume. Use a mesh strainer and pour the milk and gelatin mixture into the mascarpone mixture. Stir until combined then slowly fold the whipping cream into the cheese mixture. Once everything is well mixed. Pour the mixture into the prepared pie crust. Chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight until set.
*to make the blueberry powder just take freeze dried blueberries (available at camping stores or some grocery store) and grind in a food processor or spice grinder.
This weeks post is going to be short and sweet. No pun intended. I’m in the midst of baking and decorating this years batch(es) of Christmas Cookies. So, I’m just going to share my favorite recipe for cut-out style sugar cookies and some tips to get the best results and then get back to decorating.
So the first thing to note is that I use a shortbread recipe versus a tradition sugar cookie recipe. I prefer the shortbread for a few reasons, there’s fewer ingredients, its simple and consistent and because it doesn’t have any leaveners in it, it reduces the likelihood that cookies will puff up and spread out. Secondly, make sure to chill the dough for at least an hour before rolling and try to roll the dough between ¼” and ½” thick. Lastly, once you cut out the cookies and lay them out on a baking sheet, chill them for 30 minutes. These steps will help prevent the cookies from spreading out too much and give you a nice smooth top for decorating.
3 ½ cups sifted AP flour
1 ¾ cup / 3 1/2 sticks softened room temp unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
½ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract or flavoring of you choice
In a large bowl or stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar together until doubled in volume and becomes a pale yellow. Scrap down the sides of the bowl and add the extract and salt and mix for a few moments. Gradually stir in the flour. Blend on low until flour is well incorporated. The dough may still be crumbly or even loose and that’s ok. Just make sure there are no visible clumps of flour, especially at the bottom of the bowl. Scrap down the sides of the bowl and clean off paddle.
Turn dough out onto waxed paper and form into a 1-2 inch thick disk. Wrap in wax paper and place into a zip top bag and chill in the fridge for at least one hour. To bake, take dough out of the fridge and let warm up for about 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 325F, roll out dough on a board dusted with powdered sugar. For cut outs I’ll stick to rolling the dough out to between ¼ and ½ inch thick and use a 3” cutter. I’ll yield about 3 dozen cookies. Place cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until the bottom of the cookie starts to turn golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Cookies need to be completely cooled before decorating.
If you don’t have cookie cutters, no worries. Just use a really sharp knife and cut into bars also jelly jars make decent cutters in a pinch. As for decorating: lightly coat the cookie with corn syrup and apply sanding sugar or sprinkles or dip into white candy melt and use edible markers.
So what the heck is Coquito? Well, its a popular drink in Puerto Rico and with the Puerto Rican diaspora. Its a coconut based rum drink that’s seasoned with cinnamon, cloves, allspice and nutmeg similar to egg nog. Coquito iss popular during the Christmas Season and is frequently given as a gift to loved ones, friends and co-worker
Some claim that its roots stem from Spanish sailors that were familiar with egg nog and decided to use the local coconuts to make a similar drink. I personally (based on zero research) think that its probably a coconut based boozy version of turtle-nut horchata which is something that Spanish sailors were familiar with and some home-sick sailors probably thought the fatty richness of coconut would be a good substitution for rich, meaty, turtle-nuts.
Coquito doesn’t require any specialized equipment to make, though I’d suggest a funnel which makes getting the fairly thick drink into narrow mouthed bottles. It’s fairly common for folks to save up all their rum and wine bottles through the year to use for their coquito gifting. TJ Maxx (who had some for $1.99 the other day) , Micheals and 2nd hand shops are my go to for looking for nice flip top bottles for gifting.
1 can full fat coconut milk (preferably Goya)
1 can Creme de Coco such as Coco Lopez
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 can evaporated milk
¾ cup white Puerto Rican Rum such as Don Q*
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground clove
½ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp ground nutmeg
1 cinnamon stick
Mix all the ingredients together in a pitcher or bowl and then divide amongst bottles. This recipe will make enough to fill 1 750ML bottle with a a little left over. Served over ice with a cinnamon stick for garnish.
*my preference is for Don Q because it is a true Puerto Rican Rum from Ponce, PR. Though Bacardi is labeled as such and widely used for Coquito, it is a Cuban rum and is just distilled in Puerto Rico for the North American market.