Monday, November 30, 2015

Hazelnut Cream Dessert

This is a kind of dessert that almost no one can resist, and especially those who like flans and crème brûlée. The recipe is also very similar to crème brûlée but there is one secret ingredient that makes the whole difference, that is hazelnut butter or hazelnut purée. This gives it a wonderfully nutty flavor which makes this dessert even more delicious.

A pure hazelnut butter without any cocoa added is however not easily available. You can buy it at Eataly or online, or make it yourself by grounding roasted hazelnuts with vegetable oil. The best for that are European hazelnuts or those from Oregon, as they have that sweet flavor that most other hazelnuts lack. If you have a ready made sweet hazelnut butter use less sugar than the recipe calls for. Instead of 10 tsps add just 5. Besides that one difficulty the whole dessert is very easy to make and can be even made a day ahead.

Hazelnut Cream Dessert
(Makes eight)

500ml hot whole milk,
4 eggs,
3/4 cup white chocolate chips,
10 tbsp sugar (or 5 if hazelnut butter is already sweet),
1 tsp vanilla extract,
4 tbsp. hazelnut butter or purée,
1/3 cup roasted, crushed hazelnuts for decoration.

1. Preheat oven to 335F.
2. Place white chocolate in a small pot and melt over a low heat.
3. Beat the eggs with sugar and vanilla extract. Pour in hot milk, beating constantly. Add white chocolate and hazelnut butter and mix well into a smooth cream.
4. Divide the cream between 8 ramekins.


5. Place ramekins on a baking form and fill the form with boiling water up to a half of ramekins' heights. Put the form in the hot oven and let the cream bake for 20 minutes.
6. Let the cream cool in the water and then take the ramekins out and let the desserts cool in a refrigerator.
7. Serve cold decorated with hazelnuts.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Dried Figs and Walnuts Spread

This easy spread may come handy during the holiday party season. It is a very simple recipe and the spread is made entirely in a food processor. It is just another variation of a fig or quince spread that have been popular in recent years and are served with cheese, but it is less sweet and more crunchy thanks to the addition of celery and walnuts.

I made it recently just to used the figs that I discovered in the deep end of my refrigerator. They were getting very dry so I soaked them in a warm water to restore the moisture and just blended with all other ingredients. The spread goes well with all kind of hard cheese, especially the Spanish Manchego. It tastes even better if finished with pomegranate seeds which add extra taste and color.

Dried Figs and Walnuts Spread

6-8 dried figs, soaked in warm water for about 20 minutes, if they are too dry,
2 celery sticks, sliced,
1/3 cup toasted walnuts,
1 tbsp olive oil,
1 tbsp white wine,
salt and pepper to taste,
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds for decoration,
1/2 lb Manchego cheese cut into small triangles.

1. Put walnuts and celery in a food processor and swirl a couple of times until they break into smaller pieces.

2. Drain the figs and cut them into smaller pieces. Add them to the mix together with olive oil, wine, salt and pepper, and blend until figs turn into a purée but walnuts and celery pieces are still visible.
3. Transfer the spread to a bowl and let chill for two hours. Serve at room temperature spread on cheese and decorated with pomegranate seeds.