no bake cheesecake with caramelized figs


no bake cheesecake with caramelized figs

With such an elegant presentation, you would never guess how easy this cheesecake is to prepare — you don’t even need to heat your oven. The crust is buttery with a warm spice from the cinnamon graham crackers and touch of allspice, while the filling is creamy, but light, with only a hint of sweetness. Top with a pile of caramelized figs, and you’ve got yourself a show-stopping dessert. 

 

for the crust:

13 whole cinnamon graham crackers [about 6-7 ounces total]

8 tablespoons [1 stick] unsalted butter, melted

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon allspice

pinch of salt

 

for the filling:

1 cup [8 ounces] mascarpone cheese

1 cup [8 ounces] full fat greek yogurt [very important to use full fat here]

1/2 cup heavy cream

3 tablespoons honey

 

for the figs:

4-5 fresh figs, cut into quarters

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon honey

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice

 

In a food processor or blender, add graham crackers, melted butter, dark brown sugar, allspice, and a pinch of salt. Blend to combine — the mixture should be the consistency of wet sand. Transfer the crumb mixture to a 7″ springform pan and press into bottom and up sides to form a crust. The walls of the crust should come up the sides high enough to hold the filling [about 1 inch]. Chill in freezer for at least 20 minutes.

While crust is chilling, prepare the filling: in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the mascarpone cheese, yogurt, and heavy cream on medium speed until cream thickens and the entire mixture is well combined, about 6-7 minutes. Add honey and beat to combine. 

Remove the tart pan with the crust from the freezer and fill with the cream mixture, making sure that it does not come above the height of the crust [depending on how high the walls of your crust are, you may have some filling left over]. Smooth top with a rubber spatula and cover with plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator until set, at least 2 hours. [The longer it chills, the firmer it will become and the better it will hold up].

While the cheesecake chills, prepare the figs: in a small saute pan over medium heat, add the quartered figs, brown sugar, honey, and orange juice. Saute, shaking pan occasionally, until the figs start to soften and caramelize and the liquid forms a thick glaze, about 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat.

Once cheesecake is chilled and firm, release spring on pan, and carefully remove. Spoon caramelized figs over top, cut into wedges, and serve immediately. Store cheesecake covered in the refrigerator.

strawberry rhubarb + ginger galette

The first colors of the season have started to find their way to the farmers market. Greens and yellows mostly, but last Saturday, a tinge of red caught the corner of my eye. Following the red back to its source, I spotted a little table of rhubarb, hidden between a gathering of basil plants and a display of forsythia bouquets. The rhubarb was unmarked, just a humble pile of long, green stalks flecked with red at their roots. Amid a sea of people and activity, it stood untouched and seemingly unnoticed. I paused at the edge of the table, feeling as though I had found an undiscovered gem and excited at the prospect of what a bundle of these tart, crisp stalks would become.

It didn’t take long to decide what I would make, as strawberry rhubarb pie has always been one of my favorite Springtime desserts. The unassuming nature of this rhubarb, though, called for something a little more free form and less exacting than pie. A simple, rustic galette came to mind — the flavors of pie without the perfection.

I contemplated the filling as I put together the pastry dough — adding a handful of cornmeal for texture. I envisioned the tart sweetness of the strawberries and rhubarb, and found my imagination craving some brightness and heat. The brightness was easy — some lemon juice and zest would definitely do the trick — but adding heat without overshadowing such simple flavors had me a bit stumped. I rummaged through my pantry, exploring my collection of spices, but nothing seemed right. It wasn’t until a while later, hunched in front of my fridge, that I discovered a leftover nub of ginger root from a previous night’s dinner. I knew the second I spotted it — the sweet warmth of ginger made perfect sense.

Moments later a buttery, sweet aroma filled my apartment as I pulled a beautiful, bubbling galette from my oven. The strawberries and rhubarb had softened, creating a thick  jewel-red jam that peered from the center of a golden crust. A far cry from their unassuming pile on an unmarked table, but exactly where they belonged.


strawberry rhubarb + ginger galette

This galette combines the classic sweet and tart combination of strawberries and rhubarb, with a touch of fresh ginger root for a subtle, but delicious heat. A buttery cornmeal pie crust adds texture and richness. Simple, bright flavors and no fuss — just how a Spring dessert should be.

ingredients:

cornmeal pastry dough

2 cups sliced strawberries

3 stalks of rhubarb, ends trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces [depending on size, should yield about 1 1/2 cups]

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger root [this yields a very subtle warmth — if you’re looking for a more assertive heat, add more]

1/2 cup raw cane sugar

1/4 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour

pinch of salt

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 egg, beaten

vanilla ice cream, for serving

 

First, prepare the cornmeal pastry dough

. While the dough chills, prepare the filling:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine the sliced strawberries and chopped rhubarb. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, ginger, sugar, flour, and salt. Mix to combine well. Allow to rest for about 10 minutes. 

Once pastry dough has chilled, on a floured surface, roll out into a large circle [about 15-inches in diameter]. Roll the dough onto your rolling pin and unroll onto a parchment or Silpat-lined large baking sheet. Add the filling to the center of the dough, leaving a 3-inch border. Working around the circle, carefully fold the border of the dough up over the edges of the filling, making sure to seal everything in, but leaving the majority of the filling exposed. 

Using a pastry brush, brush the exposed border of dough with the beaten egg. Dot the exposed filling with the pieces of butter. Transfer to the oven and bake until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, about 50 minutes. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before cutting into wedges. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

 

For the cornmeal pastry dough:

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cornmeal

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

12 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

1/2 cup ice water

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt. Add the butter, and using your hands, work it into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse meal [the butter pieces should be able the size of peas]. Add the water and mix until the dough just comes together. Flatten into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before using.

shortbread cookies, two ways


shortbread cookies, two ways

These cookies both start with the same shortbread base — a blank canvas for vibrant, creative flavors. One version is warm, spicy, and sweet, almost like a buttery graham cracker with a peppery bite, covered in looping drizzles of melted chocolate. The other is flecked with orange zest, both throughout the dough and its icing, adding an acidic brightness in contrast to the rich, buttery cookie. Initially, I was planning on making both, and sharing whichever one I preferred. But, after tasting them, I really can’t say which I like more. So, here you have it: shortbread cookies, two ways.

 

for the shortbread base: 

2 cups all purpose flour

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

1 teaspoon coarse salt

 

for the spiced shortbread with chocolate drizzle:

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper [I find this amount to give a nice kick without being overpowering. If you are really sensitive to heat though, you may want to use a bit less].

1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

coarse salt, to taste

 

for the iced orange shortbread:

1 1/4 teaspoons orange zest

3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

2 tablespoons heavy cream

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice

 

First, make the plain shortbread dough: sift [or whisk] the flour and salt in a medium-sized bowl. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium high for about 2-3 minutes. With the mixer on low, gradually add the sugar. Increase the mixer’s speed to medium high and beat, scraping down the sides as needed, until mixture is pale in color, about 3-4 additional minutes. Lower the mixer’s speed to low, and gradually add flour mixture. Mix until just combined. Remove dough from bowl and divide it into two equal portions.

To make the spiced shortbread dough: add one portion of the dough back to the mixer and sprinkle in cinnamon and cayenne pepper. Mix on low until incorporated. Remove dough from bowl and roll into a fat log. Wrap in plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator. Chill for at least 30 minutes before baking. [it will be easier to roll into a skinnier log once the dough is chilled]

To make the orange shortbread dough: add one portion of dough to the mixer and sprinkle in 1 teaspoon of the orange zest. Mix on low until incorporated. Remove dough from bowl and roll into a fat log. Wrap in plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator. Chill for at least 30 minutes before baking. [it will be easier to roll into a skinnier log once the dough is chilled]

*Make sure to clean the mixer bowl in between making the two versions!

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Once chilled, remove the logs of dough from the refrigerator, unwrap, and roll them both until they are about 1 1/2 – 2-inches in diameter. Slice into 1/4-inch medallions and place on a large, parchment lined baking sheet. Make sure to leave a little bit of space around each cookie.

Bake, on the center rack, until cookies are lightly golden brown around the edges, about 15-20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

While cookies are cooling, make the glazes. 

To make the chocolate glaze: combine both kinds of chocolate chips in a small bowl. Microwave in 30 second intervals [stirring in between each interval], being careful not to burn. [If you prefer, you can also use a double boiler]. Mix until completely melted and smooth. 

To make orange glaze: Add sugar, heavy cream, orange juice, and orange zest to a small bowl. Whisk until completely combined and smooth. 

Next, decorate the cookies. Once they have completely cooled, drizzle the melted chocolate over the spiced shortbread cookies, and sprinkle with salt [I actually used a cinnamon, chipotle salt that I happened to have on hand, which was delicious — you could even make your own mixture of cinnamon, cayenne, and salt for garnish — don’t be afraid to experiment!] Dip the top of the orange shortbread cookies in the orange glaze and allow excess to drip off. Allow all cookies to sit at room temperature until the chocolate and glaze is hardened, then transfer to an airtight container to store. [You can refrigerate the cookies to speed the drying process, but they do not need to be stored in the refrigerator].

Enjoy! 

 

Makes about 24 cookies [12 of each flavor]

stone fruit cobbler

we had a name picked out for him before we even saw him. it came to me one day – i’m not sure what sparked it, or where I was, but it came to me and it just made sense. i thought, his name is going to be miles.

we saw him on a warm spring day – it was one of those days when you still appreciate the sun in contrast to the long, cold winter. it’s hard to remember that feeling now, as i sit here wishing for the crisp chill of fall air. we saw him, peering out at us with a look of resignation in his eyes. he had been alive for 15 weeks – what were those weeks filled with? confusion, uncertainty, fear?

it took two days, but we brought him home. actually, henry brought him home. he was scared and we were scared. excited, but scared. we were proud of ourselves for making a decision solely for ourselves – free of judgment or out of doing what was expected of us – but for the first time in our lives, we had something that truly depended on us.

it has been four months now, and it’s been a journey. this dog – he has taught us more than we could have ever imagined. it’s almost as if our feelings are amplified; our love is stronger, our appreciation greater, our priorities realigned. miles challenges us to be better – to be patient, to be genuine, to be mindful, and to be grateful. he makes us stop and reconsider the confusion and chaos that we create for ourselves. he inspires us to be curious, to once again find amazement in things that we’ve grown accustomed to.  he inspires us to love unconditionally. every day, we strive to enjoy life as fully and freely as he.


stone fruit cobbler

this simple and rustic cobbler celebrates the end of summer with delicious, plump stone fruit. the fruit gives it a sweetness and a tartness, while the whole wheat biscuit topping gives it a heartiness that makes it a satisfying breakfast. serve with some heavy cream for an extra special treat, or ice cream for a country-inspired dessert. 

for the whole wheat biscuit topping:

recipe adapted from

bon appétit 

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (you can substitute all-purpose flour if you would like a less hearty taste)

3 tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 tsps baking powder

1/2 tsp kosher salt

6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

1/2 cup sour cream

in a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. add the butter to the mixture and incorporate using a pastry blender until only little pieces of butter remain, mixed throughout. add sour cream and mix gently. knead the mixture with your hands until ball of dough forms – being careful to not over mix. refrigerate while you prepare the filling.

for the filling:

5 or 6 pieces of stone fruit (I used 2 peaches and 4 plums – apricots would be great in here as well), cut into segments (you can also remove skin, but this is optional)

1/3 cup sugar

1 vanilla bean, halved and seeds removed

the juice of 1/4 of a lime

2 tablespoons whole wheat flour

pinch of kosher salt

preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl combine fruit, sugar, the seeds from 1 vanilla bean, the juice of a 1/4 of a lime, and salt, mixing gently. add 2 tablespoons of flour and mix to incorporate (depending on how juicy your fruit is, you may want to add slightly more flour, but your mixture should be loose).

pour mixture into a cast iron skillet. remove the dough from the refrigerate and, using your hands, break into small pieces (about the size of golf balls). scatter the pieces over the top of the fruit and bake until golden brown and fruit is bubbling (about 45 minutes).

remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes on a cooling rack. serve warm with vanilla ice cream (if desired).