It’s best to buy caramels from chocolate shops that will melt easily. However, baking caramels will work as long as you stir them. Alternatively, make your own salted caramel by following a caramel recipe and adding 1 tsp salt. The size of your ramekins will determine how many you can make.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Ready in: 30 minutes, plus 4 hours chilling time
Serves: 4 with seconds
2 cups milk
1 tablespoon gelatine
1 cup whipping cream
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon of Maldon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup whipping cream
4 caramels, melted
½ teaspoon Maldon sea salt
Add ¼ cup milk into pot. Sprinkle over gelatin.
Dissolve slowly on low heat, stirring occasionally.
Reserve. If gelatin becomes solid again, reheat to liquefy.
Combine remaining milk, whipping cream, sugar, caramels and salt. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally until caramels melt, about 2 minutes.
Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and gelatin mixture and cool, stirring occasionally until cold.
Oil six ½-cup ramekins or espresso cups and add mixture. Chill until set – about 4 hours.; Whip cream until it holds soft peaks. Dollop on top of panna cotta. Drizzle with extra caramel and a sprinkle of salt.
Try a sweet vin santo with the panna cotta. - Beppi Crosariol
Choose several different kinds of apples such as Pink Lady, McIntosh and Mutsu to give varying textures in the strudel. Use other nuts if hazelnuts are not your favourite.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Ready in: 1 hour
4 cups peeled and chopped mixed apples
2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
½ cup ground hazelnuts
2 tablespoon breadcrumbs
½ cup raisins
6 sheets phyllo
¼ cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoon granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C).
Combine apples, lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon and cardamom in a skillet. Cook over medium heat for 3 minutes or until apples just begin to soften. Remove from heat and steep for 5 minutes to prevent discoloration.
Mix apple mixture with hazelnuts, breadcrumbs and raisins.
Lay one sheet of phyllo on counter. Brush with oil and sprinkle with sugar. Repeat for other 5 layers. Place apples lengthwise on top. Roll lengthwise tucking short sides in. Brush with oil.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until pastry is puffed and golden. Serve dusted with icing sugar.
For the strudel, try a Loire Valley dessert wine or a late-harvest gewurztraminer, such as Carmel Shaal from Israel. – Beppi Crosariol
Peaches and almonds have a real synergy of taste. Keep in mind that the less ripe your peaches are, the longer you will need to cook them in the syrup. If red currant jelly is hard to find, use apple jelly instead.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Ready in: 10 minutes
1/4 cup apricot jam
1/4 cup black currant jelly
1/4 cup brandy
1/4 cup Amaretto
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 pint vanilla ice cream
3/4 cup toasted slivered almonds
Peel, core and halve peaches. Slice each half into 8 slices. Reserve.
Combine jams in a large frying pan over low heat. Cook until jams are liquefied.
Pour in brandy and Amaretto. Increase heat to medium and bring to a boil. Add peaches and stir together until peaches are tender and warmed through, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Cool.
Place ice cream in serving dishes such as coupes or wine glasses and top with peaches, sauce and almonds.
This classic pie is always a favourite with the family. If you’re using regular blueberries you will need 2 extra tablespoons of flour. Freeze the pie unbaked if you wish and bake from the frozen stage for about 1 hour 30 minutes. Organic vegetable shortening is available at health food stores and some supermarkets. If you cannot find it then use all butter or regular shortening. The organic shortening makes a wonderfully flaky crust.
Prep time: 20 minutes (pastry prep time is an additional 10 minutes)
Ready in: 1 hour 30 minutes (pastry is ready 55 minutes after chilling)
Serves: 4 with wonderful leftovers. (The pastry recipe makes enough for 2 9-inch single crust pies, or one 9- or 10-inch double crust or one single crust with a lattice topping.)
All-purpose flaky pastry:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut in 12 pieces
1/4 cup cold organic vegetable shortening, cut in 4 pieces
1/3 cup cold water
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon milk
6 cups wild blueberries
3/4 cup granulated sugar, or to taste
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon granulated sugar for sprinkling on pastry
Combine flour and salt in a bowl. With a pastry blender or fingers, cut in butter and vegetable shortening until mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Sprinkle over water and vinegar, a little at a time, tossing together with a fork until the pastry is moist enough to hold its shape when a little piece is pressed between the fingers.
Gather pastry into a ball. It should not feel sticky; divide into 2 portions, one slightly larger than the other. Flatten each slightly, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 45 minutes or overnight.
Flour a board and a rolling pin. Roll out each portion as needed.
Preheat oven to 450 F (230 C). Roll out larger piece of pastry and line a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang.
Combine egg yolk and milk in a bowl. Reserve. Mix together berries, sugar, flour and lemon zest in a bowl.
Brush egg-milk glaze over pastry base to prevent leakage. Fill pastry case with berries. Dot with butter.
Roll out second half of the pastry into a 11-inch round and place on top of the pie. Crimp edges together decoratively or just seal together.
Brush pastry with remaining glaze and sprinkle a little sugar all over.
Place pie on middle shelf with a baking sheet underneath to catch any spill over and bake for 15 minutes.
Turn temperature down to 375 F (190 C) and cook for a further 35 to 40 minutes or until pastry is cooked and the berries are bubbling. Cool on wire rack.
This pastry is very rich but the lime zest cuts the richness and works well with the cherry flavour.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Ready in: 1 hour 45 minutes
Serves: 4 with leftovers for breakfast
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon grated lime zest
½ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cubed unsalted butter
1/3 cup cubed block cream cheese
¼ cup cherry jam
1 tablespoon cherry pomegranate juice or cherry liqueur
1 cup pitted cherries, cut in half
3 ounces (84 grams) dark chocolate, about 70 per cent
6 whole cherries, stems on
Combine flour, sugar, zest and salt in a food processor.
Whirl to mix. Add butter and cream cheese. Pulse until it begins to come together, but not until it forms a ball.
Turn out onto a floured surface. Bring together and knead into a ball. Form into a disk and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll out dough into a circle on a floured surface. Using a floured 4-inch cookie cutter, cut out circles. Bring remaining dough back together and re-roll if needed. You should have 6 circles.
Grease a 6-cup muffin tin. Fit circle into each muffin cup. Prick the base and freeze for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 F while pastry is chilling.; Bake tart shells for 15 to 20 minutes or until pastry is pale gold. Cool.
Combine cherry jam and juice in a small pot. Stir over medium-low heat, 2 to 3 minutes or until well thickened. Toss in cherries and coat them with glaze.
Melt chocolate in a heavy pot over low heat stirring occasionally or until just melted. Stir until smooth. Dip whole cherries in chocolate and set on a plate. When tart shells are cool, brush remaining chocolate over each base. Divide cherry mixture among shells. Top each with chocolate-dipped cherry.
I first had this sensational dessert in Chile in a small hotel in Patagonia. I did not get the recipe due to language problems but this is my take. There are two options for serving: either freeze the dessert or serve in pretty dishes. (I like to freeze it and let it defrost for 15 minutes before service.) Garnish with pieces of lemon balm or mint.
Prep time: 25 minutes
Ready in: 2 hours or overnight if frozen
Serves: Six to eight
4 egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 1/2 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup icing sugar
3 cups raspberries
Preheat oven to 275 F.
Beat egg whites and salt with an electric mixer until foamy in a metal bowl. Slowly beat in sugar 2 tablespoons at a time. Continue to beat until egg whites are very thick. Beat in vinegar and continue until egg whites hold stiff peaks and are glossy.
Spread meringue into a 1-inch layer onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour or until creamy coloured and firm. Let fully cool on parchment paper, about 30 minutes.
Beat cream in a large bowl with icing sugar using an electric mixer until it holds soft peaks.
Break up meringue into bite sized pieces. Fold cream and raspberries together, then fold in meringue. Place mixture into glass bowls or wine glasses and top with a few raspberries. Alternatively pile into a parchment lined spring form, cover and freeze overnight. Cut into wedges for serving.
A lemony cheesecake with a strawberry topping is the perfect end to a dinner. It also freezes well. Make the cheesecake a few days ahead but don’t top with the strawberries until a few hours before.
After baking, it remains in a turned off oven to prevent cracking. I used biscotti but any kind of cracker or cookie crust is fine. Ginger cookie crusts are another favourite of mine.
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Ready time: Overnight, including chilling time
½ cup melted butter
1½ cups biscotti crumbs
1 pound (500 grams) block-style cream cheese, at room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
2 cups mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
¼ cup lemon juice
Enough strawberries to top the cake (at least 12)
White chocolate drizzle:
½ cup grated white chocolate
Line a 9 ½-inch (23 cm) springform pan with parchment paper.
Brush 1 tablespoon melted butter over parchment and sides of the pan. Stir together biscotti and remaining butter in a bowl. Pat biscotti mixture into bottom and slightly up the sides of prepared pan. Chill crust in refrigerator while you prepare the filling.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Beat cream cheese in a large mixing bowl with electric beaters until softened. Add sugar and beat for about 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in mascarpone until as smooth as possible. Then beat in flour, vanilla, lemon rind and juice.
Spoon the filling into chilled base and smooth top.
Place cake on a baking sheet and bake in centre of oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until firm on the sides and a little softer in the centre. The cake rises like a soufflé but falls back as it cools. Leave oven door ajar, turn off heat, and let cake sit in oven for 1 hour.
Place strawberries in circles (or other presentations of your choice) once the cake has cooled. I like to cut the berries in half and casually arrange them over the top of the cake.
Keep 1 tablespoon chocolate separate. Melt the remaining chocolate on low heat in a heavy pot, stirring constantly. As soon as it is just melted, remove from heat and stir in remaining chocolate. This lowers the heat immediately.
Using a squeeze bottle or the tines of a fork, drizzle chocolate over strawberries
If you have a different pan size, adjust the crackers accordingly. Crowd the crackers on the baking sheet so they do not spread. For a superstar effect buy salted caramel ice cream to serve on top.
Servings: Makes about 35 to 45 pieces
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Ready In: 1 hour, including cooling time
About 35 salted crackers (or as many as can fit on baking sheet in 1 layer)
1¼ cups unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
¾ cup Skor pieces
½ cup shaved chocolate or chocolate chips
1 cup sliced almonds, optional
1 teaspoon kosher salt, optional
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Line an 11-by-15-inch metal baking sheet or pan with parchment paper. Lay crackers over parchment.
Combine butter, brown sugar and salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat then boil for 1 minute.
Pour over crackers and sprinkle with Skor pieces and chocolate. Sprinkle nuts and kosher salt on top if using. Bake for 8 minutes or until everything is melted and gooey.
Cool slightly. Break or cut into squares using the size of the crackers as a guide. Cool on a wire rack.
Try a chilled muscat-based dessert wine or liqueur for the caramel bars. - Beppi Crosariol