Nutella Panna Cotta with Frangelico Whipped Cream

Nutella Panna Cotta with Frangelico Whipped CreamPod People
My sister invited my family over for dinner about a week ago for no real reason except to be able to talk to someone who doesn’t live within the walls of her home. We’ve done this a lot over the past few months. We are a pod.

Much like many people these days, coming up with something to make for dinner is a bit of a challenge. Even devout cooks like my sister and I are fairly tired of preparing three meals a day. Cooking fatigue is real, my friends. After some heavy thinking (and since it’s a family favorite) she decided to go with paella for dinner. I was put in charge of dessert.

You would think deciding on a dessert would be easy, you would be wrong. Because we were having Spanish cuisine, I wanted to make something chocolate-y because when I think of Spain I think of Spanish hot chocolate and churros. However, I had no desire to fry up churros. I also did not want to do the usual cake because I didn’t want to turn on the oven and make the house hotter. I wanted something different.

I came across this recipe for Panna Cotta and knew it would be the perfect choice. Panna Cotta is an Italian dessert of sweetened cream that uses gelatin for thickening so it can be molded. It is essentially a custard without the eggs. The recipe I found uses Nutella as the base—and you just can’t go wrong with the flavor of chocolate and hazelnuts. It was a hit all around and the perfect ending to a tasty meal.

Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to make this. The Panna Cotta needs as much time as you can give it to set. Topped with plain, sweetened whipped cream, this dessert is so good. Adding a little booze to your whipped cream takes it to an even higher level. I chose to use Frangelico to keep the flavors consistent, but Cointreau would also work well with the chocolate.

Nutella Panna Cotta with Frangelico Whipped Cream
Yields 6 servings
Adapted from NY Times Cooking
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Fresh Fruit & Mascarpone Tart

Fresh Fruit & Mascarpone Tart

Tart of the Matter
When you think of mascarpone cheese what comes to mind? OK, wait. I’m being presumptuous. Does anyone else actually ponder mascarpone cheese? Or is that just me? On second thought, don’t answer that. Let me just live in my happy little bubble where everyone spends significant time considering the wonders of spreadable Italian cheeses…

I love mascarpone cheese. It’s essentially Italy’s cream cheese and I actually like it better than the tried and true Philly cream cheese because it’s got a fresher more mild flavor than the American version. Don’t get me wrong I’m still here for a good cream cheese frosting and you don’t get that with mascarpone. You do however get fantastic things like tiramisu with mascarpone and you can swap out your whipped cream for a dollop of mascarpone next time you find yourself with a bowl of fresh summer berries.

To quote Forest Gump, “Fresh fruits and mascarpone go together like peas and carrots.”

For your tart you can use peaches or plums with raspberries or blueberries. Any combination will work. Strawberries are always insanely good when paired with a little mascarpone. Even better if they come together in a tart. Lately I have enjoyed a mix of all of ‘em.

This recipe for a Fresh Fruit & Mascarpone Tart below is what I call a good start. It’s a basic recipe that can be adapted to suit your own taste. You can play with the crust. Personally, I like to make it with a graham cracker crust or r you could go this route with a rye crust. Our recipe uses a traditional Pâté Sucrée (French sweet pastry) crust.

This is definitely a dessert best prepared and served on the weekend as it doesn’t hold up too well overnight.

Fresh Fruit & Mascarpone Tart
Yields 6 servings Read more…

Coffee and Coconut Non-Dairy Ice Cream

Coffee and Coconut Non-Dairy Ice CreamGoing Through A Phase
For better or worse, I have been eating more than the normal amount of ice cream lately. It happens. I go through phases where I have to have some every night. I am currently smack dab in the middle of one of those phases. Even better, the phase has phases.

I start out with the family favorites like mocha almond fudge and pecan praline and let’s not forget the classic vanilla with chocolate sauce. After a week of that, I turn to the ice cream sandwich phase. It’s-its and drumsticks are a must-have. They are a reminder of summers dashing out of the house and racing down the street at the sound of the ice cream truck driving by.

The final phase, the phase I am in now, is the try something new phase. If you have been in the ice cream section lately I am sure you have noticed that your options for a frozen treat have become bountiful. From coconut, to soy, to cashew, or even oat milk there are so many possibilities to satisfy your cravings.

My most recent foray into the world of dairy-free desserts is this recipe for dairy-free ice cream which combines two of my favorite ice cream flavors, coffee, and coconut. The result is a treat so good you may never go back…well, until the next phase comes around!

Coffee and Coconut Non-Dairy Ice Cream
Adapted from Food 52
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Independence Flag Cake

Independence Flag CakeJust like everything else this year, the 4th of July is going to be weird. There will be no fireworks shows—though if your neighborhood is anything like mine has been lately, you’ve had your fill of the sound of fireworks. There will be no neighborhood parade with Dads pushing their prized, decorated grills while performing dance routines. (Yep. This is a thing where I live.) But, I know one thing that will not change. We will eat flag cake.

Every year my sister makes a flag cake for 4th of July. It’s kind of become a running joke for my family. Don’t get me wrong, the cake is great but not having the cake would be a catastrophe of epic proportions. Maybe. Probably not. I just know there have been more than a few years when we had to scramble to find decent berries to top the cake. I sense that this year it will be just that much more important if only to provide a bit of normalcy.

We always use Ina Garten’s recipe for flag cake. But, as long as you have white frosting and red and blue fruit for the decorations, you can use any cake recipe you want. You can use your favorite boxed cake mix and make your life that much easier.

I did do a quick search online for flag cakes just to switch things up this year. I was amazed by what I found. If you are not a big fan of sweet stuff, rest assured that there are plenty of savory versions including a flag Caprese salad and a deviled egg flag which sort of scares me, frankly. Take a few minutes to do a search if only for the entertainment value.

How ever you decide to celebrate the 4th this year, be it with or without a flag cake, I wish you a safe, healthy and very happy 4th of July!

Independence Flag Cake
Adapted from the Food Network and Ina Garten
Yields about 20 servings Read more…