Thursday, November 23, 2017

Spiced apple two-bite tartlets

There's a nip in the air ....

Ho ! Ho! Ho! 

How's your Christmas shopping so far ?

Don't forget to buy something for yourself , okay ?! 

Got time in your hands and apples lurking in the fridge ?

This is my go-to recipe whenever I get tired of eating fresh apples . An apple a day ? Bah , humbug ! 😬 I usually make these tartlets several times a year but there's something about eating apples and pecans during colder months .

These tartlets are very easy to make , dough is pressed directly into the muffin pan instead of roll, cut and press version . It's better though to use individual tart tins instead of using the mini muffin pan , yeah , making these 24 tart shells took me a million years to finish . This is the first time that I used mini muffin pan in baking these tarts so I struggled a bit pressing in those dough . That said , this pecan dough is forgiving and even if you manhandled it , crust is still delightfully light and crisp .

I tweaked the filling a bit as my first spiced apple tartlets didn't have enough filling to go around . You can use all Granny Smith apples but a combination of sweet and sour apples is perfect for this recipe .

Leftovers can stored in an airtight container and chill in the fridge . Chilled tarts should be eaten straight from the fridge and shouldn't be left at room temperature or the crust will turn soggy . 

Recipe adapted here

Crust : ( makes 332 grams cookie dough ) 

57 grams sugar 
57 grams butter , softened
28 grams ( rice bran ) oil 
17 grams milk 
1/2 tsp vanilla extract 
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
126 grams plain flour
45 grams pecans , toasted and finely chopped 

* Lightly butter 2 12-cavity mini muffin pans , set aside .

* In a mixing bowl , combine the first 6 ingredients ( from sugar to salt ) , using a whisk , beat until mixture is light and fluffy . Add in the flour and pecans and mix until just combined .

* Divide dough evenly or weigh , @ 13-14 grams each , and press into the prepared pans . If your dough is bit loose / a bit wet to handle , chill in the fridge for 30 minutes . 

* Freeze for 1 hour ( optional , this will prevent the dough from shrinking and puffing ) 

* Preheat oven to 180ºC . Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown . Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes before removing each tart from the pan . Cool completely before using . 

Filling : 

2 Gala apple , peeled and diced 
1 Granny Smith , peeled and diced 
2 tsp lime juice
40 grams sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 tsp allspice powder
4 grams finely minced ginger 
15 grams butter 

1/2 tsp cornstarch
1 tbsp water 

some Greek yogurt 
some chopped pecans

* Combine diced apples and lime juice in a bowl , toss to coat , add in sugar and the next 4 ingredients ( through ginger ) , mix thoroughly .

* Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat ; add apple mixture . When mixture starts to simmer , cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes , stirring occasionally . Combine cornstarch and water in a small bowl , add it to the apple mixture . Cook for about 1-2 minutes until mixture thickens . Transfer into a bowl and let cool completely before using . 

To assemble the tartlets : 

* Spoon a teaspoonful of spiced apples mixture into each tart shells , pipe or add in some yogurt on top . Add in pecan pieces ( optional ) . Serve immediately . Store leftover tarts in an airtight container and chill in the fridge .

Make ahead : 

* Bake the crust / shells and make the filling a day ahead . Store pastry shells into an airtight container at room temperature and chill spiced apple mixture into the fridge , taking out 30 minutes before using during colder days or serve chilled during summer .

Sunday, October 29, 2017

No-bake mango cheesecake

Philippine mango season maybe over but that doesn't mean late season produce back home will not trickle up here in smoggy Hongkong ! I was just lucky enough to find some cheap mangoes at the supermarket few days ago , a bit on the small side but it tastes sweet much to my surprise ! I usually hoard some seasonal fruits like strawberries , cherries and blueberries and freeze them but it's hard to do with mangoes . Why ? Because almost all the time the mango slices will fall into my mouth and not into  freezer bag pfffft ! I just can't resist juicy and sweet mangoes especially during its season and that's the best time to freeze as much as you can just in case , you know , a sudden craving of something that reminds you of home ..... 

In this cheesecake , the trick is to use a very sweet mangoes and cooking the mango flesh is the best way to extract its wonderful flavour . Unlike last time when I made a mango entremet where I added mango extract to add more mango flavour to each layer as the mangoes that I used were a bit tasteless . 

I used my stash of very sweet frozen mangoes in this no-bake cheesecake as the fresh ones that I bought though sweet pales in comparison when it comes to flavour . 

The recipe is almost the same as the No-bake ube cheesecake I made last time . I just guesstimated the amount that will nicely fit in my 6-inch mousse ring and if I have 200 grams instead of 155 grams cream cheese at that time this cake will be much more taller . You'll need a 6 x 3-inch for this recipe and loose-bottom pan will be much better than using a springform pan , alternately , you can use a 7-inch pan or use several small mousse rings or some clear water glasses or plastic dessert cups .

If using gelatin powder instead of gelatin sheets , you need to adjust the amount especially if the weather is hot but you can use the same amount if that's your preference . You also have to take into consideration the amount of  liquid in mango purée so adjust accordingly .

For the mango topping , I used 6 mangoes but they were on a small side so I only got about about 10 pieces of ( half ) balls in each mango . To make a nice and ( almost ) neat topping , slightly stack the second circle ( or line ? ) of mango balls on top of each other . Mango ball will slide off as you stack it so you need a bit of patience and chilling the balls will help . To make mango balls , you need a melon baller , if it's not available , just cut mango flesh into a small and uniform cubes .

To make the mango topping stay in place , you need to add a wine jelly . I didn't actually use all the jelly maybe about two-thirds of it , just enough to hold mango together . Initially , the taste of wine is a bit stronger , not being a wine or beer drinker , so even a small amount of alcohol is too much for me but after a day , the taste of it will dissipates . You can use sweetened lime or lemon juice instead of wine to make the jelly .

This recipe is flexible / forgiving , just adjust ingredients especially the gelatin accordingly . 

The taste of this cheesecake ?! Imagine you're eating Häagen dazs mango ice cream ..... But then I tend to exaggerate 😁 Remember to use the very sweet mangoes in this cheesecake , you can get away by using a slightly sweet mangoes for your topping but never in cheesecake ! If you can find Philippine mangoes and the sweet ones , thank you vey much , so much the better !

Makes one 6 x 2-inch cheesecake with about 1/2-inch fresh mango topping 

Recipe can be easily doubled to fit nicely in 8 or 9-inch ring / pan 

Mango purée :

465 grams sliced ( very sweet ) Philippine mangoes , frozen or fresh 
35 grams caster sugar 
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

* In a small saucepan , combine mangoes , sugar and lemon juice , stir to combine . Let stand for 30 minutes before cooking . 

* Let mixture boil over medium heat then turn down heat to low , simmer for about 15 minutes or until mangoes are very soft . Strain cooked mangoes through a fine sieve for smoother texture . Let cool completely before using . Make it a day ahead . Yield is 365 ml , leftover can be frozen . 

Crust : 

120 grams Biscoff cookies , finely crushed 
40 grams salted butter , melted 

* Combine crumbs and butter together and press into the bottom of a 6x 3-inch mousse ring or a loose-bottom or springform pan . Use the back of the spoon ( or a glass with smooth bottom ) to smoothen and neaten the crumbs . Chill or freeze in the fridge for 30 minutes . 

Cheesecake batter : 

8 grams gelatin sheets 
10 grams drinking water 
150 grams ( whipping ) cream 
155 grams cream cheese , softened at room temperature 
40 grams condensed milk 
150 grams mango purée 

* Soak gelatin in cold water for 10 minutes or until softened . 

* Whip cream until stiff peaks form , do not over mix , chill in the fridge until needed . 

* Beat cream cheese and condensed milk until smooth and fluffy , add in mango purée and beat until just combined . 

* Squeeze off excess water from softened gelatin , combine with water in a bowl and place bowl in a prepared hot water bath or a pan of barely simmering water . Stir until gelatin is melted completely . Pour melted gelatin immediately into the cream cheese mixture , mix thoroughly . Fold in the whipped cream until well combined . 

* Pour batter into crust and gently shake mousse ring to smoothen the top . Chill for at least 4 hours before adding in the mango balls and pouring in the wine jelly . 

* Chill cheesecake overnight . 

To unmould cheesecake , ran a hairdryer around the sides of the mousse ring so as the top . Gently shake the mousse ring as you lift it , the cake will easily pop out . Chill again for another 30 minutes before serving . 

Mango balls topping : 

6 ( depending on size ) ripe and sweet mangoes , scoop out as many mango ( half ) balls as you can using a melon baller . Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes before using . 

*  When cheesecake is stable enough , arrange the 1st circle of mango balls around the edge of the cheesecake then stacking the 2nd circle slightly over the first circle , do so with the next until surface / top is completely covered with mango balls . 

* Gently pour in the wine jelly on top of mango balls , making sure each piece is sprinkle with jelly so that mango balls will ( mostly ) stay in place when you cut the cheesecake . 

Wine jelly topping , recipe adapted here

25 grams white wine 
25 grams drinking water 
1 teaspoon lime juice 
10 grams sugar 
1 gram gelatin sheet , soak until softened 

* Combine ingredients above in a small bowl and place it over a pan of barely simmering water . Stir until gelatin is completely melted . Let cool slightly before pouring in on top of mango balls .