Peanut Butter Mascarpone Pie

The basis of this recipe comes from the Uncommon Gourmet’s All-Occasion Cookbook. I often turn to it for parties when something a bit different from the usual finger food.

I used an individual cheesecake pan to make these. I suspect a 9″ springform pan would work OK. The original recipe suggested using a deep-disk pie pan so you could always give that a go.

At least three of our guests raved about how good these were. All 12 were eaten; always a good sign.

Peanut Butter Mascarpone Pie
Servings: 12
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 2 1/2 hours

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups pecans, divided
  • 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 8-10 full crackers)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. Vietnamese cinnamon
  • 4 Tbsp. room temperature butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream, whipped
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 8 oz. mascarpone cheese, brought to room temperature
  • 1 /12 tsp. vanilla

Directions:

  1. To make the crusts start by preheating the oven to 350°F. Spray each of the pan openings with baking spray.
  2. Toast pecans in a skillet until lightly browned and aromatic. Roughly chop; set aside 1/4 cup.
  3. Pulse the remaining pecans in a food processor until finely chopped. Add the crumbs, sugar and cinnamon; pulse 3 or 4 times to combine. Add the butter and pulse until well mixed.
  4. Put about 2 tablespoons of crumb mixture into the bottom of each cup on the baking pan. Compact crumbs into the bottom of each opening. It’s OK if a bit comes up the sides.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes; rotating half way through baking. Transfer pan to a rack and allow to cool completely before filling.
  6. While crumb base cools you can take the mascarpone cheese out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature.
  7. To make the filling start by whipping the heavy cream in a stand mixture until stiff. Transfer to another bowl and set aside.
  8. Beat the remaining ingredients together using the stand mixer until fluffy. Manually fold in the whipped cream.
  9. Top the crumb bases with filling; fill to the top. Smooth the top with the back of a butter knife. Cover pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set; at least 2 hours or as much as overnight.
  10. When you are ready to serve run a thin knife along the outside edge of each cup. Push the bottom of the pie up, remove the metal plate and set on a serving plate. Garnish with the reserved pecans.

Notes:
I had leftover crumb mixture; probably because I made the individual pies rather than a single pie. You could try making two-thirds of the crumb mixture.

Saturday night – 01/24/2015

Smaller group this week due to wintery weather in our area. I don’t, apparently, know how to cook appropriate amounts of food and so we have lots of leftovers. Which is good since we are expecting more wintery weather later this week.

Menu
Chicken and Sausage Bake
Black Beans and Rice
Sauteed Corn
Homemade Focaccia

Cream puffs with caramel, chocolate ganache and whipped cream

Notes under the cut

Roasted Red Pepper Cheese Puffs

The name may sound fancy (c’mon, cheese puffs sounds highfalutin to me) however they are simple to make and can be created in many variations. I first had a similar creation, made with fake crab meat, 20 years ago.

One of the best parts is that you can make them well in advance and store them in the freezer for up to a month before using. Great when you there are unexpected guests or you are prepping for a big party.

Roasted Red Pepper Cheese Puffs
Servings: 12-18 (72 pieces total)
Prep time: 10 minutes plus 1 hour in the freezer
Total time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped roasted red peppers, skins and seeds removed
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped black olives
  • 1 pickled jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely minced (optional)
  • 1/2 lb. grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 English muffins, split in half

Directions:

  1. Mix the first 6 ingredients in a bowl until fully combined.
  2. Place about 2 Tbsp. of mixture on each English muffin half. Spead into an even layer over the muffin.
  3. Cut each muffin into 6 wedges. Place wedges on a rimmed baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 1 hour.
  4. When ready to arrange the oven rack 4-5″ from the broiler. Preheat broiler (use 450°F if you need to enter a temp like I do) for 5 minutes. Transfer half the cheese puff wedges to a separate baking sheet. Bake for 4-5 minutes, rotating sheet once for even browning. Serve immediately.

Notes:
I used jarred roasted red peppers for this as I had them on hand. I removed 2 from the jar and placed them on paper towels to dry them a bit. You certainly can use home-prepared roasted red peppers if you have the time and inclination.

If you want to store these rather than bake them off right away then transfer the frozen wedges to a zip top bag after the hour freeze in step 3. They’ll keep for a month (or longer).

While these work test with an hour in the freezer you can bake them right after making. They’ll cook up in 1-2 minutes so keep an eye on them lest they burn.

Saturday night – 01/17/2015

This was the first Saturday night at our place for 2015 so I went with a fairly easy menu. I’m happy with how everything turned out. I even remembered to add the parsley to the fennel salad.

Menu
Cajun-rubbed Pork Loin
Mashed potatoes
Steamed carrots and parsnips with browned butter and toasted sesame seeds
Fennel Salad
Homemade Applesauce

Giant Cranberry Cookie
“Blue” Jello

Notes under the cut

Curried Rice and Chickpea Salad

This dish was well received at our holiday party. The curry flavor plays well with the sweetness of the papaya. The chickpeas kind of blend in to the background, hiding with the rice and cashews, while the papaya, peas and scallions catch your attention. Very filling and tasty.

Curried Rice and Chickpea Salad
Servings: 8-10
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes (see note)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. curry powder
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. chopped chutney
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. table salt
  • 4 cups plain white rice, cooled
  • 1 14.5 oz can low-sodium chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup peas (thawed if frozen)
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped cashews, toasted
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced on a bias (green and white parts)
  • fruit from 1 papaya, cubed

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl combine the yogurt, mayo, curry, chutney, ginger and salt until well blended. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl mix together the remaining ingredients. Add dressing and gently stir to distribute.

Notes:
Make the rice up to the night before, cool to room temp and refrigerate overnight. If you include that time in this recipe then it’s probably closer to 1 hour 20 minutes total.

In addition to making the rice the night before this recipe can be prepped up 6 hours in advance. Make the dressing and refrigerate it. Combine the rest of the ingredients except the cashews and refrigerate that. When ready to serve just add the cashews and dressing to the rest of the salad, combine and plate.

This recipe is adapted from a great book I picked up years ago named Something for Everyone. The premise was to provide recipes that would make a dish for a family of vegetarians and non-vegetarians from one recipe. It appears to no longer be in print.

Buttermilk Ice Cream

This ice cream was an excellent foil to the sweetness of the Cranberry-Pistachio Crumble we served on Christmas Eve. It has a lovely tang and rich taste.

Buttermilk Ice Cream
Servings: 1 quart
Prep time: 15 minutes plus 8 hours cooling
Total time: 24 hours

Ingredients:

  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup demerara or turbinado sugar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Whisk yolks in a medium bowl until slightly lightened in color.
  2. In a small saucepan, warm the cream over low heat with the sugar, honey and salt until the sugar is completely dissolved. Do not let cream reach a boil; the sugar should be dissolved well before that. Remove pan from heat.
  3. Vigorously whisk the yolks while adding a ladle of hot cream in a slow stream. Repeat until about half of the cream has been mixed in. Return egg/cream mixture to sauce pan and combine. Return to low heat and cook for another 3-4 minutes; stirring regularly. The mixture should thicken slightly.
  4. Remove from heat, strain and cool for 20 minutes. Add the buttermilk, stir until fully incorporated. Cool to room temperature then refrigerate until cold, at least 8 hours, preferably overnight.
  5. When you are ready to churn the ice cream add the extract into the chilled sweetened cream.  Freeze according to your manufacturer’s ice cream maker instructions.  For me that is ~25 minutes. Transfer ice cream to a freezer-safe container and freeze overnight.

Notes:
Step 3 is very important. You need to slowly raise the temperature of the eggs otherwise they will scramble. Slowly adding the hot cream while whisking the eggs will allow you to do this. Don’t trust the TV show host who pours a cup of hot liquid into their eggs and then picks up a whisk. Two good examples are Alton Brown’s Good Eats episode The Proof Is In The Pudding or any episode of America’s Test Kitchen that deals with ice cream or pudding.

Demerara, or turbinado sugar, is also referred to as raw sugar. At one time it was only available from higher end grocery emporiums or natural food stores. I found it next to the agave and sweeteners in the baking aisle at our local mega-mart.

You can substitute a tablespoon of bourbon, whiskey, etc. for the vanilla extract if you wish. You add it after the mixture is cool so that the heat of the liquid doesn’t dissipate the aromatic components.

I referred to several recipes when coming up with my version including ones from Joy the Baker, Smitten Kitchen and Bon Appétit.