Saturday, March 30, 2013

Tiramisu Cheesecake: Need I Say More?

To all of my dear followers,
   I am back after yet another long hiatus (oh, the woes of graduate school)! However, what better way to mark my return than with this positively exquisite delight, otherwise known as "Tiramisu Cheesecake"? Well now, the name is pretty self-explanatory, and it should indeed be enough to stop you from working and make you immediately rush over to the grocery store so that it can soon be yours!
   But yes, it represents a fusion of two of the most heavenly desserts known to mankind to this very day: cheesecake and tiramisu. Of course, if you have followed The Spice Savant for any length of time, you should know by now that cheesecake ranks not only as my favorite dessert, but also as my number one speciality. Since it is without a doubt the dessert I prepare the most often, I am constantly looking for and experimenting with new variations, from fruit-based to chocolate to caramel to the delight I present you today. Essentially, this recipe combines a creamy, just perfectly sweet cheesecake with the coffee flavor of tiramisu-both Kalhua and instant espresso powder!
Just think for a few seconds, what could be make you swoon more?:)

In fact, I had baked mini-tiramisu cheesecakes last year for an exchange program reunion I was hosting, and they came out so perfectly that I cannot believe I waited nearly one year before giving them yet another go. Nevertheless, the idea of making one entire cheesecake quite naturally popped into my head when I was deliberating which dessert (which of course had to be a cheesecake) to end last Friday's dinner with, when I was to dine with U, L, D, B and K.
That decision engendered unanimous approval :)
Now go on, what are you waiting for? Try it out yourself. I guarantee you nothing but the utmost perfection and bliss.
A true coffee-lover's delight!

Tiramisu Cheesecake (adapted from Allrecipes.com)
250 g shortbread cookies
2 tbsp, white sugar
3 tbsp. Kalhua
4 tbsp. melted butter

4 8 oz. packages cream cheese
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup white sugar
6 tbsp. Kalhua
1 tsp. instant espresso powder
4 eggs
3 tbsp. all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350F. Boil enough water to fill a roasting pan in the meantime.

Grind the shortbread cookies to fine crumbs in a food processor. Add the melted butter and sugar, then the Kalhua. Press the mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake for about 7-8 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove, and let the crust cool completely. Lower the oven temperature to 325F.

In a stand mixer or food processor, mix the cream cheese, heavy cream and sugar on medium-high speed until they are very smooth. Add the coffee liqueur two tablespoons at a time and mix on medium-low speed. Add the eggs one at a time, and mix on low speed until just combined. Repeat with the flour, one tablespoon at a time. Do not overmix at any point!

Pour the batter over the crust. Place a roasting pan on the bottom rack of the oven, and pour boiling water into it. Place the springform pan on the middle rack, and let the cheesecake bake for about 40-45 minutes, or until the center is only slightly jiggly. Turn off the oven, and let the cheesecake rest inside for about 20-30 minutes with the door ajar. Then, remove the cheesecake and let it cool completely.

Refrigerate the cheesecake overnight. One hour before serving, prepare the ganache as follows, spread over the top of the cheesecake, and then refrigerate the cheesecake until ready to serve.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

La Gourmandise de la Semaine: Le Clafoutis aux Poires Chez Les Deux Abeilles

Voici le deuxième article qui appartient à "La Gourmandise de la Semaine!" 

   Ce week-end, j’ai eu la chance de déjeuner dans un salon de thé que j’avais très envie d’essayer depuis ma première fois à Paris : Les Deux Abeilles. Plusieurs amis m’ont dit que ce salon de thé adorable et intime ne sert pas seulement des plats salés extrêmement goûteux, mais aussi des desserts exceptionnels. Aujourd’hui, je vous présente une de ces pâtisseries, qui ne m’a pas du tout déçu, le clafoutis aux poires. Le clafoutis représente un de ces desserts avec une variabilité immense : il peut être servi froid ou chaud, avec ou sans accompagnement, et peut être préparé avec n’importe quel fruit. J’adore en général les clafoutis aux fruits rouges, froid et avec de la crème fouettée ou, mieux, de la bonne glace vanille. Samedi, Les Deux Abeilles offrait un clafoutis aux poires. Normalement, je n’aime pas trop les poires, mais j’ai décidé de l’essayer quand même car j’avais très envie de quelque chose de fruité, crémeux en même temps, quelque chose qui fondrait dans la bouche. Et c’était un excellent choix, parce que le clafoutis aux poires a rempli tous ces critères, et même plus. Il vantait l’équilibre parfait entre riche et pas sucré, exactement comme je préfère tous mes desserts. Les poires provenaient de je ne sais où, mais leur fraîcheur immense me fait penser qu’elles étaient locales. Des poires fraîches cuites au four dans une presque crème renversée, le tout servi tiède avec un goût bien pur qui souligne les ingrédients principaux eux-mêmes: les poires et les laitages! Cela vous tente, non?!


Les Deux Abeilles
189 Rue de l'Université
75007 Paris
Métro: Alma-Marceau, ou RER Pont de l'Alma

Monday, September 24, 2012

La Gourmandise de la Semaine: le Macaron Passion chez Un Dimanche à Paris

Bonjour, mes amis!
     Ça fait plus qu'un mois depuis mon retour à Paris, et je suis enfin (assez) bien installé! Grace à mon ancien programme d'échange, EDUCO, j'ai reçu l'idée de créer une nouvelle rubrique pour publier dans leur journal en ligne, donc j'ai décidé de la présenter en même temps sur "The Spice Savant." Chaque semaine désormais (ou autant que possible!), je vous retransmettrai cette rubrique, qui s'appelle "La Gourmandise de la Semaine." J'espère que ceci me forcerai de mettre le blog à jour plus souvent, et j'ai très hâte pour cette nouvelle phase de "The Spice Savant!" (et aussi parce que désormais, le blog sera bilingue anglais-français à cause de cette rubrique) :)

Voici la gourmandise de cette semaine: le Macaron Passion chez Un Dimanche à Paris!



      J’adore les macarons, mais après avoir goûté les meilleurs, c’est vrai que ça devient difficile de trouver quelque chose qui est au même niveau. Les meilleurs macarons, selon moi, se trouvent à la pâtisserie “Hugo et Victor”, qui s’appelle aussi “La Pâtisserie de Luxe.”  J’ai déjà écrit sur les macarons de “Hugo et Victor” (regardez mon article “Top 10 Must Eats in the City of Lights!"), et je les emploie toujours comme un point de comparaison avec les autres macarons. Aujourd’hui, je vous présente le macaron passion d’”Un Dimanche à Paris”.  J’adore le fruit de la passion sous presque n’importe quelle forme, et ce macaron ne m’a pas trop déçu. J’ai adoré la crème de la passion au milieu du macaron. Le goût de la passion dominait, avec une quantité suffisante, mais pas trop, de sucre. Par contre, le sucre au-dessus du macaron le rendait trop sucré dans l’ensemble. De plus, j’ai trouvé que c’était un peu trop croquant. L’équilibre parfait entre moelleux et croquant que les macarons de Hugo et Victor vante est malheureusement absent dans ce macaron-ci. Globalement, je vous conseillerais d’essayer le macaron passion une seule fois pour former votre propre avis, surtout si vous aimez le fruit de la passion,  mais moi, je n’y retournerai pas pour goûter les macarons.

Un Dimanche à Paris
4-6-8 Cour du Commerce St. André
75006 Paris, France

-Bonne gourmandise à tous et à toutes !
 Ameya

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Sweet Potato Enchiladas with Homemade Enchilada Sauce

I love sweet potatoes. I really do. But, I only love them when sufficient amounts of heat and spice have been added to perk them up. This recipe for sweet potato enchiladas perfectly fits the bill. I actually found this recipe a couple of years ago, but like many others, it just sat dormant in my favorites list...until last night! Yes, last night, I invited a few good friends with whom I studied abroad over for dinner, and I decided to try my hand at something with a Mexican flair for a change, as opposed to the usual Indian-inspired fare I prepare for guests. You see, I'm heading back to Paris in just under a week, and I want to pack in as much Mexican food as humanly possible before then, since it can be a bit hard to come by that side of the Atlantic! And, it was a great decision, if I do say so myself. What, with the subtly sweet yet flavorful sweet potato filling, wrapped inside flour tortillas, adorned with copious amounts of melted raw sharp cheddar cheese and HOMEMADE spicy enchilada sauce...need I say more? :) This dish was impressive, and the grilled guacamole I threw together served as the perfect refreshing accompaniment. This turned out a hit even with those who were "not normally enchilada people." If you've been avidly searching for a twist on classic Mexican fare, the answer to your dilemma awaits right below, as I present to you this truly one-of-a-kind recipe for sweet potato enchiladas!

Sweet Potato Enchiladas (adapted from Allrecipes.com):
5 sweet potatoes
1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
4 green onions, washed and chopped
2 tsp. chilli powder
1 tbsp. ground cumin
1 tbsp. dried oregano
scant 1.5 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
12 fajita size flour tortillas
1 batch enchilada sauce, recipe below
1 8 oz. package of raw sharp cheddar cheese(or any other kind you like), shredded

Prick sweet potatoes with a knife on all sides, and cook them in a microwave on "potato" setting or according to manufacturer's instructions. Place them in a closed brown bag for a few minutes, then peel and mash coarsely. Then, add chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, cream cheese and green onions, and mash finely. Preheat your oven to 350F. Slightly warm tortillas, wrapped in a damp paper towel, for about 20-30 seconds. Fill each one with about 1/3 cup sweet potato mixture in the center. Then, roll up the tortilla, and place each enchilada seam-side down in a greased 9x13 baking dish. Pour about 3 cups of enchilada sauce over the rolled tortillas, and spread shredded cheese on top. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until the cheese is browned and the sauce is bubbling. Serve hot with guacamole and/or sour cream!
Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce(adapted from This Week for Dinner):
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. flour
2 tbsp. ancho chili powder
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1.5 cups water
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, or to taste

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Saute the onions until translucent. Add the flour, garlic, chili powder and remaining oil. Stir constantly for about 3-5 minutes over medium heat. Add tomato sauce, water and cumin. Simmer for about 10 minutes on medium-low heat. Add salt and cayenne pepper.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Baked Beefsteak Tomatoes Stuffed With Mediterranean-Spiced Quinoa


It was my mom's birthday last week , and of course, I was the one to put out the birthday dinner :) I wanted to come up with something out of the ordinary, rather than our standard Indian fare that inevitably makes its way to every special occasion in our house. Now, that's not to say I don't love that fare-who can resist chaat, bondas, flaky parathas, gravied paneer curries, spicy bowls of steaming hot daal, etc.? But, variety is the spice of life, after all! Stuffed tomatoes had been on my list for years, so all I needed to do was improvise a filling. Well, I love quinoa, and it lends itself so well to Mediterranean flavors, which is what I was after. Hence was born the inspiration for this extremely flavorful filling, which, stuffed inside the tomatoes, makes for a light yet hearty main dish. I served it with a simple black olive-sundried tomato tapenade and flaxseed crackers, which made for a more than satisfactory birthday dinner for Aai :) 5 beefsteak tomatoes, washed and dried 3/4 cup quinoa, uncooked 1/2 a large onion (or 1 small onion), finely chopped 2 large cloves garlic 2 tsp. dried basil 1.5 tsp. dried oregano 2 tsp. cumin powder 1-1.5 tsp. red chili flakes(depending on your heat preference) 1.5 cups plus 2 tbsp. vegetable stock 2 tbsp. olive oil, plus more for brushing tomatoes 4 oz. feta cheese, cubed or crumbled salt to taste, about 1.5 tsp. Slice the tops off the tomatoes, and hollow the insides, leaving about 1/2" all around and on bottom. Reserve the flesh for the quinoa filling. Heat olive oil in a pot on medium heat. Add chopped onion and cook until translucent. Add tomato flesh, and cook for about 5 minutes, until it achieves a deep red color. Crush basil and oregano, and add along with cumin, red chili flakes, garlic and quinoa. Stir, and after about 1 minute, add the vegetable stock. Cover pot, raise heat, and bring the stock to a boil. Reduce heat until mixture is simmering, and let it simmer for 15 minutes, until quinoa is cooked through, but not mushy. Preheat oven to 375F in the meantime. Let the mixture cool, and then mix in the feta cheese. Scoop evenly into the hollow tomatoes, and brush the tomatoes with olive oil. Bake in oven for about 30 minutes, until juices just begin to flow from the tomatoes and they are tender. Serve immediately.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake



I've been on quite the cheesecake binge as of late, I really can't explain it. Granted, cheesecake is my favorite dessert and one of my favorite foods, but even then. In the last month, I've made both salted caramel cheesecake bars and oreo cheesecake bars, and I've failed to blog about either one of them. And in between, there has been many a cheesecake from this and that bakery. Now though, in honor of Easter (not that I actually celebrate Easter, I just wanted to justify baking yet another cheesecake ;) ), I bring you Brown Eyed Baker's Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake!! The name should really say it all. I mean c'mon, cheesecake with brownies mixed in? You've seen my post on brownies with cheesecake mixed in, an all-time favorite in our house. So, this is basically the inverse, and it is nothing but decadent, delightful, sublime to the point of inducing a trance. Yes, really-it is all that. Just use the best quality ingredients possible. Actually, after having baked so many cheesecakes at home, I have become much less inclined to eat them from bakeries. So maybe, maybe making them at home has turned out to be a good thing, no?

This recipe is actually very simple, in spite of comprising 4 spearate steps. The brownies are actually the easiest I've made, coming together in just one bowl. They are excellent, without a doubt, though next time I would try Ina's brownies-by far the most fudgy, most dense brownies to date (the ones I used in the cheesecake brownies in fact).

One word: this cheesecake really is best cold, with its ganache topping and the fudgy brownies, unlike most other cheesecakes, which taste best at room temperature.



Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake (slightly adapted from Brown Eyed Baker):

Step 1-Brownies:

4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
3/4 cup butter (or 1.5 sticks)
1 and 3/4 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup flour

Preheat oven to 325F. Prepare a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with foil and grease.

Microwave butter and chocolate on 50% power until butter in completely melted (about 2 minutes in my microwave). Stir the chocolate vigorously until melted. Stir in sugar and vanilla. Then, blend in the eggs, followed by the flour and salt. Spread brownie batter into prepared pan.

Bake brownies for 30-35 minutes, but start checking after 25 minutes (mine were done in about 28). A toothpick inserted into the center should come out with fudgy crumbs. Cool them completely. Then, cut them into 3/4 to 1 inch squares, and set aside 2 cups of the squares for the cheesecake. Enjoy the rest :)

Step 2-Crust:
*Note-I made, and highly recommend double the crust. I'm giving the proportions for double below, but feel free to half the recipe if you prefer.

10 oz. finely ground oreos (I actually used 365 brand chocolate sandwich cookies)
10 tbsp. melted unsalted butter
3 tbsp. granulated sugar(I significantly cut down since the cookies are very sweet)
1/4 tsp. salt

Combine all ingredients and press onto the bottom of and 1" up the sides of a 10" springform pan. Fill immediately, or set in the fridge for upto 2 hours.

Step 3-Cheesecake:
3 8 oz. packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla

Make sure oven is preheated. Beat cream cheese and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes. Then add vanilla. Start adding the eggs on low speed, one at a time, and beat until just combined. Scrape the bowl in-between as needed.

Gently fold in the brownie cubes into the batter, and pour batter on top of oreo crust in the springform pan. Bake in the oven with a water bath for about 55 minutes, until the cheesecake is set 3" from center, but still jiggles in the middle when shaken. Let it cool completely.

Step 4-Ganache Topping
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
4 tbsp. unsalted butter (or 1/2 stick)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 tbsp. powdered sugar

Place chopped chocolate in medium-sized bowl. Scald butter and cream in microwave for 1 minute on high, watching carefully to make sure they don't boil over. Pour cream mixture over chocolate in bowl, and stir vigorously until chocolate is melted. Whisk in vanilla and sugar until thoroughly combined. Pour warm ganache over cool cheesecake. Chill cheesecake until serving time.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Improv' Green and Cheese Hash

Finally, after another gap of a few months, I feel like I have some sense of normalcy back in my life. I cannot even begin to describe how busy school has kept me the last few months. Thankfully, I am taking some time for myself (and for you all, of course), to get my blog back on track. Last week, I was lucky to have friends come visit me for that infamous New Orleans festival Mardi Gras. It was the first time I had guests in town for MG, but because of my friends, it was hands down the best I'd ever had.
Needless to say, over a span of five days, we tired pretty fast of eating out, though we sampled and thoroughly enjoyed some excellent NOLA food. And after several days of parading and other festivities, we were too tired to even go grocery shopping. So, lo and behold this Improv' Green and Cheese Hash-quite healthy, with vegetables (and avocado) as the main ingredient, with a little bit of cheese for protein, this is a simple and savory meal perfect for a weeknight or for anytime you want something quick to use up what you've got on hand, served up with a slice of buttered toast. Actually, we completely improvised this one with what I had in my fridge, but I was surprised at how well it turned out. Of course, feel free to improv' to suit whatever you've got on hand :)

Green and Cheese hash (Serves 2-3)

1/2 a small white onion, finely chopped
1 small zucchini, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 medium avocado, ripe, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 bunch of asparagus, ends trimmed, and chopped into one-inch pieces
1 large clove garlic
1 tsp. each dry basil and thyme
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste, depending on heat preference)
3 tbsp. heavy cream*
1/2 cup shredded cheese, such as emmental or swiss (I used raw emmental)
2 tbsp. olive oil

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a nonstick pan, add onion, and cook until transluscent. Add asparagus, cover, and cook until tender, about 7-8 minutes, stirring every 2-3 minutes. Add zucchini along with herbs (crush herbs with palms of your hands), cover, and cook for one minute until zucchini is tender crisp. Then, add diced avocado, red pepper, cream and shredded cheese, stir together, and let cook just until cheese is melted. Top with a little extra shredded cheese if desired. Serve immediately with bread :)



*While we loved the richness the cream added, next time I will try using vegetable stock for even more flavor. Let me know if you try this!
 

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