French-style Dessert with Meringues, Chestnut Puree and Whipped Cream

Ingredients

2 egg whites
pinch of creamn of tartar
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
chocolate shavings, to decorate

Chestnut Cream

1/3 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup water
1 (1 1b) can unsweetened chestnut puree
1 tsp vanilla essence
1-1/2 cups double cream

Chocolate Sauce

8 oz plain chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp rum or brandy (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 140°C/275°F. Line a baking sheet with non-stick baking paper. Use a small plate to outline six 3-1/2-inch circles and turn the paper over (so the meringue does not touch the pencil marks).
  2. In a clean greasefree bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites slowly until frothy. Add the cream of tartar, then increase the speed and continue beating until they form soft peaks. Gradually sprinkle over the sugar, 2 tbsp at a time, and continue beating until the whites are stiff and glossy.
  3. Beat in the vanilla essence.
  4. To make the chestnut cream, place the sugar and water in a small saucepan over a medium-high heat and bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Boil for about 5 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool.
  5. Put the chestnut puree in a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process until smooth. With the machine running, slowly add the sugar syrup in a thin stream until the chestnut puree is soft, but still holds its shape (you may not need all the syrup). Add the vanilla essence and process again then spoon into a medium bowl.
  6. Spoon the chestnut cream into a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle. Pipe a mound of chestnut cream in a swirl on to each meringue then pipe or spoon the remaining cream on top of the chestnut cream to resemble a mountain peak. Chill until ready to serve.
  7. To make the chocolate sauce, heat the chocolate and cream in a small saucepan over a medium-low heat stirring frequently. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the rum or brandy, if using. Set aside to cool, stirring occasionally. (Do not chill or the sauce will set.)
  8. To serve, place each meringue on a plate and sprinkle with chocolate shavings. Serve the chocolate sauce separately.

Makes 6 servings.

Source: Taste of France

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Anise Glazed Chicken

Ingredients

1/4 cup olive oil
4 tbsp grated onion
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp fresh minced ginger
2 tbsp toasted anise seeds
1-1/2 cups chicken stock
3 tbsp honey
zest and juice of 1 lemon
pinch of crushed red pepper
1 tbsp unsalted butter
4 boneless chicken breast halves (6 oz each, skin on)
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
vegetable: caramelized fennel, spinach, wilted arugula or roasted peppers
4 tbsp julienned sun-dried tomatoes
2 tbsp chopped fresh chives

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Prepare the sauce. Heat a medium-size saucepan over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook until onion just begins to brown. Add the anise seeds, stock, honey, lemon and crushed red pepper.
  3. Bring to a simmer and reduce by two-thirds, about 12 to 15 minutes over medium-high heat. Finish sauce by swirling in the butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep warm.
  4. While sauce is reducing, prepare the chicken. Season the breasts with salt and pepper. Heat the remaining olive oil in an ovenproof skillet over medium heat.
  5. Brown the chicken 1-1/2 to 2 minutes on the meaty side, turn and brown for 4 to 5 minutes on the skin side.
  6. Pour out any excess oil. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes or until chicken is just cooked through.
  7. Remove the pan from the oven and deglaze with the warm sauce. Turn the chicken a couple of times to cook well.
  8. Divide the vegetable evenly among 4 plates. Top with a chicken breast, skin side up. Drizzle the remaining sauce over the chicken, sprinkle with chives, sun-dried tomatoes and cracked fresh black pepper.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Met Home magazine

Easy and Low-fat Cheesecake with Banana

Ingredients

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons margarine, melted
4 large bananas, mashed
8 oz nonfat cream cheese
1/2 cup nonfat small curd cottage cheese
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (essence)
1/2 teaspoon sweetened cocoa
8 strawberries
8 fresh mint sprigs

Method

  1. Preheat an oven to 300°F (150°C). Coat the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. To make the crust, in a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, 2 tablespoons sugar and margarine and stir to mix well. Lightly press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.
  3. To make the filling, in a food processor with the metal blade or in a blender, combine the bananas, cream cheese, cottage cheese, egg, vanilla and 1/2 cup sugar and process until smooth.
  4. Pour the filling into the crust and bake until the center is set, about 1 hour. Turn off the oven, prop open the oven door and leave the cake in the oven to cool for 15 minutes.
  5. Remove the cake from the oven and cool completely in the pan, about 1 hour.
  6. To serve, release the cake from the pan, sprinkle the top with the cocoa, slice into 8 wedges and divide among individual dessert plates. Garnish each wedge with a strawberry and a mint sprig.
  7. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Makes 8 servings.

Source: Cooking for Healthy Living

Chocolate Banana Tart

Ingredients

3/4 cup spelt flour
1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter, cubed and softened
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons evaporated cane sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons agave nectar
3 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons finely chopped plus 1/4 cup chopped raw Brazil nuts
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 ounces 70% organic dark chocolate, broken up into small pieces
3 bananas, thinly sliced

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 300ºF. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
  2. Stir the flours, oats, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl.
  3. In a standing mixer, combine the butter and 1/2 cup of the sugar. Cream the mixture until light in color and smooth, about 4 minutes.
  4. Add the agave and blend. Add the eggs one at a time, blending between each addition. Add the vanilla. On low speed, add the flour mixture and mix until the batter is the consistency of cookie dough.
  5. Using a spatula, fold in the 3 tablespoons finely chopped nuts by hand. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a 1/4-inch thickness. Using a 3-inch round cookie cutter, cut out 6 pastry bases. Using a large spatula, place the dough on the prepared baking sheets and bake until golden brown, about 8 minutes.
  7. Transfer the pastry rounds to a wire rack to cool.
  8. To make the ganache, bring 1/4 cup of the cream to a boil in a saucepan. Remove from the heat. Add the chocolate to the cream and let sit for 3 to 5 minutes so the chocolate melts. Whisk together until smooth. Set aside.
  9. Preheat the oven to broil.
  10. To assemble the tarts, place the pastry rounds back on the baking sheets and divide the ganache among the pastry rounds, using an offset spatula or dinner knife to spread the ganache to the edges.
  11. Arrange the banana slices on top of the ganache in a pinwheel pattern. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over the bananas and put the tarts under the broiler for 30 seconds to brown the tops. Watch them carefully so they don’t burn.
  12. Whip the remaining /2 cup cream to soft peaks, and add a spoonful to each tart. Garnish with the 1/4 cup chopped nuts before serving.

Makes 6 servings.

Source: True Food

Light, Flaky and Buttery Mille Feuille with Chocolate and Blackberry

Ingredients

1 (1-pound) package ready-to-bake all-butter puff pastry
all-purpose flour, for dusting
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2-3/4 cups blackberries
confectioners’ sugar and unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting

Chocolate Cream

4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup light cream
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons creme de cassis, plus extra for drizzling

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to a large rectangle and sift half of the cocoa powder over it. Fold one end of the rectangle into the center and repeat with the opposite end, so that each end meets in the middle. Repeat the process, adding another dusting of cocoa powder, then roll out the pastry to a thin rectangle, about 13-1/2 x 11 inches.
  3. Place the pastry on a large baking sheet and trim to fit if necessary. Prick the pastry all over with a fork, cover with a sheet of parchment paper, and weigh the pastry down with a second baking sheet.
  4. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the pastry begins to brown.
  5. Remove the top baking sheet and parchment paper, then return to the oven for another 5-10 minutes, or until cooked. Let cool.
  6. To make the chocolate cream, put the chocolate into a large heatproof bowl. Put the light cream into a saucepan and heat to just below boiling point.
  7. Pour the cream onto the chocolate, stirring gently until smooth. Let cool.
  8. Whip the heavy cream to soft peaks. Mix the cooled chocolate mixture into the whipped cream, then fold in the creme de cassis.
  9. To assemble, cut the cooled pastry into 16 small rectangles. Using a pastry bag or spatula, pipe or spread a thick layer of the chocolate cream onto all the pastry rectangles.
  10. Arrange the blackberries on half of the rectangles, reserving eight for decoration, then add a little more chocolate cream between the berries.
  11. Sandwich the cream-covered pastry rectangles on top of the berries and dust with confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder.
  12. Cut the reserved berries in half, drizzle with cassis, and use to decorate the mille feuille.

Makes 8 servings.

Source: Chocolat