Meringue Nests with Rhubarb Curd

Meringue Nests with Rhubarb Curd – Candy Coated Culinista

A trip to St. Lawrence Market had me excited to use a particular ingredient I have wanted to cook with for years. I have searched at many different markets over the past 3 years all over the GTA and I could never find them. I was always being told, “We had them yesterday or just sold the last bunch.” Not to mention there is this fear associated with rhubarb as the leaves are poisonous; which of course had me a little apprehensive. Let’s face it I have ackee all the time and I’m actually consuming the poisonous pieces if they were picked to early and here I’m not even touching the rhubarb leaves, so those fears were quelled and I carried on.

Curd
Yield/Serving: 750 ml to 1 liter
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cook Time: 45 min.
Difficulty level is: Easy

Meringue Nests
Yield/Serving: 20
Prep Time: 15 min.
Cook Time: 2 hrs.
Difficulty level is: Medium

Ingredients
Curd
• 2 eggs
• ¾ cup granulated sugar
• 2 cups of rhubarb, shopped, about 6 stalks
• ¼ cup water
• Juice from half a lemon
• ¼ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pats
Meringue
• 7 egg whites
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 2 tbsp cornstarch
• 2 tsp white vinegar
• 2 tsp vanilla extract

Assembly
Curd
1. Whisk eggs with 1/ cup of sugar in a medium sized bowl.
2. Using a medium sized saucepan add rhubarb with the remaining ¼ cup of sugar and water over medium-high heat.
3. Bring to a boil and then reduce to medium heat for 8 minutes.
4. Then whisk rhubarb until smooth and squeeze in lemon juice.
5. Ladle in the rhubarb into the egg mixture and slowly incorporate.
6. Add mixture back into the saucepan over low heat and continue to cook for 10 minutes, stirring constantly using a wooden spoon until mixture thickens.
7. Remove mixture from heat and stir in pats of butter one at a time allowing each pat to melt before adding the next.
8. Blender mixture for 30 to 45 seconds to achieve a smoother texture.
9. Pour into a jar and place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd.
Meringue
1. Pre-heat over to 250°F.
2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. Using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, beat eggs on high until soft peaks are formed about 2 minutes.
4. Slowly add in sugar 1 tablespoon at a time until stiff glossy peak have formed. About 2 more minutes.
5. Beat in the cornstarch, vinegar and vanilla until combined.
6. Pipe meringue into nests and bake for 2 hours.
7. Turn off the oven and let them dry in the oven for one more hour and leave on the parchment paper to completely cool.

Tips
• Blend the curd just before pouring into a jar to cool to achieve a smoother texture if desired.
• Let meringue cool in oven over night.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
Rhubarb is a fibrous vegetable and I highly recommend blending the curd, especially if you are using it in a tart or topping a pavlova, meringue cookies, macaron, pancakes or crepes. You’re really going to want that smooth creamy texture to the curd. The meringue cookies were crispy, chewy and marshmallowy and with the addition of the tart silky curd it balances out the sweetness of the cookies. I loved that I got to practice my piping skills and it was enjoyed by all who had and this is a perfect summer recipe. I really wish I knew someone who had rhubarb in the backyard garden though as these sell at a premium. I paid 3.99 a pound, which came to $9.50 for seven stalks. As this has such a small season a splurge once a season is ok; but still it’s so pricy. If you want an eye-catching seasonal dessert to catch the eye; this is a must make.

Rhubarb Ice Cream

Rhubarb Ice Cream – Candy Coated Culinista

A seasonally flavoured ice cream that hits the spot if you love the tart flavours of rhubarb like myself.

Yield/Serving: 1 pint
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cook Time: approx. 30 min.
Inactive Time: 2-3 hours for a creamy ice cream
Freeze Time: Overnight
Difficulty level is: Easy

Ingredients
• 1 ½ cups rhubarb chopped
• 1 cup 2% milk
• 6 egg yolks
• ¾ cup granulated sugar
• Pinch of salt
• 2 cup heavy cream
• 1 vanilla bean, sliced in half and insides scrapped out

Assembly
1. Using a small saucepan; boil rhubarb and don’t add water over medium-high heat until tender and all the liquid has evaporated, about 10 min.
2. Chill rhubarb until cooled completely in the refrigerator.
3. Using medium saucepan add egg yolks and sugar and whisk until mixture turns a pale yellow and is smooth.
4. In a small saucepan heat milk over medium-low heat until it begins to simmer and do not stir.
5. Slowly add milk to egg and sugar mixture stirring constantly and then return to heat until it reaches 165°F.
6. Immediately remove from heat once it reaches back up to 165°F. (The mixture should have thickened up and coats the back of the spoon.)
7. Pour custard base into a container and allow to chill in the refrigerator until it reaches 65°F. Once custard has chilled pour into the ice cream maker and process accordingly to your machine.
8. Add the rhubarb pieces in the last few 5 minutes of churning.
9. Transfer ice cream to a chilled container and let firm.

Tips
• The longer the custard base is allowed to chill; the creamier the ice cream will be.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
I never purchase ice cream any more. If I’m having ice cream it is homemade because it tastes that much better. It takes more time; but it’s worth the effort every single time.

K is for … Kale & Mango Smoothie

Kale Mango Smoothie - Cady Coated Culinista

Kale Mango Smoothie – Cady Coated Culinista

This is my first green smoothie! I was a little apprehensive in regards to how this would taste, as all my smoothies are fruit based and I haven’t introduced vegetables into them as of yet in such a main role.

Yield/Serving: 1
Prep Time: 5 min.
Cook Time: less than a minute
Difficulty level is: Easy

Ingredients
• 1 packed cup, kale leaves, chopped
• ½ cup fresh pineapple, chopped
• 1 fresh mango, chopped
• ½ cup vanilla flavoured almond milk
• 8 ice cubes

Assembly
1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
This was surprisingly delicious. I’m not going to lie I can taste the kale. It’s hard to get all the kale to be blended up smoothly without little kale pieces or flecks being left behind when I am drinking it; but overall pretty good. I could taste the kale and the sweet and tart notes of the pineapple. The addition of almond milk to this smoothie was a great idea.

Strawberry Shortcake with Vanilla Cream

Strawberry Shortcake with Vanilla Cream - Candy Coated Culinista

Strawberry Shortcake with Vanilla Cream – Candy Coated Culinista

Strawberry Shortcake has been one of those recipes I have always wanted to make and I have been a little apprehensive about making it for some reason. Once I tried this recipe I really have no idea why I shied away.

I haven’t been participating in the Chatelaine Cooking club since the Cranberry Clementine Cheesecake Challenge in November of 2015; but this challenge brought me back in and to my surprise I was selected as the winner see photo here. I was totally delighted as I had a few different taste testers; which were very happy for me as they tasted this amazing recipe and love my food styling.

Yield/Serving: 4
Prep Time: 5 min.
Cook Time: 14 min.
Difficulty level is: Easy

From Chatelaine (Batched down)

Ingredients
Shortcake

• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 tbsp granulated sugar
• 1 ½ tsp baking powder
• 1/8 tsp sea salt
• Lemon zest, from one lemon
• ¼ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
• 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream, plus 3 tbsp
• 1 tbsp heavy whipping cream for brushing
• 1 tsp coarse sugar
• 250g strawberries sliced
Vanilla Whipped Cream
• ½ vanilla bean
• ½ cup heavy whipping cream
• 1 tbsp granulated sugar

Assembly
Shortcake
1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
3. Using a large bowl stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon zest until blended.
4. Incorporate the butter using your finger, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
5. Slowly add in the heavy cream, until the dough can form a ball.
6. Slightly press down the dough on a lightly floured surface and cut into four wedges.
7. Gently form each wedge into a ball and place on sheet 1” apart.
8. Brush the tops of the biscuits with cream and sprinkle with sugar.
9. Bake for 12-14 min. or until the tops are a golden brown.
10. Let cool on rack.
Vanilla Whipped Cream
1. Split vanilla bean down the middle and scrape out the vanilla seeds.
2. Using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment add in the vanilla seeds and sugar and whip cream on medium until stiff peaks are formed.

Assembly
1. Once cooled cut shortcakes in half.
2. Place some jumbleberry jam on the plate.
3. Place the bottom of the shortcake and top with whipped cream.
4. Add strawberries on top followed by more whipped cream.
5. Place the top portion of the biscuit.
6. Garnish with strawberries and serve

Tips
• Serve with jumbleberry jam or strawberry jam.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
These were a big hit with my tasters. One reviewer even showed me a clean plate with the remnants of jam. Another requested even more jam even though I gave a healthy helping; but they are Welsh born and this reminded them of scones, jam & clotted cream. I loved this so much I wanted to make another batch right away and wished I hadn’t batched down the recipe. The addition of the lemon zest to the batter added a slight punch and brightness not to mention nothing beats fresh homemade whipped cream. I haven’t purchased canned whipped cream in years now.

Strawberry Shortcake with Vanilla Cream - Candy Coated Culinista

Strawberry Shortcake with Vanilla Cream – Candy Coated Culinista

Strawberry Shortcake with Vanilla Cream - Candy Coated Culinista

Strawberry Shortcake with Vanilla Cream – Candy Coated Culinista

Cherry Yoghurt Bundt Cake

 Cherry Yoghurt Bundt Cake - Candy Coated Culinista

Cherry Yoghurt Bundt Cake – Candy Coated Culinista

Much like my blueberry lemon cake with vanilla glaze, this recipe came about strictly due to free yoghurt. The strangest things happen in Toronto. Picture this – a truck at the side of the road in the Financial District for Astro Yoghurt just giving away an insane amount of yoghurt to whoever wants it. Now I actually missed the actual yoghurt being given away; but with such generous co-workers everyone had at least two packs of Greek yoghurt to take home and enjoy.

Prep Time: 20 min.
Cook Time: 60 min.
Difficulty level is: Easy

Ingredients
Cake

• 1 cup all purpose flour
• ¼ tsp baking soda
• ¼ tsp sea salt
• 1/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
• ½ cup granulated sugar
• 1 egg
• 1/3 tsp vanilla paste
• Cherry Greek yoghurt (3 oz)
• Frozen cherries, pitted (4 ½ oz)
Glaze
• 1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
• ¼ tsp vanilla paste
• ¾ tbsp milk

Assembly
Cake

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Grease a Bundt pan.
3. In a large bowl whisk together flour, baking soda and salt and set aside.
4. Using an electric mixer on medium speed with the paddle attachment beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
5. Add egg and vanilla paste.
6. Toss cherries in the flour mixture and set aside.
7. Slowly add in the flour mixture along with the yoghurt and mix until just blended.
8. Stir cherries into the batter slowly.
9. Bake for 60 minutes or until top is golden brown.
Glaze
1. Mix the confectioner’s sugar, vanilla paste and milk together until smooth in a small bowl.
2. Drizzle over top of the cooled cake.
3. Cut into slices and serve.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
Such a moist cake and I will say yoghurt makes the best cake. I made some for my second mom just to taste test and her hubby managed to only get a small piece as everyone to a little more than their share. I then had to make another cake again 1 day later for him. Now I am being requested to make this for thanksgiving dinner just much larger. I would have made this recipe 3 times in 7 days which I find to be hilarious. My two favourite parts to this recipe was I used the cherries I picked from my second mom’s garden back at the end of June. Secondly I used my mom’s old copper Bundt pans; which funny enough I never realized were baking pans until I was tidying up the kitchen in May. I just thought they were decorative things hanging on the wall. Now I’m the proud owner of three unique mini Bundt pans and I couldn’t be happier.

Aprium-Pluot Jam & First Annual Toronto Food & Wine Festival 2015 Giveaway

Aprium-Pluot Jam - Candy Coated Culinista

Aprium-Pluot Jam – Candy Coated Culinista

Toronto Food & Wine 2015

Toronto Food & Wine 2015

There’s nothing like a fast and fresh summer jam, especially when it’s using those interesting fruits you only see in the summer for such a short period of time; that if you blink you’ve missed the whole season entirely. I have become a huge fan of Apriums and Pluots since I stumbled upon this frit over a year ago. Coming across those never seen produce before always reminds me of all the amazing events around Toronto that give me a chance to find interesting and new ways to incorporate those new produce into your culinary repertoire.

The First Annual Toronto Food & Wine Festival 2015 will be held September 18 – 20 2015 at the Evergreen Brick Works and I can’t wait to enjoy another Toronto food festival. They never disappoint me and I always find something to take home with me. Some of my favourite chefs that I have met like Curtis Stone – such a charismatic, charming and modest chef and fellow Canadian chef Chuck Hughes a chef I can met time and time again; I’m on my 3rd encounter already and I can say I never tire of seeing Chuck. He is so engaging, personable and willing to encourage the up and coming young chefs. I also can’t forget other Canadians like Roger Mooking & Mark McEwen, who have so much passion and love they just can’t be ignored; along with Tyler Florence a chef I can now say I am more than just a casual fan of ever since I saw him at the Delicious Food Show I have been following him with much zeal. I can’t wait to see them all and of course learn all I can in those demos and workshops.

Something interesting I can’t wait to see is the Taste Canada Cooks the Books competition – a competition after my own heart; as how many times have us cooks followed a cookbook recipes exactly and yet the recipe looks nothing like the picture included. In this competition all of these recipes will be prepared on stage by culinary students with the Canadian cookbook author on stage. Reproduction will be key for the winner.

I can’t forget about the sampling, sipping and savouring from the 130 vendors and participants. I hope to find a few new local vendors to add to my list and new products that I can incorporate into my culinary repertoire.

The Toronto Food & Wine Festival 2015 will be held at Evergreen Brick Work in Toronto. The Evergreen Brick Works is a community environmental centre that inspires visitors to live a well-rounded life more sustainable. I have been to there farmer’s markets on the weekends and have found such amazing fresh and locally grown produce along with organic & environmentally friendly products. This festival is definitely a must for any home chef, aspiring chef or culinary student or just any foodie. I guarantee you will leave with a few new techniques under your belt and some interesting food combinations or new foods you’ve never seen before.

If you live in the Toronto Area or can find your way down to Toronto and you’d like a chance to go to the The First Annual Toronto Food & Wine Festival 2015 leave a comment in the comments section of this post or send me an email and you will be entered in for a chance to win a pair of tickets to experience this one of a kind event. Contest closes on August 21st 2015 at 11:59 pm.

Here is my quintessential quick summer jam recipe I know you’ll enjoy.

Yield/Serving: 370 ml
Prep Time: 5 min.
Cook Time: about 20 min.
Difficulty level is: Easy

Ingredients
• 2 pluots, cut in pieces and pitted
• 2 apriums, cut in pieces and pitted
• ½ cup granulated sugar
• ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
• 2 tbsp chia seeds

Assembly
1. Prep the pluots and apriums and pour into a small saucepan over medium-high heat and allow to break down.
2. Add in sugar and allow to boil stirring frequently.
3. Add in chia seeds and vanilla extract and continue to stir.
4. Reduce to low heat and allow jam to thicken up.
5. Pour into mason jar and let cool to room temperature.
6. Store in refrigerator.

Tips
• Jam will keep for up to two weeks.
• Use any type of sweetener or no sweetener at all if you like.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
Homemade jam couldn’t be any easier to make. I liked that I used two new fruits that I have fallen in love with over the last year. My home is full of these fruits for about a month until they go missing again for another year. I try my best to eat as much as possible even though they are on the pricy side; as it’s only for a month or so and is so worth it in my eyes. Mono meals are favorite summer world I must say what’s so wrong with eating a bushel of apriums all for yourself right!

TFW Tastings

TFW Tastings

Roger Mooking

Roger Mooking

Gail Simmons

Gail Simmons

Chuck Hughes

Chuck Hughes

TFW Tastings

TFW Tastings

Curtis Stone

Curtis Stone

TFW Tastings

TFW Tastings

Mark McEwan

Mark McEwan

Tyler Florence

Tyler Florence

White Chocolate Pudding with Blackberry Curd

White Chocolate Pudding with Blackberry Curd - Candy Coated Culinista

White Chocolate Pudding with Blackberry Curd – Candy Coated Culinista

I first made this recipe in November of 2012 when the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook just came out as I am a huge fan of Deb Perleman’s. This was one of the first few cookbooks I ever bought and even managed to be second in line for her booking signing and interview session at George Brown Colleges Culinary School. I know now 2 ½ years later (hindsight being 20:20) that this recipe was probably too much for someone who has barely stepped foot into the cooking world. Yet this recipe grabbed my attention and I just had to make it. I tried this recipe two different times that first year re-visiting this recipe and seeing if time and experience would produce better results. Well it didn’t so here is my many attempts below dating back from 2012 to now 2015. My third time may not look exactly like the picture; but everything set and I didn’t give up on this one I am very happy to say.

Yield/Serving: 6
Prep Time: 25 min.
Cook Time: 20 min.
Difficulty level is: Medium

This is the first recipe I am trying from the book I’ve been waiting to be released. I’m talking about the Smitten Kitchen, a food blogger I have been following since before I ever even considered blogging myself. Her blog is a great read and Deb’s photos are top notch.

Attempt #1
Ingredients
White Chocolate Pudding

• 3 tbsp cornstarch
• 1 tsp sugar
• ¼ tsp table salt
• 2 ¼ cups whole milk
• 4 ½ ounces white chocolate, chopped
• ½ tsp vanilla extract
Quick Blackberry Curd
• ½ cup fresh blackberries
• 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
• ¼ cup sugar
• Pinch of salt
• 1 large egg
• 2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Assembly
Pudding

1. Combine the cornstarch, sugar, and salt in a heavy saucepan.
2. Before turning on the heat, slowly whisk in the milk, scraping the bottom and sides of the pan with a heatproof spatula to incorporate the dry ingredients.
3. Place over gently simmering water, and stir occasionally, scraping the bottom and sides.
4. Use a whisk as necessary, should lumps begin to form.
5. After 15-20 minutes, when the mixture begins to thicken and coats the back of the spoon, add the chocolate.
6. Continue stirring for about 2 – 4 minutes, or until the pudding is smooth and thickened.
7. Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla.
8. For perfectly silken texture, you can strain the pudding through a fine-mesh strainer (or skip this step if you don’t mind a lump or two) into a bowl with a spout, and pour into individual serving dishes.
9. Chill in fridge.
Blackberry Curd
1. Puree berries in a food processor or blender until as smooth as possible.
2. Press through a fine-mesh strainer to remove seeds.
3. You should have between 3 and 4 tablespoons of puree.
4. Whisk together the blackberry puree, lemon juice, sugar, salt, and egg in a heavy 1-quart saucepan.
5. Stir in the butter, and cook over moderately low heat. Whisking frequently, until the curd is thick enough to hold the marks of the whisk and until the first bubble appears on surface, about 4 to 5 minutes. Pass through a strainer again if you want a perfect texture (again she doesn’t usually bother).
6. Divide curd among prepared cups, gently spreading it on pudding surfaces.

Tips
• Just make sure you don’t make scramble eggs while making the curd. Slow and low is the key.

My Thoughts
There’s no use crying over spilt milk, but I wasted all that milk and I had such high hopes for my first recipe out of this cookbook, and not to mention the blackberries. The curd tasted great; the perfect combination of sweet, sour and tart. I was unsure if I was to use a double boiler or cook in one pot; but I decided to use the double boiler and it did thicken but not like I thought it would.

Most of my fails until now all have a common factor; it’s moving the recipe to the fridge to chill or set. Every time my recipes need to make this move 9 out of 10 times I’m left with a fail. I am starting to wonder if I need to do recipes that just stay out of the fridge. My brulee has turned out so well and it gave me hope that I could make pudding. I have decided that I will try this recipe again but with another pudding recipe and add the curd on top, and if it doesn’t work I’m moving on and possibly staying away from these types of recipes.

Attempt #2
I have adapted a Chocolate pudding recipe from Smitten Kitchen Blog in hope that using this different pudding recipe will result in a firmer pudding.

Yield/Serving: 8
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cook Time: 30 min.
Difficulty level is: Medium

Ingredients:
• ¼ cup cornstarch
• ½ cup sugar
• 1/8 tsp salt
• 3 cups whole milk
• 6 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped
• 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Blackberry Curd
• ½ cup fresh blackberries
• 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
• ¼ cup sugar
• Pinch of salt
• 1 large egg
• 2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Assembly
Pudding

1. Combine the cornstarch, sugar and salt in the top of a double boiler. Slowly whisk in the milk, scraping the bottom and sides with a heatproof spatula to incorporate the dry ingredients.
2. Place over gently simmering water and stir occasionally, scraping the bottom and sides.Use a whisk as necessary should lumps begin to form.
3. After 15 to 20 minutes, when the mixture begins to thicken and coats the back of the spoon, add the chocolate.
4. Continue stirring for about 2 to 4 minutes, or until the pudding is smooth and thickened.
5. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
6. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer (or skip this step if you’re a slacker like me who is absolutely certain that there is nary a lump her puddin’) into a serving bowl or into a large measuring cup with a spout and pour into individual serving dishes.
7. If you like pudding skin, pull plastic wrap over the top of the serving dish(es) before refrigerating. If you dislike pudding skin, place plastic wrap on top of the pudding and smooth it gently against the surface before refrigerating.
8. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 days (ahem, good luck with that).
Blackberry Curd
1. Puree berries in a food processor or blender until as smooth as possible.
2. Press through a fine-mesh strainer to remove seeds.
3. You should have between 3 and 4 tablespoons of puree.
4. Whisk together the blackberry puree, lemon juice, sugar, salt, and egg in a heavy 1-quart saucepan.
5. Stir in the butter, and cook over moderately low heat. Whisking frequently, until the curd is thick enough to hold the marks of the whisk and until the first bubble appears on surface, about 4 to 5 minutes. Pass through a strainer again if you want a perfect texture (again she doesn’t usually bother).
6. Divide curd among prepared cups, gently spreading it on pudding surfaces.

My thoughts
I used white chocolate instead of the semi-sweet & dark chocolate that was called for in this recipe as my goal was to accomplish this as close to the cookbook as possible. It’s funny how two recipes from the same person can have different basic ingredients. Surprise surprise this attempt was also a fail for me. It had lumps at the bottom this time; which I didn’t last time, so I knew it was thickening more. However, it still never thickened enough and I kept it on the burner longer hoping it would thicken up more. When it finally coated the spoon to my liking I poured it and set it in the fridge overnight. In the morning the pudding was slightly thicker, but still a soup. I don’t know what is going wrong, but I checked online and others seem to have this issue too. I didn’t make the curd this time as I didn’t want to waste the blackberries if the pudding didn’t set. Day 2 in the fridge and the pudding still is a liquid, so I’m calling it a fail when it hits 3 days in the fridge.

Attempt #3
I think after getting my ice cream down I have a confidence that I just didn’t have 3 years ago and this probably wasn’t a great idea to be one of my first recipes; but the picture drew me in those years ago when I had no cooking experience besides a handful of recipes and no deserts. Time, growth and my skills have got me here; sure it took awhile but I made it out the other side happier and undefeated. I may even try another pudding recipe sometime.

Yield/Serving: 3
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cook Time: 30 min.
Difficulty level is: Easy

From Smitten Kitchen – batched down

Ingredients
White Chocolate Pudding

• 1 ½ tbsp cornstarch
• ½ tsp sugar
• ¼ tsp table salt
• 1 ¼ cups whole milk
• 2 ½ ounces white chocolate, chopped
• ½ tsp vanilla extract
Blackberry Curd
• ½ cup fresh blackberries
• ½ tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
• ¼ cup sugar
• Pinch of salt
• 1 large egg
• 1 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Assembly/Method
Pudding

1. Combine the cornstarch, sugar, and salt in a heavy saucepan.
2. Before turning on the heat, slowly whisk in the milk, scraping the bottom and sides of the pan with a heatproof spatula to incorporate the dry ingredients.
3. Place over gently simmering water, and stir occasionally, scraping the bottom and sides.
4. Use a whisk as necessary, should lumps begin to form.
5. After 15-20 minutes, when the mixture begins to thicken and coats the back of the spoon, add the chocolate.
6. Continue stirring for about 2 – 4 minutes, or until the pudding is smooth and thickened.
7. Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla.
8. For perfectly silken texture, you can strain the pudding through a fine-mesh strainer (or skip this step if you don’t mind a lump or two) into a bowl with a spout, and pour into individual serving dishes.
9. Chill in fridge.
Blackberry topping
1. Puree berries in a food processor or blender until as smooth as possible.
2. Press through a fine-mesh strainer to remove seeds.
3. You should have between 3 and 4 tablespoons of puree.
4. Whisk together the blackberry puree, lemon juice, sugar, salt, and egg in a heavy 1-quart saucepan.
5. Stir in the butter, and cook over moderately low heat. Whisking frequently, until the curd is thick enough to hold the marks of the whisk and until the first bubble appears on surface, about 4 to 5 minutes. Pass through a strainer again if you want a perfect texture (again she doesn’t usually bother).
6. Divide curd among prepared cups, gently spreading it on pudding surfaces.

Tips
• Just make sure you don’t make scramble eggs while making the curd. Slow and low is the key.

My Thoughts
This actually tasted like pudding which is a good thing; but not for me. I have never been a fan of pudding and this hasn’t changed my mind. It tasted like it sound and had the right consistency with the distinct taste of white chocolate and vanilla. I really didn’t taste the blackberries though and I would probably use less sugar. I am still very happy that after all this time I have conquered the white chocolate pudding with blackberry curd. For the first time 3rd times a charm. Everything set and setting and I don’t get along. I managed to make this recipe in one night and not have to give extended setting times. I wish the blackberry curd was more like the picture and a dark purple vs this lilac but everything came together and I will rejoice.

Zombie Infected Minion Cupcake Decorating Practice #3

Zombie Infected Minion Cupcakes - Candy Coated Culinista

Zombie Infected Minion Cupcakes – Candy Coated Culinista

“He’s so fluffy, I’m gonna die!” “Silas Ramsbottom …. Bottom.” “ Bee Doo Bee Doo Bee Doo.” Believe it or not these have become a part of my vocabulary and I’m an adult … well sort of an adult. Since the first moment I saw Despicable Me I have fallen in love with these movies and I even have a plushie Agnes, Unicorn and Minions. As usual for Halloween I like to make a kid-friendly treat for the kids at church, but let’s face it the adults love them as much as the kids and sometimes even more. I wanted to make some Zombie Infected Minion Cupcakes with cupcakes from scratch; but of course when I don’t want my cupcakes to rise, they rise the highest they ever have and also look a little anemic and lacked flavour. I think I shouldn’t have batched down a larger cupcake recipe of mine. Oh well this gives me time to practice on my decorating skills.

Yield/Serving: 24 cupcakes

Ingredients
• 1 pack of Halloween themed Wilton baking cups (cupcake liners)
• 1 box of Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe White Cake
• 3 extra large egg whites (per Duncan Hines box)
• 1 1/3 cup water (per Duncan Hines box)
• 2 tbsp canola oil (per Duncan Hines box)
• 1 box of Twinkies
• 99g Wilton Sparkle Gel, black
• Wilton Candy Eyeballs
• 1 – 450g Creamy Home-Style Vanilla frosting
• 1 Vial (teardrop) of blue food colouring
• 1A piping tip
• Piping bag
• Handful of brown jimmies, for hair

Assembly
1. Bake the cupcakes per the box instructions and fill 24 cupcake liners.
2. Once baked, immediately remove from baking pans and move to wire racks to cool completely.
3. Unwrap the Twinkies and cut in half.
4. Using the black sparkle gel, draw on a line for the goggles and a bigger dot in the middle and adhere a candy eyeball in the top portion of the Twinkie half.
5. Draw on the mouths using sparkle gel and set aside.
6. Slowly pour and mix blue food colouring into the vanilla frosting.
7. Prepare the piping bag and pour in the frosting.
8. Pipe frosting onto cupcakes and top with your minions.
9. Add jimmies to the tops of some Twinkies to make hair.
10. There will be some cupcakes without Twinkies, just add an eyeball and some jimmies to the frosting.

Tips
• Ensure you don’t pipe right to the edges, as the frosting will spread when the Twinkies are pushed down into the frosting the frosting will spread to the edges.

Please Enjoy

Reviews
The reviews from the adults were thumbs up and these are so cute and creative. The kids just ate them without any thanks as that’s how kids are lol; but their blue teeth, noses and cheeks said they were good.

My thoughts
I had so much fun making these. I even had to buy a new set of bigger piping tips and I’m so happy that I can finally make cloud frosting even if the set was expensive I will use these tips alot. I thoroughly enjoyed it every step of the way and it really didn’t take too long. My biggest issue was getting the cupcakes into the container (the Twinkies wouldn’t let me close the container for transporting). For $20 I have some pretty crafty and awesome cupcakes for the kids at church.

Despicable Me Plushies - Candy Coated Culinista

Despicable Me Plushies – Candy Coated Culinista

Zombie Infected Minion Cupcakes - Candy Coated Culinista

Zombie Infected Minion Cupcakes – Candy Coated Culinista

Zombie Infected Minion Cupcakes - Candy Coated Culinista

Zombie Infected Minion Cupcakes – Candy Coated Culinista

Vanilla Almond Milk

Vanilla Almond Milk - Candy Coated Culinista

Vanilla Almond Milk – Candy Coated Culinista

I have a theory that I can make Mr. C. a vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian or a flexitarian and he wouldn’t even notice. When I met Mr. C. vegetables barely touched his lips and I slowly started adding vegetables to his diet and even hid them in sauces; like my homemade tomato sauce. Now here we are 4 years later and we both are many pounds lighter and have alot more muscle on us, because we both are eating so much healthier and it make me so proud of us. This is a great feeling because when we do choose to eat something a little unhealthier we aren’t breaking the bank, and there is no guilt. I have never been a dieter as I am a firm believer in moderation since I was a child and I have never had any issues with my weight. Since I’m a huge foodie I am always reading, researching, purchasing new cookbooks and looking into new things to try and eat. I have been trying to add almond milk to my diet, which wasn’t the problem. The problem was sneaking it into Mr. C.’s food unbeknownst to him. For about a week I put vanilla almond milk into our smoothies (I hid the almond milk carton behind the Orange Juice in the very back of the fridge) and I finally asked him “how do you like the smoothies with almond milk” He proceeded to say “I knew some different was going on with the smoothies.” I realized he was a fan and he even emailed me a homemade recipe for almond milk. This made me proud and he even found a recipe from one of my favourite food sites I research from; the kitchen – http://www.thekitchn.com. With this new knowledge I went on my merry way to retrieve the components to make fresh almond milk at home, and purchased my first weck jar I have been pining to buy but had no real use for until today.

Yield/Serving: almost 1 litre
Prep Time: 24 soaking over night
Cook Time: 5 min.
Difficulty level is: Easy

Ingredients
• 1 cup raw almonds
• 2 cups water, for soaking
• 4 cups filtered water
• 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
• 2 tbsp agave nectar

Assembly
1. Soak almond in 1 cup of water covered for 24 hours.
2. After 24 hours, drain the water through a strainer from the almonds and pour almonds into a blender.
3. Add 4 cups of filtered water and blend for 2 minutes.
4. Line a strainer with a cheesecloth and pour the almond meal through and allow almond milk to pass through strainer.
5. Twist and squeeze the cheesecloth to extract the remaining amounts of almond milk.
6. Add the sweetener and extract if so desired.
7. Pour in a container with a cap and use within 3 days.

Tips
• Sweeteners used can be: sugar, honey, agave nectar, maple syrup all to taste or optional.
• There is only a 3 days shelf life on homemade almond milk so be aware of that.
• Leftover meal, can be used in smoothies, oatmeal, baked goods like cookies or muffins, hummus, granola, crackers, butter and you can freeze it.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
The almond milk was very good. I didn’t taste like the vanilla almond milk from the carton though. That may be attributed to their process and whatever else goes into to it to extend the shelf life. I added too much vanilla, because I never thought to let the vanilla sit overnight and taste it in the morning. I adjusted the recipe above as I added way too much and didn’t give the vanilla a chance to marry with the almond milk. Next time I think I will soak the almonds longer to get a creamier consistency and filter it more as I still got some almond chunks. I think I need to invest in a proper nut milk bag since I plan on making more almond milk at home.

Lemony Letdowns: Vanilla Cheesecake Fudge Attempt 1, 2, 3 (my “white whale”)

Have you ever seen a recipe you love? I mean everything about it, the idea, the name, the concept, the picture it drums up in your mind. Now as you may or may not know I’m not a fan of cheese cake, yet I make cheesecake for others. I really wanted this fudge recipe to work so badly, but for some reason it would not set. Mr. C. and I are suspecting it the cream cheese that won’t allow this to set, and that’s the main ingredient. So what is a Culinista to do? She keeps trying and trying to re-invent this recipe until it works, or until she goes crazy (“white whale”). Every time I do this recipe I get a little glimmer of hope, I say “I think this one’s going to work” only for it to be dashed away in the morning when I open the fridge to see an un-set mess before me. So I then say “maybe I can fast set it in the freezer.” To my chagrin this also doesn’t help and I am left stumped and sad.

I have read articles on “the chemistry of fudge” and yet I cannot get this to work. I sometimes want to give up, but then cream cheese goes on sale and its attempt # (fill in the appropriate number here.) The only good thing to come out of this is that on attempt 2, I learned the concept of re-purposing my disasters. Until then I was only re-purposing food sauces, and other ingredients.

Yield/Serving: 12 – 24 pieces (depending on size)
Difficulty level is: I’m going to say hard as this was a huge colossal fail or this type of fudge is not meant for me.

Attempt 1: From. Sweet Confections: Beautiful Candy to make at home by Nina Wanat
Ingredients
• 4 cups of sugar
• ½ cup corn syrup
• 6 ounces of milk
• 1 vanilla bean, scraped, seeds only
• 4 ounces (1/2 package) cream cheese
• ¼ tsp kosher salt
• 1/3 cup dried fruit, such as cherries or blueberries.

Assembly
1. Oil an 8” round cake pan.
2. Bring the sugar, corn syrup, milk, and vanilla seeds to a boil in a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally with a heatproof spatula. Boil to 250°F, stirring frequently. The syrup will become a light brown colour.
3. Pour mixture into a 9” x 13” baking pan, and let cool to 120°F, about 20 minutes.
4. Scrape the syrup into the bowl of a stand mixer, and add the cream cheese and salt. Mix on medium speed with the paddle attachment for 15 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl, and then mix on high-speed until the mixture thickens slightly and begins to hold its shape, about 10 minutes.
5. Pour into prepared cake pan, and sprinkle with dried fruit. Let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate overnight.
6. Unmold from the pan and cut in wedge-shaped cake slices. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Review
This was a complete and utter failure. It never set and was runny in the pan in the freezer. The dried fruits sunk to the bottom of the pan so I ended up tossing it out.

Attempt 2
Ingredients
• 4 cups of sugar
• 1 vanilla bean, scraped, seeds only
• 4 ounces (1/2 package) cream cheese
• ¼ tsp kosher salt
• 1/3 cup dried fruit, such as cherries or blueberries.

Assembly
My variation
1. Put sugar, vanilla bean, cream cheese and salt together in mixer and mix until recipe thickens.
2. Pour into a pie dish or pan lined with plastic wrap and lightly oiled to set in fridge.
3. Add dried fruits and allow to set overnight.

Review
My second attempt was less wet as I wanted to see if I could get it to firm up with less liquid in the recipe; but it still wouldn’t set.

Attempt 3
A fudge recipe that has worked for me before.
• 1 package of cream cheese
• 1 ½ cup white chocolate chopped then melted in microwave in 30 sec intervals stirring every time
• 1 container of vanilla or cream cheese frosting (454g)
• 4 drops of vanilla extract

Assembly
1. Put all ingredients together in mixer and mix until recipe thickens.
2. Pour into a pie dish or pan lines with plastic wrap and lightly oiled to set in fridge. (Overnight to a day)
3. Depends on your altitude, humidity, fridge setting. Or try freezer. Like I said this is a temperamental foe.

Review
My result was the best yet, but still a little too soft. This recipe was a total experiment on my end, I tossed all caution to the wind and winged it with the very limited confection knowledge I have.

Please Don’t Enjoy

My thoughts
I’m not going to give up, I will keep trying every once and awhile. Check back here for more trials and errors.

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