Roasted Stone Fruit with Ricotta and Mint Sugar

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Today, I have the easiest of summertime recipes for you. Sure, I’m asking you to make cheese from scratch, but it’s super easy. I promise. Plus, you could always just buy good quality ricotta from a cheese counter, making this summery dessert even easier.

If you’ve never made homemade ricotta, I seriously urge you to add it to your list of must-makes. It’s crazy easy and produces something that is so much more than the sum of its parts. It’s creamy and perfect…not at all grainy, gummy, or dry. It’s a totally different animal from the part-skim business you’ll find near the cheese slices at the store. I would definitely recommend going the whole milk route for this venture though, you could skip the cream if you want it a little lighter.

Also, let’s talk mint sugar. I am obsessed with mint these days. I love the smell of fresh mint and the flavor it brings to both sweet and savory dishes. I love to use it in summery chopped salads of cucumber, tomato, and lemon, and recently tried it in a feta and pea laced fritatta at Tasty n Sons here in Portland. It was fantastic. Needless to say, I also love it in all sorts of sweet aplications–it’s my favorite herb to pair with melon, or really any fruit, in this case perfect, summer stone fruits. This mint sugar is perfect for just that.

Speaking of stone fruits, they are crazy good right now. Like, I cannot get enough. I’ve been buying (and eating) a ton of them. It even seems a little early to me for them to be so spectacular but, apricots, plums,  and even cherries, are fantastic. The peaches haven’t been perfection, but they are still darn good and only benefit from a little roasting or grilling. Paired with creamy, lush ricotta and herbal mint sugar, the sweet-tartness of summertime fruits really shine.

Tip: if the pits of your stone fruits are stubbornly attached to the flesh, use a melon baller to scoop around the pit to free it. 

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Roasted Fruit with Ricotta and Mint Sugar

There are a variety of methods for making ricotta that can be found online. I kind of read a bunch, then went for it. I have used multiple layers of cheesecloth before, and it takes forever for the liquid to drain away (several days), so I find a single layer of cheesecloth over a fine mesh sieve does the trick just fine. Of course, you can sub the homemade ricotta with quality ricotta purchased from a grocer. Use any stone fruit you like and if you don’t want to turn on the oven, go ahead and grill the fruit halves, it will be just as delicious!

Homemade Ricotta:

Makes about 1lb of drained ricotta. 

1/2 gallon whole milk

8 ounces cream

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

Roasted Stone Fruits:

As many pieces of fresh, not overly ripe, stone fruit you’d like. Peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums, and even cherries would work here.

sugar for sprinkling

Mint Sugar:

1/2 cup mint leaves

1/2 cup sugar

To make the ricotta, start 1-2 days ahead of time, so the cheese has plenty of time to drain.

Place a large pot (a dutch oven or soup pot will work perfectly) over medium heat and add the milk and cream. Insert a thermometer into the milk mixture and clip to the side. Gently heat the milk mixture until the thermometer reads anywhere between 165ºF-180ºF. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the salt, plus lemon juice. Let the milk and lemon mixture sit for 10 minutes off the heat, undisturbed. Small curds will form and separate. Set a large fine mesh sieve over a large bowl, lined with one layer of cheesecloth and ladle the curdled milk mixture into the lined sieve. You may have to do this in batches as the liquid drains away or use 2 sieve/cheesecloth/bowl set-ups. Place the draining ricotta in the refrigerator for 1-2 days until most of the liquid has drained away, you may have to pour off the liquid from the bowl beneath once or twice if it reaches the bottom of the sieve. Once the ricotta is the consistency you like, store in an airtight container for a few days, if needed.

To roast the fruit, preheat the oven to 375ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment. Place washed and halved stoned fruits on the sheet in a single layer, cut side up, and sprinkle with sugar. Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the fruits soften and begin to release their juices. Remove from the oven and cool slightly before serving. Or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

To make the mint sugar, pulse the mint and sugar in a food processor until combined.

When you are ready to serve the fruit and ricotta, either spread some ricotta onto plates, top with fruits, and sprinkle with the mint sugar, or spoon some ricotta into the center of each fruit half and sprinkle with mint sugar.

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Betty Crocker: Recent Favorites

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It’s been a crazy week, guys! I went to Reno to for a visit and to spend time with my wonderful friends and family, squeeze my nieces and baby friendlings (the term Sean uses to call our friends new babies). My mom and BFF threw me a perfetly casual, relaxed baby shower at The Chocolate Bar–there was fondue and lots of chit-chat involved.  Along with the shower and the near constant somersaults/tumbling this babe is doing, this whole pregnancy thing is starting to get really real.

Anyway, I did a lot of lounging and hanging out and absolutely zero cooking. So, to end this week I’ve gathered a little round-up of some of my current projects with my girls at Betty Crocker. There’s a good mix of indulgent desserts and dinner appropriate fare, I hope you enjoy!

Rainbow Chip Bundt with Fresh Raspberry Glaze 

No-Bake Lemon Mousse Tart with Fresh Berries

Slow Cooker Beef Fry-Bread Tacos 

Baked Carrot Cake Doughnuts

 Peanut Butter and Potato Chip Layered Cookie Bars

Black Forest Mini Pies

 Skillet Roasted Whole Chicken with Lemon and Potatoes

Crunchy Panko Fish Sticks with Quick Lemon-Herb Aioli

Peanut Butter Crumble Brownies

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Things I’ve consistently been craving during this thing called pregnancy: fruit, pizza, and peanut butter.

I mean…not together…ever…and I eat other things as well, but those are the things I keep wanting.  There’s been all the fresh fruit I can get my hands on (Sean always asks me if I’m working on my “night-fruit”, a la Liz Lemon and her “night-cheese”), many pb&j’s, and pizza from our favorite local spot with the best happy hour deal. I’ve been throwing in a lot of kale as well…because balance, right? Truth: a year ago I would not have eaten raw kale salads without the saddest of faces, but lately I’ve been making it at home and ordering a mountain of it when we go to our favorite pizza place.

Anyway, needless to say with peanut butter being one of my main squeezes, my yearly addiction to those damn Reese’s eggs is in extra full-force this year. They taunt me with their perfect peanut-butter-to-chocolate ratio. If you find yourself with a bag, or seven, of those sweet-sweet eggs  and you want to do something with them other than shove them straight into your face (ahem, like me…) you should totes chop a few up and thrown them into some brownie batter. That way, you can pawn them off on your friends, family, coworkers, or any other willing passerby. These brownies not only include those magical eggs, but also a peanut butter crumble on top…because extra peanut buttery goodness is always a good thing.

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Peanut Butter Crumble Brownies

Adapted from this (super-old) recipe.

Honestly, you could use any brownie recipe you like here…I wouldn’t even be mad at ya if you used your favorite mix. Just use something good and be sure to make the crumble topping!

for the Peanut Butter Crumble:

1/2 cup chunky peanut butter (smooth is fine, too)

4 tablespoons powdered sugar

4 tablespoons flour

tiny grating of nutmeg

for the Brownie Batter:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, or chopped chocolate

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

3/4 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 heaping cup of chopped Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs or peanut butter chips

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Spray a 8×8 inch baking pan with cooking spray and line with parchment, leaving an overhang on 2 sides. Secure the overhang with metal binder clips.

In a bowl, combine the peanut butter powdered sugar, flour, and nutmeg in a bowl. Mix together with a fork until a fairly dry crumble forms. Set aside.

In a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, combine the butter, chocolate, and cocoa and stir occasionally until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. When the mixture is still warm, but not super hot, whisk in the sugar, followed by the eggs. After adding the eggs the mixture will be smooth and glossy. Fold in the flour, baking powder, and salt until just combine, then fold in the chopped peanut butter eggs (or peanut butter chips) and spread the batter into the prepared pan. Top the batter evenly with the peanut butter crumble and bake for 28-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the brownie comes out with a few moist crumbs. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack before slicing.

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