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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Pumpkin Brown Butter Malt Donuts

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I’ve had the idea for these donuts rolling around in my brain for days, ya’ll. And I JUST got to making them yesterday and jeeeeez…what took me so long?! These donuts are the baked variety making them a touch less indulgent than their fried brothers, but also a little easier to execute. BONUS. They are soft and spiced and laced with delicious brown butter and the subtle-sweet maltiness of malted milk powder.

I’ve smashed pumpkin with brown butter and malt before (with these amazeballs cookies) and let me tell you, it’s a winning combination. Brown butter goes into the batter AND gets brushed onto theses babies…which makes the perfect glue for a glittering of spiced sugar. And, not to get all braggy on you, but that picture of those butter drenched donuts above makes my heart melt…donut swoon! So, basically, I urge you to make these and honor pumpkin season with donuts. It’s only the logical thing to do.

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Pumpkin Brown Butter Malt Donuts

Adapted from Take A Megabite

Makes 4-5 dozen minis

These donuts can be baked in a standard size donut pan as well, or even a mini muffin tin. When shopping for the malt powder, I usually find it near the hot cocoa mixes or near the powdered and evaporated milk. I find it easier to brown the butter for the donuts seperately from the butter for the coating. Don’t bother to use a different skillet, just brown the butter for coating in the same skillet while the donuts bake.

1 cup all-purpose flour

5 tablespoons malted milk powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, browned

For the Spiced Sugar + Brown Butter Coating:

2/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, browned

Preheat the oven to 325˚F and spray a mini donut pan lightly with cooking spray.

Brown the butter for the donuts in a skillet over medium heat until the butter separates and the solids become a deep, toffee brown and smell nutty and fragrant. Pour the browned butter into a ramekin and set aside to cool.

In a mixing bowl combine the flour, malt powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt, and sugar. Whisk to blend. In another bowl whisk together the pumpkin puree, egg, and vanilla until well combined. Add the pumpkin mixture to the flour mixture, followed by the brown butter, fold until just combined. Either spoon or pipe the batter about halfway up the donut pan molds and bake in the center of the oven for 6-7 minutes. Donuts are done when the tops are dry and spring back to the touch. Remove from oven and cool on a rack slightly before turning out. Repeat the process with the remaining batter. Brown the butter for coating while the donuts bake.

In a wide dish whisk together the sugar and spices for the coating, brush the baked donuts with browned butter and roll in the spiced sugar to coat completely. [/recipe]

Blueberry Almond White Chocolate Banana Bread

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So, last week I was perusing the internets, looking at blogs and scrolling through my Pinterest feed…like ya do. I came upon this Plum-Blackberry Cream Cheese Bread with Oat Streusel…oh, my…by Stephanie from Girl Versus Dough…and I remembered, in that moment, that I needed a quick bread in my life ASAP.

Inspirational, man.

So, I made this banana bread and filled it with lots of crazy goodness like blueberries, almonds, almond extract, white chocolate chunks, AND topped it off with a sugared almond topping. I mean, I really don’t have to tell you that this bread was capital-G, Good…you guys know stuff.

At it’s core, this banana bread is familiar, but the almond extract hints at the fruitiness of the bananas and blueberries, while balancing out the rich little pockets of white chocolate chunks. But, the real star is that sugared almond topping. It’s crunchy, sweet, salty, and just the kind of topping that will have you sneaking bits and leaving bald patches all over the top of the bread…not that I would do something so rude (lies…yes I would).

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Blueberry Almond White Chocolate Banana Bread with Sugared Almond Topping

Adapted from this recipe and this one, too.

Batter:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

4 ripe, freckly bananas, mashed

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temp

1/3 cup plain greek yogurt

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

3/4 cup organic cane sugar (granulated will work as well)

3/4 cup blueberries

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1/2 cup white chocolate chunks

Topping:

1/4 cup sliced almonds

1 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature

1 tablespoon sugar

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line a loaf pan with parchment, leaving a 1 inch overhang on two sides, secure with binder clips and grease the pan and parchment well.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

In another bowl, stir together the topping ingredients until the almonds are evenly coated. Set aside.

In a bowl, mix together the mashed banana, melted and cooled butter, greek yogurt, egg, extracts, and sugar until combined well. Fold in the flour mixture just until combined. Fold in the blueberries, white chocolate, and almonds. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle with the sugared almond topping mixture and bake in the center of the oven for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean. Cool on a rack before serving. [/recipe]