Amaretto Cheesecake Parfaits

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There are many splendid things about summer; letting the warm sun soak through your skin, beloved outdoor barbeques with friends, endless hours spent relaxing by the pool with an icy cocktail and refreshing summertime desserts to replenish your fortitude.  As the temperature of summer escalates, the oven quickly becomes an intolerable presence no matter the sweet succulence that it can yield.  Cool desserts make their long awaited arrival to accompany light summer meals.  Berries and fruit are at their peak of sweetness and are a simple yet delicious indulgence.  Parfaits offer an amazing balance of cool, sweet, creamy and crunchy and are the perfect remedy for even the hottest of days.

These parfaits are about the best thing I’ve ever tasted.  I simply can’t get enough of them!  The individual layers can be prepared ahead of time and assembled just before serving.  I strongly encourage you to give these a try and please invite me over when you do.

Amaretto Cheesecake Parfaits          {Print Recipe}

Yield: 8 servings

Cheesecake custard:

1 cup whole milk

5 Tbsp granulated sugar

4 large egg yolks

2 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch

6 oz cream cheese, at room temperature

3 Tbsp amaretto liqueur

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Macerated strawberries:

1 lb fresh strawberries, sliced

2 Tbsp granulated sugar

4 Tbsp amaretto liqueur

Gingersnap cookies (I like Jules Destrooper brand, found at most grocery stores), crushed

Making the custard:

In a medium saucepan, whisk together 3/4 cup whole milk with 3 Tbsp sugar.  Bring to a gentle boil and remove from heat when it just comes to a boil. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks with the cornstarch and the remaining sugar.  Gradually whisk the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture whisking constantly.  Pour the combined mixture back into the medium saucepan and heat over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 2-3 minutes.  Lower the heat and add the cream cheese, amaretto and vanilla, whisking until smooth, about 1 minute.  Scrape the custard into a bowl and press a piece of plastic wrap directly over the surface of the custard.  Refrigerate until well chilled, about 2 hours or overnight.

Using an electric mixer, beat the heavy whipping cream until medium peaks form.  Gently fold the whipped cream mixture into the chilled custard until well incorporated and there are no visible streaks.

Making the macerated strawberries:

Combine the sliced strawberries, sugar and amaretto in a bowl and refrigerate for about 2 hours.  Try not to eat all of them before assembling the parfaits.

Assembling the parfaits:

Spoon a portion of the custard into individual parfait glasses, followed by a scoop of the macerated strawberries and then the crushed gingersnap cookies.  Continue layering until the parfait glasses are filled.  Serve immediately.

 

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Mexican Mocha Pudding with Kahlua Whipped Cream

Most of my friends will say that I possess addictive tendencies towards my relationship with coffee.  While my body demands a morning jolt of caffeine in its bloodstream, my afternoon coffee is purely indulgent.  There is nothing more satisfying than consuming a robust cup of coffee to revive my senses and defeat the sleepiness that looms over me in the afternoon.  This passion for the bean carries over equally to desserts and given the choice, I’d opt for a coffee-induced dessert every time.  Some warning signs that might indicate you too have an irrefutable dependence to coffee are: you have your own espresso machine at the office, Starbucks is the specified landmark for any and ALL directions given, your child shouts from the backseat at the mere site of a Starbucks, “Pull over Momma…you need a coffee” and finally, you can balance your child, purse, groceries and more while still managing to keep a firm grip on your coffee and not relinquish a single drop.

Am I alone here??  Anyone wanna go grab a coffee?

This amazing dessert is inspired to showcase the essence of a true Mexican coffee.  The flavors of this pudding are complex and are perfect for steadfast coffee lovers.  Steeping the cocoa nibs in milk adds a unique element of chocolate that creates an unexpected balance to the pudding.  The Kahlua whipped cream without doubt takes it over the top.  I like to serve this pudding in espresso cups (mostly for portion control) as it is quite effortless to become immersed in an entire bowl of this decadence without even realizing it.

Mexican Mocha Pudding          {Print Recipe}

Yield: 6-8 servings

2 cups whole milk

1 ¼ cups chilled heavy whipping cream, divided

¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp cocoa nibs (can be found at most specialty stores)

2 1/2 Tbsp Kahlua or other coffee-flavored liqueur, divided

½ cup (packed) golden brown sugar

3 Tbsp cornstarch

3 Tbsp instant espresso powder

½ tsp ground cinnamon

Make the pudding:

In a small saucepan, bring the whole milk, 1 cup of the heavy whipping cream, cocoa nibs and 1 ½ Tbsp of the Kahlua to a gentle boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Remove from the heat, cover, and let the mixture steep for 20 minutes.

Strain the infused milk into a medium sized bowl, pressing the cocoa nibs with the back of a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the nibs.

In a medium heavy saucepan, whisk the brown sugar, cornstarch, espresso powder and cinnamon with about 1/3 cup of the infused milk and stir to form a smooth paste. Stir in the remainder of the milk to combine.  Bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat whisking constantly for about 1 minute until slightly thickened.

Remove from the heat and pour into individual ramekins or espresso cups. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for about 4 hours, or until set.  Tip: Place plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pudding while chilling so that it doesn’t develop a film.

Make the whipped cream:

Combine the remaining ¼ cup of chilled heavy whipped cream and 1 Tbsp of Kahlua in a mixing bowl and beat until peaks form.  Spoon onto puddings and serve.

Enjoy! xo

Banana Pudding with Vanilla Wafer Crumble

Oh heavenly pudding…one of life’s greatest Southern comforts.  I think there might be an inherited gene that causes such an obsession for this Southern treat.  Besides, I just can’t bear the thought of turning my oven on during the middle of this hot summer.  Even with the AC on full blast, the temperature seems to elevate to an uncomfortable level that no cake is worth.

Banana pudding is absolutely one of my favorite desserts.  I’m sure you’ve heard me make that claim a few times before, HOWEVER, this time I really mean it from the very depths of my sweet soul.  I’ve tried many recipes for this pudding over the years and they all seem to bear the same traits…mushy mushy mushy.  The vanilla wafers almost instantly soak up most of the moisture of the pudding and the bananas quickly turn brown once they join the mixture.  This creates not only a mushy consistency overall, but is visually not so appealing either…I’m just not a big fan.

When I came across this recipe it seemed like the perfect solution to the soggy concoctions of the past.  It is a wonderful recipe that highlights each element of the dessert individually and creates many levels of texture.  By simply serving the dessert in three layers (similar to a trifle) with the chopped bananas at the bottom of the bowl, creamy pudding as the center layer and crumbled toasted vanilla wafers on top, it really allows you to enjoy each component of the dessert instead of suffering through a mushy disappointment.  In my opinion, it is absolutely perfect!!

Banana Pudding with Vanilla Wafer Crumble          {Print Recipe}

Yield: 6 servings

5 large egg yolks

¼ cup cornstarch

½ cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar

Salt

2 cups whole milk

3 Tbsp banana liqueur (optional, but highly recommend)

2 Tbsp cold unsalted butter plus 1 Tbsp melted butter

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 cup vanilla wafer cookies (Nilla Wafers), coarsely ground

¼ tsp cinnamon

2 bananas, coarsely chopped

In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the cornstarch, the ½ cup of sugar and ¼ tsp of salt.  In a medium saucepan, bring the milk to a boil on medium to medium-high heat.  Be careful not to scorch the milk by heating it too fast.  Gradually whisk the milk into the egg yolks until smooth.  Transfer the pudding mixture to the saucepan and add the banana liqueur, if using.  Cook over moderate heat, whisking constantly, until the pudding is thick, about 3-4 minutes.  Scrape the pudding into a bowl and whisk in the cold butter and vanilla.  Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding and refrigerate until chilled, about 4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a bowl, combine the wafers, cinnamon, the remaining 2 tsp of sugar and a pinch of salt.  Stir in the melted butter.  Spread the crumble on the prepared baking sheet; bake for 15 minutes, until lightly browned.  Let cool.

Spoon the chopped bananas into bowls.  Top with the pudding, sprinkle with the crumble and serve immediately.

Recipe from damgoodsweet by David Guas

This recipe is so good…you might want to double it…I know I wish that I had. 🙂

Enjoy!!