Orange Cream Cheese Cookie Cups

Who said that you need to skip dessert if you are trying to lose weight? Well, not if you choose wisely and these light mini cream cheese cups are the perfect size to satisfy your craving for something sweet without making you feel guilty.

I really like the recipes from Weight Watchers because when you taste them you don’t think “oh this is light/low fat”… you just think “that’s delicious” and still healthy. To me that’s essential. You can serve them to everybody. I took these little cups to a picnic and people could never tell they were light. They taste like cheesecake and are very yummy!! Believe me.

Orange Cream Cheese Cookie Cups

Recipe from Weight Watchers

Ingredients

  • 225g low fat cream cheese, divided
  • 3 tbsp fat-free skim milk
  • 2 tbsp light margarine
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened orange juice, fresh
  • 2 tsp orange zest
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Coat two 12-cup miniature muffin pans with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. To prepare cookie dough, in a large mixing bowl combine 55g cream cheese (approximately 1/4), milk and margarine. Beat on low speed until blended.
  3. In a small bowl, combine flour and 1 tablespoon sugar. Beat flour mixture into cream cheese mixture on low speed until blended.
  4. Transfer cookie dough to a lightly floured surface and knead gently 4 times. Divide dough into 24 equal portions and press each portion into bottom and up sides of prepared muffin pans; set aside.
  5. To prepare filling, in a food processor or large bowl combine remaining 170g cream cheese, 1/3 cup sugar, egg, orange juice, zest and vanilla. Blend until smooth.
  6. Spoon 2 teaspoons filling into prepared cookie cups. Bake until filling is set and edges are golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on wire racks. Yields one cookie cup per serving.

Notes

  • For a tarter version, substitute fresh lemon juice and lemon zest for the orange ingredients.
  • ProPoints value: 2

Yield: 24 mini cups

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Fruit Tart

The first attempt on making this tart (over a year ago I have to confess), it wasn’t very successful. The recipe asked to leave the crust in the oven for too long and it was too brown for my taste. I tried to freeze the crust and bake without the weights, but if you want my advice, use the weights. It guarantees that the crust won’t shrink and it won’t puff. You can use store bought shortcrust as well. I didn’t because this time I wanted to make everything from scratch. So here are the things I learned from this experience: (1) use very cold butter when making the crust, (2) roll the crust rather than pressing on the tin with your hand, (3) use the pie weights to blind bake the crust.

I’ve made this tart so many times now and I’m sure when you try, it will be one of your favorites as well. Use any seasonal fruit you have available… it’s very versatile 🙂

Fruit Tart

Adapted from Joy of Baking and Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups (195 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (113 g) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

Apricot Glaze (optional)

  • 3 tbsp apricot jam or preserve
  • 1 tsp water (or more if needed)

Topping

  • 1 cup lemon curd (recipe here) or pastry cream
  • 3 cups fruit (raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, blueberries or any other fruit you like)

Preparation

  1. To make the crust, pulse flour, sugar and salt together in a food processor. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in. You can also do it by hand, just mixing everything with the tip of your fingers until you have the consistency of bread crumbs. Slightly beat the egg, add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses until the dough changes its consistency, trying to come together as a big lump. Shape the dough into a disc, wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for at least 30 (or until firm) before rolling.
  2. Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Roll out chilled dough on floured sheet of parchment paper to 12-inch round. Turn dough into the tart pan and peel off paper. Seal any cracks in dough. Trim overhang to 1/2 inch. Fold overhang in, making double-thick sides. Pierce crust all over with fork. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.
  3. Preheat oven to 190C/170C gas and place rack in center of oven. Line the tart with foil, shine side down greased with butter, and fill it with the pie weights or dried beans. Bake for about 20 minutes, removing foil after 15 mins, until dry and lightly golden. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely before filling. Can be covered and stored for a few days.
  4. Heat the apricot jam and water in the microwave until liquid (melted). Strain the jam through a fine strainer to remove any fruit lumps. Brush the bottom and sides of the baked tart shell to prevent the crust from getting soggy. Let the glaze dry (about 20 minutes).
  5. Spread the lemon curd (or pastry cream if using) onto the bottom of the tart shell. Place fruit randomly on top and try to cover all the cream at the bottom.
  6. Rewarm the glaze, if using, and gently brush the fruits to make them shiny.
  7. If not serving immediately, refrigerate but bring to room temperature before serving. This fruit tart is best eaten the same day as it is assembled. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers.

Yields: 6 to 8 servings

Condensed Milk Flan

On the list of classical Brazilian puddings, this condensed milk flan is certainly on top of it. In fact, you might know that we Brazilians love to use condensed milk in our desserts =)

I made this flan in individuals moulds, but you can make a big one, using one of those cake tins with a tube in the middle (not the ones with removable bottom).

Condensed Milk Flan

Original recipe from Nestlé

Ingredients

Caramel

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup hot water

Flan

  • 1 tin (397g) condensed milk
  • 2 tins whole milk (use the condensed milk tin as measurement)
  • 3 eggs

Preparation

Caramel: In a medium saucepan, melt the sugar until it is all dissolved with a nice caramel color. Try not to stir at this point, simply tilt the pan to melt everything evenly. Add the hot water and let it boil, stirring with a wooden spoon, until all the sugar has dissolved again and the caramel has thickened. Pour the caramel into a 19cm cake tube tin or 8 pudding moulds. Tilt the tin so the caramel covers all the bottom and sides, but be careful because it’s extremely hot. Reserve.

Flan: Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Blend all the ingredients in a blender and pour into the prepared tin (or individual moulds). Put the tin in large and deep baking pan and fill with boiling water up to 1/3 of the height of the tin (or 1/2 of the moulds) creating a bain-marie. Cover with foil and take it to the pre-heated oven for about 90 minutes (if using individual moulds, check after 75 minutes). The flan is baked when a knife comes out of it clean. Remove from the oven and the bain-marie and let it cool at room temperature. Refrigerate for a minimum of 6 hours before serving. Unmould the flan on a large plate. Make sure you get all the caramel sauce remaining in the tin. Enjoy!

Yield: 8-10 servings

Foolproof Chocolate Fondant

This was the first time I made chocolate fondants from scratch and I can see myself making this recipe over and over again. It will certainly impress your guests and you can enjoy their faces as they cut into the small cake and see the melting chocolate sauce running on the plate… yummy! The combination of hot chocolate cake and sauce with ice cold vanilla ice cream is fantastic.

You can prepare the fondants ahead of time and keep them in the fridge or freezer, but you can only bake it right before you serve. The only secret here is timing. If you leave too long in the oven, it will cook through and you will end up with a solid chocolate cake. If you bake for just a little, the cake won’t hold its shape and it will collapse when you try to unmold it. The recipe suggests exactly 12 minutes, but due to the variation in the ovens it could be a little more or less. Basically you will see the cake cooked on the outside but still with a wobble to it.

Foolproof Chocolate Fondants

From Good Food Magazine November 2011

Ingredients

  • 175g butter, plus extra melted for greasing
  • cocoa powder for dusting
  • 175g good quality dark chocolate (70%)
  • 200g golden caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 85g plain flour
  • vanilla ice cream and fresh raspberries, to serve

Preparation

  1. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan. Use a pastry brush to great 6 pudding moulds really well and place in the fridge for the butter to set. Then grease again, dust with cocoa powder and set aside.
  2. Melt the butter and chocolate together over a pan of barely simmering water, then remove. In a separate bowl, beat the sugar and eggs together until light and fluffy. Fold the chocolate and beaten egg together, then fold through the flour.
  3. Divide the mixture between the moulds. The pudding can now be frozen or chilled.
  4. Place on a baking tray and bake for exactly 12 minutes until the mixture has puffed up and formed a crust but still has a slight wobble to it. Turn the puddings out onto serving plates and serve with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream for a great contrast of hot and cold.

Yield: 6 fondants

Optional: Add different flavours to you chocolate fondant, like finally chopped chillies or coffee (add 50ml good quality expresso coffee right before folding the flour).

Pear and Almond Tart

I was just waiting for the pear production from our tree to begin to make this pie. The combination of pears with this almond cream is simply delicious.

The only thing I changed is that the suggested time in the oven, which was too much in my opinion. The crust was too dark for my taste, and I tried to keep an eye on it. It could also be something with my oven, which is not the most precise. So I put the time I think it should be and you pay attention to your tart. Nevertheless, until I make this tart again, let’s stay with these pictures  =)

Almond and Pear Tart

Adapted from Bon Appétit Magazine

Ingredients

Pears

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 medium-size firm but ripe Bosc pears, peeled (each about 7 ounces)

Crust

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup blanched slivered almonds
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

Almond Filling

  • 2/3 cup blanched slivered almonds
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 7 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • Powdered sugar (optional)

For pears:
Bring 4 cups water, sugar, and lemon juice to boil in large saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add pears. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until pears are very tender, turning occasionally, about 20 minutes. Cool pears in syrup. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

For crust:
Blend powdered sugar, almonds, and salt in processor until nuts are finely ground. Add butter and blend until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally. Mix in egg yolk. Add flour. Using on/off turns, blend until dough comes together in clumps. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic and chill at least 3 hours. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.)

For almond filling:
Finely grind almonds and flour in processor. Mix in 7 tablespoons sugar, then butter, blending until smooth. Mix in egg. Transfer filling to medium bowl. Cover and chill at least 3 hours. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.)

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 190°C/375°F. Roll out chilled dough on floured sheet of parchment paper to 30cm round, lifting and turning dough occasionally to free from paper. Using paper as aid, turn dough into 23cm diameter tart pan with removable bottom; peel off paper. Seal any cracks in dough. Trim overhang to 1/2 inch. Fold overhang in, making double-thick sides. Pierce crust all over with fork. Freeze crust 10 minutes.

Line crust with buttered foil, buttered side down, then fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake crust until sides are set, about 20 minutes. Remove foil and beans. Bake crust until sides are golden and bottom is set, pressing with back of fork if crust bubbles, about 10 minutes longer. Cool crust in pan on rack. Reduce oven temperature to 175°C/350°F.

Spread almond filling evenly in crust. Stem pears and cut each in half lengthwise; scoop out cores. Cut each half crosswise into thin slices. Gently press each pear half to fan slices but keep slices tightly overlapped. Slide spatula under pears and arrange atop filling like spokes of wheel with narrow ends in center.

Bake tart until golden and tester inserted into center of filling comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Cool tart in pan on rack. Push pan bottom up, releasing tart from pan. (Can be made 8 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.) Cut tart into wedges; sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired, and serve.

Yield: 8 servings

Lemon Curd

We say “If life gives you lime, make a lemonade”. Well, then if instead life gives you lemon, I say make lemon curd 🙂

This is a citrusy and smooth cream that goes really well with lots of things. In England it’s common to eat with scones, but it can be used as a filling for cakes, pies, with cookies, over toast or with fruits. I made this recipe to be the filling of a fruit tart (recipe will be here soon), as a dairy free alternative to the the usual pastry cream and I have to say that lots of people liked the combination of it with the fruits. Try it for yourself.

Lemon Curd

Adapted from Joy of Baking

Ingredients

  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup (150 g) granulated white sugar
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) fresh lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
  • 4 tbsp (56 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest

Preparation

  1. In a heatproof bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and lemon juice until blended. Add the lemon zest and cook, stirring constantly (to prevent it from curdling), until the mixture becomes thick like a hollandaise sauce (approximately 10 minutes).
  2. Remove from heat and immediately pour through a fine strainer to remove any lumps and the lemon zest. Cut the butter into small pieces and whisk into the mixture until the butter has melted. Let it cool.
  3. The lemon curd will continue to thicken as it cools. Cover immediately with cling film (leaving no air between the film and the curd) so a skin doesn’t form. Refrigerate up to a week.

Yield: 1 1/2 cups (360 ml)

Vanilla Panna Cotta with Mixed Berries

This is the first time I make panna cotta at home and I have to say that it worked 😉 Panna cotta is a typical Italian dessert and it can have different flavour (lemon, coffee, chocolate, etc), but I chose the basic one, vanilla, and served with a mixed berry sauce, since I’m a big fan of berries.

This is a good recipe (from Waitrose website) and it’s very sweet. If you don’t like things too sweet, I suggest you to use less sugar than the amount given in the recipe. The tip unmold the pannacottas is totally approved. It was easy and I thought it looked very pretty on the plate.

Vanilla Panna Cotta with Mixed Berries

Ingredients

  • 4 gelatine leaves
  • 568ml pot double cream
  • 200ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod, halved and seeds removed, or 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract with seeds
  • 200g mixed berries
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Preparation

  1. Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for at least 4-5 minutes.
  2. Place the cream, milk, sugar and vanilla seeds (or vanilla extract) in a pan with a heavy base. Slowly bring to the boil over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat then take the gelatine leaves one by one, squeeze out the excess water and stir into the cream mixture until dissolved.
  3. Rinse out 6 x 150ml pudding moulds with cold water but do not dry. Divide the panna cotta mixture between them. Cool and then chill in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours until set.
  4. For the mixed berries sauce, place the berries and powdered sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for a few minutes to thicken a little. Reserve and let it cool.
  5. To serve, dip the moulds one at a time into hot water for 10 seconds, then turn out onto plates. Spoon over the mixed berries sauce.

Yield 6 servings

Mamma’s Flan

Since I spent the month of December on vacation in Brazil, I didn’t cook too much. Why would I when I had my mom, aunties, and mother in law cooking for me, right? That also explains my disappearance from the blog. However, this flan was one of the few things I made, but the credits actually have to go to my mom, because I was just following her lead. She makes this flan since forever and my grandma used to make it too and, although it doesn’t have anything special (not even condensed milk), it’s my dad’s favourite dessert. Give it a try!

Mamma’s Flan

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 6 heaped tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3 heaped tablespoons plain flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • zest of one lime
  • drops vanilla extract (optional)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar (for the caramel)

Preparation

  1. Add 3/4 cup of granulated sugar to an angel cake tin, take to a medium heat until completely dissolved, then boil for a little while until you get a golden caramel. Don’t burn it! Take out of the heat and spread the caramel all over the tin (sides and tube).
  2. Beat all the remaining ingredients in a blender until well combined. Pour into the caramelized tin and cook in a water bath for about 1 hour or until the flan is cooked.
  3. Let it cool and then unmold it in a large plate, not so shallow because of the caramel sauce. Refrigerate for a while and then it’s ready to serve.

Pave

We make this recipe in my family all the time. It’s a Brazilian version of tiramisu, and as such, I guess every family has its own way to make it. This is my mom’s recipe and I don’t see why to change a single thing 🙂 I don’t know how to translate the name, so we’ll just keep the original name “Pavê”. You can use either sponge fingers or simply digestive biscuits. They get really soft with the cream and the chocolate cream goes well with the condensed milk cream.

The picture above was taken by my dear Venezuelan friend, Rosemary, in an early Christmas celebration we had in November, before we left for Brazil. Nice shot, Rosemary! She also made a wonderful dessert, but I will only talk about that when I make in the future to post it here.

Pavê

Ingredients

Chantilly

  • 3 egg whites
  • 6 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 can thick cream (without that more liquid part)

Cream

  • 3 yolks
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cans (use the condensed milk can to measure) whole milk
  • 2 tbsp cornflour

Chocolate Cream

  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp cornflour

For the biscuits

  • 1 package (200g) sponge fingers (or substitute by digestive biscuits)
  • 1 cup milk sweetened with some sugar and a little bit of cocoa powder

Preparation

  1. In a saucepan, mix the yolks, condensed milk, cornflour and milk. In medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly until thickened. Reserve and let it cool. Meanwhile prepare the chantilly.
  2. Beat the egg whites into stiff peaks. Add the sugar and beat a little more to dissolve it. Fold the thick cream into this mixture and reserve.
  3. For the chocolate cream, mix all the ingredients in a saucepan and boil until it thickens a little bit.
  4. Warm the milk with some sugar and cocoa powder. Dip approximately half of the biscuits in the milk and arrange them so they cover a rectangular pyrex (30 x 19cm). On the top of the biscuits, spread the condensed milk cream; then another layer of biscuits, the chocolate cream and to finish with the chantilly.
  5. Decorate with chocolate shavings. refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours before serving (I usually make the day before).

Strawberry and Chocolate Layers

I always like to take a peek at Ana Maria Braga‘s recipes (she has a show in Brazil like Martha Stewart) and this week she prepared this wonderful dessert. I read the ingredients and it sounded like a very good combination. Then today I bought the ingredients and decided to test. It really is a delight! I cut the recipe in half, which yielded four servings, but it could have had more strawberries. So next time I’ll reduce the other ingredients but not the strawberries.

Strawberry and Chocolate Layers

Ingredients

  • 600g of strawberries, hulled and cubed
  • ⅓ cup of balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup of caster sugar
  • 2 cans of condensed milk
  • 2 tbsp of butter
  • 150g of dark chocolate, chopped
  • 200ml of double cream, whipped

Preparation

  1. In a bowl put the cubed strawberries, balsamic vinegar and sugar. Mix everything and marinate for about one hour. Next, drain the strawberries and reserve the marinade.
  2. Place in a saucepan 2 cans of condensed milk, 2 tbsps of butter and cook over low heat, stirring constantly for about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and add 150g of chopped dark chocolate and mix well until completely melted.
  3. Separate 1/3 of the chocolate cream and fold it into 200ml of whipped cream. Add the reserved balsamic marinade to the 2/3 remaining of the chocolate cream and mix well.
  4. Using 8 wine glasses, make a layer with strawberries, a layer of chocolate cream with balsamic vinegar and then a layer of whipped cream. Refrigerate to chill.

Yield: 8 servings