eat in my kitchen

To cook, to bake, to eat and to treat.

Tag: mascarpone

Cheesecake Swiss Roll with Mascarpone and Blackberries

Cheesecake Swiss Roll with Mascarpone and Blackberries

Some days call for lavish teatime treats, especially when it’s Sunday and I’m in the mood to spoil myself with some tasty calories. The 7th day of the week should be dedicated to rest and calm, but in my life it’s also dedicated to baking. I take advantage of the fact that there are no duties and tasks waiting to be taken care of, so I can give my full attention to a quiet kitchen instead. I’m willing to share my baked treats with my loved ones, it’s my kitchen credo after all, which led to my blog and my book’s subtitle: To cook, to bake, to eat, and to treat. Cake always tastes better when you share it, but the process of baking it gives me some time just for myself.

So this week I got hooked on the idea of combining a swiss roll with New York cheesecake – without the cookie base obviously. I was after a spongy roll, fluffy but structured, and I know that my beloved swiss roll recipe manages to satisfy this demand with ease. It’s been with me for two decades, I trust this roll. My usual filling would be whipped cream, as in my Blueberry Lemon Swiss Roll recipe. But it seemed too light for my current mood, I wanted creamy richness, a denser filling, with cream cheese and mascarpone – and a few plump blackberries – for my cheesecake swiss roll. My body’s ready for the next season and it doesn’t care that I’ll be in Malta again in a few weeks, sitting on the beach in a bikini under the burning sun. I’m set for autumn and my Maltese boyfriend deeply disapproves of my decision – I think every Mediterranean man or woman suffers when summer comes to an end. But for a northern girl, the next season promises coziness and hearty treats, lonely walks in golden forests, and a chilled breeze whistling through the streets.

Cheesecake Swiss Roll with Mascarpone and Blackberries

 

Cheesecake Swiss Roll with Mascarpone and Blackberries

Cheesecake Swiss Roll with Mascarpone and Blackberries

Makes a 15cm / 6″ long swiss roll 

For the swiss roll

organic eggs, separated, 2
a pinch of salt
granulated sugar 40g/ 1/4 cup, plus 3 tablespoons the sprinkling
plain flour 35g / 1/4 cup
cornstarch 15g / 2 tablespoons

For the filling

mascarpone 110g / 4 ounces
cream cheese 110g / 4 ounces
granulated sugar 2 tablespoon
lemon zest 1 teaspoon, plus 1 teaspoon for sprinkling
freshly squeezed lemon juice 1 tablespoon
blackberries 125g / 4 1/2 ounces

Set the oven to 220°C / 425°F (conventional setting) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt for a few seconds before adding half the sugar, continue beating until stiff.

In a second large bowl, mix the egg yolks and the remaining sugar with an electric mixer until thick and creamy. Using a wooden spoon, fold the egg white into the egg yolks. Sieve and combine the flour and cornstarch and fold gently into the egg mixture. Spread the dough on the lined baking sheet, covering a rectangle of roughly 15 x 30cm / 6 x 12″ and bake on the middle rack of the oven for about 6 minutes or until golden and spongy.

Sprinkle a kitchen towel with 2 tablespoons of sugar and flip the warm sponge onto the towel. Peel off the parchment paper and carefully roll the sponge with the towel, the roll should be 15cm / 6″ long. Leave it rolled up until cool.

For the filling, in a medium bowl, whip the mascarpone, cream cheese, sugar, lemon zest and juice until creamy.

When the sponge is cool, unwind the sponge roll and spread the filling on top, leave a small rim (see picture below). Cover with the blackberries and roll it up tightly. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar and a little lemon zest. Serve immediately or keep in the fridge before serving.

Cheesecake Swiss Roll with Mascarpone and Blackberries

 

Cheesecake Swiss Roll with Mascarpone and Blackberries

 

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cheesecakeswissrollblackberries9

Italian Meringue with Honey Mascarpone and Figs

Italian Meringue with Honey Mascarpone and Figs

Most of the beaches and bays, restaurants and cafés, and markets and shops I visit in Malta are treasured finds of the past. Since I spent my first summer here 9 years ago, I gathered a long list of many places that I need to see at least once every time I come to the islands – I barely have enough time to discover something new. There are many traditions that I set up for myself, like my annual visit to the Sunday morning mass at Valletta’s St John’s Co-Cathedral, which is held in Latin and accompanied by the most ethereal choir. I went to this magnificent cathedral with my Maltese mama, the rest of the house was still asleep, and afterwards we enjoyed a strong cappuccino at Caffe Cordina. I recommend sitting inside with the locals, next to the bar and order some of their addictive treats. This time I went for spongy rum baba deeply soaked with sticky syrup followed by a buttery ricotta pastizzi – both were divine.

Fontanella Tea Garden in Mdina is another one of my favourite sweet spots. The view is breathtaking, sitting high up on a hill surrounded by ancient bastions, it allows you to see large parts of the island. Their chocolate cake is a classic, dark and juicy and a must whenever I visit Malta’s old capital.

But all these sweets are still not enough of a reason to keep the oven back home in Msida switched off. The antique furniture, plates, and cutlery that fill our family’s Malta home inspired me to come up with a dessert that suits all the beautiful lace doileys, fragile tea cups and silver tablets with floral patterns. An elegant meringue, lusciously topped with whipped honey mascarpone and Maltese figs was just right – visually and in taste. It’s sweet and creamy, light and crunchy, with a juicy hint of fruit. Italian meringues are large and pale, crunchy on the outside and still a little soft inside. I preheated the oven to 160°C / 325°F, turned it off, and left the meringue in overnight, they came out perfect. The mascarpone whipped with a bit of heavy cream and warm honey was a nice contrast to the meringue’s crunch.

Italian Meringue with Honey Mascarpone and Figs

 

Italian Meringue with Honey Mascarpone and Figs

Italian Meringue with Honey Mascarpone and Figs

For the meringue

large organic egg whites 3
a pinch of salt
granulated sugar 200g / 1 cup
cider vinegar 1/2 teaspoon

For the honey mascarpone

mascarpone, drained, 250g / 9 ounces
heavy cream 2 tablespoons
aromatic honey, like thyme or orange blossom, 2-3 tablespoons

For the topping

ripe figs, quartered, 6

It’s best to prepare the meringues a day ahead and leave them in the oven overnight.

Preheat the oven to 160°C / 325°F (conventional setting) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

For the meringue, in a large bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the egg whites and salt for 1 minute. Continue whisking for 15 minutes, adding 1 tablespoon of the sugar at a time. The meringue should be stiff and glossy, then whisk in the vinegar. Spoon 6 large mounds onto the lined baking sheet and, using a spoon, swirl the tops a little. Place the baking sheet in the oven, switch off the oven, and bake the meringues overnight (for about 8 – 12 hours), without opening the door. If the meringues are still too soft on the outside, turn on the oven again and bake for a few minutes until crunchy on the outside.

For the honey mascarpone, in a medium bowl whisk the mascarpone and heavy cream until creamy, add more cream if necessary. Warm up the honey in a saucepan over low heat for about 1 minute until liquid and slightly warm, and stir into the mascarpone. Keep in the fridge until serving.

Cut a small top off each meringue, top with the honey mascarpone and figs, and close with the meringue tops. Serve immediately once the meringues are filled.

Italian Meringue with Honey Mascarpone and Figs

 

Italian Meringue with Honey Mascarpone and Figs

 

Italian Meringue with Honey Mascarpone and Figs

 

Italian Meringue with Honey Mascarpone and Figs

 

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Strawberry Mascarpone Panna Cotta

Strawberry Mascarpone Panna Cotta

If I could choose between a cake or creamy desserts, I think I would always go for the cake. I just love pastries, no matter if it’s buttery shortcrust, flaky puff pastry, soft sponge, or juice-soaked lady fingers in a trifle. The combination of flour, butter, eggs, and sugar is pure magic in my eyes. Since I was a child, I’ve always been the first at the cake buffet when we have our luscious family feasts, and I’m also the last one, when the platters are almost empty.

As I’m the one who’s responsible for sweet treats at home – at least most of the time – we barely get to enjoy the dark depth of a mousse au chocolate, the sweetness of a vanilla scented Bavarian cream or a crème caramel. If my boyfriend could choose, it would be the other way around; we’d have cake maybe twice a year. He loves anything sweet, smooth, and creamy and if I want to spoil him a little, I make a panna cotta. The Italian classic is usually made with heavy cream and milk, but I like to sneak in some ricotta (like I did for my rosewater and pistachio panna cotta), or a little mascarpone, which fits perfectly to the juiciest strawberries I’ve found this year so far. A bit of fresh mint on top and these little beauties are done. When we have guests for dinner, I usually serve this dessert in small ramekins, but this time I went for wine glasses. The shiny red fruit looks really pretty in the bright panna cotta, it would be a pity to hide them.

Strawberry Mascarpone Panna Cotta

 

Strawberry Mascarpone Panna Cotta

Strawberry Mascarpone Panna Cotta

Serves 2 to 4

gelatin sheets (7 x 11cm / 3 x 4″) 2 1/2, or 2 1/2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
heavy cream 240ml / 1 cup
whole milk 120 ml / 1/2 cup
a pinch of fine sea salt
vanilla pod, scraped, 1
granulated sugar 50g / 1/4 cup, plus more for the strawberries
mascarpone 60g / 2 ounces
fresh strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced, 140g / 4 ounces, plus 3-4 whole strawberries, quartered lenghthwise, for the topping
a few fresh mint leaves, for the topping

Soak the gelatin sheets in cold water for about 5 minutes.

In a small saucepan, bring the cream, milk, salt, vanilla seeds, and sugar to the boil. As soon as the mixture is bubbling, take the pan off the heat. Squeeze the excess water from the soaked gelatin sheets and crumble into the warm cream mixture; whisk thoroughly. Stir in the mascarpone and whisk until well combined. Leave the cream in the saucepan and let it cool at room temperature for about 30 minutes, whisking occasionally. Then chill the panna cotta in the fridge for about 1 hour, whisking 3-4 times, or until it starts to set.

Divide the sliced strawberries between 4 ramekins (120ml / 4 ounces), or 2-4 wine glasses, and sprinkle them with a little sugar. Divide the panna cotta between the glasses and chill for about 30 minutes or until set. Arrange the quartered strawberries and the mint leaves on top of the cream just before serving.

Strawberry Mascarpone Panna Cotta

 

Strawberry Mascarpone Panna Cotta

 

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Strawberry Mascarpone Panna Cotta

Potato and Apple Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Walnut Butter and Gruyère

Potato and Appel Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Walnut Butter

Here we are again: I’ve reached that critical time of the year – as always in February – when it’s still all about cabbage and roots at the market, but my mind starts dreaming of juicy tomatoes and cucumbers, sweet berries and peaches, and seafood dinners at the sea – basically my summers in Malta. Luckily, February is quite a short month, then we have March, which at least offers ramps towards its end. In April I can feel the sun getting warmer, the sky becomes brighter, and the produce on my counter tops slowly starts to look more colourful. But for now, I must be patient and enjoy what I’ve got – a beautiful crisp head of cabbage.

I blanched the large outer cabbage leaves and stuffed them with boiled potatoes, sour apple, fresh thyme, and a few spoonfuls of mascarpone, instead of sour cream, to bind the mixture. My personal highlight was the topping of crunchy walnut butter and freshly grated Gruyère. Any aromatic hard cheese would work here, but there’s something about this combination of the roasted nuts and this slightly sweet Swiss cheese that fits perfectly to these little wintery cabbage packages.

Potato and Appel Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Walnut Butter

 

Potato and Appel Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Walnut Butter

Potato and Apple Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Walnut Butter and Gruyère

For the cabbage rolls

large white or green cabbage leaves 8
peeled potatoes, boiled and chopped, about 250g / 9 ounces
small apple, peeled, cored and chopped, 1
fresh thyme leaves 1 tablespoon
mascarpone (or sour cream or ricotta) 3 tablespoons
organic egg 1
nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
fine sea salt
ground pepper
white wine

For the walnut butter

butter 60g / 1/4 cup
walnuts, roughly chopped, 25g / 1 ounce

For the topping

Gruyère, or any aromatic hard cheese, finely grated, about 2 tablespoons
a few fresh thyme leaves
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar

For the cabbage leaves, take a large cabbage head and trim the bottom. Carefully peel off 8 large outer leaves. If they tear a little, it’s fine. You’ll only need 4-5 blanched leaves, blanch the remaining leaves to cover torn patches in the leaves that you use for the rolls.

Preheat the oven to 200°C / 390°F.

In a large pot, bring salted water to the boil and blanch the cabbage leaves for about 4-6 minutes or until tender. Rinse quickly under cold water, drain and cut out the hard stalk (in a slim triangle-shape).

For the filling, in a large bowl, combine the boiled potatoes, apple, and thyme. Whisk together the mascarpone and egg and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add to the potato-apple mixture, stir to combine, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Lay 4-5 cabbage leaves flat on the kitchen counter and cover torn parts with soft pieces of the remaining leaves. Put a generous tablespoon of the filling in the middle of each cabbage leaf, fold up the sides and roll it up, starting from the side of the stalk. Don’t worry if they don’t look perfect, mine didn’t either. They can all have their individual shape.

Transfer the cabbage rolls to a baking dish and cover the bottom with a splash of white wine and some water. Bake in the oven for about 30-35 minutes or until golden and firm.

While the cabbage rolls are baking in the oven, prepare the walnut butter: In a small saucepan, melt the butter on high heat. When it’s sizzling hot, add the walnuts and turn the heat down to medium. Roast for 10-20 seconds or until golden but not dark. Take the saucepan off the heat.

Divide the cabbage rolls between plates and drizzle with a little butter. Sprinkle with the roasted walnuts, fresh thyme, Gruyère, and crushed pepper.

Potato and Appel Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Walnut Butter

 

Potato and Appel Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Walnut Butter

 

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Spinach and Melon Salad with Orange Mascarpone

Spinach + Melon Salad with Mascarpone

Crunchy, young spinach leaves, sweet and ripe Galia melon, creamy Mascarpone and a little orange zest becomes a delicious sweet and savory summer salad! It sounds a bit more exotic than it tastes, it’s a very fresh and harmonious combination. The idea for it was born out of another recipe which didn’t work out as I had expected. I felt like I salad made with melon and a milky flavour. At first, I mixed the melon with Buffalo mozzarella but the result wasn’t quite as pleasing as expected so I looked for another possible use for my juicy fruit. Spinach, mascarpone and orange, my second attempt was more successful and finally the 2 of us were satisfied with our salad.

We just wanted a quick and light lunch so I spread a big handful of young spinach leaves on 2 plates together with a quarter Galia melon cut into wedges. I mixed 2 tablespoons of mascarpone with a little freshly squeezed orange juice and dolloped little pieces of it on top of the salad. For the dressing I whisked 5 teaspoons of olive oil with 3 teaspoons of orange juice, 2 teaspoons of Balsamico vinegar and a little salt and pepper. I sprinkled the dressing on top of the leaves and fruit and finished it off with 1/2 a teaspoon of orange zest.

Sometimes you have to give your ideas a second try, change them a little but then you’ll be rewarded. It definitely won’t be the last time I make this salad!

Spinach + Melon Salad with Mascarpone

 

Spinach + Melon Salad with Mascarpone

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