Persimmon Pistachio Roll Cake

Persimmon Pistachio Roll Cake

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas surrounded by loved ones and lots of delicious food. Did you get what you wanted? After we reach a certain age, Christmas presents must not have the same excitement? I don’t know though, I’m just guessing. I love getting presents and I’m old! It’s always exciting to me to open up the bag or unwrap the wrapping paper with baited breath, waiting to get the first glimpse of the goodies inside.

Persimmons

We were up bright and early Christmas morning to start off our day with our own ongoing tradition, the first showing of whatever the hit movie is that year. This year, Star Wars VIII. As you know we are huge fans so waiting a week to watch the movie was torture. However, I’ve done an opening night movie for Star Wars back when they had their 20th Anniversary. The weirdos that turn up for the opening night; I wasn’t about to put myself through that again. So, we waited, and it was totally worth the wait. LOVED the movie and cannot wait for the next one.

Persimmon Pistachio Roll Cake

In the rush to get up and get to the movie theatre and due to some bad procrastination the day before, I forgot to pull out the chicken from the freezer for dinner. So, in true “A Christmas Story” fashion we ended up in the only open restaurant close by, a Chinese place. No, we didn’t have duck with the head still attached along with badly sung Christmas carols but we did have some bad Chinese food nevertheless. Apparently, many others forgot to take out their frozen turkeys/rib roast since it seemed like everyone in Broomfield was there. When we arrived there were a fair number of people but as we ordered and got our food, the stream of people coming through the door was never ending. The bad part; only one server. She was worked out of her little apron, but then family members started pitching in. We decided it was time to leave. I couldn’t fathom how many people, on Christmas, choose to not cook, won’t cook or can’t cook…or  maybe they just like less than mediocre Chinese food on special holidays. These weren’t just couples and such, while we were waiting on our food, a family came in and asked for a table for 11! For 11?!! Why aren’t they cooking a family dinner at home?? 

Persimmons

After our not very good Chinese food, we went home and collapsed on the sofa. Steaming cups of hot cocoa kept us warm as the snow that was supposed to fall in the morning, finally arrived. We watched TV, drifted in and out of slumber, drank tea and cocoa and enjoyed a cosy evening at home. The snow kept falling; in fact, it fell all night and we woke up to about 4-5 inches. All the melted roads from the last snow storm were all snow packed and icy again. The weather has been so cold that nothing has melted and there is an ice rink right as you reach the bottom of our driveway. This morning it was 6F. Yeah, single digits.

Christmas Eve we were invited to dinner at a lovely friend’s house. It had been so long since I’d seen my friends, I was really looking forward to it. As I lay in bed that morning, my mind whirred away trying to come up with something to make with the ripe persimmons I had sitting on my kitchen counter. We had eaten a few fresh but persimmons can be very tannic and that can be off putting, especially to kids. I wanted to use the rest up in a dessert of some fashion.

Persimmon Pistachio Roll Cake

Pudding, trifle, cake, muffins, cupcakes….all these ideas went through my mind. Since I had only 4 persimmons left, it had to be some sort of filling that was complemented with something else and something the children would eat. But wait, I was headed to a party that evening, I could bring a dessert. That opened up the idea of cake again. I don’t make too many cakes, they never get eaten at our house and I get stuck with them every time. But dinner parties are something else, food gets eaten at parties. I jumped out of bed and got to work.

Persimmon Pistachio Roll Cake

Every year I put a traditional Buche de Noel on my bucket list, and every year it gets thrown out with the dirty water. This is not a traditional Buche de Noel, but it’s a Yule log of some sort. I love roll cakes, they can be a bit tricky but I love them anyway. They are pretty and easy to portion and cut, not to mention delicious! I have a couple of roll cakes on the website.

The persimmons are cooked down a little to concentrate flavours and remove the tannic quality. They are then mixed with some heavy cream, a drop of rose water is added and then filled inside a pistachio sponge cake. Allowing the cake to sit for a few hours before serving makes the sponge soft and saturated from the cream and it just melts in your mouth. The hint of rose water and the pistachio cake add an exotic flair to the beautiful persimmons.

Persimmon Pistachio Roll Cake-

Persimmon Pistachio Roll Cake

Rating 

Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 10 pieces

A non traditional Yule log made with a rolled pistachio cake filled with a persimmon rose water filling.
Ingredients
  • Sheet Cake:
  • ¾ cup all purpose/plain flour
  • 3 tablespoons pistachios, ground fine
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 5 large eggs
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • Filling:
  • 2 cups persimmon chunks (about 4 whole, fresh ones)
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon rose water, optional
  • Ground pistachios for decoration
  • Dried or fresh rose buds for decoration
Instructions
  1. Persimmon Filling:
  2. Put the chunks of persimmons and ½ cup water into a small saucepan.
  3. Put on low heat and bring to a simmer.
  4. Let the persimmons soften and break down, mash down with a fork to help them along.
  5. Add the ¼ cup sugar and let simmer until all the liquid has evaporated.
  6. It will take about 20-25 minutes till the persimmons are cooked and the liquid has evaporated.
  7. Put into a small bowl and place in the fridge to cool.
  8. In the meantime, make the sheet cake.
  9. Once the cake is cooled and the persimmon filling has cooled, whip the heavy cream.
  10. In the bowl of a clean mixer bowl, add the 1 cup of cream, once the cream has thickened a little, add the tablespoon of sugar and continue whipping until thick.
  11. You want the cream quite stiff so it will hold the persimmon filling and stay firm in the cake as well.
  12. Fold in the persimmon filling and add the rose water if using.
  13. CAUTION: rose water is strong so start with ½ teaspoon. Too much will over power the cake to just rose water tasting.
  14. Sheet Cake:
  15. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  16. Grease and line with parchment paper a ½ size sheet pan (17.5 x 11.5 inches)
  17. Sift the flour, baking powder and ground pistachios together a few times.
  18. Keep aside until needed along with the sifter.
  19. In a saucepan or a microwaveable bowl, heat the milk and butter together till butter if melted and milk is hot.
  20. I zap it in the microwave for about 30 seconds at a time until the butter and milk are hot.
  21. Watch carefully as it can boil over.
  22. Keep aside until needed.
  23. In the bowl of a mixer, add the eggs and the sugar and which until pale, thick and frothy.
  24. This whisking is key to a sponge.
  25. The eggs have to be whipped sufficiently.
  26. Anything under whipped; the cake will not rise enough.
  27. The consistency of the whipped eggs and sugar have to be like softly whipped cream.
  28. Once the egg-sugar mixture is ready, sift the flour over the batter in 3 batches.
  29. Fold in carefully but completely.
  30. Bring the milk and butter up to a steam again (zap in microwave for 20 seconds)
  31. Pour the hot milk mixture all at once into the batter.
  32. Fold the batter thoroughly.
  33. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and place in the oven.
  34. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the top is light golden brown and the cake springs back when pressed gently.
  35. While the cake is in the oven, place a clean tea towel on the counter or table and dust liberally with powdered sugar.
  36. Once the cake comes out of the oven, run a knife around the edges of the cake and flip the cake carefully onto the sugared tea towel.
  37. Allow the cake to cool slightly before removing the paper liner.
  38. Once you remove the paper liner, place a large piece of foil over the top.
  39. Use a sheet tray as a support and place over the foil.
  40. Place a hand under the towel and cake, flip the cake over carefully, so the top the cake is now facing you to be filled.
  41. It's easier to fill the cake and roll if the cake isn't on the sheet tray so carefully remove the cake from the sheet tray on the foil and lay on table.
  42. Remove the tea towel from the top.
  43. Fill with 1½ cups of the filling.
  44. Spread the filling evenly over the top, not too thickly though.
  45. Carefully lift up one the short edges of the cake and start rolling tightly.
  46. Use the foil as leverage and a way to help roll and keep the roll compact and tight.
  47. Use one hand to hold the foil and the other to keep the cake tight as it rolls.
  48. It will crack a little at the beginning but the cracking will reduce as the roll gets bigger.
  49. Just keep the roll tight and compact at the beginning even if it crack.
  50. Shape with your hands as you are rolling.
  51. Once the cake is rolled, keep it covered and rolled in the foil.
  52. Refrigerate for an hour in the foil before serving.
  53. Remove the foil, use the remainder of the filling to cover the top of the cake lightly.
  54. Dust with ground pistachios and dried roses if desired.

Persimmon Pistachio Roll Cake-

So, what was the best thing you ate over the Christmas holiday? Let me tell you, for us, it wasn’t the Chinese food! This cake was pretty good though, as was the dinner at my friend’s and my White Chicken Chilli that we had on Boxing Day.

I cannot believe 2015 whizzed by in a blur. I am quite certain I was writing this very sentence not too long ago! Be that as it may, the fact is 2016 will be here very soon. I want to wish you all a very happy, safe and prosperous New Year. I thank you for your friendship, your encouragement and your support. Here’s to many, more years together!

Happy New Year!

Pepper Jack Mac and Cheese

Pepper Jack Macaroni and Cheese-3

I may have disappeared again. In my defence, I tried really hard to not only get this post out earlier but to visit as many of you as I could. I didn’t get to post this last week and I missed many of you. It was just a very hectic week.

My daughter graduated on Saturday and it was a lovely ceremony and a bit bittersweet and emotional. This was my first graduation as far as my children go. My eldest didn’t walk and so robbed me of my proud mommy moment. 

Baby Broccoli

In England, we don’t have all this graduation business. We sit our exams, we enjoy our summer as much as we can, and in August nervously await with baited breath for the postal flap in our door to fly open and letters to drop on the floor, hoping one of the envelopes is from the Examination Board. Then we squeal with excitement or moan with regret, either way, that’s it, that’s our graduation pomp and circumstance.

I may not have all the hullabaloo at my “graduation”, however, it was still very nice to be a part of daughter’s big day. I tried to hold back the tears when we walked down to greet her after the ceremony. A few photos and then our moment was done. She waved to us as she disappeared into the sea of blue clad graduates to enjoy the day and the many parties. I anxiously hoped she remembered that we also had a party going on later that day and she needed to make an appearance!

broomfield High School graduation

Saturday was also my son’s 10th birthday. He was such a great brother and made way for his sister to own the day. He graciously took a back seat so she could be the star. 

We had a lovely BBQ with many of our good friends. It has been raining here for a good two weeks with really cold temperatures and Saturday was no different! It poured down! Thankfully, we have a huge front covered porch and we do most our cookouts under the porch. We had two grills going, a gas and a charcoal. We grilled burgers, chicken kebabs and vegetables. I made a quinoa salad with fruit, a Caprese pasta salad with a balsamic vinaigrette, grilled vegetables with a Herbes De Provence vinaigrette, and tangy, South Indian lemon rice. 

Graduation Food

Chips, salsa, Feta dip and a spicy black bean dip with assorted olives and vegetables rounded out the savouries. Dessert was a blueberry cobbler, grilled nectarines and pineapples with pound cake and ice cream, and assorted fruit. A wonderful friend made a beautiful cheesecake. We had plenty of sweets! Sweet ice tea, Southern style, and lemonade quenched our thirst. I think everyone enjoyed themselves! 

One thing about cookouts is they don’t really allow you to sit for too long with your guests. I was running constantly from the grill to the food tables. Once the food was done though, I had a chance to sit and converse.

Pepper Jack Macaroni and Cheese-1

In the U.S. it was Memorial Day weekend so my husband and I were off from work on Saturday, but what did I end up doing on my day off from cooking at the store? Cooking for an even bigger crowd. I’m a glutton for punishment. 

Were any of you aware that last week was National Vegetarian Week? I stumbled upon it while I was reading some article but then decided to run with it! It’s the excuse I used to cook vegetarian all week long. My eldest loved it because for once, she could eat everything and wasn’t relegated to the sides! 

I loved it too. Dinner was uncomplicated and easy to throw together. It took me only an hour each day to get dinner on the table. No dealing with cleaning meat or chicken, waiting for it to defrost, soften, and so on. 

Pepper Jack Macaroni and Cheese-2

This Mac and Cheese was dinner one day along with sautéed baby broccoli and baked kale chips. I jazzed it up a bit by using Pepper Jack since I love Pepper Jack cheese. It added a little kick without too much heat. 

I also didn’t use macaroni but pasta shape known as pipe, Whole Foods has an excellent organic one I like to use. I just think they look cool and I’m like a little kid when it comes to pasta shapes.

pipe pasta

Pepper Jack Mac and Cheese

Rating 

Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 8-10 servings

A creamy mac and cheese using pepper jack cheese for a spicy kick.
Ingredients
  • 1 pound/ 455g macaroni or any short tube pasta
  • 9 ounces/255g Pepper Jack cheese or other spicy cheese, shredded
  • 3 ounces/85g white Cheddar cheese,shredded
  • 4 tablespoons/55g butter, unsalted
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3½ cups/830ml milk
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon honey Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric, optional
  • 2 slices bread ends
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
Instructions
  1. CHEESE SAUCE
  2. In a large saucepan melt the butter.
  3. Once the butter is melted add the flour and mix to make a roux.
  4. Cook a little to get the raw flour taste out.
  5. Add the nutmeg.
  6. Slowly add the milk and stir with a whisk to make sure it doesn't get lumpy.
  7. You can warm the milk so the sauce is lump free but I never do and I've never had a problem with a lumpy white sauce.
  8. Once the white sauce begins to bubble and thicken, pull off the heat and add your cheese.
  9. The heat from the white sauce should be enough to melt the cheese but you can put it back on the burner with the heat off.
  10. Mix the cheese until all is melted and homogenous.
  11. Add the honey Dijon mustard or your mustard of choice, and the turmeric if using.
  12. The cheese I buy is an organic, natural cheese from Whole Foods and it has no colouring.
  13. Pepper Jack by nature is a white cheese.
  14. So, to get the yellow colour of mac and cheese, I add a touch of turmeric.
  15. If you are using yellow cheddar, then you can omit the turmeric.
  16. Keep the sauce to the side as you boil the pasta.
  17. Follow the package directions to boil your pasta but boil it three minutes shy of the recommended time.
  18. You want a good bite when you pull it off the heat.
  19. The pasta will cook further in the sauce when it's baked so over cooking it now will give you a mushy mac and cheese.
  20. Keep a little of the pasta water to thin the cheese sauce if needed.
  21. Once the pasta is ¾ cooked, drain it and reserve some pasta water.
  22. Mix the pasta into the cheese sauce, coating evenly.
  23. Add a bit of pasta water if it seems too gloppy.
  24. Have a buttered baking dish ready and pour the mac and cheese into the prepared dish.
  25. If you'd like a crumb topping, take some bread ends or heels, I used the thick bread heels of a heavily seeded and grained bread, cut into small cubes and toss with olive oil.
  26. Scatter over the top.
  27. Preheat the oven to 375F/190C and place the mac and cheese on the centre rack.
  28. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and the croutons are golden brown and crispy.

Pepper Jack Macaroni and Cheese-4

So, yeah, this isn’t a very original post because there are a million mac and cheese recipes out there! But hey, it’s a post and it really was quite tasty with the creamy, spicy cheese, the funky pasta and the crunchy croutons on top. But I am slowly getting there and back in the kitchen. The mind has been a bit slow churning and I finally figured out that it may have been the new meds I started. Well, my job revolves around cooking and so does this blog, if I can’t be creative and motivated then where will I be? So, I stopped taking the new meds. I hurt a bit more but my mind is my own now.

Did any of you cook vegetarian food last week? It’s been really fun to see all the fresh, spring flavours on the blogs and then the autumn flavours coming from the Southern Hemisphere. Y’all are definitely inspiring! Can’t wait to see more seasonal goodies!

Have a great week everyone! 

Tres Leches Cake

Tres Leches

This year, I seemed to have dropped the ball on posting holiday recipes. I had it all planned too! Back in January, I took my nifty calendar and scribbled possible posts and recipe ideas, I pencilled in relevant holidays and even some obscure ones like St David’s Day, who unlike St Patrick, doesn’t get quite the same recognition. For those of you not familiar with him, he’s the patron saint of Wales. However, I did remember Star Wars Day 🙂 A day circled in very bold on all calendars at home.

Tres LechesI wasn’t planning on sharing this post until next week, but as Mother’s Day is coming up this weekend and I still haven’t picked up that darned ball, I decided to post this early.

It’s quite a fitting cake for Mother’s Day even though it was made as a birthday cake for my husband a couple of weekends ago. You might also be thinking that it’s a bit of a froufrou cake for a man, and believe me, what he really wanted was a replica of the Starship Enterprise as his cake. A request I would have fully entertained if it wasn’t for the jam packed status of the weeks leading up to his birthday. Model cakes take a long time to make, ask anyone who has made one! I told him it’s still on my list and it may materialise for Father’s Day; we’ll see.

Tres Leches CakeSo, why the Tres Leches? Because it’s only the best cake ever! It’s also known as a three milks cake and it originates from Central America. Of course, it’s thought that it came to them from trade and travel in Europe.

Whatever the origin, this cake is incredibly popular in Texas, which is where we came across it. Typically, you will see this cake baked in a glass dish and the milks are poured over and then frosted. However, it can be layered and made to look like a special occasion cake. Infact, my sister had a three tier Tres Leches for her wedding cake, and a new tradition was born.

We continued the tradition by getting all of the kids’ birthday cakes from a local panaderia, and they did such an excellent job making it to any theme we wanted. Laith’s 2nd birthday, they did a full sheet cake in the Cars theme. It was so adorable.

Tres Leches CakeTradition continues with all the extended family now getting their Tres Leches wedding cakes and their kids’ birthday cakes from the same panaderia.

It had been a year since we last ate a Tres Leches and that was back on our trip to Houston last year. We were all craving it; big time. So, really, Trace had no choice, he was getting a Tres Leches whether he liked it or not! Lucky for me, he loves it as much as I do (as a matter of fact, he hasn’t met a cake he doesn’t like yet)

It’s not like we can’t get it here in Colorado because we have quite a thriving Hispanic and South/Central American community. It’s just that I don’t feel like looking for a panaderia and then driving down to get it. I have adopted the Colorado mentality of “if it’s not down the end of my street, I’m not going” which I think is just a ploy to not have to go on I-25. It’s a mentality I was surprisingly quick to adopt considering that I came from Houston where unless you have travelled on 3 State Highways and 2 Interstates just for lunch, you haven’t travelled!

Tres Leches CakeWhat is a Tres Leches cake? It’s an airy, dry sponge cake that is soaked in three milks, usually evaporated, condensed and heavy cream. It is then chilled overnight, and then frosted with either a meringue topping or fresh whipped cream. It is not a low calorie food. Unfortunately, it’s an addictive food.

I made mine a little different form the traditional ones you see on the web. Most of them are single layer, in a glass pan covered in cream. You do not see how wonderful this cake is when you serve it like that. It needs to be elevated to the top of the special occasion cake category with a bit of effort. I filled mine with macerated fresh strawberries, and since I couldn’t find an organic evaporated milk can or at least a can with no additives, I chose to forgo it and use half and half. It was perfect. It was moist enough to be recognised that it was soaked in 3 milks and sturdy enough to not collapse under the weight of the 3 milks.

There’s still time to make this for your mum! It only needs a day to chill overnight and an hour to ice. You can always just make it in a baking dish and cover it with cream.

Tres Leches

Tres Leches Cake

Serving size: 12

Calories: 699

Fat: 36g

A moist sponge layer cake filled with macerated strawberries and soaked in three milks.
Ingredients
Sponge Cake
  • 2 cups/290g all purpose/plain flour
  • 3½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 7 large eggs, separated
  • 2 cups/400g sugar
  • ½ cup/120ml milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Three Milks
  • 1 cup/235ml heavy/double cream
  • 1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cups/470g half and half (half cream and half milk mixture)
Filling
  • 1 pound/455g fresh strawberries, chopped small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
Frosting
  • 2 cups/470g heavy/double cream
  • 4oz/125g cream cheese, room temperature
  • ¼ cup/50g sugar
Topping
  • extra strawberries
  • mint leaves
Instructions
  1. Plan to make the sponge cake a day ahead so it can thoroughly chill.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350F/180C
  3. Grease and line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper, 2 9 inch/24 cm cake pans.
  4. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl.
  5. Using a mixer, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.
  6. On high speed, gradually add the sugar.
  7. Add the egg yolks, one at a time.
  8. Add the vanilla.
  9. Add the flour, ½ cup at a time until well incorporated.
  10. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides.
  11. Add the ½ cup of milk until the mixture is smooth and evenly mixed.
  12. Divide the cake batter between the two prepared pans.
  13. Place in the oven and bake until golden brown about 25-30 minutes.
  14. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes.
  15. Meanwhile, make the soaking milk.
  16. Combine the condensed milk, heavy cream and the half and half and mix well.
  17. Divide the milks over the warm cakes equally.
  18. Allow to soak into the cake.
  19. Place in the fridge to chill overnight.
Filling
  1. Mash the strawberries with sugar slightly so they release some of their juices.
  2. Allow to macerate.
Frosting
  1. Beat the soft cream cheese with the sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the heavy cream and whip until thick enough to spread on cake.
  3. You will need to beat it to quite thick but don't get carried away and make butter!
  4. Place in the fridge until needed.
Assembling Cake
  1. Run a spatula or a butter knife around the edges of the cake.
  2. This will be a bit tricky and you will need to wiggle the edges of the cake and prise up the edges to loosen.
  3. The cakes are soaked with milk so they will not just fall out easily.
  4. A bit of patience and delicate handling is all that's needed.
  5. The parchment is important so don't forget to line the pan!
  6. Once you've taken out the first cake, place it on a cake plate.
  7. Spread the macerated strawberries and the juices over the bottom layer.
  8. Make it quite flat and even but don't take it too far to the edge.
  9. Jiggle out the second cake and place on top of the strawberries.
  10. If a bit of cake gets stuck and remains in the pan, it's not a big deal.
  11. It's soft enough to paste back onto the cake and spread out.
  12. You can do a crumb coat with a little frosting or you can take thick globs of it and spread it around.
  13. The cake is not too crumbly but some parts tend to get stuck to the spatula.
  14. I suggest taking big globs of the frosting and spreading it on the top first and then working the sides.
  15. Always use a lot of frosting, the crumbs will stick if you're using too little.
  16. Smooth out or leave it rustic looking with swirls and peaks.
  17. Decorate the top with more fresh berries and mint leaves if desired.
  18. Refrigerate until serving.
  19. It is normal for some milk to seep out when the cake has been sitting in the fridge for a while.
Notes
This cake can be baked in a 9 x13 (24cm x 33 cm) glass dish but reduce the temperature to 325F. This won't have any filling but you can serve the fruit on the side or use it as a topping. You probably won't need all the frosting either.
Tres Leches CakeSo, here is my contribution to Mother’s Day. I will try and work on catching that ball so I can better represent some holidays here! Next up will be the Islamic month of Ramadan that will be here at the end of June. There’s always good eats during Ramadan which is interesting considering it’s a month of fasting!

I will wish all the mums out there a very Happy Mother’s day for Sunday and especially to all the new moms celebrating their first Mother’s Day. 

Have a wonderful weekend with your mothers and your loved ones.