Candied Guava Shells in Syrup (casquitos de guayaba)
These will keep refrigerated in the syrup for a few weeks. Serve with "queso blanco," or slightly salty cream cheese as dessert or use in savory recipes. Goes especially well with pork.
4 fresh guava fruit
8 cups of cold water
8 cups of granulated sugar
1 tablespoon of red food coloring
1 tablespoon of almond or vanilla extract
1. Wash and trim the ends of the guava fruit, then peel as thinly as possible. Cut in half and scoop out the seedy pulp. Reserve the pulp and peels for later (you will use these to make the flan).
2. Combine the sugar and water in a large heavy saucepot and place over high heat.
3. When the mixture starts to boil, add the extract and food coloring and stir thoroughly.
4. Add the guava shells and allow to boil for 10 to 15 minutes on each side. They will start to soften and collapse into themselves. Test by pressing gently with a spoon. If they fold easily, then they are ready.
5. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a glass bowl. Top with the remaining syrup and allow to cool completely at room temperature.
To store, transfer to an air-tight container and cover with syrup. These will keep at room temp for a few days and in the fridge even longer. They can also be canned following proper procedure.
Midnight Guava Flan
Pulp & rind of four fresh guava fruit
2 or 3 candied guava shells (recipe above or can be purchased canned)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 cups heavy cream
2 vanilla beans, split and scraped or two tablespoons of Mexican vanilla extract
3 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
A pinch of salt
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F and set a pot of water (for the bain marie) on the stove to boil.
1. To make the caramel: have ready a round flan mold or deep dish pie plate. Place 1 cup of sugar in Combine 1 cup of the sugar in the center of a skillet and add the water on top. Do NOT stir. Place over medium high heat and let cook until the sugar begins to melt and turn slightly amber colored. (about 5 minutes). Swirl the pan (Do NOT stir) to combine the bits of uncooked sugar. Once completely melted, remove from heat and add lemon juice. Swirl again (No stirring) and then immediately poor into your mold. Swirl the dish so that the caramel completely covers the bottom.
2. In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, guava pulp and rinds, and vanilla beans over a medium-low flame. Let the cream simmer, stirring occasionally to blend the pulp in and all the while taking care to not let it come to a full boil (it’ll boil over and make a terrible mess. Even worse, you’ll lose lots of delicious cream!) Strain the mixture completely to remove the seeds, peel, and vanilla beans. Note that it will be a little bit thick from the natural fruit pectins. If too thick, feel free to add a bit of cream to thin. It should be just thick enough to coat the back of the spoon.
3. In a large bowl, cream together the eggs and yolks with the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and the pinch of salt, until the mixture is pale yellow and thick.
4. Temper the egg mixture by gradually whisking in the hot cream mixture. Take care to not add it all in quickly or your eggs will scramble. Pass the mixture through a strainer a second time to keep the consistency as smooth as possible.
5. Pour the custard into the caramel-coated mold and let sit for 20 minutes to an hour to let the foam and bubbles settle (the longer it sits, the fewer bubbles).
6. To prepare the bain marie (water bath): Open your oven and pull out the middle rack. Set a large roasting pan large enough to contain the flan mold in the center of the rack (I actually use a cake pan inside a large cast iron skillet). Place your mold in the center and then fill the water so that it comes up about halfway up the side of the mold (watch that none spills into the custard). Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, until the custard is just set (it will jiggle a little). Remove from the oven and let cool in the water bath. Once cool, cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours (or overnight!).
7. When you are ready to serve, run a wet butter knife around the inside of the mold to loosen from the sides. Place a dessert plate on top of the flan mold and with one hand firmly on each side, flip quickly. The flan should slide out easily and the caramel will melt over the sides.
8. Top with two or three candied guava shells and drizzle a circle of guava syrup around the outside of the dessert.
Enjoy (preferably not alone...)
Italian Rainbow Cookie Cake
1 cup butter (2 sticks) softened
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs, separated
8 oz almond paste. (1 can, please note that this is different than marzipan)
1 tube marzipan (Which is different than almond paste...)
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups of sifted flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
red and green food coloring
1/4 cup seedless raspberry jam
1/4 cup apricot preserves
1 cup heavy cream
12 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped (or you can use chips in a pinch)
2 13×9x2 inch pans, buttered and floured
1. In electric mixer, blend almond paste, butter, sugar, yolks and extract until fluffy.
2. Sift together flour and baking powder, then slowly add to almond paste mix.
3. In another bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold meringue into paste mixture until fully combined (the mix will be a bit sticky).
4. Separate the mixture evenly into two bowls and dye each batch a different color.
5. Spread mixture evenly into the pans and bake each separately at 350 degrees for approximately 15 to 20 minutes. You’ll know they are ready once the edges start to brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
6. While cooling, divide the marzipan in half and roll out two rectangle-shaped sheets on parchment or wax paper, approximately 8x6 inches each.
Assembling the cake:
1. Cut each sheet in half, so you have four evenly-sized cakes. (You can trim at the end so don’t worry if it’s not absolutely perfect.)
2. Start with a green cake and spread completely with raspberry jam. Feel free to spread as thinly or thickly as you like (I'm all in favor of thick!). Spread raspberry on green cake. Top with a layer of marzipan followed by a red cake. Top red cake with a layer of apricot followed by the second green cake. Top the green with another layer of raspberry and the second sheet of marzipan. Top with the final red cake.
3. Use a serrated knife to trim the edges of the entire cake and even out into a perfect rectangle. Brush off crumbs. (These extra bits are fantastic toasted with a bit of butter on a skillet or tossed into a bread pudding recipe. Or you can just eat them while watching television, like I did...)
4. Prepare the ganache by heating 1 cup of heavy cream in a small saucepan. Take care to not let it boil. Add the chocolate and stir continuously until melted completely. Remove from flame and mix in a dab of butter for a bit of extra shine. Continue stirring in concentric movements to cool. It will be ready when the chocolate is just slightly warmer than your lip. (Dab a bit on the inside of your lip—if it’s just slightly warmer then you’re good to go. If it burns, then I’m sorry... ;)
5.Pour this over the entire cake and let cool.
The contest nitty gritty:
The Culinate Death by Chocolate Contest sends one reader, and one food blogger, on a trip for two to Napa Valley to attend the Copia Center’s annual Death by Chocolate Festival on Feburary 23, 2008, featuring a day of chocolate and wine tasting, demonstrations by pastry chefs, and other sessions with chocolate aficionados and experts.
The contest will include daily drawings for cookbooks, additional festival tickets, and Valentine chocolates.
The winner among readers will be chosen at random from all entries. Readers will vote for their favorite blog posts, and the winning food blogger will be selected by a panel of judges from the top 10 reader favorites.
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