rhubarb beignets

This recipe is my ode to two people I heart.

Marysol Foucault (Edgar & Odile) and Patricia Larkin (aka Trish) (The Black Cat Bistro).

I heart them both.

Marysol will sometimes just send me a link to a blog or a recipe with a note that says “i thought of you”.  As a girl who loves loves LOVES food – especially baked goods – it’s like getting a virtual hug.

I’ve been hanging out with Trish a lot recently … she’s taught a few LCBO food events and I’ve been her assistant … I just heart being able to listen to her talk food and share her ideas and her tips to people.  Plus she shares her recipes (and is as equally in love with Downton Abbey as I am).  Loves it! 

So … you might wonder … how does a rhubarb beignet recipe become an ode to two people?

Easy!

Marysol introduced me to, and makes, the MOST INCREDIBLE lemon beignet in the ENTIRE world.  That’s right people.  Edgar, in Gatineau, Québec has the greatest lemon beignet in the entire world.  And Trish introduced me to, and makes this insanely amazing rhubarb curd.  Rhubarb AND curd … LOVES. LOVES. LOVES.  Absolutely brilliant.

I decided that since I heart the two things (and people) so much … I needed to combine them.

Hence … the rhubarb beignet.  A light fluffy cupcake, stuffed with rhubarb curd, bathed in lemon juice and coated in cinnamon sugar.

DEE-LISH.  Seriously tartly delicious.  With a hint of sweetness.  I am totally in love with this recipe.

The rhubarb recipe is thanks to Trish and the cupcake recipe is thanks to Marysol (she also shared it when she appeared on must.love.food. the *lemon* episode).

rhubarb curd

ingredients:

3 c. chopped rhubarb
3/4 c. sugar handful of strawberries or raspberries for colour (optional – I have also used cranberries)
juice from 1 lemon
1/3 c. sugar
1/4 c. water
7 egg yolks
1/2 c. sugar
pinch of salt

Place the rhubarb, juice of the lemon, sugar and water in a small pot and simmer gently until the rhubarb is soft.  Keep an eye on your saucepan and stir the fruit from time to time … the first time I made this, the heat was a little high and the fruit stuck to the bottom of the pot.  Once cooked down and thickened, remove from heat and blend into a smooth purée.

Whisk egg yolks, sugar and salt in a bowl that can be used for a double boiler (either a glass or metal bowl).  Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water, whisking the egg mixture until warm.  Gradually add the rhubarb purée, stirring vigorously between each addition.

Once the consistency is rich and thick, remove from heat.  Put through a sieve immediately and cool with plastic wrap directly on top of the curd.  Set aside in the fridge while you bake the cupcakes.

Marysol’s basic cake recipe:
 
ingredients:
 
1 egg
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. oil
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 c. buttermilk
1 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
  
Heat your oven to 350 F.  Spray your muffin tin with non-stick spray … no need to use cupcake liners for this recipe. 

In a small bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, using a whisk attachment, beat the egg, sugar and oil.  Start at a low-speed and increase the speed, beating until the mixture is light and fluffy.  

In a measuring cup, mix the buttermilk and vanilla.  
 
Alternating between the flour and the milk mixtures, add them to the oil – egg – sugar batter (flour / milk / flour / milk / flour).
 
Increase the speed of the mixer once the flour is completely incorporated, creating a smooth batter.  Once smooth … stop mixing!

Spoon the batter into your muffin tins.  Bake for about 17 minutes for large cupcakes.

Once baked, remove the pan from the oven, and turn the muffins out onto a wire rack immediately.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes.

Time to pull out your rhubarb curd.  This is when I spoon it into a squeeze bottle.  A piping bag works too.  Basically … you just want something with a tip that you can stick into the bottom of your cupcake, allowing you to fill the centre with rhubarb curd.

Once the cupcakes are full of rhubarb curd love (that’s right … rhubarb curd is LOVE) … you need to bathe them in fresh lemon juice (I used 2 lemons for this … obviously this depends on how much juice your lemons yield).  Marysol taught me that the *best* way to do this is to put your hand into the lemon juice (palm side down); wet it, and then pat the entire cupcake surface with your wet hand.  The perfect amount of lemon juice gets soaked up … without overly saturating the cupcake.

Then roll the *lemon juiced* cupcakes in some cinnamon sugar.  The sugar will hold thanks to that lemon juice … plus it adds an extra zing to the cupcakes.

I heart these beignets.  Actually … I LOVE them.  I purposely didn’t use up all my rhubarb … I need to be able to make another batch of curd soon.  It’s just too good to resist.

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cranberry mini cheesecakes

Thanksgiving.

The time of year that makes me think … pumpkin. cinnamon. brown sugar. butter. toasted pecans.

But this post isn’t about any of those things.

Not at all.

This year my Thanksgiving turkey will be accompanied by these.

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cranberry – orange – white chocolate chip cheesecakes.

Mother of pearl that’s a real mouthful.

Oh yeah … I also tossed quinoa into the mix … just cuz. (actually I had some left over and thought it would add a nice little nutty flavour to the cheesecake base).

There’s a couple of reasons why I decided to go this route.

1. I heart cranberries. And they are in season. Add zest and juice of an orange and you’re kinda in cranberry heaven (chinese five spice would be super amazing too!).

2. Mini cheesecakes take all of 20 minutes to bake.

3. These are best baked ahead of time … so if you’re cooking a turkey on Sunday … bake these on Saturday night. Cheesecake is best when it’s rested overnight. A make-ahead dessert is perfect for entertaining!

4. People are going to LOVE the creaminess of these cheesecakes. They aren’t too heavy either.

5. The cookie base that I use is simply MY personal preference … feel free to use graham crackers or even gingersnaps. Both would work.

Now I’ve gone from being the girl who *doesn’t really care for* and *never bakes* cheesecakes to … being really proud of my recipe. It’s actually become one of my *go to* recipes whenever I need to make something nice and quick. Plus … you don’t have to use cranberries. I’ve used the same base recipe and made peanut butter, roasted banana and chocolate cheesecakes. I’ve made mint oreo cheesecakes. Marbled cheesecakes. Lemon cheesecakes. Passionfruit cheesecakes.

It kinda looks like all I do is bake cheesecake!

I think once you try this recipe … you’ll understand why I keep going back. Simple and painless. And oh so delightful!

*bakers note … you should ALWAYS make your cheesecake filling when your ingredients are at room temperature.  So if you’re going to make the cookies – take the cheesecake filling ingredients out when you start on the cookies, and make the filling once you are baking the cookies … 3 hours later (this recipe requires the cookie batter chilling for 3 hours prior to baking).

Here’s my recipe.  Like I said … no worries if you decide not to make the cookies first … but they sure are good cookies.  And you get so many out of the batch that you’ll be able to nibble on one or two while making the cheesecakes :0)

cranberry – orange – white chocolate chip cheesecakes

orange – white chocolate chip cookies

*adapted from Baked Elements

ingredients:

2 1/4 c. flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 c. butter, room temperature

1 c. firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 c. white sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 tbsp orange juice

about 2 c. white chocolate chips

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In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda.  Set aside.

Grab your stand mixer and paddle attachment.  Beat the butter and sugars together on medium speed – you want to let this go for about 5 minutes: smooth, creamy and pale is the goal.  Scrape down the sides (and the bottom of the bowl!) … this is uber important.  Otherwise you might end up with air pockets of sugar when you bake your cookies.

Add the eggs, one at a time, again scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition.  At this point, your batter is looking pretty darn fluffy.  Perfect!  Add the vanilla and orange juice.  Beat until just incorporated.

Add half the flour mixture and beat for 15 seconds.  You’ll see what I mean … the flour will be just mixing in … add the remaining flour and beat until incorporated.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Once you’re ready to bake …

Heat your oven to 350 F.  Line a couple cookies sheets with parchment paper.  You can make these cookies whatever size you like … mine were about 2 tbsp large – and so I baked them for 12 minutes.

You’ll know they’re ready because … well … you’ll smell them.  Mother of pearl!  They smell good!  But as a visual guide – the tops of the cookies should be slightly golden and a little puffed.  Remove from the oven, allow to sit on the cookie sheet for a further 5 minutes and then cool completely on a wire rack.

Watch out!  These cookies spread.  So don’t place them too closely together on the cookie sheet.

Once they are all baked … grab a couple to nibble on … and set the rest aside.  It’s time to start making your cheesecake filling.

mini cranberry cheesecakes

ingredients:

cranberry purée:

1 package cranberries, fresh or frozen

1 orange, zest & juice

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the cranberries with the zest and juice of a large orange.  Bring the ingredients to a boil … the cranberries will start to pop.  Decrease the heat and allow everything to simmer.  Once the cranberries start to break apart and thickens … remove from heat and purée in your food processor.  Set aside.

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cheesecake filling:

*bakers note:  you should get 24 cupcake sized cheesecakes out of this recipe.  If you would like to opt for half the recipe – I use 1 egg and 1 egg yolk, halving the rest of the ingredients.  It works like a charm.

two 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, room temperature

3/4 c. sugar

3 eggs, room temperature

1 egg yolk, room temperature

1 1/2 c. sour cream, room temperature

2 tsp vanilla

good pinch of salt

Grab that food processor … that’s the secret to a super airy cheesecake.

In the bowl of your food processor, pulse the cream cheese and sugar until smooth.  This shouldn’t take very long.  Then add the eggs and egg yolk, one at a time.  Pulse and scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Add the sour cream, vanilla and salt.  Pulse again until completely incorporated.  Set aside.

base:

2 dozen orange white chocolate chip cookies (see recipe above)

1/2 c. cooked quinoa (optional) (I used extra quinoa that had been toasted, then cooked in a vanilla pod, cinnamon stick broth – as per my carob chip almond butter quinoa cookie recipe)

1/2 c. butter, melted

Grab your food processor.  Yes … you need it again!

First – pulse the cookies until they resemble a fine crumb.  Then, add the cooked quinoa and the melted butter and pulse until it all comes together.  Add the butter slowly … you don’t want the cookie base to be too oily … you want the crumbs to stick together, but not leak butter.

Remove the base from the food processor and grab your muffin tins.  Line the bottom of cupcake liners with this mixture (about 1 large tablespoon worth) and set aside.

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I find the best way to pour this into the muffin tins is either to put it in a measuring cup with a lip … or in a squeeze bottle.  Pour (or squeeze) the filling on-top of the orange – white chocolate chip cookie base … fill them pretty much right up to the top!  Then grab the cranberry purée and spoon about 1 tsp into the middle of each cheesecake.  You can use a toothpick to spread it out … or just leave it as is.

Bake in a 350 F oven for 20 minutes.  You’ll know they are ready when you gently shake the muffin pan and the cheesecakes don’t move in the centre.  Also … they will be nice and puffed in the middle.  Remove from heat and allow to cool in the muffin tin on a wire rack.

The middle might sink a little at this point.  Don’t worry about it!  Top with some fresh berries … or some toasted pecans.  I promise no one will mind.