Sweet Recipes

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Strawberry Cheesecake Recipe Recipe

Strawberry Cheesecake Recipe

05.08.10 by Jackie

As I mentioned yesterday, the girls are planning to prepare a scrumptious meal for Mother's Day. My mother-in-law has a sweet tooth, so we decided to surprise her with a homemade strawberry cheesecake. Well, it will be a surprise as long as she doesn’t read this!

This is not your average cheesecake. The crust is made with macaroons and the filling is flavored with both coconut extract and fresh strawberries. My cousin Tri just brought a giant case of strawberries he hand-picked himself with his wife at a “you pick’em” farm in Brentwood. The strawberries were rich in color and flavor. If the strawberries you have aren't very flavorful, you could add a few teaspoons of strawberry extract to reinforce the flavor. We taste-tested the cheesecakes this afternoon and it was a big thumbs-up. Even my little sis-in-law who's allergic to egg yolks could have some, which was quite a treat for her.

In addition to the heart-shaped cheesecake, the girls had the idea to finish the decoration by cutting the fresh strawberry halves into a heart. Isn’t it adorable?


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Buttermilk Cherry Scones Recipe

Buttermilk Cherry Scones

05.04.10 by Jackie

Scones are sort of like a sweetened version of biscuits. I used buttermilk to wet the dough, as you would for biscuits, but I then added dried cherries for sweetness. You don’t want the scones to be as sugary as French pastries, because scones are typically eaten with jam. I spent most of my childhood vacations in Great Britain, and what I remember most is how wonderful English breakfast and tea time food was. Between the wonderful tea selections, orange marmalade and scones, I can't recall better breakfast fare anywhere else.

This weekend I felt like introducing my little 5-year-old munchkin to the scones I enjoyed in my childhood. She helped me measure everything, all the while proudly spelling out loud every single ingredient while nibbling on the extra dried cherries. She's in kindergarten and is so eager to learn. Cooking with children is a great way to give them a little knowledge about food, while at the same time introducing them to spelling and a little bit of math. Teaching small children how to read and count should be kept fun and lighthearted, and I can’t think of a better way to do so.


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Pandan Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe Recipe

Pandan cookies always intrigue the guests who come to our house. The green color from the pandan paste makes the cookies very original, and after the first bite, our guests are amazed at how great they taste. Daddy's friend, who lives in Minnesota, loved them so much that I decided to send a basket of two dozen cookies to him as a care package.

When I was a child, Maman would use pandan leaves to flavor steamed jasmine rice. It's also used in many Vietnamese desserts, such a rau câu. That inspired me to try using pandan in Western dessert recipes.

I often fuse the ingredients of one cooking tradition with the recipes of another. It’s a great way to create new dishes. In fact, the very first recipe posted on PhamFatale.com was for pandan cookies. In that recipe, I used pistachios and white chocolate chips. Both are great, but I think the cocoa in semi-sweet chocolate pairs especially well with pandan. Changing ingredients and coming up with new dishes is a big part of the culinary journey I've been sharing with you for a year and a half. After all, that's what cooking is all about. The history of cooking is really the history of the migration of people from one place to another. As they traveled, they adopted and adapted the local cuisine, creating many of the classic dishes we enjoy today. I hope you enjoy my small contribution to this tradition.


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Dragon Fruit Salad Recipe

Dragon Fruit Salad

04.27.10 by Jackie

Dragon fruit (trái thanh long in Vietnamese) is an exotic fruit that has a very unusual appearance. The outer skin has a fuchsia color with green leaves and the flesh is white with seeds that are reminiscent of kiwi. The texture of dragon fruit is creamy and it has a subtle aroma of banana and ripe, soft pear. When fully ripened, the skin peels off as it would from an avocado.

I made a very simple fruit salad, using the Vietnamese Jaina dragon fruit variety, spearmint from our garden and agave nectar. The agave enhances the sweetness, and the mint lends a nice contrast of color and flavor. I served the fruit salad during a dinner party. Everyone was intrigued by the fruit, so it did double duty as a conversation starter.

If you ever travel to an Asian country, don't forget to ask for dragon fruit or pitaya. The last time I had dragon fruit was on my trip to Vietnam. I had no idea that this particular tropical fruit was cultivated in America. A couple of weeks ago I found it in an Asian market in San Jose. The salesperson told me dragon fruits are now grown in Florida, due to its humid and warm weather, which is similar to Vietnam. Quite honestly, the ones grown in the US are good but the ones in Vietnam are just exquisite and so much more flavorful. No sweetener necessary!

Dragon Fruit Picture


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Meyer Lemon Sorbet Recipe Recipe

Meyer Lemon Sorbet Recipe

04.23.10 by Jackie

Sorbet is a very easy sweet treat to make. All you need is the right equipment to create the frozen dessert. I gathered the last crop of Meyer lemons from the garden and thought it would be nice to make a gourmet sorbet, adding ginger. Because it doesn't contain any fat or custard, sorbet takes a lot longer to churn and it tends to melt very easily. Often alcohol is added to the mix because it lowers the freezing point and keeps the product softer. I wanted to make the dessert kid-friendly, so after experimenting with stabilizers in my new eggless ranch dressing recipe, I decided to use the same combination of xanthan gum and lecithin in the sorbet. The result is an incredibly velvety texture that coats your tongue in a way that ice by itself just can't.

To add a contrast of color and texture to the sorbet, I paired it with blueberries sweetened with agave nectar. This is a tasty, yet healthy way to end any meal. Enjoy!


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