Recipe #21: Pastel de Tres Leches

Not for the lactose intolerant!

Since having a variation of this cake at Las Iguanas in the UK, I’ve been in love and lusting after it, so imagine my excitement at the prospect of getting to produce this in my own kitchen!

I’m really surprised I wasn’t more turned off by a dish whose title basically translates to ‘Cake of Three Milks’ in English. Three milks?? I barely can stomach 1 milk! But, I don’t know, somehow the thought of eating 3 milks (and the fact that over half the population of my home is lactose intolerant) didn’t prove a strong enough deterrent; alas the allure of  melt in your mouth sponge drenched in rich rum-y caramel-y sauce was too strong to resist.

We at sistersizzle thank the Pioneer Woman for helping us brave this previously uncharted territory. Now defiant and intrepid, we shall no longer fear this land flowing with milk and… honey? Though we may not very soon return to this sweet but hostile territory (read earlier comment about lactose intolerance), we proudly plant our flag, just like we plunged our forks, into the cake’s inviting body, and each time we stare upon it’s fluttering face we shall boast, triumphant, “we caved (to the temptation), we sampled (in large unapologetic chunks), we conquered (our crippling hesitance to ingest copious amounts of dairy)!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Recipe #20: Crème BrĂ»lĂ©e

Of all the recipes we’ve done this year, this one made me feel like a ‘real’ chef, so much so that I felt that a video was the only way to share how fun and easy it was to put the finishing touches on this dessert. Notice how the sugar melts slowly into a hard shell.

As the title of this post shows, we made Crème Brûlée : a soft vanilla flavored custard with a hard caramelized sugar top. The custard recipe is pretty straightforward but what makes this dish memorable is the layer of caramelized sugar on top, done with a broiler or a hand torch.

I followed a recipe published by The Pioneer Woman, which turned out to be quite large. With, 4 cups of heavy cream, 1tsp vanilla extract, 10 egg yolks and 3/4 cup of sugar, I made more than 10 servings!

The up side to using such a large recipe was that I was able to use the torch on multiple custard servings – trying out white sugar, brown sugar and a mix of both. Overall the brown sugar quickly melted into circular clumps whereas the white sugar caramelized flat onto the surface and colored nicely but they did take a much longer time to do so. Take a look at the differences :

Caramelized White Sugar
Caramelized Brown Sugar
Brown Sugar Brown Sugar after a bit or torching Clumped Burnt Sugar on the custard

While torching these custards, a small flame would occasionally leap from the top of the custard! This surprised me as I had never seen this happen in any of the cooking videos I watched. However even these burnt sections of the shell, with its bitter taste complemented the custard quite nicely.

As often happens when you buy bananas, I had a few over-ripe onces left over and decided to use it in the custard mix. Here is the play by play, which up until the use of the blow torch reminded me a lot of weekend we made home made ice cream.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Now, I am on the look out for other recipes that use a hand torch like Baked Alaska, meringues and more. Stay tuned!

P.S. For those of you like me who were a bit apprehensive about using a flame emitting device for the first time, I found this video quite helpful :

I bought a different culinary torch brand but the setup and usage steps were identical and I appreciated the step by step instructions on how to fuel and use the cooking torch safely. Apparently, you can use this torch for other things like jewelry making. Hmm…

Recipe #19: Braised Beef and Eggplant Cous Cous

I’ve never had to look back at a recipe so many times for ANY dish I’ve EVER made… I kept wondering, “Did I forget something? Did I miss a step?”.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For all my excitement to cook this dish, it was surprisingly short-lived. I was disappointed that the flavour wasn’t more… memorable. After labouring for hours over it, I’d hoped it would taste less like a simple stew and more exotic; something different from the day to day!

The sweet, crisp coleslaw we used to top this dish ended up being its only salvation.

While I’m glad we tried it, I’m not sure we’ll be trying it again any time soon!

Recipe #18: Peach Cobbler

We’ve been waiting to do this one for a loooooooong time! This sweet, pleasant dessert is a summertime classic but as the long hot days of summer give way to the crisp cool breezes of fall, it seems peach cobbler does well to help ease us through the transition.

This cobbler was a piece of cake to make and was  definitely a crowd-pleaser here at home! Chef John’s recipe couldn’t have been easier to follow and his ‘secret ingredient’, Chinese five spice, was just the thing to kick this dish up a notch! Invest in this product people!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The dish we used was deeper than the one Chef john’s uses in his video but all that meant was slightly less crust and slightly more custard-y, pudding-y, peach-y filling; no one seemed to mind! A scoop of vanilla bean ice-cream and a dash of cinnamon on top completed the look, and helped make for a dessert than can best be described as juuuust peachy! =)