Mango Key Lime Pie

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Mango Key Lime Pie 25

How much do I wish I was visiting my parents right now?  They’ve been in Florida since January, and they always offer to fly us down there every year when they go for a nice sunny break.  Unfortunately the university here doesn’t offer that Reading Week in February that most Canadian universities do.  Instead we get three days off, and then two days of midterms.  So leaving the country right now is out.  I did, however, see this recipe in the Globe and Mail and figured if I can’t be in Long Boat Key right now I can at least have some Key Lime Pie. Even if it doesn’t actually involve Key limes.

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I’m a huge fan of lime pies, and I’ve made two attempts to make my own.  They aren’t pretty, but they’re sure tasty. This recipe avoids the issue of having to deal with Canadian-sized cans of condensed milk (by adding mango as thickener), which means I can go ahead and only make one pie this time.  I also don’t have to grate and juice all those tiny key limes, which is a bonus for me.  I really hate doing that.

Mango Key Lime Pie 1

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

In a 9″ pie pan, stir together 1 cup graham-cracker crumbs (I’ve used Oreo crumbs before as well, and it’s delicious, and I bet Nilla crumbs would also work), 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, and 1/3 cup shredded coconut (adds a nice texture to the crust). Melt 5 tablespoons unsalted butter and drizzle that over the top.

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Stir it all up with a fork and press it down into the pan and up the sides to form your crust.  Bake that for 10 minutes.

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Let that cool on a wire rack while you’re making the filling, and leave your oven on. If the crust has puffed up during baking (which it probably has), just pat it down again with the fork.

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Ignore the pie filling on the right that you haven’t gotten around to making just yet.

Take 1 medium-sized very ripe mango, peel it, cut it into pieces, and smash it up in a blender.

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Like, so ripe that when you put it down on something it leaves lines in the skin. We’re talking MOOSHY.

Take 1/2 cup of the mango purée and put it into a bowl (you’re supposed to save the rest for smoothies or something but I just chucked it all in, to be honest).

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Mango puree on the left, lime juice on the right. I did everything out of order.

Add in 1/2 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice (this is like the equivalent of 2-3 juicy limes).  I grated one of my limes before juicing and added that zest in as well.

Mango Key Lime Pie 2

Also chuck in 1 300mL can of condensed milk.  Sorry to all you folks who use 400mL cans.  You’re just going to have to figure something else out.  Or chuck in the rest of the can (which is what I would do — screw leftovers).  And when I say chuck the can in I mean chuck the CONTENTS of the can in.  Recycle that can.

Separate 4 eggs and plop 4 egg yolks into the mix as well.  I am going to use the whites to make meringue cookies to serve with the pie.  Because I’m that awesome.

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Stir what’s in that bowl until it’s smooth and lovely.  You’ll notice it’s not green.  Key lime pie is not supposed to be green.  Don’t let anybody tell you different.

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Pour that lovely smooth substance into your pie crust and bake for a further 15 minutes.  It’s still going to be rather un-solid in the middle but it will set as the pie chills.  Put the baked pie on a wire rack until it’s cool enough to chuck in the fridge.  Then refrigerate the thing for at least eight hours, and up to three days.  Honestly, try to wait that long to cut into it.  The longer you wait, the more solid your pie will be.  I promise.

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Serve cold with a dollop of whipped cream or meringue cookie.  Mmmm.  Tastes like summer.

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Dulce de Leche Cheesecake

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Would you believe me if I told you that I have never made a cheesecake before?  It’s true.  I told Fussellette that the other day and she nearly drove off the road.  Oh sure, I’ve made one of those no-bake “cheese cake” confections, and something wrapped in pastry, but it’s not the same.

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But I had all those gluten-free almond cookies still lying around — remember, the ones that were dry as a bone?  I figured the best use for them would be to make them into nice stale crumbs, and maybe chuck them in a cheesecake.  And so my first experience with cheesecake began.

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I went to the Kraft website and picked up the recipe there, because the makers of cream cheese seemed to have the recipe at its most simplest, with fewest additions, and that’s the way I like things to be.  This recipe needs only condensed milk, sugar, eggs, butter, cream cheese, and cookie crumbs.  And my cellphone, because that’s where I access my recipes while I wait for my new computer to arrive (the old one died in a horrible, agonizingly slow way).

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Start by preheating your oven to 425°F.  In a 9″ pie pan, pour the contents of one 300mL can of condensed milk.

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Cover it with foil and set it in a larger baking dish.  Pour in some boiling water so that the milk is in a nice water bath.  Bake that sucker for an hour.

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I may have forgotten to check mine and overcooked it.  But whatever.  I like the spots.  Adds texture.  Remove the milk from the water bath and whisk it up until it’s smooth.  Voila, dulce de leche.  You can also just buy this from a store if you wish.

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Pull out 1/2 cup of the sauce and put it aside to cool, probably about an hour.  Refrigerate the rest once it’s cool.

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When your sauce is cool (or at the very least, just slightly warm), preheat your oven again to 350°F this time.  Spray the inside of a springform pan with cooking spray.

Melt 1/4 cup butter and mix it with 1 1/4 cups cookie crumbs.  Press those into the bottom of the springform pan.

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In the bowl of a mixer, combine 3 (250g) packages room temperature plain cream cheese with 1/2 cup sugar, and beat until well-combined.  Remember that the warmer your cream cheese is, the less lumpy it will be.

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Take the 1/2 cup of dulce de leche sauce and add that to the cream cheese mix.  With the mixer on low, add in 3 eggs, one at a time, and mix until just combined.

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Pour into the springform pan and shake gently to level the top and loosen any bubbles.

Bake that puppy for 40-45 minutes, or until the centre is almost set.  It’s very important not to open the oven door during baking, as the sudden temperature change could cause the thing to crack.  Of course, the Pie didn’t know this and tossed in a piece of pizza to heat up.  I wouldn’t let him take it out again, and so he had to wait 16 minutes for his now extra crispy slice and I was formally allowed to blame any cracks in the cheesecake firmly on him.

Fussellette tells me you should cool your cheesecake in the oven, just like you do with meringues.  I put mine in a draftless room, which is what the recipe said.  It still cracked, but I’m going to blame that on the Pie.  While it’s cooling, make sure to run a knife around the edges to loosen it. Leave it in the pan until it’s totally cool, and then refrigerate it for at least an hour before serving.

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Before serving, warm up the extra dulce de leche sauce and drizzle it over top.  I am too lazy to keep reheating it every time I want a slice so I just poured mine over the top in a nice little circle.  So very tasty!

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The Pie’s I’m-Turning-Old Ice Cream Birthday Cake, with Fudge Sauce

Hakan Ice Cream Cake

I will let you in on the worst-kept secret in our family: Saturday was the Pie’s thirtieth birthday.  He’s finally as old as me and will (hopefully) shut up about my aging process.

Hakan Ice Cream Cake
The Pie’s birth flower is the delphinium. That peony just happened to be there.

Now, for me, being born the week before March Break, as a child I often celebrated more than one birthday.  There was my actual birthday, then there was one when my grandparents came to visit the following week, and then maybe one with my friends from school.  Through no fault of my own, this happened consistently through to my adulthood, just little low-key celebrations dotting a week of aging, with maybe a cake at the end of it.  For the Pie it’s a bit different. Because he was born in the summer, all of his friends were out of school and so he generally had one big bash to celebrate his big day.  Needless to say, since we became broke and moved to Newfoundland, his expectations have taken a hit.  Fortunately, Papa John and Mrs. Nice are in town, so we can make it a bit of a party.

Hakan Ice Cream Cake
One of his “big boy” gifts: a sweatshirt designed to look like Optimus Prime. If you zip the hood all the way up it forms Prime’s large blue head, with mesh eyeholes. It wouldn’t zip over the Pie’s rather prominent nose.

As a rule (because we’re broke), we don’t exchange gifts, but on our birthdays, the other makes the celebrant a cake.  Last year, I made the Pie that disastrous leaning tower of chocolate.  This year I thought I would try for something a little more refreshing, given that it is summer, after all: ice cream cake!  Having watched several of the bloggers I read try and fail at this feat last summer (Caroline, I’m thinking of you!), I think I know what NOT to do, so here goes …

Start with a springform pan.  The fact that you can dismantle it means that getting the cake out when you’re done won’t be that hard.

Now you need some ice cream flavours.  One of our favourite restaurants in St. John’s, Get Stuffed, used to have this boozy ice cream cake, where the three layers of ice cream were flavoured with various liqueurs.  It.  Was.  Fabulous.  So I’m going to try to recreate that, but with a little less booze.  Just a little less.

Hakan Ice Cream Cake

I’m using ice creams I made from scratch, but you can use store-bought ice cream that has been softened.  The first layer, at the top of the cake, is raspberry (you can see the recipe here, though this time I used cognac instead of vinegar!).  Simply spoon 2 or 3 cups of softened ice cream into the bottom of the pan and smooth it out.  In retrospect, I should have frozen the empty pan before plopping the ice cream in it, because just-churned ice cream on a hot day has a habit of melting, and this seeped through the edges of the pan a bit before it re-froze.  No big deal, just something to remember for next time.

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You might also want to scrape down the sides a bit, just so residual ice cream doesn’t interfere with the look of the following layer.

Hakan Ice Cream Cake

This cake took a couple of days to make, because each ice cream mixture needs to sit in the fridge overnight before you churn and freeze it, but that gave each layer ample time to get nice and solid before I added the next one.

Hakan Ice Cream Cake

The middle layer is vanilla, and the Pie loves his vanilla ice cream, so I used the best recipe possible.

Hakan Ice Cream Cake

Because the pan was frozen and the ice cream underneath was frozen, it was an easy job to smooth on this layer.

Hakan Ice Cream Cake

Then a chocolate layer.  Neither the Pie nor I are particularly fond of chocolate ice cream, but I have never seen an ice cream cake, especially one with a fudge layer, without it, so it had to go in.

Hakan Ice Cream Cake

You will be able to see the recipe here on Wednesday.

Hakan Ice Cream Cake

So, with that all frozen, I could work on my chocolate fudge layer, which, in my opinion, was always the best part of the store-bought ice cream cake.  Fudge sauce recipes abound on the internet, but I was looking for something with a bit of substance, something that would take well to freezing, and this one from The Foodess seemed perfect.  She even said it went well in ice cream cakes.

Making it was super easy, too, which I like.  I did it on the stove, but The Foodess recommends working with the microwave, so that should tell you how easy it is.

In a small saucepan with a thick bottom, pour 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup powdered cocoa, and 1/2 cup heavy cream or milk (I used homogenized milk here).

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Heat, stirring often, until the sugar dissolves, and bring the mixture to a boil, all of which should take about 3 minutes.

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Add in 4 tablespoons butter and cook for another few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens.  You might want to turn the heat down a little bit, so that the sauce doesn’t burn.

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Remove the sauce from the heat, add in 1 teaspoon vanilla and a pinch of salt and you’re all done.  Wasn’t that easy?

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Let that cool before smoothing it onto your final ice cream layer. Mine was in the fridge overnight and so I just stuck it in the microwave for a minute to soften it up a bit.

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Hakan Ice Cream Cake

It slathered onto the frozen chocolate layer quite nicely.

Hakan Ice Cream Cake

Then you want a crumb crust.  You can use Oreo crumbs, but I also had some leftover pieces from some particularly crumbly gluten-free brownies that were in the freezer, so I pulsed them in the food processor and used them instead, which meant that everything in the cake was made from scratch (you gotta put in the extra effort sometimes).

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As an aside, I also broke my mini food processor doing this — not because of the density of the brownies, but through my own mishandling of the situation.  Alas.Hakan Ice Cream Cake

Smooth the crumbs over the fudge layer.

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Right to the edge. Yes, I licked the fudge off my finger later.

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Press that stuff down and re-freeze for a couple of hours.

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To serve, run a bit of hot water around the edges of the springform pan and release the cake, flipping it upside down onto a plate (make sure it’s a plate with a lip, otherwise the cake will dribble everywhere as it melts).

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I used an icing scraper to texturize the sides and scrape away dribbles from other flavours that ruined the effect.

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Then I used a fondant smoother to get rid of the weird melty marks on the top.

Hakan Ice Cream Cake

You can decorate it any way you want, but the Pie is a huge Street Fighter fan and he plays the character of Hakan, a Turkish oil wrestler.  So I bought some teal and white icing from Sobeys and put a stylized version of his face on the cake, as his skin is almost the same colour as the raspberry ice cream (okay so now not everything is made from scratch. Sue me).

Hakan Ice Cream Cake

Hakan Ice Cream Cake

Cover the cake with plastic wrap or seal in a container and store in the freezer when you’re not eating it.

Tofu Feature Month: Dark Chocolate Mousse

Tofu Chocolate Mousse

Who says that tofu only belongs on the savoury side of life?

This chocolate dessert is quick and easier than doing it the hard way.

The original recipe I had called for carob powder, but I didn’t have any, so I chopped up dark chocolate and melted it instead.  I figured it would make a smoother treat that way.

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In a blender, combine 1 package soft silken tofu, 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/2 melted dark chocolate, and 1/2 cup soy milk.  Add between 2 and 6 tablespoons of sugar (I did 2, the recipe I had called for 6, and that seemed like a lot).  Blend that until it’s smooth.  It might take some stirring to dislodge pockets of cocoa powder.

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Pour into parfait cups or layer in a tall glass.  I tried to layer with marshmallows, but of course they floated when I tried to pour more chocolate on top. Yes, I am an idiot.

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And the fresh raspberries I put on top sank.

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Chill until firm(er) and serve.

To be honest, I was not a fan of this dessert.  Firstly, it was most decidedly not a mousse — that frothy, floating concoction that I know and love.  This was more like a heavy pudding.  And the smoothness of the tofu did nothing to hide the chalky feeling of undissolved cocoa powder sliding down my gullet.  It tasted fine, but the texture was all wrong.  In this case, I would stick with real dairy and straight chocolate.

Tofu Chocolate Mousse