Category Archives: Miniature & individual desserts

Baked Damson Plums with Yogurt

baked_plumspSo simple and soooo good! I wish I could say this more often about the dishes I love… I made this improvised sweet treat last weekend after bringing a big bag of my favourite plums and was really surprised to discover how excellent such an easy and quick dessert turned out. The same recipe can be made with any stone fruit, but for me the oval violet damsons are by far the best choice: the tart skin gives them quite a complex taste, especially when combined with very ripe sweet flesh and makes them perfect for baking. Seasoned with cinnamon, baked with a bit of brown sugar and served warm with chilled creamy yogurt, these roasted plums make a fantastic dessert I can sincerely recommend even to those who constantly watch their waistline.

In case you look for different ways to cook damsons or other plums:

Feather-Light Filo Tart with Plums

Feather-Light Filo Tart with Plums

Light Almond Cream with Plums

Light Almond Cream with Plums

Plum, Prune and Chocolate Jam

Plum, Prune and Chocolate Jam

Damson Jam and Chocolate Tart

Damson Jam and Chocolate Tart

Damson Plum Butter (without sugar)

Damson Plum Butter (without sugar)

TIPS: The contrast between chilled yogurt and warm fruits is very important here, so you can cut up the fruits and divide into individual portions well ahead and then put it into the oven when you serve the main course, for example. If you really have to bake this dessert in advance, reheat it just before serving. I tried it and of course the taste is slightly worse, but better than served cold.

I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m sure you can prepare it also with frozen fruits (I’ll certainly test it with frozen sour cherries because this is the only way I can get them here).

Preparation: about 40 minutes

Ingredients (serves two):

12 big damson plums (or the equivalent of any stone fruit you like)

2 heaped teaspoons brown sugar (or more, depending on the plum’s sweetness and on your preferences)

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

thick yogurt or sour cream or quark/fromage blanc to serve 

Preheat the oven to 190°C.

Remove the stones from the fruits and cut each half into quarters (if you use smaller fruits, such as mirabelles or cherries, simply remove the stones and don’t cut them).

Put the plum pieces into individual baking dishes, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar and bake for about 30-40 minutes.

Serve hot or warm with very cold yogurt, quark or sour cream.

Light Yogurt Mousse with Passion Fruit

yog_mousse_passionSpring has been particularly cold this year and strawberries (I mean the edible ones) are late, so I keep on buying other fruits. A week ago I was thrilled to find exceptionally aromatic and sweet organic passion fruits and then wondered what dessert I could include them in… Finally, I thought the cleaner the flavours, the better. I’m glad I steered away from chocolate and strong tasting ingredients this time because this simple yogurt mousse proved perfect enhancer of the intense flavours of passion fruit. While shopping the following Friday I even didn’t look cravingly at strawberries and headed straight to passion fruits’ corner.

TIPS: I often make several individual portions of my light yogurt mousse-based desserts (see some of them here) and they keep perfectly several days in the fridge. This one is no exception (of course passion fruit should be added just before you eat).

Whatever the form of gelatin, it’s always indicated how much you need in order to set a certain amount of liquid. I don’t want to obtain here a stiff jelly-like texture, but something similar to a mousse, so I always check the advised amount and use only about 3/4 of it.

For the first time I used here only full-fat natural yogurt, but the following time I wanted it richer/creamier, so I reduced the amount of yogurt (see below) and added a bit of cream (mine was half-fat). It was just heavenly and still remained a light dessert.

Instead of normal full fat yogurt you can use here Greek yogurt or very smooth (mixed) fresh cheese/curd cheese/quark/, also called fromage frais/serek homogenizowany)

Ripe passion fruits have wrinkled skin (I learnt it very recently!), but if you buy smooth ones, you can put them at room temperature and wait until they ripen. Afterwards keep them in the fridge.

Preparation: 5 minutes+at least 2 hours in the fridge

Ingredients (serves 4-5): 

500 ml  (about 17 fl oz) unsweetened full-fat yogurt (or see the TIPS above) or, if you want this dessert richer and creamier: 450 ml yogurt+50 ml cream

3/4 of the amount of gelatin necessary to set 500ml/17fl oz of liquid (usually 1 tablespoon gelatin or 6 – 8 sheets, depending on the size/brand, so check well the package and reduce the amount to about 3/4, see the TIPS above)+4 tablespoons warm water (I prefer to use hot water with powdered gelatin)

4 flat tablespoons confectioner’s sugar or sweetener of your choice

4-5 passion fruits (or more, depends on the size; I count 1 big per person or 1 and half of smaller ones)

Dissolve the gelatin in 4 tablespoons warm or hot (not boiling) water. (If using leaves, proceed as indicated on the package). (I’ve recently stumbled upon instant gelatin powder which can be added directly to any creamy mixture or liquid without previous dissolving, so check well the procedure on the package.)

Mix the yogurt (or fresh cheese) and the sweetener/sugar in a food processor.

Add the dissolved gelatin and mix well.

Pour the yogurt mixture into individual bowls or glasses and put into the fridge for at least two hours.

Just before serving, cut the passion fruits in two and scoop out the flesh on top of each mousse.

Easy Festive Sweet Treats and Desserts

Unbaked Chocolate Cake

If most of your Christmas dishes are time-consuming or difficult, the last thing you need to complicate your life with is an elaborate dessert. Leafing through my old hand-written copy book and browsing through my blog, I realised most sweets I prepare got easier and quicker throughout the years. Thanks to this, the dessert is the part of the meal I am least nervous about because I got used to effortless recipes, which – surprisingly – please my guests as much as the difficult ones used to. The best illustration of what I’m talking about is the above Unbaked Chocolate Cake I have discovered thanks to Katerina, my dear Greek friend and extraordinary inspiring cook from Culinary Flavors. It takes a while to prepare, always yields perfect results and is a huge hit every time I serve it.

Apart from the above cake, I have chosen for you baked desserts, creams, truffles and other sweet treats I consider particularly easy and sometimes also very quick to make. You will notice most of them are light; it’s not intentional but simply illustrates the majority of the sweets I have been preparing in recent years. All are seasonal (I mean from the European point of view), so no need to chase down tasteless and expensive strawberries or peaches in the middle of winter. I hope you will find at least one useful easy idea here. Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to all of my dear visitors!

TARTS AND CAKES

French Lemon Tart or Tartlets

French Lemon Tart or Tartlets

Super Thin Apple and Applesauce Tart

Super Thin Apple and Applesauce Tart

Pear and Fresh Cheese Tart

Pear and Fresh Cheese Tart

Guinness Chocolate Cake

Guinness Chocolate Cake

CREAMS AND CREAMY INDIVIDUAL DESSERTS

Chocolate and Coconut Cream with Agar

Chocolate and Coconut Cream with Agar

Wobbly Cream with Pear and Lime Zest

Wobbly Cream with Pear and Lime Zest

Coffee and Coconut Wobbly Cream with Agar

Coffee and Coconut Wobbly Cream with Agar

Light Crème Brûlée (Light Burnt Cream)

Light Crème Brûlée (Light Burnt Cream)

Light Unbaked Cheesecake with Passion Fruit

Light Unbaked Cheesecake with Passion Fruit

Matcha and Coconut Wobbly Cream

Matcha and Coconut Wobbly Cream

TRUFFLES AND SWEET FINGER FOOD

Bounty (Coconut, Chocolate and Rum) Truffles

Bounty (Coconut, Chocolate and Rum) Truffles

Prunes in Chocolate

Prunes in Chocolate

Chocolate Truffles with Prunes and Chocolate

Chocolate Truffles with Prunes and Chocolate

Chewy Coconut Cookies (Macaroons)

3-Ingredient Chewy Coconut Cookies (Macaroons)

 

 

 

Wobbly Astringent Matcha Dessert with Agar

matcha_agarpThe weather during my first two September trips to Japan was surprisingly hot and the humidity level unusually high, especially for a European. I soon discovered the best remedy: cold green tea from vending machines. I also quickly learnt to recognise the better-quality Japanese tea bottles and drank liters of this soothing beverage every day. Last week we experienced several particularly hot days and somehow it brought back the memories of green tea’s soothing power. This is how I decided to make this simple, light and quick dessert. Sharp-flavoured and highly astringent, this is probably a treat for matcha fans only, but if you are one of them, I hope you will like it as much as I did.

For those who have never heard about agar/agar-agar/kanten, it is a gelatinous substance obtained from certain seaweed varieties, usually sold in a form of powder or in long sticks (I always use the powdered form which seems easier to handle). It has been used by food industry all around the world and has been gaining popularity in Western households probably thanks to its vegetable origins and to its health benefits. In fact agar-agar contains water soluble agents, which help digestion and are considered excellent in slimming diets. Even though some people say agar-agar is a gelatin equivalent, I cannot agree with it. It sets food in a different way.

If you like matcha desserts, you might find some of these interesting:

Moist Poppy Cake with Matcha Ganache

Moist Poppy Cake with Matcha Ganache

Light Matcha Cream

Light Matcha Cream

Light Matcha Crème Brûlée

Light Matcha Crème Brûlée

Matcha and Coconut Wobbly Cream

Matcha and Coconut Wobbly Cream

Matcha and Oat Truffles

Matcha and Oat Truffles

Matcha and White Chocolate Truffles

Matcha and White Chocolate Truffles

And if you wonder what to do with agar…

Coconut and Strawberry Wobbly Cream with Agar

Coconut and Strawberry Wobbly Cream with Agar

Light Almond Cream with Plums

Light Almond Cream with Plums

Coffee and Coconut Wobbly Cream with Agar

Coffee and Coconut Wobbly Cream with Agar

Matcha and Coconut Wobbly Cream

Matcha and Coconut Wobbly Cream

Wobbly Rhubarb Delight

Wobbly Rhubarb Delight

Chocolate and Coconut Cream with Agar

Chocolate and Coconut Cream with Agar

Light Coconut Cream with Canned Peaches

Light Coconut Cream with Canned Peaches

Wobbly Cream with Pear and Lime Zest

Wobbly Cream with Pear and Lime Zest

TIPS: I wanted this dessert to be barely sweet, so it might not be sweet enough for most people. Taste the mixture just after adding matcha and adjust to your preferences.

If you have never used agar (aka kanten), beware: it’s very easy to overdose and you will end up with something a brick-hard block of inedible stuff. Every pinch counts, so measure it out with caution. Look closely at your agar package instructions. On mine 1/2 teaspoon is said to set 500 ml/2 cups liquid to a jelly. I use only 1/3 teaspoon and obtain a wobbly, “falling off the spoon” consistency. If you prefer a well-set jelly, use the amount advised on the package.

Do not wait until the liquid becomes cold before pouring it into serving glasses because agar sets at room temperature and once disturbed, it will not reset properly!

Sprinkle the dessert with pure matcha powder only if you are a huge fan. I did it but it makes the astringency level extremely high, so beware!

Preparation: about 15 minutes+ a couple of hours in the fridge

Ingredients (serves four):

500 ml (about two cups) water

2 flat teaspoons matcha powder

2 tablespoons sugar or honey or syrup

1/3 flat teaspoon pure agar powder (check the TIPS above to make sure you add a good amount of agar)

Pour the water into a pan.

Add the powdered agar and the sugar.

Bring to a boil, constantly stirring.

Add the matcha powder.

Simmer for about two minutes, still stirring.

Taste and add more sweetener if needed (heat for one more minute if you have added anything).

Mix in a food processor until matcha dissolves completely.

Pour into individual dishes and refrigerate for at least two hours.

The desserts will keep for several days in the fridge.

Just before serving you can add some coconut cream, whipped cream, sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar or some matcha powder, but the latter option will make the dessert even more astringent.

Unsweetened Strawberry and Blueberry Mousse

lightmousse2_Setting a mixture of yogurt and fruits with a reduced amount of gelatin was a breakthrough in the sweet part of my cooking. Such a tiny change allowed me to obtain a mousse instead of a hard jelly; I went so crazy about this easy dessert, it has replaced the majority of my rich, high-calorie homemade sweets. I’ve been making its different versions for years (see below) and like it also as an afternoon snack or even a refreshing summer breakfast. Made with a tiny amount of yogurt and no trace of any sweetener, this mousse is particularly fruity and lighter than ever. If both strawberries and blueberries are very ripe, why would one need sugar, syrup or honey? For me it was definitely sweet enough. (If you have guests who like very sweet desserts, you can of course put honey or confectioner’s sugar on the table.)

Here are some other versions of this light summer dessert:

Yogurt Strawberry Mousse with Strawberry Coulis

Yogurt Strawberry Mousse with Strawberry Coulis

Yogurt Strawberry Mousse with Chocolate Ganache

Yogurt Strawberry Mousse with Chocolate Ganache

Light Blueberry Mousse

Light Blueberry Mousse

Yogurt Mousse with Sour Cherries

Yogurt Mousse with Sour Cherries

TIPS: The amounts of gelatin depend sometimes on the brand. Leaves are sometimes bigger, sometimes smaller,  powdered gelatin sometimes contains other products and doesn’t set as well as pure gelatin in powder… In short, I won’t give you the exact amounts and will only say that the aim here is to use here the amount of gelatin which sets 500 ml/2 cups/about 17 oz liquid. (The whole mousse mixture has more than 500 ml, so the mousse will be firm but not hard).

If you use Greek yogurt, the taste will be sweeter because it’s the least tangy natural yogurt, but I liked it with normal yogurt too.

If you use another gelling agent (such as agar) make sure you don’t put too much. Otherwise you will obtain a hard jelly and not a mousse.

Preparation: about 15 minutes + min. 2-3 hours in the fridge

Ingredients (serves 4-6):

150 g (about 5,3 oz) very ripe blueberries

600 g (about 21 oz) very ripe sweet strawberries

125 g (about 4,4 oz) yogurt or quark or Greek yogurt (Greek yogurt is the least tangy, so the taste will be sweeter)

the amount of gelatin required to set 500 ml liquid

Wash the strawberries and mix about 90% of them together with the yogurt. You shouldn’t obtain more than 600 ml, so keep on adding more strawberries and mixing until you reach it (it will depend on the juiciness of the fruits).

Dissolve the gelatin according to the package instructions.

Mix well in a blender with the strawberry mixture.

Pour the mousse into serving dishes.

Place equal amounts of blueberries into each dish, reserving 1 flat tablespoon per person to put on top just before serving.

Put the mousse into the fridge for 2 -3 hours.

Serve very cold.