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Mango No-Bake {Mexican} Cheesecake

Mango No-Bake {Mexican} Cheesecake

Years ago, when I lived in the UES, I would hike a mile North every so often to stock up on fresh corn tortillas, avocados (I was not a prolific eater of it then!), mangoes, and the CHILLIES! Since I moved out, I have been .. well.. rather cheating on the cuisine, tagging every taco I made as it, every chill-chocolate rub as dry mole. 

Anyway, now I have seen the light. Amongst all the amazing things I discovered in the span of a patient 30 minutes were.....

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Saffron Caramel candy barks

The Holidays...It's that time again.... about sharing and showing the caring... :-)

As cold as this time of the year usually is, I love the warmth that permeates everywhere.. from careless laughter... bright, cheery smiles as people walk by festive store windows... joy of shopping... and more importantly for me.. the joy of giving...

I will always remember my granddad's words... the joy of giving is so much more than the thrill of receiving.. and I could not agree more. I am delighted when I receive gifts, oh yes! But, I have to say that the happy glow from the giving is definitely longer lasting.

Saffron Caramel candy barks 1

From thinking of the perfect gift, to the words on the card... it's all about remembering and celebrating why someone is special to you....

This year, I baked and made candy. For an extra special touch, I added saffron in the candy and topped off with saffron salt. It's a crumbly candy with a satisfying butter scotch finish and a lingering after-taste of the silk route.

Merry Christmas and Happy Hannukah!!! :)

Saffron Caramel Candy Barks
(adapted from Epicurious)

1 cup heavy cream
5 T unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tsp salt
generous pinch of saffron
1-3/4 cups sugar
2 T water
3/4 tsp saffron salt (optional)

Arrange parchment paper on the bottom of a 11 x 7 inch baking pan.

Bring cream, butter and salt to a boil in a saucepan. Remove from heat, stir in the saffron and set aside for atleast 15 minutes.

In a heavy bottomed pan large enough to hold a gallon of liquid, boil the sugar and water stirring until sugar is dissolved. Continue boiling while gently swirling the pan until the mixture is a light golden caramel.

Slowly stir in the cream mixture into the caramel (please be careful, the cream boils up a wrathful fury!) and simmer, stirring frequently, until caramel registers 250°F on thermometer. It will take about 12 minutes. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan, sprinkle the saffron salt, if using, and cool for about 1.5 hours.

Using a sharp knife, score across the cooled candy to make pieces. They will tend get away from you and break away on their own. Fret not, go with the flow. It needn't be perfect!

That's love, peeps!

Saffron Caramel candy barks  gifted

FoodBuzz TasteMakers - Roasted Red Pepper Mousseline and Jelly

Roasted pepper Mousse WM

I have been planning to make this mousse for a very long time now, like 2 months! Yes, that long... ever since I received Bertolli sauces via the FoodBuzz TasteMakers program... After much procrastination due to travel, challenge deadlines and life's other little things, I can finally talk to you about it! Phew! It's such a load off my chest!

So, from the top - Sometime in March, FoodBuzz sent a very nicely packaged parcel of two Bertolli sauces, Arrabbiata and Four Cheese Rosa, for us TasteMakers to taste, sample and write about. The Arrabbiata is a mildly spicy tomato and red pepper sauce while the Four Cheese Rosa is creamy sauce made with, well.. four cheese and crushed tomatoes.

Roasted pepper Mousse top view WM

I must say, the Arrabbiata is a pretty standard tomato sauce with a bit of heat and definitely found the Rosa the more intriguing of the two. I tasted the sauce as is and found it pretty rich. Perhaps, the cream in the sauce contributes to that. Anyway, after the first taste, my mind started churning. I wanted to use the sauce in a non-traditional way..

Given the creaminess of the sauce, mousse was rather an instant choice. I paired it with roasted pepper for flavor and smokiness. So, the final creation was a roasted pepper mousse on a bread base with a jelly of roasted pepper topping it off and driving home the pepper flavor.

It was good. The sauce is fantastic for the mousse. In fact, I even thinned it out a bit with milk to dilute the richness, just a tad. It makes for a refreshing appetizer and I really do prefer it this way than over pasta! :)

Roasted pepper Mousse on plate WM

Roasted Red Pepper Mousseline and Jelly
(makes three 3 inch mousselines)

1 medium red pepper, roasted over fire until blackened
3 bread slices (of your choice, I used whole wheat)
1/2 cup Bertolli Four Cheese Rosa sauce
2 T whole milk
1/2 tsp + 1/4 tsp gelatin
salt, pepper and other seasoning to taste

Peel the skin off the roasted pepper and des-eed. Slice about a third of the pepper into very very thin strips. Puree the rest of the pepper and set aside. In a small bowl add 1/2 tsp of the gelatin to the milk and heat until the gelatin dissolves. Whip together the milk, seasoning and cheese sauce into a thick-ish batter consistency. Fold in the strips of pepper.

Using a cookie cutter, cut out the shapes you want out of the bread slices. Layer the bread at the bottom of the mold. Divide the mousse mixture evenly into the molds. Refrigerate for atleast an hour until the mixture is just about starting to set and there is a film on top.

Heat the reserved pepper puree and dissolve the gelatin in it. Cool to room temperature and divide evenly over the mousse mixture. Let set overnight.

Serve with Parmesan chips.

Share your creations tagging @ashafsk on Instagram and hashtag #MadeFromFSK