Posts Tagged ‘Vanilla Bean’


Sunday, May 8th, 2011

I hope everyone had a fantastic Mother’s Day a.k.a “Mom Day” as Allan likes to say :) Hope all the mothers out there had a special day! To my Mom, you are an amazing mother and I love you with all my heart!

We spent Mother’s Day over at my parents house just chilling, having brunch and watching movies. Allan and I made a special dessert for my mom and we all loved it so much I thought I had to share it with you! It’s probably one of the best desserts I have ever made and I would highly recommend this recipe, especially for dinner parties! It is based on a recipe from Araxi’s cookbook but I have modified the recipe in terms of flavour, cooking times, and also to work for individual portions rather than just one huge cheesecake. Scroll down to see the finished product!


Mascarpone Cheesecake Recipe with Honey-Caramel Apples, Almond Praline and Vanilla Creme Anglaise

Mascarpone Cheesecake (enough to make one large cheesecake or 12 mini cheesecakes)

8 oz mascarpone cheese, room temperature
12 oz cream cheese, room temperature
5/8 cup granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped and pod discarded
5 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1/3 cup whipping cream
Optional: Prepared whip cream for serving

Almond Praline

1 cup whole almonds (unroasted)
3/4 cup granulated sugar

Honey-Caramel Apples

4 large granny smith apples
Juice of half a lemon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, seeds craped
1/2 cup organic apple juice
1/4 cup liquid honey

Vanilla Creme Anglaise

6 egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 2/3 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup whole milk (homo milk)
1 vanilla bean, pod split and seeds scraped

Oven-Dried Apple Crisps
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 apple
Squeeze of lemon juice


Prepare Apple Crisps in Advance

1. Preheat oven to 185 degrees Fahrenheit. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Slice an apple in half and then use a mandoline or a sharp knife to make very round thin apple slices. Gently remove seeds.
3. Place sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil on high heat. Remove from heat and squeeze some lemon juice in (less than half a lemon, maybe about 1/4).
4. Submerge apple slices and leave for about 5-10 minutes until translucent. Take one slices at a time, wiping excess syrup on the side of the pot and then lay flat on baking sheet. Press down edges and bake for 1.5 to 2 hours until they can be easily peeled off. Cool until hard.

Prepare Almond Praline in Advance

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and spread out almonds on the sheet.
2. Toast 8-10 minutes until fragrant. Remove from oven and cool on the baking sheet.
3. Place the sugar in a small pot and combine with just enough water to moisten the sugar (a little less than 1/4 cup). Heat on medium heat without stirring until caramelized light amber (approx 10 mins).

Mascarpone Cheesecake Recipe with Honey-Caramel Apples, Almond Praline and Vanilla Creme Anglaise
4. Pour the syrup over the almonds and quickly stir almonds until they are evenly coated. Allow it to completely cool.
5. Grind everything (almonds and caramelized sugar) in pieces into a fine powder in a food processor or similar. Set aside in an airtight container or ziploc bag.

Mascarpone Cheesecake Recipe with Honey-Caramel Apples, Almond Praline and Vanilla Creme Anglaise

Prepare Vanilla Creme Anglaise in Advance

1. Take a large sized bowl (preferably metal) and fill with lots of ice. Fill also with some cold water until about halfway up the sides. Set aside.
2. Separate egg yolks and place yolks into a medium sized metal bowl. Set aside.
3. Place sugar, milk, cream, and vanilla bean into a saucepan and heat on the stove on medium heat and bring to a boil (do not overheat).
4. Use an electric mixer or a hand whisk and start whisking the eggs until very creamy. Slowly pour the heated creamy mix into the eggs and continue to mix well with blender or whisk. Mix until smooth.
5. Return the mixture to the stove and heat on low-medium heat, stirring constantly. Do not allow to boil or simmer. Give it about 10 minutes and it will thicken up very nicely. Don’t worry if it is slightly lumpy, just make sure it gets nice and thick like the consistency of pudding.

Mascarpone Cheesecake Recipe with Honey-Caramel Apples, Almond Praline and Vanilla Creme Anglaise Mascarpone Cheesecake Recipe with Honey-Caramel Apples, Almond Praline and Vanilla Creme Anglaise
6. Pour back into the medium metal bowl and place this bowl over the bowl full of ice. Whisk the contents until smooth and cold. This can be kept chilled in the fridge for a few days. Make sure to whisk this up again just before serving to make sure it is extra smooth.

Make Cheesecake

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. If making individual portions, use small custard cups if you have them or similar. You can also make one big cheesecake if you like. Make sure you line the bottom of whichever baking container you use with a round circle of parchment paper for the bottom. You do not need to line the sides (in fact after testing some lined on the sides and some without, I recommend against lining the sides… just the bottom is enough). If you have springform containers those work best, but I personally don’t have any and mine turned out great with just custard cups. Place containers on a baking sheet.
3. In a large bowl, combine mascarpone and cream cheeses with sugar and vanilla. Use an electric mixer to mix on medium speed until cheeses are very smooth and the sugar is dissolved, approximately 5 minutes.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, and cream. On a low speed, add the egg mixture to the cheese mixture and mix until smooth about 5 mins. Strain the batter into the prepared baking containers (e.g. custard cups or the cheesecake mould). Place in oven and quickly pour some water into the baking sheet without getting any into the containers to create a water bath. Pour in enough water but don’t have it overflow the edges of the baking sheet.

Mascarpone Cheesecake Recipe with Honey-Caramel Apples, Almond Praline and Vanilla Creme Anglaise Mascarpone Cheesecake Recipe with Honey-Caramel Apples, Almond Praline and Vanilla Creme Anglaise
5. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn the baking sheet around and bake for another 5-10 minutes. After the 10 minutes, check constantly by inserting a clean knife into one of the cheesecakes. As soon as it comes out relatively clean, the cheesecakes are ready. Do not overcook!
6. Remove from oven, cool, and refrigerate overnight or at least 4 hours.

Make Caramel-Honey Apples

1. Peel the apples and dice into very small cubes (see picture). Place in a large bowl with the lemon juice.

Mascarpone Cheesecake Recipe with Honey-Caramel Apples, Almond Praline and Vanilla Creme Anglaise
2. In a large saute pan on medium heat, cook the sugar until golden brown about 4 minutes. Quickly add the apples to the pan (make sure to stir quickly), and then add in the vanilla seeds and the pod. Deglaze the pan with the apple juice and honey.
3. Saute the apples, stirring frequently and really cook them down until all the liquid is reduced (about 15-20 mins).

Mascarpone Cheesecake Recipe with Honey-Caramel Apples, Almond Praline and Vanilla Creme Anglaise
4. Remove the apples and transfer to a steel bowl. Let these cool and set them aside. You can even refrigerate them if you’d really like to prepare everything in advance but I did like the taste of these made the same day as being served.

Plate Everything!

1. Place a scoop of the almond praline onto the serving plate and carefully mould it into a circle shape. Then press down with a plastic bag to make a crust.

Mascarpone Cheesecake Recipe with Honey-Caramel Apples, Almond Praline and Vanilla Creme Anglaise Mascarpone Cheesecake Recipe with Honey-Caramel Apples, Almond Praline and Vanilla Creme Anglaise
2. Take a knife dipped in hot water and run it gently along the outside edges of the cheesecakes to loosen, then carefully flip it onto the centre of the almond praline you prepared. Take a knife and gently press the praline up onto the sides to create a crust. I liked to use all the praline so there are no remaining pieces on the plate but it takes a loooooooong time and isn’t necessary.

Mascarpone Cheesecake Recipe with Honey-Caramel Apples, Almond Praline and Vanilla Creme Anglaise
3. Take a scoop of apples and gently place it on the top of the cheesecake. I liked to make sure there were none going over the edges and tried to make it flat on top.
4. Place an apple crisp on the top of the apples.
5. Take a spoon and heap a very generous portion of vanilla creme anglaise around the cheesecake. Keep some in a small serving bowl on the side as people will definitely want more of that sauce to go with the cheesecake!
6. Now either take a can of whipped cream or whip the cream yourself and then take two spoons and shape a small batch of whipped cream between the spoons. Carefully place on top of the apple crisp.
7. Now top with a final apple crisp placed vertically and quickly serve it before the crisp falls over as the whip cream starts to melt. Wow your guests!

And there you have it! The taste it absolutely DELICIOUS. The cheesecake is light and creamy, but not too cheesy. The almond praline is crunchy without being hard, and the apple crisps look really pretty. The caramel apples are slightly tangy and the whole thing goes perfect with the creme anglaise. I really think it is one of the most delicious desserts I have ever eaten! Hats off to the team at Araxi.

Mascarpone Cheesecake Recipe with Honey-Caramel Apples, Almond Praline and Vanilla Creme Anglaise


How was your Mother’s Day?


Monday, December 21st, 2009

Yesterday was the Survivor finale… Allan and I had been looking forward to this for a long time. In celebration, I thought it would be a good idea to make a nice dinner to eat while watching the show. (Don’t even get me started on how the Survivor finale turned out. I’m still upset this morning.)

I had been planning to make bread pudding since I tried it for the first time in Kicking Horse. And I thought I’d try to modify my normal risotto recipe but with some new ingredients… since it had been a while since I made risotto (one of my very favourite foods). I will say this in advance: I made a critical error with my selection of saffron. If you try this recipe at home, please read the note about saffron carefully.

A couple people asked for the recipes on Facebook and Twitter, so I’ve made sure to include them inline this time. Apologies for not putting up the recipes on the five-course meal yet. This weekend turned out a little crazier than expected! I’ll try my best to get them up soon.

I am very, very picky about my risotto and spices so I’ve ordered some special risotto and saffron that will arrive this week. I am very much looking forward to posting about it, so I am going to have a more detailed “beginner’s guide” on how to make perfect risotto then. The instructions below are brief.

TOMATO BASIL SAFFRON RISOTTO RECIPE (makes enough for 4 servings… perfect for two people with some leftovers)

Wine and Carnaroli Risotto Rice

1 3/4 cups Carnaroli risotto rice (good quality)
One full box of cherry tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed with a knife or ground
2 large shallots
4 cups chicken stock
4 Tablespoons of salted butter
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon good quality saffron. Unfortunately I accidentally bought American saffron, which is not actually saffron. Don’t make the mistake I did… read the label carefully and make sure you are buying REAL saffron stigmas from Spain or Italy. Unfortunately the cheap saffron does not have very strong taste or colour.
1/5 cup of dry Italian white wine (we like Masi)
4-5 large Basil leaves, chopped
Grated parmesan (approx 2-4 Tablespoons depending on your preference)
Salt and pepper to taste

Fake Saffron... NEVER AGAIN Fennel Seeds

1. Rinse off the tomatoes and flash boil them in a pot for 30 seconds to loosen the skins. Then skin, seed and slice the tomatoes in half. Mix the fennel in with the tomatoes in a bowl.

Cherry Tomatoes on the Vine Boiling the Tomatoes Skin, Seed, and Slice

2. Heat the chicken stock on the stove until it is hot to the touch but not boiling. Meanwhile, dice the shallots.

3. Melt the olive oil and 2 Tablespoons of the butter in a large saucepan. Add the shallots and cook 3-4 minutes.

4. Add the risotto rice to the pan and sauté about 2-3 minutes. Add the saffron, stir, and then add the wine and cook till absorbed.

Cooking the risotto rice Add more ingredients

5. Keep adding the stock in small amounts until completely absorbed. Use up the rest of the broth and then add the tomatoes.

6. When all the stock is gone and the risotto is creamy, add the parmesan, rest of the butter and the basil just before serving.

FINISHED: Tomato Basil Saffron Risotto with Crispy Cod


The trick, is to start out with a really nice caramel sauce since it forms a lot of the base for the flavour of the bread pudding, plus you use it to drizzle all over at the end as well. Start out by making the caramel sauce as it will thicken while you are making the bread pudding later.

Vanilla-Bourbon Caramel Sauce:
2 cups sugar (granulated)
1/2 cup purified water
2 cups whipping cream
3/4 stick of butter (unsalted)
1 whole vanilla bean (we like the Madagascar Bourbon vanilla bean)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup of high quality Bourbon (we like Woodford Reserve)

Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Bean

1. Heat sugar and water in a pot on high heat.

2. Split the vanilla bean in half (long way) and gently scrape out the beans into the sugar water. I also like to add the rest of the bean halves into the water as well for flavour. Bring the mixture to a boil and make sure to keep whisking to keep it from sticking to the sides.

3. You’ll see the mixture start to brown and turn a dark caramel colour…remove from heat when it is dark, but be careful not to burn the mixture. Quickly whisk in the whipping cream, butter and the salt and make sure you get all the lumps out with the whisk.

4. Put the pot back on the burner and cook for 10 more minutes or so on low to medium heat until the mixture gets creamy. Turn off the burner and whisk in the bourbon. Let the mixture sit while you make the bread pudding and whisk every once in a while. The mixture should get nice and thick! Enjoy the delicious smell of the vanilla bourbon caramel :)

Cooking the Caramel Sauce Adding the Bourbon Browning the Caramel Sauce

Sticky English Toffee Chocolate Brioche Bread Pudding Recipe:
1 loaf of regular brioche or brioche with raisins
1 1/2 cups of English toffee broken into chunks (Skor Bars work well in a pinch, but real English toffee is better)
About 12 oz of good bittersweet dark chocolate (70% or so)… Valhrona is nice but other good quality chocolate is great too
2 1/2 cups of whipping cream
3/4 cup of milk
1/2 cup of sugar (granulated)
6 egg yolks
2 eggs
1/2 cup of the caramel sauce above

Valhrona Chocolate Pieces

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Cut the brioche into cubes, making sure to remove the crust. Set aside with the toffee pieces mixed in.

3. Chop the bittersweet chocolate a bit and then put into a large bowl. Set aside.

Making chocolate ganache Chopped Skor Bar Straining the eggs Pour chocolate over the bread pieces

4. Bring 1 1/4 cups of whipping cream to a boil and pour over the bowl of bittersweet chocolate to form your chocolate ganache. Whisk until the chocolate sauce is nice and creamy and smooth. Set aside.

5. Whisk the eggs and egg yolks together. Set aside.

6. Combine milk, sugar and the rest of the cream in a saucepan and bring it just to a boil. Carefully whisky into the egg mixture until smooth… make sure to constantly whisk while you are adding them together otherwise the eggs will cook.

7. Use a fine strainer and strain the egg mixture into the chocolate sauce, whisking constantly. When it is completely blended, pour over the brioche and the toffee pieces. Add the caramel sauce and mix very gently, careful to not squash the bread pieces. Set aside for an hour… the mixture will soak into the bread!

Pour the mixture into the pan Baked Chocolate Toffee Brioche Bread Pudding

8. Butter a baking pan and place into the fridge. After 1 hour, pour the mixture into the pan and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until done.

9. Cut into pieces and serve with vanilla bean ice cream and drizzle the caramel sauce generously!

FINISHED: Sticky Toffee Chocolate Brioche Bread Pudding

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