Christmas Mango Butter Cookies

Oh, the smell of Christmas…and the tasks ahead to make sure everyone at the dinnertable will be all smiles and enjoy that “happy tummy” feeling.  Got so much stuff to do…actually it’s a 4-day marathon event for me, done with the first(whew, lots lots of baking — cuchinta or rice cake, sapin-sapin or layered rice cake, coconut macaroons, mamon or sponge cake with caramel glaze, chicken empanadas and pichi-pichi or steamed cassava dessert).  Three to go!  I know I have to deal with ham today and cinnamon rolls.  But let me share with you these awesome melt-in-the-mouth butter cookies that I made for the CelebrEATy Circle for a Christmas segment.  Starts with that just-perfectly-tart Philippine dried mangoes.  So easy and so Christmas-y.   Enjoy!

Christmas Mango Butter Cookies
We love making Christmas cookies for kids from 1 – 92.   These are great butter cookies to enjoy all Christmas season…and so easy to make!  Makes more than 2 dozens cookies.

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened  (zap for 20 seconds in microwave)
1/2 cup Confectioners’ or powdered sugar
1  teaspoon pure vanilla extract or mango extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup finely chopped dried mangoes (Phillippines)
Colored Sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.   Line cookie sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

Cream butter and powdered sugar using medium speed of electric mixer.  Add vanilla or mango extract.  Reduce to low speed and add flour and chopped dried mangoes until well-combined.   Beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add powdered sugar.   Using a small ice cream scooper, form into balls and roll in colored sprinkles.  Arrange balls 1 inch apart on prepared cookie sheets.  Bake in preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until bottoms of cookies turn light brown.  Smaller balls may only need 10 minutes of baking.  Cool and enjoy!

Happy Holidays!

Lemon Ricotta Cupcakes with Dried Mangoes

I have used ricotta cheese in the past — easy lasagna (ricotta cheese in place of bechamel sauce) or stuffed jumbo pasta shells (with either spinach of broccoli).  But I’ve never tried using ricotta cheese for sweets recipes.   A few browse of some published internet recipes made me decide to try one cake that stands out, Lemon Ricotta Cake.  With Calabro Cheese 3 lb Ricotta Cheese, there’s plenty of ricotta cheese for both savory and sweet creations.

Other ricotta manufacturers use the whey that has been drained off when making other cheeses, in a way, making it a cheese by-product.  Ricotta in Italy means “cooked again, recooked or cooked twice”.  Per Morena Febbo of Calabro Cheese,  Calabro ricotta is made from the very best fresh milk instead of leftover whey, gum, or stabilizers that most manufactures use.

Ricotta has mild, slightly sweet flavor and is creamy and has somewhat grainy texture.   It’s great with sweet berries, croissants, muffins, and can be used as stuffings, spreads and fillings.

I gave up on 2 recipes I tried after I got the same results — the middle of the baked cake sank down.   Could be one of these — too much wet ingredients, oven temperature too low, type of flour used (cake vs. all-purpose flour), and so on.   Finally I had much better results with my 3rd try, guess, it’s another case of 3rd times a charm.  And here’s the recipe…

LEMON RICOTTA CUPCAKES WITH DRIED MANGOES

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 cup Calabro ricotta cheese
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
grated zest of 1 lemon
1 cup sour milk (1 tablespoon lemon juice plus enough milk to equal one cup)
1 cup snipped dried mangoes (available at Costco or Sam’s Club)

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line 12 texan muffin pans with paper liners.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt using low speed of electric mixer to aerate.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar  and ricotta cheese until light and fluffy.   Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.   Stir in vanilla extract, almond extract and lemon zest.  Add flour mixture and  sour milk, beating until just combined (don’t overmix).  Fold in snipped dried mangoes.

Divide the cake batter in 12 prepared muffin pan holes.  Bake in the preheated oven for 20 – 25 minutes or until done (wooden skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean).  Place in a wire rack to cool.  Either dust with confectioners’ sugar or drizzle lemon glaze (1 cup of confectioners’ sugar thinned with enough fresh lemon juice).

Yummy….Morena Febbo, Vice President of Sales of Calabro Cheese gave this recipe a thumbs-up.

FRESH MANGOES ICE CREAM

Was enjoying some relaxing time in the net, googling on some good ice cream recipes to try.  And lucky me, I stumbled upon this wonderful website, http://www.cookstr.com, featuring recipes from cookbooks.   I immediately signed up, and I look forward to receiving 10 free recipes every week in my inbox.

Got inspired from this sample recipe from best seller’s book, Memories of Philippine Kitchens: Stories and Recipes from Far and Near of Amelita Besa and Romeo Dorotan — fresh mangoes ice cream, oh mangoes.

http://www.cookstr.com/recipes/mango-ice-cream

MANGO ICE CREAM
Yield : Makes about 1 quart
Ingredients

2 medium-sized ripe mangoes, peeled and pitted
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
2/3 cup sugar
4 egg yolks

Directions

1. Place 1 mango in a blender or bowl of a food processor and puree until smooth. Finely chop the remaining mango. Transfer the puree and the diced mango to separate bowls (you should have about 1/3 cup of each).

2. Have ready a fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl by the stove. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the cream, milk, and 1/3 cup of the sugar. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Whisk the remaining 1/3 cup sugar with the egg yolks in a large, heatproof bowl until light and lemon-colored.

3. Whisking constantly, slowly pour about a quarter of the hot cream mixture into the eggs to temper. Continuing to whisk, slowly pour in the remaining cream mixture, then transfer the custard back to the saucepan and place over low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, over low heat, until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. Do not let it boil or the custard will curdle. Strain and let cool, stirring occasionally. Cover and refrigerate until cold, at least 3 hours.

4. Whisk the mango puree into the chilled custard and freeze in an electric ice cream maker following the manufacturers’ instructions. Fold in the chopped mangoes, transfer to an airtight container and freeze until firm.

I added to the cream mixture churning in my ice cream maker some rehydrated dried mangoes.   About 2/3 cup of dried mangoes (snipped into small bits) placed in bowl and then covered  with enough boiling water and let stand for 5 minutes.  Drained.