Shavuot is one of my favorite holidays, and I absolutely love preparing dairy delights for my family and friends. Everything is clean, and both the table and the guests are adorned in white. This year, I decided to join forces with blogger Shiran Dikman, who recently gave birth to a beautiful little girl named Danielle. I joined Shiran in her kitchen in Tel Aviv for a wonderful day of baking and photography, and was thrilled to catch a glimpse of the cute baby, too.
When I first came across Dikman’s Instagram page, I was awed by the incredible photos of cakes and cookies. I immediately called her up and soon learned that she is a former computer programmer who also tried her hand at selling sweets from her home, and then finally came to the realization that what she loves most is blogging. And to make any money from her blog, she quickly learned that it must be in English. Thus her blog “Pretty. Simple. Sweet” was born.
“At first, it was extremely hard to write everything in English,” Dikman tells me, “but I soon got the hang of all the technical and professional jargon and it got easier. I also had to make sure to use ingredients that can be found overseas, so I had to test lots of new food products.”
Dikman loves learning new techniques from people around the world, and she’s even been approached with requests to write baking columns by publications such as Bake from Scratch, Elle, Zeit, Cosmopolitan and Huffington Post. She has received feedback from readers from all over the world, including the US, Europe, Syria, Iran and Iraq. CREAMY CHEESECAKE WITH BERRY SAUCE
Make in a 23-cm. springform pan.
150 gr. petit beurre cookies, ground in food processor
2 Tbsp. sugar
65 gr. butter
900 gr. cream cheese 25-30%
1 1/8 cups (225 gr.) sugar
2 Tbsp. (18 gr.) corn flour
4 large eggs + 1 yolk
½ cup sweet cream
1½ tsp. vanilla extract
Zest from 1 small lemon
4 cups frozen berries
½ cup (100 gr.) sugar
2 tsp. lemon juice
Zest from ¼ lemon
2 Tbsp. water
1 Tbsp. corn flour
Preheat oven to 180°. Wrap the outside of the pan with aluminum foil.
In a bowl, mix the petit beurre crumbs with the sugar and butter and line the pan with it. Bake for 8 minutes. Let cool.
Increase temperature of oven to 220°. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix the cream cheese with the sugar for 2 minutes. Add the corn flour and mix. While mixing, add the eggs, sweet cream, vanilla and zest. Mix until smooth. Pour into pan.
Bake for 10 minutes and then lower the temperature to 110° and continue baking for another 60-70 minutes until the sides are firm but the middle is still a little jiggly (it will solidify after cooling). Turn off the oven and open the oven door a crack. Leave the cake in the oven for another 60 minutes. This way, the cake will stay creamy. Store the cake in the fridge for at least 12 hours before serving.
To prepare berry sauce, place the berries in a pot with the sugar, lemon juice and zest. Cook over a medium flame for 5 minutes.
In a small bowl, mix corn flour with the water and mix. Add to the berry mixture and cook for another 2-3 minutes until sauce thickens. Stir gently every so often. Remove from the flame and pour into a bowl. Let cool and then refrigerate. Pour sauce over each piece of cake just before serving.
CHOCOLATE AND CHEESE BROWNIES
Use a 20-cm. x 30-cm. pan.
200 gr. bittersweet chocolate
150 gr. butter
1 cup (200 gr.) sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¾ cup (105 gr.) flour
½ tsp. salt
350 gr. cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup (65 gr.) sugar
1 large egg
2 Tbsp. sweet cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 180°. Line a pan with aluminum foil or baking paper.
To prepare the chocolate layer, add the chocolate and butter to a glass bowl and pulse to melt in the microwave or cook in bowl over a bain-marie. Add the sugar and mix. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Add the flour and salt and mix just until ingredients have dissolved. Put bowl aside.
To prepare the cheese layer, mix all the ingredients together either by hand or with an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook.
Pour the chocolate mixture into the pan, retaining ½ cup on the side. This layer will look very thin. Now, add the cheese mixture on top of the chocolate and flatten. Using a spoon, add a few spots of chocolate on top of the cheese and then gently swirl the chocolate into the cheese using a toothpick or narrow knife.
Bake for 25 minutes or until the edges are firm and the center is still soft. A toothpick inserted in the middle should come out with batter on it (this way the brownies will be fudgy and not too dry). Let brownies cool for 4 hours in the fridge. After they’ve cooled, cut into squares. MASCARPONE AND LEMON MOUSSE
Makes 8 servings.
¾ cup (150 gr.) sugar
2 tsp. lemon zest
½ cup fresh lemon juice
50 gr. butter, cut into cubes
250 gr. mascarpone cheese
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¼ cup (50 gr.) sugar
1 cup sweet cream
To prepare the lemon cream, add the eggs, sugar, lemon zest and juice to a heat-proof bowl and mix well. Heat the bowl over a bain-marie for 10 minutes, stirring all the time, until mixture thickens. Remove from the flame and drain. Add the butter and mix until smooth. Set aside to cool down. Cover with plastic wrap or store in an airtight container and place in the fridge.
To prepare the mousse layer, in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix the mascarpone cheese with vanilla for 1 minute. Pour into a large bowl. In the mixer bowl – use a whisk attachment – whip the sweet cream with the sugar until soft and firm. Gently fold into the mascarpone mixture and mix gently.
Transfer cheese mixture into a pastry bag and cut the tip off. Spread a thin layer in cups (you can also use a spoon, but make sure not to let any touch the sides of the cups).
Next, transfer the lemon cream to a pastry bag and spread a layer on top of the mousse. If you have leftover lemon cream, you can freeze it to use another time as a topping for ice cream or on top of crepes.
Store in the fridge until serving.Translated by Hannah Hochner.
Text and styling: Pascale Perez-Rubin
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