Jul 6, 2014

Kiwi, Fig, & Walnut Jam with Honey Mascarpone

When Zespri asked if I wanted another shipment of kiwi's this year, I couldn't have said oh-my-God-yes-please-now-hurry-I've-been-waiting-8-months-to-see-them-back-in-the-stores-can't-you-grow-them-quicker any faster. You may remember I took part in the Zespri Challenge last year.  I had to eat two kiwi's a day for two weeks and blog about my experience as well as share recipes of how I was able to incorporate them into my diet. It was heaven.   Especially considering I was pregnant and living off spicy Indian takeout and IHOP.  
And I'll be honest, kiwi's aren't the easiest fruit to bake with.  Sure you can slice them up over a tart and voile, dessert is served, but I strive to be innovative.  There are a million and one fruit tart recipes out there; and you're not here for that.  Here's what I came up with last year:


Although Zespri isn't holding the challenge again this year, I'm still happy to spread the word about how nutrient dense kiwi's are.  It's always a gift from the Gods when something is this sweet and delicious, but also so incredibly good for you too.
  • One Zespri Kiwi can provide you with your daily requirement of Vitamin C, helping contribute to the normal function of the immune system.
  • Zespri Kiwi's are an excellent source of fiber, potassium, and folate (kiwi's are one of the few foods that actually contain folate)
  • Eating two Zespri kiwis (I just did by the way I couldn't stand it, they're just so juicy and sweet.  I literally ate kiwis instead of a cookie...I girl-scout swear) has shown to reduce the amount of oxidative damage to the cells of the body and improve the repair of damaged DNA caused by free radicals and oxidative stress.  I wonder how it works on wrinkles?  Forget eye cream, I'm switchin' to Zespri!   

So, you may be wondering, what the heck, fig and kiwi? Let me explain...
My mother-in-law sends us army sized portions of Fig Jam (home-made with Lebanese figs only) whenever figs are in season.  It's a very typical Lebanese spread because they grow everywhere.  Lebanese figs must be like the American version of squash, tomatoes, or peaches.  When they grow...they grow...in abundance.  I'm talking like Costco-quantity-what-the-heck-am-I-going-to-do-with-20-pounds-of-figs.  And although my MIL and I may not speak the same language, there is one thing that we do understand, and that is I love fig jam and she wants as many photos of her grandkids that I'm able to send.  So, we happily swap.

I almost felt bad straying from the traditional Lebanese recipe for fig jam, but then again Pastry School Diaries is all about putting a modern twist on the classics, so fig and kiwi it is.

Have you tried SunGold's yet?  Let me tell you they're unlike any fruit you've ever tasted.  First, they're more yellowish and not quite as green as traditional kiwis:

SunGold's are somewhat less tart than a green kiwi and have a mild tropical/pineapple flavor.  The flesh of the fruit is extremely soft and waaaaaay more juicy than a regular green.  The skin is also thinner and very easy to peel.  Seriously it can do wrong. 

Kiwi, Fig, & Walnut Jam with Honey Mascarpone
makes about two cups of jam

*apologizes to my US readers, this recipe is in metric.  The original recipe I adapted was written in grams/ml.  But hey, it's fun to measure with a scale sometimes...recipes are sooooo much more accurate this way...us and our silly cups. 

200 grams dried figs, sliced into strips (discard the stems)
250 ml water
75 grams sugar
6 SunGold Zespri Kiwis, peeled and cut into chunks
120 grams walnuts, toasted
20 grams sesame seeds

mascarpone for spreading
honey for drizzling
toasted baguette


*If you have a kiwi spoon like the one seen here, scoop out the flesh of the kiwi over a bowl to catch the juice (which will be used in addition to the kiwi).  If you don't have a magical kiwi spoon don't fret; cut your kiwi's in half and use a small spoon, slipping it between the fruit and skin.  Slowly work your way around the perimeter to release the fruit.  Make sure to do this over a bowl, catching the extra juice that will be used along with the kiwi.

Combine the figs, water, and sugar in a medium sized stock pot.  Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat.

Cover pot and reduce heat to low and continue to simmer until figs begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Stir often so the mixture won't burn.

Remove lid and add the chopped kiwi and extra juice, stir to combine.  Continue to simmer, uncovered about 5 minutes, stirring often.

Add the chopped walnuts and sesame seeds; stir to combine.  Cover lid with pot and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring often to avoid the jam sticking to the bottom. 

Remove lid and cook for an additional 10 minutes or until all moisture has evaporated and mixture is thick.

Remove jam from heat and allow to cool.  Store in an airlight container in the refigerator for up to two weeks.

To serve, brush sliced baguette with olive oil and toast on grill. 

Combine about a quarter of a cup of mascarpone with a tablespoon of honey, stir to combine.

Slather the sweetened mascarpone over the toasted baguette and top with a dollop of jam.  Serve immediately.

Jul 2, 2014

Caramel, Coconut, & Sea Salt Oatmeal Cookies

The idea for these cookies came from summer desperation and a means to help keep my kid busy in the kitchen.  However, I was literally almost out of flour (why I used oats) and had EXACTLY 3/4 of a cup of butter left.  No chocolate chips neitha.  All I had was half a bag of caramels and some coconut.  These truly were everything-but-the-kitchen-sink cookies.  But damn after we tasted them it was as if this recipe was conceived by the heavenly cookie Gods to be a legend.  Yes, a legend people.  I always know I've got something good when my husband says 'this would sell.'  So if you've got a bake sale coming up, these pups are your go-to money maker. 

Caramel, Coconut, & Sea Salt Oatmeal Cookies

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted (and slightly cooled)
2 eggs, room temperature*
1 egg yolk, room temperature*
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
1 cup Kraft Caramel Bits
sea salt

*I never-ever remember to leave my eggs out when a recipe calls for room temp. eggs.  Don't worry it's an easy fix.  Put eggs in a large bowl and place in the sink.  Fill bowl with warmish (but not hot) water and let the eggs sit for a few minutes until they warm up.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line cookie sheet with slip mat or baking paper.  Sift the flour into a large bowl.  Add the oats, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt.  Using a wooden spoon, stir well to combine.

Combine the two whole eggs and one egg yolk in a small bowl and slightly whisk to combine.  In a medium sized bowl, combine the melted butter, eggs, and vanilla.  Stir to combine.

Pour wet mixture over the dry and mix to combine.

Add the coconut and caramel bits and mix well to combine.
Roll dough into balls and slightly flatted with your finger tips.  You can use the back of a fork to make a criss-cross pattern if you wish.  I did this but it wasn't very prominent after they baked.  Sprinkle each cookie with sea salt.
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges are slightly golden.  Some of the caramel may ooze out the side like this one.  Its easy to break off once they're cool (and super yum too).

Let cookies cool on pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Store in an air-tight container for up to a week.