In Honor of American Cheese Month – I Made Goat Milk Ricotta!

Did you know that October is American Cheese Month? These days “American Cheese” means a lot more than the processed rubbery orange stuff in little plastic wrappers. There’s some truly great American cheese out there! To celebrate, I made my own cheese – and it was delicious! I almost couldn’t believe how easy it was and how well it turned out. Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures of the making process, because I made it in a hurry before heading out for a dance/fitness class. But the cool thing about that is I was able to complete the process in under 20 minutes! Amazing.

I’m not posting the full recipe here because I followed a recipe from I Make Cheese. Check out the recipe on that site as well as some other great homemade cheese recipes and tips! I made 1/2 the recipe amount and it worked out fine. Basically, you warm your goat milk to 195F, and then add a bit of something acidic (I used Apple Cider Vinegar as in the recipe) and stir slowly, until curds start to form. Once you have some good curds going, you drain the mixture through a cheesecloth lined strainer. Once you’ve drained off the liquid, put the curds in a bowl and add a little bit of melted butter for richness & smoothness, a tad of baking soda for… well I’m not sure what the baking soda is for actually… and some salt to enhance the flavor. And you’re done! It’s really that easy.

The first spoonful while the ricotta was still warm was heavenly. It was smooth and creamy with just enough salt to enhance the delicate flavor. I didn’t really do much with the ricotta, just kept eating it out of the bowl with a spoon over the next day or so. It was irresistible! I did also spread it on some toast with a drizzle of some really nice honey. Yum.

I chose to make a goat milk ricotta because I like the complex flavor of goat cheese and I thought it would be fun to do something a little different – I haven’t seen much goat milk ricotta! In the end you couldn’t really taste the goat milk flavor very much, so don’t be put off even if you don’t normally enjoy goat cheese. The ricotta was very mild and creamy with just a vague hint of the grassiness and tang of goat cheese. A note – don’t try to substitute other types of milk in this recipe – it was specifically made for goat milk and different milks have different fat contents and composition, so I’m not sure this exact recipe would work with cow’s milk or sheep’s milk. I’m sure that it is just as easy to make cow milk ricotta and there are lots of great recipes out there!

Have you ever made cheese before? What is your favorite American cheese?

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Whisky Peach Bread Pudding

Now that the weather has turned cooler and it’s starting to feel like fall, especially with the rain recently, I’ve been bitten hard by the baking bug. I baked this last week on a rainy day, and it’s another cozy drizzly day today, so I thought I’d share this today. This is a really nice way to enjoy the last of the peach season in a dessert that’s perfect for fall.

You can substitute Irish whiskey or Bourbon or even brandy or rum for the Scotch, or even leave it out entirely. I like that it adds a little hint of something sweet and slightly smoky that adds to yummy warmness of the dish.

It’s delicious warm right out of the oven, and actually even better warmed up the next day, when the flavors have had a chance to really meld. Either way, take it over the top by serving it with a scoop of ice cream or a (not so) little drizzle of cream.

Ingredients

1/2 Day-Old Baguette, cut in chunks (or any slightly stale bread – about 2- 3 cups depending how you want the bread-to-custard ratio to be)

2 Eggs

1/2 Cup + 1 Tbsp Brown Sugar

1 Cup Milk

1 Cup Heavy Cream

1/4 Cup + 1 Tbsp Whisk[e]y (I used Scotch)

1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract

1/4 tsp Cinnamon

1/4 tsp Salt

1 lb Peach, roughly chopped (1 large or 2 medium peaches)

2 Tbsp Butter

Method

1. Preheat oven to 325F.  Butter an 11 x 7 inch baking dish (or 9 x 9).

2. Whisk together the eggs and 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl. Whisk in the milk, cream, whisky, vanilla, and cinnamon, then add the bread chunks. Squish the bread a little bit with your fingers or with a fork to make sure the mixture soaks in. Allow the bread to soak luxuriously in the custard mixture for about 20 minutes.

3. While the bread is soaking, melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the peach chunks and saute gently for a minute or so, stirring once or twice until peaches start to soften. Add 1 Tbsp whisky and stir. Cook peaches about 4 more minutes until lightly browned.

4. Add peaches to the bread mixture, and stir to combine. Pour into the buttered baking dish, making sure the bread and peaches are evenly distributed in the custard. Sprinkle a little bit of brown sugar on top for a bit of extra crunch.

5. Bake for 1 hour, until nice and golden brown, slightly puffy, and slightly squidgy but firm when poked in the middle. Allow to cool on a wire rack for about 20 minutes before diving in!

Gooey Deliciousness… Double Chocolate Caramel Chunk Cookies

Today I was craving something chocolatey and decadent. I had some caramels left over from a test batch for Tamsin’s Sweet Shop and wanted to do something with them, too (other than just eat them, which I’ve done a lot of…). So I thought, I’ll make some chocolate chunk cookies and add some caramel bits as well!

I found this delicious recipe for Double Chocolate Chip Cookies Inspired by Levain Bakery on this fun blog I just discovered, Love from the Oven (what a great name!).

I won’t reproduce the recipe here since I followed it pretty much exactly. Go check it out at the link above!

The only modifications I made were, I used half brown sugar and half white sugar (instead of just white sugar). I used part milk chocolate and part semi-sweet chocolate buttons from Guittard, which I chopped roughly. And of course, the caramel chunks. Since I was using the caramel, I only used 2 cups of chopped chocolate, and it was plenty. Oh, and I also used salted butter, since that was what I had on hand and I actually like a little extra hit of salt in my desserts.

My cookies were underdone at 16 minutes, so I baked them for the full 20 minutes, by which point I think they were a little bit over done because they are now a little crumbly and a lighter brown than in the original recipe’s pictures. I think 18 minutes would have been perfect. The caramel chunks melted nicely….

These will definitely become a staple. Chewy, gooey, chocolatey, decadent and just rich enough, and with just a hint of salty caramel, they hit the spot perfectly.

Make a batch of these right away… You won’t regret it! Make sure to eat one while it’s still nice and warm… maybe with a glass of milk….