soft cheese

“All of us have moments in our lives that test our courage. Taking children into a house with white carpet is one of them.”
Erma Bombeck

Vanilla Quark Cake with Balsamic Roasted Strawberries Sorry I’ve been missing yet again and feel like I fell off blogland with life testing me at every level. A mothers life is tough, and know I am not alone. For times like this, this gorgeous moorish Vanilla Quark Cheesecake {Vanilla Quarktorte} with Roasted Balsamic Strawberries offers a perfect boost to the senses!Vanilla Quark Cheesecake with Balsamic Roasted Strawberries A celebration of surviving motherhood, being alive and knowing that food brings ultimate comfort! I love a good cheesecake. Who doesn’t?Vanilla Quark Cheesecake with Roasted Balsamic Strawberries Living in India, a cheesecake was quite an alien concept about 10 years ago. The internet brought with it delicious food blogs with myriad cuisines and delightful desserts, one of which was a cheesecake. Ingredients like Philly cream cheese were difficult to come by and very expensive locally, so began the quest for an easier option.Quark curd cheeseThat brought me to discover a most wonderful curd cheese, quark, which is far easier an option IMHO. I have repeatedly made it at home successfully, with varying degrees of fat, and love experimenting with it. The good thing is that you can plan ahead and make it 2-3 days before you intend to use it and its an inexpensive option, and possibly lower in calories too.Vanilla Quark Cheesecake with Balsamic Roasted StrawberriesVanilla Quark Cheesecake with Balsamic Roasted StrawberriesStrawberries have all but disappeared but I had a jar of roasted balsamic strawberries in the fridge. Fruit in desserts still is one of my favourite experiments, whether baked like here, or then in frozen desserts like in this Strawberry Fro Yo. As the mercury rises, the very fragile strawberry is hardly visible at the fruit vendor, but delightfully enough, cherries ave begun to make an appearance!Vanilla Quark Cheesecake with Balsamic Roasted StrawberriesYou can make this with a balsamic cherry topping, like the topping I used in this Bittersweet Chocolate Marquise with Crème Chantilly & Balsamic Cherry Sauce about a year ago, last Mothers Day! Vanilla Quark Cheesecake with Roasted Balsamic Strawberries The quark in this  Vanilla Quarktorte lent beautiful texture and flavour to the cheesecake, as Mr PAB commented … quite like the cheesecake we had in Toronto in 1996! Some tastes linger on and it is always rewarding to hear a positive recollect!Vanilla Quark Cheesecake with Balsamic Roasted StrawberriesThe colours and flavours all come alive in this remarkably easy preparation. The base is simple, and made a little more yummy {and healthier} with some almonds thrown in. The batter too is very simple and made in a jiffy. Its a great make ahead dessert that rests overnight. If you have time, do top it with roasted sweet strawberries or cherries. I would love to do a chocolate variation one day, hopefully soon!Vanilla Quark Cheesecake with Balsamic Roasted Strawberries

Vanilla Quark Cheesecake with Balsamic Roasted StrawberriesUntil then, enjoy this beautiful dessert. A Happy Mothers Day to all you wonderful women … it’s just round the corner! Vanilla Quark Cheesecake with Roasted Balsamic Strawberries

[print_this]Recipe: Quark Vanilla Cheesecake with Roasted Balsamic Strawberries
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Summary: A Vanilla Quarktorte or a baked quark cheesecake, cooled then chilled overnight. Serve topped with luscious roasted balsamic strawberries!

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes

  • Crust
  • 200gm digestive biscuits
  • 50gm whole almonds
  • 75gm unsalted butter, melted
  • Filling
  • 500g quark cheese (I used homemade full fat quark}
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 40g cornflour
  • 130g (40g+90g) Castor sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla bean powder
  • 200ml low fat cream, room temperature
  • Roasted Balsamic Strawberries
  • 250g strawberries
  • 2-3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar


  1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Keep a 9″ spring form tin ready.
  2. Crust
  3. Run the biscuits and whole almonds in food processor until ground. {Thermomix: Speed 8, 10 seconds, repeat once}
  4. With the processor on low speed, pour the butter in and process until a moist crumb forms.
  5. Turn into the baking tin and press the crumbs into the base, building up the sides a bit if desired.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool for 20-30 minutes while you prepare the filling.
  7. Filling
  8. Place the quark cheese, egg yolks, cornflour, 40g Castor sugar, scraped vanilla bean, cream and vanilla bean powder if using into the bowl of your food processor and run on medium speed till smooth. {Thermomix: Speed 6, 10 seconds}
  9. Beat the whites with the remaining 90g sugar to firm peaks. Gently fold this through the quark cheese mixture and pour over baked base.
  10. Bake at 200C for 15 minutes, and then at 180C for 30-45 minutes until firm.
  11. Allow to cool completely in oven, leaving the door ajar.
  12. Cover well and chill before serving, preferably overnight. Serve topped with roasted balsamic strawberries.
  13. Roasted balsamic strawberries
  14. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  15. Toss all the ingredients and bake in a non reactive baking dish {preferably glass} for 45 minutes to an hour, until bubbly and thick. Stir once or twice.
  16. Cool completely and store in a glass jar in the fridge. Keeps for a week.
  17. Note: You can make the strawberries alongside the base as it bakes, and then for a while with the cheesecake. Stir once after you take the base out after 15 minutes, and once again when you reduce the oven temperature to 180C.


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“Food supports a story. Remember, there is a story behind everything you shoot.”
Adam Pearson

Matcha Macarons with Mascarpone Cherry FillingMarch 20th is marked as World Macaron Day / Jour de Macaron, a day that celebrates the very elegant and much applauded French cookie that is often referred to as the ‘new cupcake‘. Nothing appears to get close to shaking the macaron off its lofty perch as it continues to mesmerise and charm the world with delightful flavour combinations.Matcha Macarons with Mascarpone Cherry FillingAt MacTweets nothing gives us as much joy as celebrating this exquisite creation, and we do it every month with a great bunch of passionate macaron bakers.  This March, Jamie & I call for a new beginning. March welcomes the first changes from one season to the next, hinting at warmth and sunshine, the coming of springtime for some of us, the chilly days of winter for others.Matcha Macarons with Mascarpone Cherry FillingWe ask you to add a bit of spice to our lives with this change of season challenge at MacTweets. To make it even more fun, we call for you to be the harbingers of the coming season with something new, fresh and lively, incorporating both fruit and spice into one magnificent Macaron.Matcha Macarons with Mascarpone Cherry FillingI had many thoughts when the month began, leaping between the umpteen spices the spice-box offered, making it a difficult choice. I had thoughts of pink peppercorn with strawberries, black pepper & sour orange marmalade, cinnamon and apple. Then tragedy struck Japan and my thought pattern changed completely.My macarons had to be a tribute to the spirit of Japan, a brave and resilient nation which has stood up and faced the horrific natural disaster that hit it over a week ago. As tales of trauma and destruction continue to haunt the world, tales of bravery and rescue offer much needed joy. 9 days after calamity struck, an 80 year old lady and her grandson were rescued today. H O P E …

Matcha Macarons with Mascarpone Cherry FillingThe macaron shells are matcha flavoured, the filling some home preserved brandied cherries nestled in home made mascarpone. Matcha, though not a true spice, is sometimes referred to as a tea spice. The jar of brandied cherries in my fridge completed my tribute to Japan, a reference to cherry blossoms or sakura. Cherry blossom is an omen of good fortune and is also an emblem of love, affection and represents spring. Cherry blossoms are an enduring metaphor for the fleeting nature of life, and as such are frequently depicted in art.Matcha Macarons with Mascarpone Cherry FillingThe beginning of the year has hit Japan very hard, but they are a people that have risen above all odds, displaying strength and dignity in the face of unimaginable adversity. Sending good wishes  their way with these  macarons and four little rosebuds from my rambling rose.

Do you want to join us making MACARONS?

If you do, you are most welcome to join us  for this challenge, or the next. You can find all the information at our dedicated macaron blog MacTweets. We generally post the round-up by the end of every month, following which a new challenge is posted!


Recipe: Matcha Macarons with Mascarpone & Brandied Cherries

Summary: Macarons for Mactweets, the theme being Sugar & Spice, & everything nice…& fruity! I made these with Japan in mind – Matcha Japanese Green tea and cherries for their beautiful cherry blossoms that are referred to as ‘sakura’.

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1 egg white {I didn’t age mine}
2.5 tbsp powdered sugar
1/8 tsp egg white powder
1/4 tsp matcha
1/4 cup almond meal
1/2 cup powdered sugar
125gms mascarpone cream {homemade recipe here}
2 tsp powdered sugar
1/4 cup brandied cherries, drained {or preserved cherries, drained}


    Preheat oven to 140C.
    Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
    Blend the powdered sugar, almond meal and matcha brifely in the bowl of your food processor to mix. {you can sift it too}
    In a large clean bowl, beat for about 20 seconds till the egg white appears foamy. Gradually add the granulated sugar and continue to beat till it becomes firm and holds peaks, about 2 minutes.
    Carefully fold the dry ingredients, in two batches, into the beaten egg white with a flexible rubber spatula. When the mixture is just smooth and there are no streaks of egg white, stop folding. {Do not overmix}
    Using a teaspoon, or piping bag, drop / pipe the batter on the parchment-lined baking sheets in 1″ circles evenly spaced one-inch apart.
    Rap the baking sheet a few times firmly on the counter top to flatten the macarons, then rest for about an hour.
    Bake them for 15-18 minutes.
    Let cool completely then remove from baking sheet.
    Gently whip the mascarpone with sugar till smooth. Don’t overmix or it will become very runny.
    Pat the drained cherry gently on a kitchen towel, flatten.
    To assemble
    Match equal halves of macarons, and keep together.
    Use a small spoon or piping bag/nozzle, deposit a tiny amount of mascarpone on the flat side of the macaron, top with a flattened cherry, add a teeny dot of mascarpone, and sandwich with another half of the same size, squeezing gently. Leave to set in fridge.


I bake my macarons on the upper shelf in my oven, using just the lower element for heat. I also use double baking trays.
Baking time (duration): 30 minutes
Number of servings (yield): 8
Meal type: Snack/Dessert
Culinary tradition: French
My rating: 4 stars:  ★★★★☆ 1 review(s)
Copyright © Deeba @ Passionate About Baking.
Microformatting by hRecipe.


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“Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.”
Oprah Winfrey

Quark & Apple Crostata

The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.

Quark & Apple Crostata

A crostata is an Italian baked dessert tart, and a form of pie. It is traditionally prepared by folding the edges of the dough over the top of the jam/marmalade filling, creating a more “rough” look, rather than a uniform, circular shape. The jams that are traditionally used as a filling are cherries, peaches, apricots, berries. The crostata can also be filled with pieces of fresh fruit and pastry cream (crema pasticcera), but then it is called torta di frutta. A typical central Italian variety replaces jam with ricotta mixed with sugar, cocoa or pieces of chocolate and anisetta; this is called crostata di ricotta.

Quark & Apple Crostata I got to baking my crostata pretty early this month, and only because of the pressure of my home made quark which was nearing expiry. I didn’t think it would last another day, so I hit fast track and decided it was time for pie! I followed the pastry recipe that Simona provided, meandering from it characteristically as I was in a hurry, and used granular vanilla sugar instead of powdered sugar. Also added a scraped vanilla bean as I am wary of eggy flavours in pastry. I have a good stash of vanilla beans on hand, and love to use them where possible.

Quark & Apple CrostataFor the filling we had the option to go creative…pastry creme, baked fruit, fresh fruit, jam…whatever caught our fancy! My fancy? You guessed it … my crostrata would have quark! I had some quark that I had made yet again for a cake I wanted to try, but then along came this challenge. I decided to try my luck here. I also had on hand some apple mix left over from some Apple Walnut Cinnamon Parcels I had made a couple of days ago. The crostata was already a quark-tata, and would be a ‘fall tart’ I think I made a crostrata de quarka!

Quark & Apple Crostata The filling was to be sweet, full of fall flavour, topping the experimental quark filling. I considered adding cream to the quark, but once beaten it looked quick thick and delicious, so I skipped the cream. Added some eggs and a spoon of flour to help set it, and thought if it wouldn’t set, we would just scoop it into our mouths! By the time it was baked, and beautifully puffy, I gave it a tiny poke on top to see if it was jiggly, and I was thrilled to see it was set. I think I love experiments, especially ones that work out well…LOL!

Quark & Apple Crostata This is what I love about being a Daring Baker …the creative part. They give you a recipe, a basic which you need to follow, and then open it out for you to stamp it your own little way! This one was fun fun fun! I used a loose bottomed tart pan that my sis had got from the US, and a pastry cutter that she recently sent. I was dying to do the lattice, but figured that lattice on a hot pie might not work. I didn’t take into account the apple layer which was cold, but stuck the edges in a hurry. Next time, will try to weave a proper lattice. For this time, I was quite happy!

Petit Fours...cookies with whipped lemon curd cream I used the left over pastry to make sugar cookies as suggested by Simona, and have hung on to them for too many days. The weather being cold, they have been sitting happily in an air tight box. I found them 2 days ago, and almost gave them to the kids to chomp. Then in a burst of creativity, decided to top them with some whipped home made lemon curd cream, left over from my Mum’s birthday cake, a Lavendar Chiffon with Lemon Curd Whipped Cream, yet to be posted!

Lavender Chiffon CakeHere’s what I made last night…

Petit Fours...cookies with whipped lemon curd creamPetit fours … biscuits topped with home made lemon curd whipped cream, topped with strawberry cream, topped with fruit and biscuit bits. Ooooh this was good too, and definitely delicious!

Thank you Simona for the exciting challenge, and thank you as always Lisa of La Mia Cucina and Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice for hosting this fab kitchen!!

Quark & Apple Crostata Quark and Apple Crostata
Pasta Frolla {pastry/tart shell}
1/2 cup minus 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar
1 and 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
a pinch of salt
100g cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Grated zest of half a lemon (you could also use vanilla sugar as an option)
1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten in a small bowl with 1/2 a vanilla bean, scraped

Put sugar, flour, salt, and lemon zest in the food processor and pulse a few times to mix.
Add butter and pulse a few times, until the mixture has the consistency of coarse meal.
Empty food processor’s bowl onto your work surface.
Make a well in the center of the mounded flour and butter mixture and pour the beaten eggs into it. Use a fork to incorporate the liquid into the solid ingredients, and then use your fingertips.
Knead lightly just until the dough comes together into a ball. {I needed a tbsp of chilled water to bind my dough}. Shape the dough into a flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Place the dough in the refrigerator and chill for at least two hours. You can refrigerate the dough overnight.
Lightly butter/grease the tart pan.
Roll out the pastry and line the pan. {I used about 2/3 pastry only}. Chill in freezer, while the oven is preheating at 190C
Bake blind for 20-25 minutes using pie weights, or as I did, a heavy metal plate {or metal bowl placed over baking paper}
Cool base in pan once done.
Pie Filling
200g quark, well drained {homemade recipe here}
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 vanilla bean scraped
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 tbsp flour
Place all ingredients in a large bowl, and beat till smooth, 1-2 minutes. Turn into baked and cooled pie shell, and bake at 180C for 15 minutes.
While it’s baking, prepare the topping.
Quark & Apple Crostata MakingTopping:
2 apples, chopped
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1tsp flour
Apple filling:
Toss together all ingredients till apples are well coated. Take pie out after 15 minutes, and add topping, and lattice on top. Brush the lattice with egg white, and sprinkle over with vanilla sugar. Bake for another 45 minutes till nice and puffy. {Cover loosely with foil if the pastry is getting too brown.}. If you touch it gently, you will see that the filling is set and not jiggly. Allow to stand for at least an hour before slicing. Serve with unsweetened low fat cream!
Quark & Apple Crostata

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