Archive for the ‘dessert’Category

Spanish orange & almond tart for Christmas

Holiday tart of almond, saffron, and Seville orange
Last year for the holiday season we made saffron shortbread cookies, and we were feeling bad that we didn’t have a new holiday cookie this year. We got to thinking about winter sweets and some of our all-time favorite flavors, and the two sort of came together.

Some of the quintessential tastes of Spain are almonds, saffron, and bitter oranges. Why not adapt our standard linzer tart recipe to reflect that different range of flavors? Instead of hazelnuts in the dough, we could use almonds. Instead of vanilla, we could use saffron. And in place of raspberry jam, we could use Seville orange marmalade. (OK, we know that the marmalade is more a Scottish than Spanish flavor, but it does use the bitter oranges of Andalucía.)

Our first thought was to make almond meal using toasted Marcona almonds since they are the classic snack almond of southern Spain. We did that, but by losing the skin of the almond, we also lost a lot of the taste. Moreover, toasted blanched almonds ground up into too fine a flour. The result was a perfectly edible tart, but one with a more crumbly crust and less pronounced flavor than we were looking for.

Back to the drawing board. In the end, it turned out that the much less expensive California almonds gave the best flavor and were the easiest to work with. We toasted them in a dry pan in the oven at 400°F for about 10 minutes, then ground them into fine meal in a food processor after they had cooled. This technique gives a good toasted almond flavor, and also makes the saffron flavor more pronounced. The strength of saffron will depend on what kind you are using. It’s not very Spanish, but we got the best results with “Baby Saffron” from Kashmir, using four blisters of the single-serving packs.

Slices of the finished tart go well with espresso or a flute of cava.

ANDALUCÍAN CHRISTMAS TART slice of holiday tart

Makes one 7 1/2-inch (19 cm) fluted tart (serves 6-8)

Ingredients

1/3 cup (66 grams) granulated sugar
1 generous pinch saffron (0.2 gram)
1/4 teaspoon (1.5 grams) salt
1/2 cup (1 stick, 114 grams) butter, softened
1 egg
2/3 cup (96 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) baking powder
1 cup raw almonds (150 grams), lightly toasted
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon (200 grams) Seville orange marmalade

Directions

In coffee or spice grinder, mix sugar, saffron, and salt. Grind briefly. Empty into medium bowl. Add butter and beat until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat to mix well.

In another medium bowl, place flour and baking powder. Whisk to blend. Grind almonds to fine meal in food processor. Whisk nuts into flour mixture. Add nut-flour mixture to butter mixture. Mix on low speed until all ingredients are incorporated.

piping lattice onto tart Pat 2/3 cup of the dough into bottom of 7 1/2 inch (19 cm) fluted tart pan with removable bottom. Place remainder of dough into cookie press or pastry bag fitted with a 3/8-inch fluted tip. Pipe around the edges to make side crust. Place orange marmalade into shell and smooth out until even. Pipe a lattice over top of tart.

Refrigerate tart for 30 minutes while preheating oven to 350°F. Bake tart until preserves just begin to bubble – about 35 minutes. Transfer to rack on counter to cool. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream to balance the bitterness of the orange.

12

12 2014

TWL: Getting to know Prosecco DOC in Treviso

a-psan marco
Wine is one of the easiest and best ways to bring the taste of travel back home, so this post initiates what we’re calling The Wine List — travels in wine country with a focus on the wines themselves. And we launch TWL with a journey through the beautiful towns and delicious wines of the Prosecco DOC region of the Veneto and adjacent Friuli–all within driving distance of Venice.

a-Zonin prosecco Prosecco is one of those wines that’s almost too good for its own good. The light sparkling wine made from the Glera grape is the signature sipping wine of Venice, and it is synonymous with laughter and indolent afternoons at an outdoor cafe (see above, on Piazza San Marco). The wine is made in a tightly limited area of the Veneto and parts of nearby Friuli, and there’s a lot of good Prosecco DOC to go around. Although many of the members of the Prosecco DOC Consortium are small operations, some (like Zonin) are big enough to slake the insatiable thirst of Trader Joe’s customers. Even these mass-produced Proseccos are very good.

a-Treviso sculture little Venice My Prosecco fact-finding trip began at the Prosecco DOC headquarters in Treviso, a beautiful little city north of the Venice airport. Treviso is sometimes called the “little Venice” because four rivers flow through it and some of them were channeled to power mills. Despite being heavily bombarded by the Allies in World War II, traces of its old mill wheels and mill architecture remain. Dante immortalized the town in a line in the Paradiso dutifully reproduced on the 1865 bridge over the convergence of the Sile and Bottiniga rivers. The charming city makes a good base for exploring Prosecco country. My lodging, the Carlton Hotel (Largo Porta Altinia 15, + 39-0422-411-611, www.hotelcarlton.it) was modestly priced and conveniently located near the outskirts of the city. The center of the city was a five-minute stroll away, yet it was easy to get onto the circumferential highway to drive to the countryside. Future posts will visit specific producers, the wine-making school and vinoteca of Prosecco, and hit on on some of the scenic highlights of the region.

a-making tiramisu at Al FogherOne evening in Treviso, I dined at Al Foghèr Ristorante (Viale della Repubblica 10, +39-0422-432-950, www.hotelalfogher.it), which figures in the origin story of the now-ubiquitous dessert, tiramisù. The grandmother of the current owners, who had a more modest restaurant in the 1950s when the queen of Greece visited Treviso, concocted what she called an Imperial Cup. This link to gastronomic fame (or infamy) serves as a lure to the restaurant, which serves excellent Trevisano food. I caught just the tail end of the local radicchio season and enjoyed a couple of light dishes (including an excellent squid ink pasta with fresh vegetables) with a bottle of Bosco del Merlo Prosecco DOC (about $12 in the U.S.).

Periodically, the restaurant gives demonstrations of making tiramisù and I took furious notes. Here’s my translation into American measure based on a rapid-fire presentation in Italian. It goes very well with an extra-dry Prosecco DOC (which is sweeter than a brut).

TIRAMISÙ AL FOGHÈR

Serves 8

Ingredients

2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brandy
4 large egg yolks
12 ounces mascarpone cheese
1 cup espresso
package of ladyfingers or champagne biscuits
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, grated

Directions

Whisk together sugar, brandy, and egg yolks in heatproof bowl. Set bowl over saucepan of simmering water and whisk until well dissolved and mixture reaches 170F (77C) on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and beat in the mascarpone. Reserve mixture.

Dip a ladyfinger briefly in espresso, turning to coat, and place in clear glass serving bowl. Repeat until entire bowl is lined with espresso-saturated ladyfingers. Pour half of mascarpone mixture over them. Then make another layer of espresso-saturated ladyfingers, and top with remaining mascarpone. Grate chocolate over the top and refrigerate overnight.

14

09 2014

King’s Hawaiian: White bread with taste and soul

Bread puddingCourtney Tiara’s late grandfather founded King’s Hawaiian bakery in Hilo on the island of Hawaii in 1950. She brought a taste of the islands to Boston recently when she celebrated the introduction of the products to the area with a luncheon at Catalyst Restaurant in Cambridge.

According to Courtney, her grandfather was inspired by his Portuguese neighbors to create a soft and fluffy round bread similar to Portuguese sweet bread, but with a longer shelf life. The family-run company (Courtney’s 94-year-old great-uncle is the master baker) has expanded its product line to include dinner rolls, hamburger buns, and more. It relocated first to Honolulu and later to California. “My grandfather never imagined making it to California and then all the way out here,” she said.

lobster rollCatalyst chef William Kovel gave the bread a workout. He toasted the Original Hawaiian Sweet Round and topped it with seared foie gras, braised cherry, and orange. He served chicken liver mousse on a King’s Hawaiian crostini. He stuffed a hot dog bun with lobster salad. And he used the Original Sweet Round to make a bread salad to accompany a lamb tenderloin.

CourtneyThe dessert of white chocolate bread pudding with caramel sauce, Courtney’s personal favorite, is a King’s Hawaiian classic. “I make it all the time. You just have to be patient and let the bread dry out for a day so it will soak up the milk and eggs,” she said. “I under-bake mine a little because I like it wet.”

She may be partial to this combination, but Courtney encourages creativity. “Hawaiian style is real easy,” she said. “Just take whatever you have in your pantry and mix it up.”

WHITE CHOCOLATE CHIP BREAD PUDDING WITH CARAMEL SAUCE

Serves 9

Ingredients
King’s Hawaiian Original Hawaiian Sweet Round
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 cups white chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups milk
2 eggs, beaten
3 egg yolks, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups toasted pecans, chopped

Directions
1. Cut the bread into cubes the night before and leave out to become a tad stale.

2. In a medium saucepan, heat the cream over medium heat. Meanwhile, place the white chocolate chips in a large mixing bowl. When the cream comes to a simmer, remove the pan from the heat and slowly pour the cream over the chips, whisking until the chips melt. Whisk the sugar into the mixture; add the milk, eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla.

3. Add the bread to the bowl, gently stirring to coat the cubes. Set the mixture aside to allow the bread to soak, tossing periodically (about 30-40 minutes).

4. Toss the pecans into the soaked bread mixture, then pour into a baking dish (individual dishes can be used for single servings).

5. Place in 350F oven for about 45 minutes. Test the bread pudding to make sure the top is golden brown and the inside is cooked (but not too dry).

6. Remove from oven and serve with caramel sauce and an optional scoop of vanilla ice cream.

CARAMEL SAUCE

Ingredients
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon corn syrup
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
6 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

1. In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, water, and corn syrup. Place over high heat and cook until the sugar dissolves and begins to boil. Note: Do not stir the sugar as this could cause it to seize.

2. While the sugar is cooking, combine the cream, butter, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat. Keep an eye on the sugar while heating the cream to keep it from scorching. Cook until the butter melts, stirring it into the cream. When the mixture comes to a simmer, remove from heat.

3. Continue to cook the sugar until it darkens to a rich caramel color, 9 to 15 minutes. Swirl the pan as the sugar darkens. Watch carefully as it can burn easily at this stage.

4. When the sugar is rich caramel in color, immediately remove the pan from the heat and add the cream mixture in a slow, steady stream. The sugar will bubble and steam as the cream is added. Stir in the vanilla.

5. Drizzle over individual servings of bread pudding.

Recipes adapted from King’s Hawaiian

22

10 2013

The sweet taste of the Douro

vallado Francisco Ferreira waxed rhapsodic – and contrary to expectation. One of the original “Douro Boys,” the semi-revolutionary gang who have made Douro table wine almost better known than port in some quarters, Ferreira got a faraway look in his eyes.

Francisco Ferreira “I still make port because it is a fantastic product, and because, well…” He swept his arms out to gesture at the dramatic hillside, “well, we are in the Douro.” In fact, he makes vintage port (the just-declared 2011 is already spectacular) and a 20-year-old tawny.

orangesWe were having dinner at Quinta do Vallado (Vilarinho dos Freires, Peso da Regua, +351 254 324326, www.quintadovallado.com), the family estate that has also been a wine tourism destination in Portugal since 2005 – all the more so since the addition of eight more rooms and a full-fledged dining room in a new section last year. So for dessert, he not only brought out the 2011 vintage cask sample, but had the kitchen deliver a stupendous dessert. It consisted of paper-thin slices of oranges from trees that border the hotel with a reduction of white port (his, of course) with dark chocolate sprinkles.

The Douro Boys may have brought some tart ferment to the Douro Valley, but even they love that sweet spot it can deliver.

27

06 2013

Italy #5 — Parmigiano-Reggiano for dessert

Parmigiano dessert plate 1 Leave it to the Italians to keep dessert simple. With its strong umami flavor (second only to Roquefort cheese in glutamate levels), Parmigiano-Reggiano makes everything around it taste better. Following the Italian example, we like to make a plate with a mix of nuts, dried fruit, and fresh fruit. This fall, for example, we paired chunks of a two-year-old buttery summer milk Parmigiano-Reggiano with lightly toasted walnuts, diced apple, and buttered slices of baguette.

Donnafugata passito The extra special touch on each plate was a small cluster of raisins that I brought home from Donnafugata’s vineyards on Pantelleria. The Zibbibo grape (Moscato di Alessandria) is one of the few things that grows on this windswept rock halfway between Sicily and Tunisia. (The other is capers.) The picked grapes are spread under muslin-topped hoops to dry from the heat and wind. Then the Rallo family presses the bunches to make Ben Ryé, an intense passito wine. When I visited the winery, Giacomo plucked a large bunch off the conveyor belt and handed it to me. “For the flight,” he said, but the grapes were so intense that I saved them for months – until the Legends from Europe presented us with all that delicious cheese.

31

12 2012

Beyond chile peppers: the nuanced Santa Fe cooking of Estevan García at the Tabla de los Santos

We had the pleasure of spending Spanish Market in Santa Fe last July at the Hotel St. Francis, a luxury hotel that strongly resembles a monastery. And while we were there, we enjoyed the cooking of Estevan García, one of the pioneers of refined Southwestern cooking from his days in Los Angeles. A one-time monk himself, he seems right at home at the St. Francis. His cooking is as straightforward and unpretentious as it is subtle and delicious.

We wrote about him for the Boston Globe‘s food section. The piece appeared on May 9. You can find it online here. The article also included García’s recipe for this incredibly rich goat’s milk flan:

GOAT’S MILK FLAN

Serves 6

The goat’s milk adds a slight tang to this flan. While flans can be rubbery, the long, slow cooking keeps this version smooth and creamy.

Ingredients
2 cups heavy cream, divided
1 cup goat’s milk
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1/4 cup water
1 vanilla bean
4 whole eggs
2 additional egg yolks

Directions

1. In a deep pot, combine 1 cup heavy cream and 1 cup goat’s milk.

2. In a shallow nonstick pan, spread 3/4 cup sugar. Sprinkle water over sugar and place over medium heat. Swirl pan to fully dissolve sugar, then continue heating until mixture turns a dark amber. It should look nearly burnt. Remove from heat and divide caramel into six 6-oz. ramekins. Swirl to cover bottoms and spread caramel partly up the sides.

3. Split vanilla bean and scrape seeds into remaining 3/4 cup sugar. Sift the vanilla into the sugar using a fork.

4. Whisk together eggs, extra yolks, and the vanilla-sugar mixture until sugar is dissolved.

5. Over medium heat, warm the cream-milk mixture until it looks like it will boil over. Remove from heat and add the other cup of heavy cream to cool it down.

6. Stir some of cream-milk mixture into eggs to temper them. Then stir the egg mixture into the milk-cream mixture. Fill ramekins.

7. Set the oven at 250 degrees. Place folded dish towel in bottom of a large roasting pan. Place ramekins in pan, taking care that they do not touch each other or the walls of the roasting pan. Place in oven and add enough scalding hot water to come halfway up the ramekins. Bake for three hours or until custards are firm in the middle.

8. Cool ramekins on rack. Cover and refrigerate for at least four hours. To serve, dip ramekins in hot water and use knife to loosen edges. Unmold each onto a small plate or shallow bowl.

Adapted from Estevan Garcia, Tabla de Los Santos, Santa Fe, N.M.

24

05 2012

Sweet on grandmothers

When it comes to sweets, even the most adventurous chefs seem to have soft spots for their grandmothers’ homey favorites. When Josh Moore, the executive chef at upscale Italian restaurant Volare (volare-restaurant.com) in Louisville, Kentucky, was tapped to prepare the dessert course at a recent taping of the TV cooking show “Secrets of Louisville Chefs Live,” he decided on his grandmother’s recipe for Kentucky Jam Cake.

“It’s very simple,” he told the studio audience. “Mix the wet ingredients. Mix the dry ingredients. Then combine them.” Moore’s grandmother added applesauce for moistness. She also made a decadent caramel frosting. As Moore beat together the butter, sugar, and cream in a stand mixer, it was all I could do not to stand up and ask if I could lick the beaters.

I did, however, have a chance to sample the cake, which is is firm but moist, with a pleasing texture from the chopped nuts. It stands up well to the rich caramel frosting.

The live episodes of “Secrets” are filmed at the Kitchen Theater at Sullivan University’s National Center for Hospitality Studies. Culinary arts students hone their skills at Winston’s Restaurant, a fine dining destination on campus. For information on how to obtain tickets to a live taping, see www.newlocal.tv; to learn more about Winston’s, see www.sullivan.edu/winstons.

Look no farther for Moore’s grandma’s cake!

KENTUCKY JAM CAKE

1 1/2 cups black raspberry jam
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup applesauce
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon salt
5 eggs
1 1/2 cups chopped black walnuts

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl by hand until blended. Add all remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour into a buttered Bundt cake pan or layer pans and bake for 45-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool and unmold.

CARAMEL FROSTING

1/2 pound unsalted butter
3 cups brown sugar
2/3 cup heavy cream
3 cups powdered sugar

Cook butter, brown sugar, and cream until it comes to a boil. Let boil for 2 minutes. Put in mixer, add powdered sugar, and stir with paddle attachment until incorporated. Spread hot frosting over cake.

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19

03 2012

What to Eat at the Airport: ATL (Atlanta Hartsfield International)

Back in November, we described how the fantastic tamales at Pappasito’s Cantina had helped to salvage an otherwise tedious delay at the Dallas Fort Worth airport. Since then, we’ve been keeping an eye out for local food specialties to break the monotony of the fairly generic airport experience and at least glean a little flavor of a place that we’re only passing through. We had practically written off Atlanta airport where the nice little food court in Terminal B had a fairly predictable line-up of Sbarro pizza, Popeye’s Fried Chicken & Biscuits, Seattle’s Best Coffee, and even sandwiches from Boston-based Au Bon Pain. But, it pays not to give up too quickly. Away from the food court area, we discovered Café Intermezzo, a coffee shop modeled on those in Germany and Austria. It was first established in the Atlanta suburb of Dunwoody in 1979 and also has an outlet in the Brookwood neighborhood of Atlanta and another downtown. Since December 2009, it has shared space with Buckhead Books in Terminal B at ATL.

The cafe has a full menu of soups, salads, sandwiches, and pastas–and an irresistible selection of European-style cakes and tortes that beckon to harried travelers from a well-lighted display case. Not knowing that one slice would be more than enough for two, we ordered a Golden Chocolate Torte (three layers of buttery golden cake with chocolate butter cream and dark chocolate shavings) and an aptly named Heavenly Lemon Torte (lemon cake and lemon cream cheese icing). Both had light golden cake that was not overly sweet, and both frostings were intense yet fairly light. (Good thing, since the slices were about six inches high.) Our server Tangi also extolled the virtues of the Red Velvet Torte with fresh strawberries and the Strawberry Vanilla Bean Mousse Torte. We’re almost looking forward to passing through Atlanta again.

02

03 2012

Roman holiday

With a chance to spend a week in Rome, we decided to book an apartment so we could live more like Romans than transients. A recommendation in the guidebook Pauline Frommer’s Italy led us to Worldwide Accommodations, where we found an apartment in Trastevere, the 13th century neighborhood across the Tiber from the Jewish Ghetto and the ruins of ancient Rome. Overlooked by the 19th and 20th century modernization of the centro storico, most of Trastevere remains a colorful and intimate place stretched out between the Gothic churches of Santa Cecilia and Santa Maria in Trastevere.

Adding to that neighborly feeling, our landlady Carla Conti welcomed us with a simple tube cake that became breakfast for the week when we topped pieces with sliced fresh strawberries and blood orange segments that we purchased at the morning market in Piazza San Cosimato. When we left, she even gave us the recipe (see below).

We enjoyed the cozy apartment with a spacious bedroom, a modern bath, a pleasant sitting room, and a compact but functional kitchen. The neighborhood was so full of good trattorie and osterie that we never did get around to cooking dinner, but we did make breakfast. More to come on some of our favorite restaurants and recipes for typical Roman dishes.

CARLA CONTI’S HEALTHY ROMAN CAKE
Carla makes this simple cake as a welcome gift for renters in her Trastevere apartment. Her version comes out as a large, slender ring. Since that kind of pan is hard to find in the U.S., we decided to cut the recipe in half and use a small (6.5 inch) Bundt pan. Like most cakes and pastries, this one works best if you weigh the ingredients rather than relying on volume measurements. Because it uses vegetable oil and yogurt, Carla calls it a ”healthy” cake – but she often drizzles it with chocolate fondant to make a more decadent dessert.

Ingredients

115 grams white flour
8 grams baking powder
2 small eggs
125 grams superfine sugar
60 grams vegetable oil
75 grams yogurt (plain or fruit)

Directions

1. Heat oven to 350F. Grease and flour small Bundt pan.

2. Sift together flour and baking powder. Set aside.

3. In medium bowl, beat eggs until frothy. Beat in sugar, a little at a time to make sure it dissolves. With mixer running, add vegetable oil and beat until mixture takes on consistency of soft mayonnaise.

4. Add alternating portions of flour mixture and yogurt, beating well after each addition. Pour mixture into Bundt pan. Bake 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean.

5. Cool on rack for five minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely. Slice and serve with fresh berries.

19

04 2011

Off to the races at Keeneland


I was a little surprised when my friend Patti told me that I should wear a skirt or dress, or at least a nice pantsuit, when we went to the thoroughbred races at Keeneland (www.keeneland.com). But Patti knows that my travel wardrobe consists mainly of black jeans and white blouses – not a bad look if I do say so myself, but definitely not the right thing for Lexington, Kentucky’s National Historic Landmark track. (Hats, by the way, are optional.) Keeneland, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, was founded in 1936 to serve as an elegant showcase for the Bluegrass thoroughbred horse industry. Live races are held only twice a year (this year April 8-29 and October 7-29) and are quite an event. Keeneland is especially stunning in the spring when the dogwood, magnolia and redbud trees are in bloom.

We could have gone more casual if we opted for general admission, but we wanted to make a day of it with a buffet lunch in one of the rooms overlooking the grandstand. Between visits to the buffet line for cheeses and salads, roast beef, roast chicken, and several pasta dishes, we pondered our bets and then rushed out to an open balcony to cheer on our horses as they sped around the 1 1/16-mile oval track. We also wandered out to the paddock area where horses warm up and seasoned handicappers can make a final assessment of horse and jockey before placing their bets. “Bet on the horse that finishes first,” someone told me with a laugh. I didn’t have much luck with my $2 bets, but I did secure the recipe for Keeneland’s signature Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce. And that’s a winner.

KEENELAND BREAD PUDDING WITH MAKER’S MARK BOURBON SAUCE

This recipe is included in Keeneland Entertains: Traditional Bluegrass Hospitality and Favorite Recipes, Fran Taylor’s cookbook tribute to Keeneland’s 75th anniversary. I have kept Fran’s original format and size—big enough to serve a race weekend party.

Serves: 10 to 12

BREAD PUDDING

2 quarts milk
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
8 eggs beaten
2-3 quarts cubed white bread (or Sister Schubert rolls)
1 cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Whisk sugar into milk until dissolved. Add eggs, vanilla and stir. Soak bread in mixture for several hours or overnight. Pour into Pyrex or stainless pan. Sprinkle with raisins and cinnamon and “push” into mix. Bake at 250 degrees for approximately 1 1/2 hours or until firm.

MAKER’S MARK BOURBON SAUCE

1 lb. butter
2 lb. powdered sugar
1 cup Maker’s Mark Bourbon

Let butter become soft at room temperature and add powdered sugar. Whip bourbon into mix until it makes a frosting consistency. Ladle sauce over hot bread pudding and it will melt on its own.

02

04 2011