CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Easter desserts make me think of pineapple, strawberries, lemon and coconut. Oh, and that Easter Bunny cake you make cutting a round cake into ears and a bow tie, adding them to a round cake. Or those green-tinted coconut "nests" with tiny colored candy eggs or jelly beans in the middle. And chocolate bunnies, of course.
I've made lemon-blueberry pound cakes, strawberry short cake and pineapple upside down cakes for Easter, but was looking for something a little different. Both Coconut Cheesecake Nests and Strawberry Cream Tart are more decadent desserts than I usually make, but I reasoned that they would be fine for a special occasion. Besides, there will be several thin teenage boys with obviously high metabolisms around who will probably polish them off quickly and reduce temptation for the rest of us.
Skillet Pineapple Coconut Banana Upside Down Cake combines tropical flavors layered and baked in a cast iron skillet for a surprisingly lighter option.
Passover begins this year at sundown on the Friday before Easter. It's a challenge to find sweet recipes for this occasion because bakers must follow special dietary laws during Passover, in addition to kosher laws. During Passover, observant Jews do not eat leavened products containing wheat, barley, oats, rye or spelt.
Norene Gilletz, a cookbook author and food writer from Toronto, explained that potato starch is often substituted for flour. She included Dr. Ruth Westheimer's recipe for Passover Nut Torte in the cookbook "Healthy Helpings." Her recipe is printed below.
Reach Julie Robinson at jul...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1230.Strawberry Cream Tart
1 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, well chilled
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
1 tablespoons very cold water
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, (1/3 fat is fine)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 pound fresh strawberries, sliced
1 pound whole fresh strawberries, stemmed
GREASE 9-inch tart pan.
COMBINE in food processor 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar and salt, if desired. Add butter and process until mixture resembles coarse meal. Combine egg yolk and water. Gradually add to flour mixture and process until dough just holds together.
PRESS dough into a flat disk and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Chill 30 minutes.
HEAT oven to 375 degrees.
ROLL OUT crust dough on floured surface, using a floured rolling pin. Press into bottom and sides of prepared pan. Line crust with foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until edges are slightly browned, 15 to 18 minutes. Remove pie weights and foil and continue baking 5 to 8 minutes, until gold brown. Remove from oven and cool on rack.
PROCESS cream cheese in food processor until fluffy. Add lemon juice, lemon zest and 3/4 cup sugar. Process until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. In a medium bowl, whip cream to soft peaks. Fold cream cheese mixture into whipped cream.
PLACE half the mixture into prepared and cool pastry. Layer sliced strawberries over cream mixture and cover with remaining half of the cream mixture. Arrange whole strawberries, pointed ends up, over entire tart.
CHILL 3 to 5 hours before serving.
Adapted from a recipe in Colorado Collage
Coconut Cheesecake Nests
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened (1/3 fat is fine)
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup cookie crumbs (chocolate sandwich or graham)
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 cups coconut
Mini candy eggs
HEAT oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan with paper cups and set aside.
MELT the butter and combine it with cookie crumbs. Press 1 tablespoon of the mixture into the bottom of each muffin cup. Bake for 8 minutes, remove from the oven and allow to cool.
WHILE the crust is baking, beat cream cheese, sugar and egg with a handheld mixer, until well blended. Spoon cream cheese mixture over baked cookie crust. Bake for 20 minutes, or until center is set.
WHILE mini cheesecakes bake, place the coconut on a baking sheet and bake for 4-5 minutes, rotating the pan half way through. Once the coconut is lightly browned, remove from the oven and allow to cool.
SPOON coconut over the cheesecake filling and top with mini candy eggs. Repeat with the remaining cheesecakes. Place in the fridge and serve cold.
Source: Adapted from a recipe from familybites.ca/
Skillet Pineapple Coconut Banana Upside Down Cake
Yield: 10 servings
2 tablespoons butter