Monday, 30 November 2015

Lemon & Raspberry Cheesecake

I have been thinking about trying to make cheesecake for a while.  I read a number of recipes and watched a few videos before coming up with what I wanted.  This was a Lemon & Raspberry Cheesecake, which has a digestive biscuit base and then a baked cheese, flavoured with lemon juice and zest and with a seedless raspberry jam/coulis swirled through it.  

Most of the recipe actually comes from one on BBC Good Food, with the raspberry swirl being included instead of raspberries.  I read reviews of that recipe and some people said how wonderful it was, where others reported that it failed completely.  I was therefore a bit hesitant to play about with the recipe too much, but I wanted the raspberry swirled through rather than the raspberries folded into the cheesecake mixture.  Although I made my own raspberry jam it is perfectly acceptable to use a good quality store bought jam,, in which case you could ignore steps 3,4 and 5 of the recipe.

Happily it has turned out rather well, so I am very pleased with the result.  It does take rather a long time to complete, but the effort is well worth, as you end up with a delicious lemony cheesecake with hits of raspberry too.
Lemon and Raspberry Cheesecake

Here is a video of how to make this cheesecake:
Lemon and Raspberry Cheesecake

Ingredients:

  • 225g raspberries fresh or frozen
  • 100g granulated sugar
  • 300ml water
  • 220g digestive biscuits
  • 83g unsalted butter, melted
  • 600g full fat soft cheese
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 150g natural yogurt
  • 3 medium eggs
  • grated zest of 2 lemons and the juice of one.
  • 50g plain flour

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c.
  2. Grease a 9inch springform cake tin.
  3. Place the water and granulated sugar in a saucpan and bring to the boil.
  4. As the sugar dissolves add the raspberries and allow to boil, stirring from time to time, for about 30 minutes until the raspberries have disintegrated and the mixture has begun to thicken.
  5. Remove from the heat and strain to remove the seeds.
  6. Set aside to cool completely.
  7. Take the digestive biscuits and turn them into crumbs, in a food processor, or in a plastic bag hit with a rolling pin.
  8. Place the crumbs in a bowl and add the melted butter and mix together.
  9. Tip the mixture into the cake tin and spread all over the base, patting down to make it firm.
  10. Place in the oven for 6 minutes.
  11. Remove from the oven and allow to cool, then place in the fridge to allow the base to firm up completely.
  12. Preheat the oven to 120c
  13. In a stand mixer(this can all be done by hand if necessary) place the soft cheese and sugar.
  14. Mix until combined.  It doesn't need a lot of mixing as we don't want air in the mixture.
  15. Add the yogurt and mix in.
  16. Add the eggs, one at a time and mix to combine.
  17. Add the lemon zest and juice and mix to combine.
  18. Add the flour and mix again just to combine.
  19. Place about half the mixture in the cake tin and spread all over the base.
  20. Use a teaspoon to place little blobs of the raspberry jam onto the mixture and then use a knife or skewer to swirl it in a bit.  You don't want to mix it all in so the mixture is pink.
  21. Add the remainder of the cheese mixture and spread all over, using a spatula to level it off.
  22. Add more blobs of raspberry jam and swirl that in as well.
  23. Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes.
  24. Turn the oven off and leave the cheesecake in there for another hour.
  25. Remove from the oven and using a thin, sharp knife run it around the edge of the cheesecake to loosen it from the edge of the cake tin.  This will help avoid cracks in the cheesecake as it cools and contracts.
  26. Allow to cool completely and then cover with clingfilm and place in the refrigerator overnight.
  27. In the morning remove from the fridge and take the cheesecake out of the tin and place on a plate for serving.


Saturday, 28 November 2015

Apricot & Pistachio Muffins

Today I made some lovely muffins, Apricot and Pistachio.  The combination appealed to me and in muffin form I was sure they would be very good.

So it turned out, they taste wonderful, not too sweet but with the lovely apricot flavour, and the added crunch of nuts.  Dried apricots, soaked in a little lemon juice are ideal for these.  Muffins are always very simple to make, and don't take long so almost anybody can make then and they will turn out very well indeed.
Apricot & Pistachio Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 140g dried apricots, finely chopped
  • 50g pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 160g plain flour
  • 65g caster sugar
  • 60ml natural yoghurt
  • 60g butter, melted
  • 1 medium egg
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • sugar for sprinking

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c/160C Fan/350F
  2. Grease a 12 hole muffin tin, or line it with paper cases.
  3. Toss the dried apricot pieces in the lemon juice.
  4. In a large bowl whisk the flour, nutmeg, baking powder and salt together to mix.  Set aside.
  5. In another bowl add the butter to the sugar and mix thoroughly.
  6. Add the yoghurt and egg and whisk until combined.
  7. Add the dried apricot and mix in.
  8. Add the flour mixture and stir in until barely combined.
  9. Add the pistachios and mix in gently until the mixture is just combined.
  10. Divide the mixture equally between the 12 muffins cases.  They will be about 2/3 full.
  11. Sprinkle over a little granulated sugar(or as I did, preserving sugar which is a larger crystal).
  12. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until a skewer poked into the middle comes out clean.
  13. Remove from the oven and after a couple of minutes remove the muffins to a wire rack to cool.

Note: If you prefer larger muffins you can fill just 9 muffin cases, but you may need to bake for a little longer.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Dark Chocolate & Stem Ginger Muffins -

I was exploring the possibilities of making some dark chocolate muffins with ginger, since the two go so well together, when I came across a very nice recipe on Zeb Bakes website.  Since I had two jars of stem ginger in the cupboard I thought I might as well try that recipe.

Making muffins is never terribly onerous since it is really just a case of mixing wet ingredients together and then mixing the dry ingredients together too and then combining them.

This recipe is really just the same, but with an additional task of melting some butter and chocolate together as the starting point. 
Dark Chocolate & Stem Ginger Muffins

I must say my attempt at these muffins has turned out rather well, they certainly taste very good indeed.

I am sure they will be eaten quite quickly, though I see no reason why they should not freeze very well too.

Dark Chocolate & Stem Ginger Muffins

Ingredients:
Wet mixture:
  • 110g unsalted butter
  • 100g dark chocolate(I used 70%)
  • 1 medium egg
  • 100g natural yoghurt
  • 160g milk(I used semi-skimmed)
  • 2 balls or nuggets of stem ginger, finely diced.
Dry Ingredients:
  • 260g plain flour
  • 200g light brown muscovado sugar
  • 10g ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 150g dark chocolate chips(I used 70%)
  • 1 ball/nugget of stem ginger
Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 170C/150C Fan/340F
  2. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases
  3. In a bain marie(double boiler) melt the butter and 100g chocolate and stir to combine.  Then set aside to cool a little
  4. In a bowl mix the egg, yoghurt and milk together.
  5. Add in the butter/chocolate mixture and stir to combine.
  6. Add in the finely diced stem ginger and stir to spread throughout the mixture.
  7. In another bowl mix the flour, sugar, ground ginger, baking soda and salt.
  8. Pour that dry mixture into the bowl of wet mixture and stir until just combined. Do not over-stir.
  9. Add in the 150g of chocolate chips and stir to combine.
  10. Spoon the mixture evenly between the 12 muffins cases.
  11. Place a sliver of stem ginger on the top of each uncooked muffin.
  12. Bake in the oven of 20-25 minutes, until a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean.  Mine took a full 25 minutes, but it rather depends on how the individual oven performs.
  13. Allow to cool for a few minutes and then transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.


Monday, 23 November 2015

Empire Biscuits

I had a yearning for a Royal Scot biscuit, but sadly McVities have stopped making them, which is such a shame.  But that led me to think about Empire Biscuits, since a quick way of making them was to use Royal Scots.  So I set about making my own Empire Biscuits.  They are a nice shortbread biscuit, well actually two biscuits, sandwiched together with some jam and then iced and topped with a glace cherry.

My recipe is very simple, and uses very few ingredients.  the recipe below will make 32 biscuits of the size I used, which is about 2.5 inches in diameter. That means you will end up with 16 Empire biscuits once you have sandwiched them together.

I must say I am very pleased with the results, they taste wonderful.  The biscuits, once iced and topped are best left until the next day to eat, to give time for the icing to harden nicely.  You can also freeze them or keep them in an airtight container for a few days, if they last that long. 

I have also made a video of this recipe, which I will edit and put online in the next couple of days, so check back if you want to see that.



Empire Biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 225g unsalted butter, cold
  • 300g plain flour,
  • 75g icing sugar
  • Raspberry(or Strawberry) jam for filling, as much or as little as you like.
  • 200g icing sugar, for the icing
  • 2 to 3 tsp cold water.
  • 8 glace cherries cut in half(I used morello since I like those best)

Method:

  1. In a bowl, or in a mixer, mix the flour and butter together until it resembles breadcrumbs
  2. Add the 75g icing sugar and continue to combine. Keep mixing until the ingredients come together into a dough.
  3. Place the dough in clingfilm and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F/Gas Mark4
  5. Line two baking trays with parchment paper.
  6. Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out until about 1/8 - 1/4 inch thick.
  7. Use a cookie cutter to cut into rounds, about 2.5 inches.
  8. Place on a baking tray and bake for 10-12 minutes, until they start to go a golden colour.
  9. Remove from the oven and all to cool completely on a wire rack.
  10. Put the biscuits into evenly matched pairs.
  11. Put some raspberry jam on the underside of one biscuit of each pair and then place its pair on top.
  12. Sieve the 200g icing sugar and add some water and start to mix.  Keep mixing until you have a thick consistency, but so that it just runs off the spoon.  If if it too runny add most sugar. If it is too thick add a little more water.
  13. Spoon some icing over each of the 16 sandwiched biscuits, make sure it doesn't run over the sides.
  14. Place 1/2 a glace cherry in the centre of the icing.
  15. Allow the icing to harden before eating.


Saturday, 21 November 2015

Peach & Raspberry Frangipane Tart - Video

Peach & Raspberry Frangipane Tart
A few weeks ago I posted my recipe for Peach and Raspberry Frangipane Tart. Today I am posting a video of that recipe.  This is my first video, so it is not very polished, but it does show how to make the tart.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Lime & Pistachios Cupcakes

After a lovely trip to Prague I am back in baking mode.  Today I made some lovely cupcakes, from a recipe I found on Tea At Midnight, from a link on Google+.  It was Lime and Pistachio Cupcakes which I thought would very probably be delicious.  

The recipe at the link above is for 6 cupcakes, but I decided to double the ingredients, so I could have a full dozen. 

The cake element has ground pistachios in the mixture to give it a lovely flavour and a nice colour too.  I couldn't find ground pistachios, so I bought kernels and ground them myself in a coffee grinder that I use specifically for grinding nuts.   

The recipe is very easy, and can be done entirely by hand, or in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer.  As long as the ingredients for the cupcakes are all well combined they will turn out very well.

Then it is just a simple task to make the buttercream and flavour it with lime juice.  

I have tasted mine and can attest to the fact that they are very nice indeed.  Well worth the little time and effort required to make them.
Lime and Pistachio Cupcakes

Ingredients:
For the cupcakes:
  • 140g self raising flour
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 116g butter
  • 110g ground pistachio
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 60 ml milk
For the buttercream and topping
  • 280g icing sugar
  • 160g butter
  • 2 limes zested and juiced.
Method:
  1. Set oven to 160°CFan (180°C conventional)/350F
  2. Line a muffin tin with paper cases
  3. Combine all the ingredients for the cake in a bowl and mix well until you have a smooth green goo. If your mix looks a bit dry add an extra spoonful of milk.
  4. Spoon your mixture evenly into 12 cases. 
  5. Cook for 22-25mins (until a skewer poked into the centre of a cake comes out clean)and  remove from the oven, leave to cool.
  6. Once cooled it's time to start your icing. Grate the zest of your lime for decoration at the end. 
  7. Pop the icing sugar and butter in a bowl and mix carefully until smooth. Once that's done add the juice of a lime gradually so you can control the taste and consistency.
  8. Put the icing into a piping bag and pipe over the cakes.
  9. Finally sprinkle the zest over the top of each cake,

Friday, 6 November 2015

Mini Cheesecakes

Today I am presenting some mini cheesecakes, made with a slightly chocolate flavoured base and with a chocolate decoration.

I cannot profess to be a lover of cheesecake at all, but I thought I would make my own and see if I enjoyed them more than those I have eaten in restaurants.  My first thought was to make one large cheesecake, but then I had the idea of doing individual ones in a muffin tin.

For the base I used digestive biscuits processed to a fine crumb and then mixed with some cocoa powder and then some butter to bind the mixture.

Once the bases had been baked slightly it was time to make the cheesecake mixture, which is very simple, just creamed cheese with sugar, eggs, vanilla and some white chocolate and buttermilk to add a little flavour.

Once baked and cooled, and then refrigerated for a few hours, to let them firm up, they were then ready to be decorated with some melted chocolate.

So it was all very simple and the results are very pleasing.  I know they will be enjoyed by others even though they have not entirely converted me to cheesecake.

They have been tasted by family members who confirm that they are very good indeed, which is pleasing since I would not be the best of judges in this instance.

Mini Cheescakes
Ingredients:
  • 120g crushed and ground digestive biscuits
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 60g melted butter
  • 450g full fat cream cheese
  • 135g granulated sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 55g white chocolate, melted
  • 55g buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 50g dark chocolate

Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F
  2. In a mixing bowl combine the ground digestive biscuits and the cocoa powder
  3. Add the melted butter and mix until combined.
  4. Divide the biscuit mixture into paper cups lining a 12 cup muffin tin.  
  5. Use a spoon to spread the mixture across the base and press it down to make firm.
  6. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes then remove and allow to cool.
  7. In a bowl of a stand mixer(this can all be done by hand too), place the cream cheese and mix on slow until nice and smooth.
  8. Add the sugar and beat again until combined.
  9. Add the eggs, one at a time and mix again until combined.
  10. Add the vanilla extract, melted white chocolate and the buttermilk and mix until combined.
  11. Divide the mixture evenly between the the biscuit bases in the muffin cases.
  12. Shake the tin a little to level off the mixture in each cup.
  13. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.  Check after about 18 minutes.  You want the mixture to have firmed up but still to be a little wobbly in the centre.
  14. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin.  
  15. Once completely cooled cover the cheesecakes with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the to firm up.
  16. Once the cheesecakes are nice and firm you can make the topping.  Melt the dark choclate in a bain marie(double boiler), or in the microwave oven.
  17. Once melted place the chocolate into a piping bag, with just a small hole cut in the bottom.
  18. Pipe a pattern of your choice onto each individual cheesecake.
  19. Since the cheesecakes are cold, straight from the fridge, the chocolate should firm up almost immediately and be ready to eat.
  20. Remove from the paper cases to serve.


Monday, 2 November 2015

Homemade Jaffa Cakes

Jaffa cakes are a lovely cake-like biscuit, made of a fat free sponge with a layer of orange jelly on top and then coated on top of that with lovely dark chocolate.

I had the suggestion for making them from my sister in Canada, clearly she was yearning for some, though she wont be able to eat mine from thousands of miles away.

Having checked a few recipes, which were all very similar, I opted to follow the recipe on BBC Food .It is very simple, if a little time consuming and the result are very pleasing indeed.  The homemade version tastes just like the shop bought ones.  It is very easy to get carried away and eat one after the other.

In the Czech Republic they have the same thing, but call them Coko Piskoty and use different flavours of jelly.  I may well make them again with a cherry or raspberry flavour, they will be awesome I am sure.
Homemade Jaffa Cakes

Ingredients:
For the cakes
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 50g/2oz caster sugar
  • 50g/2oz plain flour, sieved
For the filling
  • 1 x 135g/4¾oz packet orange jelly, chopped
  • 1 tbsp orange marmalade
  • 125ml/4½fl oz boiling water
  • 200g/7oz good quality dark chocolate, minimum 70 per cent cocoa solids, broken into pieces
Method:
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
For the cakes, bring a little water to the boil in a pan, then reduce the heat until the water is simmering. 
Suspend a heatproof bowl over the water (do not allow the base of the bowl to touch the water). 
Add the eggs and sugar to the bowl and beat continuously for 4-5 minutes, or until the mixture is pale, fluffy and well combined.
Add the flour, beating continuously, until a thick, smooth batter forms.
Half-fill each well in a 12-hole muffin tin with the cake batter. 
Transfer the tin to the oven and bake the cakes for 8-10 minutes, or until pale golden-brown and cooked through (the cakes are cooked through when a skewer inserted into the centre of the cakes comes out clean.) 
Remove from the oven and set the cakes aside, still in their tray, until cool.
Meanwhile, for the filling, in a bowl, mix together the jelly, marmalade and boiling water until the jelly has dissolved and the mixture is smooth. 
Pour the filling mixture into a shallow-sided baking tray or large dish to form a 1cm/½in layer of jelly. Set aside until completely cooled, then chill in the fridge until set.
When the jelly has set and the cakes have cooled, cut small discs from the layer of jelly, equal in diameter to the cakes. Sit one jelly disc on top of each cake.
Bring a little water to the boil in a pan, then reduce the heat until the water is simmering. 
Suspend a heatproof bowl over the water (do not allow the base of the bowl to touch the water). 
Add the chocolate and stir until melted, smooth and glossy, then pour over the cakes. Set aside until the melted chocolate has cooled and set.