Mini Lemon Cheesecakes

I wanted to make my boyfriend’s birthday perfect. I went all out with banners, balloons, confetti and a pile of beautifully wrapped presents but as a baker, I knew the showstopper had to be the cake. Dilemma… his favourite dessert is cheesecake but I wanted to make him an actual birthday cake… Solution… MAKE BOTH! The result… A rum and raisin cake surrounded by mini lemon cheesecakes.

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I’m so glad that I decided to make both, he was so excitable all day and we gorged ourselves on cake throughout the day. Better start planning now to top it for next year!

I found this recipe for individual cheesecakes but I wanted to give them a real punch of lemon flavour so I omitted the raspberries and substituted the lime zest for lemon. I also used this recipe to make a batch of lemon curd, which I topped the cheesecakes with and there was plenty left over for smothering toast – yum! (Such a hard life when there are leftover goodies that just have to be used up isn’t it?)

DSC_0841It may look like there’s a fairly thin layer of curd on top but because the lemon is so tangy in the curd and so subtle and creamy in the cheesecake, it’s the perfect amount to compliment each other. I also substituted half of the digestive biscuits for amaretti biscuits for an Italian twist and hint of almond.

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A twist on Bread and Butter Pudding and the Family Favourite Brownies

It has become somewhat of a tradition for me to bake brownies for my brother’s birthday every year. I’ve been using this particular recipe for so many years that I can’t remember how many adaptations I’ve made to it. It’s so popular in my house that I have to make a double batch every time and my brother eats them five at a time! As I was in Paris on his birthday, I travelled to see him on Saturday armed with a batch of his favourite brownies and boy, did they go down well! They are not the fudgy, gooey type of brownie but the silky, smooth, decadent type. They are made using melted chocolate, rather than cocoa powder, which I always find makes for a better brownie. The top is flaky and the outside slightly crumbly but as soon as you bite into it, the chocolate melts with the sugar in your mouth and really gets the juices going. Sufficed to say, this is a tried, tested and failsafe recipe. The original called for 125g of chopped walnuts but I much prefer using chopped hazelnuts and tend to use 100g because not only do the packs generally come in 100g so it’s more convenient but I prefer the ratio this way as the chocolate has more room to take precedence. I’ll pop the recipe at the end of this post so that you can all have a go!

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Two bakes in one post? I know, I spoil you but this recipe really couldn’t wait. For those of you who live in sunny ol’ England, you’ll be only too aware that there has been a fair amount of rain over the past week and Sunday was yet another miserable rainy day. As I sat home alone, I craved a warm winter pudding and immediately thought of bread and butter pudding. I’ve never been a huge fan of this pudding because I don’t really like hot raisins or sultanas but I worked in a hotel restaurant for a few months and that gave me the idea for this recipe; waffle and chocolate chip bread and butter pudding. Essentially, it’s waffles instead of bread and chocolate chips in place of the raisins – I know, why haven’t we thought of this sooner? The waffles were light and fluffy on the inside, crispy on top and soft and flavoursome on the bottom where the custard had soaked in to them. To add to all of this, the chocolate chips melt slightly so when you bite into this dish, you get a hot ooze of chocolate sauce on top of the fluffy waffles. It’s not the most elegant dish to serve but if you like waffles and chocolate, try this recipe! Image

Chocolate and Hazelnut Brownies

Ingredients: 

200g butter
200g dark chocolate
3 medium eggs
250g caster sugar
112g plain flour
100g chopped hazelnuts
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/170C/350F. Line a deep baking tin with greaseproof paper. 
  • Melt the butter and chocolate together by placing them in a bowl over simmering water until melted. 
  • Using an electric mixer, beat together the eggs and sugar until pale (this usually takes me about a minute but this will depend on your mixer).
  • Add the melted chocolate to the eggs and sugar and mix well until blended.
  • Add the flour, salt, chopped hazelnuts and vanilla extract to the mixture and stir well until all of the ingredients are combined and there are no lumps. 
  • Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 25-35 minutes. The top will look cracked and flaky.
  • Leave to cool, then lift out from the tin and cut into squares. 

 

Waffle and Chocolate Chip Bread and Butter Pudding

Ingredients:

For the waffles:
3 free range eggs
170ml semi-skimmed milk
230g self-raising flour
30g sugar
100g butter

For the pudding:
5 or 6 waffles (the number of waffles depends on the size of your dish and your appetite and the waffles can be shop bought or homemade).
100g milk chocolate chips
25g butter
2 teaspoons cinnamon powder
350ml milk
50ml double cream
2 free range eggs
25g granulated sugar

For the waffles:

  • Melt the butter and leave to cool slightly. 
  • Whisk 3 eggs in a mixing bowl.
  • Add the melted better, sugar and milk. Mix thoroughly and stir, carefully folding in the flour.
  • Cook the waffles in your waffle maker as per the instructions on your waffle maker.

 

For the pudding:

  • Butter one side of each waffle and cut them into triangles. Arrange a layer of the waffles in the dish, sprinkle over a layer of chocolate chips and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Repeat the layers until the waffles are used up.
  • Gently warm the milk and cream together in a pan but don’t let it boil. 
  • Crack the eggs into a bowl along with three quarters of the sugar. Whisk until pale. 
  • Add the warm milk and cream mixture to the egg mixture and mix well. Pour the custard over the waffle layers, sprinkle the remaining sugar over the top and leave to stand for 30 minutes. 
  • Place the dish in a preheated oven at 180C/355F/Gas 4 and bake for 30-40 minutes.

Receiving flours…

I’ve never been one for receiving flowers; they make me sneeze, they don’t last very long and they’re very expensive to buy so people simply don’t buy them for me. However, this past weekend, for my 21st birthday, my parents decided to give flours; not flowers, but flours. A large, and rather heavy, box encased in purple wrapping and adorned with ribbons was holding seven types of flour. What a brilliant idea! This not only inspired me to find some interesting recipes to utilise these flours but also inspired me to start this blog. Just for those of you who don’t know but the box of flours concept was from a film called ‘Stranger than Fiction’, which if you haven’t seen, you should; where the main character gives a box of coloured flours to the love interest, who is a baker.

Baking has become somewhat of a ritual for me, it relaxes me and the products are always happily gobbled up by friends and family. It seemed an appropriate time to begin a blog because of this brilliant gift and because I will be embarking on a trip to Paris tomorrow, on which I intend to try out as many patisseries as possible and post about my findings on this blog.

Feel free to write to me about baking if you want to; I can offer advice to beginners and there will be plenty of recipes to come!