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.

DSC_0837

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.

Nutella Biscoff Cookie Bars

Image

Wow! Work’s been  ridiculously hectic recently; I haven’t had a day off in three weeks and that means that I haven’t been able to tell all of you lovely people about these gorgeous nutella cookie bars that I made a few days ago! I always have half a tin of condensed milk left after I make a batch of flapjacks and I never know what to make with them. Thank goodness for this recipe!

Image

I have been eying this recipe for a while now but not had an excuse to try it out yet but this was the perfect reason and I even decided to swirl some biscoff in as well as bits of nutella. The bars were quite crispy and crunchy but the very middle was softer. The combination of nutella and biscoff is fantastic as sometimes you get an intense kick of nutella but sometimes, it’s of biscoff! It added to the variety of each bite and these were completely addictive warm and dipped in cold milk. I used the recipe over at Butter Baking here but I added nutella and biscoff, rather than just nutella. Delicious!

Image

Tuesdays with Dorie – Boca Negra

I’ve been so ridiculously busy with work recently that I haven’t had any time to bake or blog! I know, very upsetting. However, thankfully, I was organised and made this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe last weekend and I’m glad I did because it was well worth it! I decided to pop home to see my parents for the weekend and to make this dessert for them and none of us are particularly keen on strong alcohol in desserts so I decided to replace the bourbon with half brandy and half water. I’ve made dessert cakes like this one before, a recipe by Donna Hay seems to produce particularly similar results but I thoroughly enjoyed it anyway. Very rich and decadent, we served it with vanilla ice cream to balance the palate but we all preferred it cold surprisingly as the texture was closer, like fudge but more delicate, and wasn’t as sickly. I even managed to take some for lunch the next day! So here’s my Boca Negra, or Moulin Bouche as my dad called it, which seeing as it was just a joke because he couldn’t remember the name, I think it’s a brilliant name!

ImageImage

Chocolate cake filled with brownies? Oh yes it is! (Oh no it’s not) plus the Werthers Christmas caramel shop

Apologies for the pun and for the lack of posts but this week, my Theatre society have been performing their Christmas pantomime (hence the pun). It was a fun but exhausting week and of course, it called for cake. Brooklyn Brownout cake to be specific. I read about this treat on so many people’s blogs that I had to give it a go; devil’s food cake layered with brownies and ganache – heaven! Sufficed to say, I was not disappointed and neither were my society. It was wonderfully moist and dense, just like a devil’s food cake should be and the ganache was smooth and silky. It was incredibly rich but truly delicious, whoever thought of layering cake with brownies was a genius, I really recommend you try this recipe here: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2008/04/sweet-melissa-brooklyn-brownout-cake-recipe.html

Sorry for the poor photo and messy plate but I finished this literally as I was walking out the door!

Image

Somehow I managed to have half an hour off this week to pop into town and what awaited me was something truly incredible… a Werthers caramel shop. A small wooden shop in the middle of the precinct adorned with Christmas decorations and offering thousands of Werthers in old fashioned sweet shop jars, pots and falling down brass chutes. I felt like a child on Christmas eve and couldn’t resist buying a Christmas tin filled with assorted pick ‘n’ mix Werthers.  It really inspired me to try a butterscotch recipe but I’m not sure what – anyone got any good recipes that they’d recommend I try?

ImageImageImageImageImage

Tuesdays with Dorie – Gingerbread Baby Cakes

So even though I posted this morning about snow and advent calendars (and this post only just published for some reason), I haven’t felt very Christmassy at all today. Even watching a co-worker put up the Christmas tree didn’t put me in the festive spirit but baking these little cakes did! This is my first Tuesday with Dorie and I think it’s been highly successful! I chose to make muffin sized cakes because I didn’t have small cake pans and I also chose to omit the espresso powder and black pepper because I didn’t have any espresso powder and black pepper always makes me cough. I think the omission of these made the amount of molasses in the mixture too much for me so if I were to make them again, I’d put less molasses in and a little more of the ginger perhaps. I coupled mine with vanilla ice cream and it was a delicious combination… like an adult brownie and ice cream dessert. If you’d like to see how everyone else’s turned out then please visit the Tuesdays with Dorie blog and if you’d like to try the recipe yourself, either buy the book or have a look at this week’s host blog Karen’s Kitchen Stories; thanks to Karen for hosting!

Here’s a couple of photos just to tempt you as well:

DSC_0317 DSC_0324

Cheesecake or Brownies? Cheesecake Brownies!

So I’m in a theatre society and this lovely group of people are almost as obsessed with baked goods as I am so, naturally, they are my guinea pigs when I try out new recipes. Whilst scrolling through the archive posts on my new favourite blog, KatieCakes, I found something that looked so interesting that I couldn’t resist trying it; cheesecake brownies. Combining two of my favourite desserts, it seemed impossible to ignore so I rushed out to the shops in search of ricotta and donned my apron to make these beauties. 

In all honesty, I was slightly disappointed with the flavour but I think this recipe has a lot of potential. I think my pan was a little too large for the amount of mixture as they were a little thin and I much prefer thick brownies. I’d also recommend having the cheesecake mixture ready to pour in when you put the brownie mixture into the pan because I didn’t and by the time the cheesecake mixture was ready, the brownie was practically set in the pan and therefore marbling the two was very tricky. 

Nevertheless, they were a huge success at theatre society and I still enjoyed the taste. The brownie was crumbly and moist with a silky cheesecake layer. I think I might put double the cheesecake mixture in next time as well to get the ratio more equal. 

If you’d like to have a go at this recipe, it’s on Katie’s blog here. Enjoy them! 

Image

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!

Image

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.