Turtle Cheesecake (and no it’s not made with turtles!)

Who doesn’t like a good cheesecake? I am certainly addicted to them but for some reason, I’ve never tried to make one. However, this all changed when the guys at work kept talking about how much they love cheesecake and how I should make one. I’d recently read a blog post over at the brown-eyed baker about a turtle cheesecake that consisted of oreo base, caramel and pecans, vanilla cheesecake and chocolate ganache. The moment I mentioned this to everyone at work, they insisted on me trying to make it and wow am I glad I tried.

This is undoubtedly the best cheesecake I have ever eaten and my colleagues definitely agreed. An oreo base is always a great start to a cheesecake but this cheesecake was so decadent and delicious. The vanilla cheesecake was smooth and flavoursome and I thought that the combination of such rich elements would be too much but it wasn’t, the balance was exactly right and I could definitely easily eat a whole slice. For those of you who are a bit confused about the name, I was too when I first read it because in the UK, we don’t have turtle sweets! All I know is that turtles are American sweets that look like turtles and consist of caramel, nuts and chocolate. Don’t worry, it’s not real turtle!

Image

I used the recipe here.

It was time consuming but was simple to do and definitely worth the effort. You really won’t regret making this. I used a ready made caramel sauce though instead of making a salted caramel because I didn’t wanted salt in mine and it still worked really well.

Definitely, try this!!

Cinnamon Roll Doughnut Pie! Oh yes…that’s what I said.

Image

So, recently I made mini cinnamon roll doughnuts and they seemed to be a rather popular blog post! They were also very popular with me; bite size, full of flavour, fluffy and fresh! My love of these mini delights got me thinking about how I could develop this recipe and make it even better. I’ve recently been watching ‘Unique Sweets’ and it really inspires me to try to make something a bit different. I saw one that visited Momofuku milk bar and they make some very interesting pies, such as the crack pie and grasshopper pie, they looked incredible. Hence, the idea for cinnamon roll doughnut pie! A shortcrust pastry crust, cinnamon roll sauce, topped with doughnut batter packed full of chocolate chips to give it that extra flavour and texture.

ImageI was actually surprised at how well this turned out and how addictive it was. The doughnut layer was a little thick but still fluffy and flavoursome. I think when I make this again, I will extend the pastry out to the sides of the case to give it that extra bite and I will put in more sauce to ensure that you always get a kick of cinnamon in every bite.

This pie was really something new that I’d never tried before and it was still so simple; give this a go!

Image

You can find the basic recipes for the sauce and doughnut batter here or here. You can buy shortcrust pastry if you wish or use any simple recipe to make your own, which is always better and more satisfying, I find.

As for assembly, I simply lined a greased pie dish with pastry, added a little semolina to the base, followed by the cinnamon sauce. I folded 200g chocolate chips into the doughnut batter and gently spooned this on top of the cinnamon sauce in the pie dish.

I then baked the pie at 180C for 20 minutes and turned down the temperature to 150C and continued to bake the pie until a skewer inserted into the doughnut layer came out clean. Don’t worry about the edge browning slightly but it shouldn’t burn.

Image

Nutella Cookies stuffed with Biscoff Spread!

Image

So…biscoff… a spread made of biscuits? Who knew? Well, I didn’t know about this magnificent treat until a few weeks ago and I definitely didn’t think I’d be able to find any in England but low and behold, on the bottom shelf at my supermarket, there it was! Imagine my delight! Within five seconds, my brain was buzzing with the possibilities of what I could bake with it and a jar was already in my basket.

Image

I toyed with ideas for a few days but then the urge became too much and I gave in… not only to biscoff but to Nutella… I completely experimented making these cookies but they really were delicious. The edges were chewy but the biscoff stuffing made the entire centre gooey and fudgy. The chopped hazelnuts gave a different texture to the cookie and they were very addictive. A very easy bake with brilliant results.

Image

Nutella and Hazelnut Cookies stuffed with Biscoff Spread

Ingredients

230g Nutella

70g Plain flour

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste

1 tablespoon milk

40g chopped hazelnuts

6-8 tablespoons Biscoff

Method

  • Grease a large baking sheet.
  • Place the Nutella, flour, egg, milk and vanilla extract or paste into a bowl and mix until all of the ingredients are incorporated.
  • Fold in the hazelnuts.
  • Place 1/2 tablespoon measures of the mixture onto the baking sheet, well spaced apart and shape into round cookies. The amount of mixture should make between six and eight cookies. Flatten each cookie slightly.
  • Place 1 teaspoon of Biscoff spread in the middle of each cookie.
  • Place another 1/2 tablespoon measure of the cookie mixture on top and seal the edges slightly.
  • Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for around 10 minutes but watch the cookies carefully as the edges can burn easily.
  • Take out of the oven and cool for 5 minutes before leaving to cool on a wire rack.
  • Enjoy!Image

 

Butterscotch Pudding Muffins

So the new series of The Great British Bake Off has officially started and what a series it looks to become! It’s quite shocking how far it’s come over the four series and the majority of the tasks now seem incredibly difficult! I was very impressed with some of the wonderful cakes made by the baker’s dozen but today, it wasn’t cake for me, it was muffins! Pudding muffins to be specific.

Image

I’ve not baked with pudding mix before but I keep seeing recipes pop up on different blogs so I was curious. I tried making a simple butterscotch pudding with chocolate chunk muffin using the recipe found here.

Image

Personally, I think there was a little too much flour in the recipe and I couldn’t taste the butterscotch flavour very strongly but I still enjoyed them and will be trying them again with less flour and more chocolate chunks.

Image

Baci di Dama (Hazelnut biscuits with chocolate, hazelnut ganache)

Image

I went to a friend’s wedding this weekend and it really inspired me to make something I’ve been meaning to try for a while now – Baci di Dama! It literally means ‘Lady’s Kisses’ because of the two biscuits being paired together like a kiss. I love the combination of chocolate and hazelnut, it’s a real classic and is definitely irresistible to me so when I found out about these, I was desperate to know what they were like.

Image

The biscuits themselves were actually really simple to make and bake; they took barely any time at all! The recipe called for melted chocolate to sandwich the biscuits together but I decided to go that bit further and make a hazelnut, chocolate ganache. If you don’t want to make one, you could use a hazelnut, chocolate spread instead, like Nutella. The biscuits were like a slightly softer and hazelnut version of amaretti biscuits or biscotti. The combination of the crunchy biscuit with the smooth and luxurious ganache was addictive but I even went further and rolled some of them in chopped hazelnuts to add yet another texture and a blast of hazelnut.

Image

If you can manage to buy whole hazelnuts and roast and chop them yourself, then do, I used ground hazelnuts from a bag and I think there was quite a lot of the skin left in the packet so if you can avoid this, it would be beneficial.

The original recipe for the biscuits was found here but I made the ganache by heating 120ml of double cream until it was just boiling and then poured it over 130g of chopped dark chocolate and 30g ground hazelnuts. I then let the chocolate melt for a few minutes before stirring and producing the ganache. I then used it to sandwich two biscuits together and even with two biscuits, these little baked goods were still small enough to pop in the mouth all in one go! Delicious and will definitely be making them again and exploring further.

Image

Mini Doughnuts!

Image

I have a new mini doughnut mould! What fun I’m having with it as well. This recipe is a little too easy and uses ingredients that I generally have around the house so it’s going to prove far too easy to make them all the time and create lots of different variations.

Image

Bite-sized bits of baked goodness; who could resist fresh, warm, home-made mini doughnuts? Not me, that’s for sure. Every time I passed the plate, another doughnut disappeared. I made the same basic batch of doughnuts but then dipped some in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar and dipped one side of the left over doughnuts in melted nutella.

Image

I have to say, the nutella version was my favourite and they were gone within the hour. The rich, hazelnut spread worked perfectly with the subtle vanilla taste of the doughnut and I couldn’t resist.

Image

I used the basic recipe for the doughnuts from the Lakeland website here

The recipe offers the choice of using olive oil or melted butter and I tried both. There were advantages and disadvantages to both versions I think. If you don’t have much time, use olive oil because it’s incredibly quick and easy. If you have more time, tried the melted butter version as I think it gave slightly more flavour to the base doughnut. However, if you choose the melted butter version, be careful when adding it to the milk and egg because the difference in temperature can curdle the milk and egg. To avoid curdling, you need to get all of the ingredients to the same temperature. I did this by letting the butter cool slightly after melting and by warming the milk and egg mixture slightly in the microwave. If you can use butter though, DO! I felt the doughnut really benefited from butter but frankly, what doesn’t benefit from having more butter?

Image

I’ve never really been a fan of the new silicone craze but I may be a convert after using this excellent doughnut mould. The silicone made it so easy to clean, grease and remove the doughnuts but they also kept their shape very well, which is the problem I usually have with silicone moulds. For £5, it was definitely worth the investment and I will soon be trying out plenty of new combinations and variations of doughnuts so watch out for them!

Image

 

Back to baking, baring cookies!

I’ll open with an apology; I haven’t been able to blog for so long and I’ve really been missing it but I have a legitimate excuse, I promise! I’ve just completed my University degree AND moved house! I know, what a brilliant idea to do both at once. The last few months were pretty hard work and rather hectic and I’ve spent the last few weeks in America so haven’t been able to blog then either. The good news is that I’m home now and I got a First for my degree so I’m a rather happy bunny and baker. Anyway, back to baking!

I decided that you all needed a rather…tempting recipe for me to return with and so I invented something especially for all of my lovely readers. It’s got nutella, it’s got oreos and oh yes, it’s stuffed with milk duds. Who could resist?

Image

Tempting? I think so. They ended up with a rich vanilla flavour with sudden blasts of nutella and a random crunch of oreo. I stuffed one milk dud into the middle of each cookie so that the caramel would melt inside the biscuit and it resulted in a stringy, gooey mess but with a silky texture and golden caramel flavour.

These cookies were perfect warm and fresh from the oven with a glass of cold milk.

Image

I brought a box of milk duds back from America because they’re about a quarter of the price over there but I wasn’t quite sure what to do with them without eating the whole box and breaking my teeth in the process. “Why not stuff them in cookies?” the rather hungry baker thought, and as you all know, a hungry baker is not a good idea because they produce the most ridiculous but delicious recipes. The hunger did not subside however and the milk dud stuffing became a reality.

As if milk dud stuffed chocolate chip cookies wouldn’t have been enough, I decided to add nutella and broken oreos into the mix as well.

You may recall me being giving some vanilla bean paste for Christmas and as of yet, I haven’t found a way to use it. I decided to try substituting my usual use of vanilla extract for the same amount of vanilla bean paste to see if it gave a more intense taste but if you don’t have any vanilla bean paste available then extract is absolutely fine. I do think it added a more intense and genuine flavour to the cookies though and if nothing else, it smelt divine whilst baking. If you can’t find milk duds either, you could try using toffee poppets or perhaps rolos.

Image

Nutella, Oreo and Milk Dud Cookies

Ingredients:

115g butter

50g caster sugar

110g soft brown sugar

1 egg (beaten)

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)

150g chocolate chips

1 tablespoon Nutella

4 broken Oreos

155g plain flour

Pinch of baking powder

8-12 Milk Duds (or toffee poppets or rolos)

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 185C (170C for fan assisted ovens) and line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper (you may need two).
  • Cream the butter and sugars together until completely incorporated, light and fluffy.
  • Add the beaten egg and vanilla and mix well (the paste requires more mixing).
  • Add the chocolate chips, nutella and oreos and mix well to ensure that these ingredients are equally distributed throughout the mixture.
  • Mix in the flour and baking powder until there is no residue left on the side of the bowl.
  • Roll an amount into a ball and place on the baking tray. Make sure that you leave plenty of space in between each ball because these spread enormously.
  • Place in the oven and bake for around 10-12 minutes; they will still look soft and gooey but they will harden as they cool and who doesn’t like a gooey cookie? If you leave them in for too long, the edges will burn or at least go crispy. Once they are out of the oven, leave them to harden slightly on the tray and then transfer them to a cooling rack if there are any left after you try them warm!

 

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

The Day of Exciting News and Pie!

Remember that I mentioned a couple of days ago that I had something exciting to tell you? Well it’s time to tell you! After years of pining for one, I have finally got a Kitchenaid mixer! I’ve wanted one for as long as I can remember and my friends and family all gave me money towards buying one for my birthday and Christmas so I’ve finally been able to get it. I ordered it for store collection but this was a rather stupid decision because I then proceeded to hug it all the way home…on foot…in the pouring rain. Yes, enjoy that image but it was not fun. It was all worth it though because it is now proudly being displayed in my kitchen. Of course, given my obsession with the colour, I chose an orange or ‘tangerine’ one I should say. I am so happy with it and it’s actually so easy to use. I got straight to work and made some meringues.

Image

  I’ve not made meringues before but have always been eager to try and having a Kitchenaid seemed the perfect opportunity to try. I used a simple recipe, whisking 3 egg whites and then mixing in 150g of golden caster sugar. I just spooned the mixture in balls onto a baking tray and baked them for an hour but I think next time, I may pipe the mixture onto the tray to make the mixture slightly closer together because there was a lot of room for air holes. It was amazing how well the Kitchenaid worked and how quickly it whisked the egg whites but then again, if you’re going to spend that much on a food mixer, I suppose it should be that good!

The Kitchenaid comes with three attachments; the whisk, the beater and the dough hook. It comes with ten speed settings but what I found was really useful was that it also has a slow start function so that it gradually builds up to the designated speed and therefore, avoids splashes and any flour showers. I’ll let you know more about the machine as I use it more but so far, I’m very happy with the purchase.

  I made a simple chocolate ganache and sandwiched the meringues together. The meringues were a little large for this so next time, I think I’d pipe smaller versions. They were still delicious; crispy on the outside and chewy in the middle and the combination with the smooth ganache was a nice touch.

ImageImage

  Not satisfied with just making meringues, I decided to make a pie for dinner, a steak and ale pie to be exact. I used this recipe to make the filling but halved all of the ingredients and omitted the chilli powder. I then made a shortcrust pastry (using the beater attachment on the Kitchenaid) using 125g butter, 225g plain flour and two and a half tablespoons of water. I prefer pies that have both a base and a top as opposed to bottomless pies to just a puff pastry top so that’s why I chose to use shortcrust. The steak and ale mixture stewed in the oven for an hour and a half, which made the beef very tender and the combination of the ale and oxo cubes made for a rich and luxurious gravy. I even topped the pie with some grated cheddar cheese in the last few minutes of its baking to add a further dimension of flavour. The end result was incredibly rich and neither of us could quite finish our share but it also took a lot of will power to put down our plates because of how delicious it was. It was so nice that I’ll be making this again next week! I think I’ll add some slices of cheese onto the filling next time though. You should definitely give this a go if you like pies but if you do, put some semolina on the base of the pie to stop the filling leaking through and getting a soggy bottom as Mary Berry would say. I very almost ran out of pastry for the lid as well so I’d make a little more pastry too. I used Hobgoblin beer by the Wychwood brewery, which was also a nice, rich addition the complimented the steak well.Image

Image

 

Happy New Year! Lots of bakes to catch you up on!

Hello all and happy new year to you! I hope you all had a wonderful time over the holidays, I must apologise for my brief hiatus but I’ve been very busy with family things and of course, baking. Therefore, I have multiple bakes to catch you up on. Christmas Eve in my household means freshly baked mince pies with home made brandy butter. Fresh from the oven, the brandy butter melts into the mincemeat and the pies are more pastry than they are filling – perfection!

This was a great way to really kick start Christmas but even before this, I had multiple bakes to catch you up on; gluten-free Earl Grey muffins, almond and chocolate biscotti and almond and cherry florentines!

First – the Earl Grey muffins. I couldn’t resist this recipe from Twinings; a friend of mine and I both independently saw the recipe, wanted to try it and ended up baking it together. The recipe isn’t gluten free but as my friend is allergic to gluten, we replaced both types of flour with one gluten free flour and added a teaspoon of xanthum gum at the same time. The xanthum gum helps to bind all of the ingredients together and improves the crumb structure – it’s not needed with regular flour but helps when baking gluten free. The result turned out more like an English muffin texture rather than an American muffin and was something I’d not experienced before but it was delicious! The combination of the Earl Grey and the orange really complimented each other and as the muffin was slightly more like a sweet bread, it was perfect for breakfast with a cup of tea. I will definitely be trying these again but next time, I think I’ll replace the orange zest with lemon as Earl Grey tea is typically served with lemon. I might also try adding a violet flavoured icing to the top to add another level. The recipe can be found here.

Image

This Christmas, I also decided to bake something for my parents and give it to them in a decorative Christmas box. I chose to make almond and chocolate chip biscotti for my dad and cherry and almond florentines for my mum. The biscotti turned out really well, recipe found here, they were incredibly simple to make and my dad loved them so much that they were practically all gone by the next day! The florentines weren’t quite as successful, I used this recipe as I haven’t made them before but they seemed to take a long time to cook the middle of them and in doing so, the outsides became slightly burnt, not badly so but if I were to make them again, I’d ensure that they were smaller and flatter so that they cooked through quickly.

Image

If you’d like to know the recipes for the mince pies or brandy butter, then let me know but please have a go at any of these recipes, they were all fun to make and of course, to eat! Now that the holidays are over, I shall finally be getting back to my oven and that means plenty of recipes for you! I’ve been re-watching episodes of the Great British Bake Off as well so I have many things I’d like to try in this new year. I also have something very exciting happening but more to come on that soon (if I told you now, that’d spoil the fun wouldn’t it!)