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!

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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!!

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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  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.

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  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

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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!

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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?

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