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.

Gone Crackers!

 DSC_0826   So we’re in the second week of the Great British Bake Off and it was biscuit week! That and my boyfriend and I had the sudden and insatiable need to eat cheese and crackers one evening led to my first attempt (and of course, experimentation) at making crackers! I decided to use a basic recipe for crackers and add different flavours. The recipe I chose was:  

http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-crackers-at-home-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-186144

It proved to be a great basic recipe, although I think next time I’ll roll mine slightly thinner to get more of a snap when you bite into the cracker. I tested multiple toppings including sesame seeds, smoked paprika, garlic salt and parmesan and olive. The parmesan and olive worked particularly well, as did the garlic salt; I think the latter would work best with cheese. I’ll definitely be trying this recipe again soon to perfect my favourite cracker!

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Rum and Raisin Shortbread!

Apologies for the recent hiatus; I won’t bore you with the details but let’s just say a break up and a fire are just highlights of what has turned my life upside down over the last few months – there’s been more going on than in a soap!

Anyway, more importantly, I have discovered spiced rum… It’s such a unique taste and really stands up well in baking. I’ve been making shortbread a lot recently and it’s one of my boyfriend’s favourite things for me to bake. His favourite ice cream flavour is rum and raisin and one day, I suddenly thought about combining the two and thus, rum and raisin shortbread was born! I soaked the raisins in rum before putting them into the shortbread and then used the leftover raisin rum to soften fudge and then drizzled the fudge over the base of the biscuits to add a little extra! These are so popular, I get asked to make them all the time; they’re smooth for a shortbread and everyone just loves them; give them a go yourself and see! (Please excuse the photo, it was only a quick snap and they were eaten too quickly for me to take proper photos!)

Rum and Raisin Shortbread

Ingredients

225g unsalted butter

100g caster sugar

225g plain flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

185g raisins (I use a mix of golden and flame raisins but any will do)

Spiced rum (enough to cover the raisins in the pan)

Ready made, soft fudge (amount depends on how much fudge you want on each biscuit)

Method

  • Place the raisins in a saucepan and add the spiced rum so that it almost cover the raisins.
  • Preheat the oven to 150C/Gas 2
  • In a bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until fully incorporated and fluffy.
  • Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl. Gradually stir the dry ingredients into the butter and sugar mixture.
  • Remove the raisins from the rum and stir them into the biscuit mixture until equally incorporated.
  • Roll the dough into walnut sized balls and place on ungreased baking trays about an inch apart to allow for spreading. Flatten the biscuits slightly.
  • Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until they no longer look wet but are only just starting to brown at the edges.
  • Remove from the oven and let them cool for about 10 minutes on the tray and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Whilst cooling, place the fudge in a saucepan over a low heat and place about a tablespoon of the raisin rum over the fudge. Allow the fudge to melt completely and add more rum to taste.
  • When the biscuits are cool, turn them over and drizzle the liquid fudge over them.
  • Allow the fudge to harden slightly and then enjoy!

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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!!

Mini Apple Pies

First of all, apologies! It’s been almost a month since I last posted a recipe, ridiculous! For those of you who have Crumbs and Sprinkles on Facebook, you’ll know that I have been working a lot recently… When I say a lot, I mean getting up at 5 in the morning and not getting back from work until midnight. Sufficed to say, I’ve barely had time to bake, let alone blog, which is very saddening! However, today I finally had a day off and not only have I baked my first cheesecake (recipe and photos to come soon), I am also finally able to post about the mini apple pies I made a few weeks ago! I asked my Facebook friends which recipe they’d rather hear about grissini or apple pies and apple pies prevailed so here they are!

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These apple pies went to work with me on a long stint so unfortunately, I could only manage a quick photograph of them in their tin before I went to work but I still think they look almost as good as they tasted! I used a basic sweet pastry recipe and filled it with an apple fruit filling that I added cinnamon to. The result ended in something very addictive… I particularly liked the depth of flavour of the pastry, I think the sugar added an extra flavour to it and the balance between pastry and apple was perfect. These were a lot simpler to make than I thought they would be and produced a delicious snack or dessert.

Mini Apple Pies

Ingredients

350g plain flour

200g cold butter

100g golden caster sugar

pinch of salt

1 egg yolk

2 capfuls of vanilla extract

2 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon milk to glaze

1 can apple fruit filling

Cinnamon to taste

Method

  • Put the flour and butter in a bowl and rub together until the mixture is the consistency of breadcrumbs and then stir in the sugar and salt.
  • Put the egg yolk into the flour mixture with the vanilla essence and stir with a knife. 
  • Add the water gradually and stir with a knife until it begins to clump together, then make a ball with it using your hands and knead until smooth.
  • Put the pastry in the fridge for an hour. Put the apple fruit filling in a bowl and add a sprinkle of cinnamon to it, stir to combine.
  • Preheat the oven to 180C fan and roll out the pastry to about 5mm thick. Cut out circles to fit your cupcake tray (I used a shallow cup rather than a deep muffin tray to ensure a balance between the pastry and apple flavours). Place the pastry circles in the wells of the tray (I greased the wells slightly before doing this but I don’t think it’s always necessary).
  • Fill each cup with the apple mixture but do not over fill, otherwise filling will ooze out of the pies.
  • Re-roll the pastry and cut out smaller circles to make the pie tops. Dab milk along the edge of each pie, place the top circle on and seal each pie.
  • Glaze them with milk and stab the tops once with a knife so that a small hole appears and can allow for steam to escape whilst baking.
  • Cook for 15-25 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Enjoy!

Nutella Biscoff Cookie Bars

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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!

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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!

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

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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!

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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.

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Nutella Cookies stuffed with Biscoff Spread!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Mini Doughnuts!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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!

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