Peanut Butter & Salted Caramel Cheesecake

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I’ve been hankering after cheesecake for a while now, but specifically wanted to do a no-bake recipe. I haven’t made a peanut butter cheesecake for ages, so this was my mission.  I searched recipes…….and eventually one caught my eye. Peanut Butter. Caramel. Cheesecake. No-bake.  Yes! I didn’t even have to think twice. The cheesecake I ended up making was (slightly) adapted (okay, okay, I meddled, I admit it) from Something Swanky’s delicious recipe for No Bake Peanut Butter & Caramel Cheesecake.

Reader, I was going to follow this recipe to a T, honestly I was…..I hit a very small stumbling block.  The recipe calls for Cool Whip.  I don’t know exactly what this is, other than I am unable to get it in this corner of the UK.  So…I opted for a similar volume of double cream, which I whipped before adding to the other ingredients.  You may have noticed the use of the word “similar”……well, it all started when I made the base for this cheesecake.

For me, personally there is a very fine line between pudding bases being just right, and being like set concrete.  I therefore always err on the side of less butter and more biscuit.  Or, in this case, pretzels, because that is the base biscuit for this cheesecake.  It is an inspired, one, because the lovely salty bits from the pretzels work so well with the pudding.

However, today, my base didn’t even stick together.  When I removed it from the oven and saw there was no hope of it sticking, I thought maybe I’d throw it away and start again…but no, because I then thought I’d melt some dark chocolate and drizzle it over the base to help hold it together.  So I did.  Yes, I know, I shouldn’t have.

Then, on re-reading the recipe, I realised I hadn’t added sugar to the base ingredients. Too late for that now.

By then I was losing the will to live (I don’t have much strength in reserve!) and whilst I started with good intentions measuring everything carefully, I threw caution to the winds and became free and easy in my interpretations of measurements.

It all mixed together well and looked (and tasted) promising.  One of the ingredients is Marshmallow cream, and again, this does indeed work very well in the mixture. I spooned the mixture on top of my crumbly base and then thought why don’t I drizzle salted caramel over the top now……long story short, I clumped solid dollops of salted caramel on the top of the cheesecake mixture and carefully tried to mix it in.  It was a marbled effect, I told myself!

The end result?  Part of the base is glued together solidly with the chocolate (we KNEW that would happen, didn’t we!) and the rest is a mass of pretzel crumbs.  The cheesecake mixture is lovely though, and so, my meddling aside, this recipe is delicious.  I know what to do better next time!

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful weekend 🙂

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Cherry Bakewell Sponge Pudding

P1010038It is the season of comfort foods, and comfort puddings.  I know it won’t be long before I crave fresh vibrant salads and fruit, so I maximise the opportunity for some warmth and comfort in my cooking.

I found this recipe in the BBC Good Food Magazine October 2017 issue. I love the traditional British Bakewell Tart (or Bakewell pudding) and having visited Bakewell itself, the home of this tasty pudding I have had the real thing!  Today’s pudding is a variation on the theme, but as with all the recipes I prefer to make, easy and tasty. And, of course with cherries – fruit – y’know, healthy!

This Cherry Bakewell Sponge Pudding is warm, almondy, comforting and with a nice balance of fruit to sponge topping.  You could of course, always add more fruit if you prefer that.

Personally, I would thicken the cherry sauce a little more, as I was unable to reduce it enough (without it all ending up a sticky sugary mess). But as it was, the excess liquid was absorbed by the almond sponge, and worked well.

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The sponge topping has ground almonds, and almond essence, as well as flaked almonds sprinkled over the top (maximum almond!!).

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The end result is a lovely, light almond sponge on top of the cherry filling. I would definitely make this again.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful day 🙂

 

Roasted Vegetables with Anchovy Sauce

There is something about the nights drawing in, and the weather getting colder that makes me long for hearty comfort food.  Not that this in itself cannot be healthy, but occasionally I long for a few more vegetables in my diet, and so I will have a week of eating mainly vegetable based dishes.

I found this recipe in a magazine a while back, but I cannot remember which magazine it came from and therefore there is no link to the recipe.  A recipe is not strictly required, as this is one of those dishes which is so easily adaptable depending on what is available, and what you enjoy eating.

When I make it generally it will consist of fennel, red onions, leeks, courgettes, aubergines, butternut squash, red and orange peppers, and anything else in the fridge that needs using up.  Chop all the vegetables into medium size chunks, give them a light coating of olive oil and a good sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper.

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Roast at 160ºC (fan oven) for around 45 minutes until their edges are just slightly charred.

For the sauce you will need chopped parsley, chopped capers and chopped anchovies with a few glugs of olive oil.  In spite of the anchovies, this does not taste “fishy” but has a lovely savoury tang to it.

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Once the vegetables are cooked, stir the sauce through so that it is mixed well into the roasted vegetables.  I like to add a couple of tins of butterbeans and a tin of chickpeas to the mixture.  This helps “flesh” it out into a more solid meal.

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This can be served as a meal on its own, or as an accompaniment to fish or meat.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful weekend 🙂

Jamaican Ginger & Caramel Cake

I’ve been pretty indecisive about what to bake this week.  There are a few recipes which have caught my eye, but each time I think yes, I’ll do that one, I then start questioning my decision and change my mind.  But the lure of a sticky ginger and caramel cake was strong, and so, I settled on this one.

This recipe is from Olive Magazine’s December 2017 issue.  It is one of those cakes which is “bare” on the sides, but with icing running off the top in decorative “drips”.

With rum, caramel, dark treacle, stem ginger, dates and spices on this list of ingredients, it is a lovely cake for this time of year when the weather is turning colder.

This was, purely by chance a gluten-free recipe, using gluten-free flour, but otherwise all the usual store-cupboard ingredients. It was easy enough to bake, melting together the sugars with the rum, caramel, dates and ginger and blitzing until it was smooth, before adding the butter and eggs.

Once well mixed (oh, and don’t forget to breath in deeply – that gorgeous rum, ginger and treacle…..) add to the spices and flour.  The recipe called for 2 tablespoons of ground ginger, but (and I love, love, love ginger) even that seemed excessive, so I halved the quantity.

Mix well and pour into two cake tins and bake.

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The icing is a caramel buttercream, which goes so well with the treacly ginger of the cake.  Once iced, some Caramac bars are melted with ginger syrup and poured over the top of the cake (this is where it all went wrong for me….).  My Caramac and ginger syrup seized.  I added more, and then again more, ginger syrup to loosen the mixture.  I then decided to work with that, or give up.  I spooned the Caramac mixture on the top of the cake, but there wasn’t enough – or it was just not quite liquid enough to dribble down the sides of the cake.  I conceded defeat.

The proof, however is in the tasting.  The cake is lovely, light yet rich and very gingery and the caramel buttercream compliments it perfectly.  In my opinion though, the Caramac doesn’t enhance it at all, though I suspect that’s just a matter of personal taste.

It’s not neat or pretty, I would never be a plasterer!! I found it quite difficult putting the barest amount of icing on the sides of the cake.

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Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you all a peaceful weekend 🙂

 

 

 

 

Spaghetti and Meatball Cupcakes

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By now you are all familiar with my complete and utter lack of any artistic talent.  I have all these amazing (AMAZING!!!) ideas in my head, but, sadly however hard I try, I am unable to make them reality.  Well, I make them reality in a way – just in a very amateurish, untalented, embarrassingly messy way.  But, equally as you know, I am not one to let this defeat me. I read loads of recipes, I am always thinking hmmmmm…..I should be able to do that…….and failing.  But, I try. That’s the important thing (at least that’s what I tell myself!).

I have been going through a massive house clear-out and in the course of this found another back issue of Cupcake Heaven magazine. I found my recipe.  Just the thought of it makes me smile, and these days, that’s good enough for me.

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Spaghetti and meatball cupcakes – yes, these had my name on them 🙂

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Unusually for me, I followed the recipe almost exactly.

I’ve always said never bake with hate in your heart. I stand by that. And baking for me is therapeutic, it is a positive, a comfort, a calming activity.  We all need more of this kind of thing in our lives.

The cupcake part of the recipe was a pretty standard plain vanilla sponge cupcake. In fact, the whole recipe was so lovely and easy.  Even the decorating part.  And you know if I can do this, anyone can!!

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And so to the decoration…..the spaghetti is vanilla buttercream.

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The meatballs are Ferrero Rocher chocolates.

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The tomato sauce is raspberry jam – and this is where my minor deviation from the recipe was, the recipe used fresh raspberries heated, reduced and sieved.

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And, finally the grated Parmesan is white chocolate. And we have the finished product!  Dear readers, I give you (drum roll…….) Spaghetti and Meatball Cupcakes!

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Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful weekend 🙂

Apricot & Walnut Soda Bread

 

One of life’s great joys is the aroma of freshly baked bread, not to mention, that first lovely fresh slice of bread you’ve baked yourself.  I love baking my own bread, from the raw basic ingredients to the end product, it is easy, and so satisfying!  I don’t own a breadmaker – I am the breadmaker!!  I find baking generally relaxing and therapeutic, and you can’t get much more inbuilt therapy than kneading dough and feeling it transform from a lump to something magically “alive”.  To be honest, the kneading is the best part of baking bread.  Well, for me it is!  The only down side is the time it takes, because you can’t hurry a good loaf of bread.

I have wanted to bake walnut bread for ages – lovely fresh walnut bread with cheese…..heaven! But I couldn’t find the recipe I had kept and so I searched….when suddenly this one caught my eye.  Apricot & Walnut Soda Bread.  I haven’t baked soda bread before, mainly because it is best on the day of baking, and I prefer my bread to last just a bit longer than a day.  But…this one had to be tried, it would be quicker because it is not a yeasted bread, and so I persuaded myself.

Chopped dried apricots, chopped walnuts and the addition of oats to the mixture, made it a nice wholesome bread.  The dry ingredients were mixed with the fruit and nuts.

and then a mixture of milk and yoghurt was added and everything mixed gently together.  The dough seemed a bit damp to me, but I was hesitant to add more flour in case it toughened the bread, and not having made soda bread before, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  The mixed dough was turned out on to the baking tray, it was a bit too damp to shape neatly, never mind to make a nice neat cut across the top.  But sometimes if you just grit your teeth and pretend it’s not all going wrong, it can still work out, and so into the oven it went.

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This is the end result – I prefer to call it “rustic”……………..and the proof is always in the tasting…………

And yes, reader, it worked!  Appearances are not always everything.  It tasted good, I got the vote of approval from my Kitchen Taster, and now I have a new bread recipe to add to my repertoire.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful weekend 🙂

Lime Drizzle Cupcakes

I love limes.  They look beautiful – I could happily keep a bowl of limes on the table just to look at!  But I love their taste and sharpness just as much, and they enhance so many things – giving a lovely sharp, fresh lift to savoury dishes and salads. And of course on the sweeter side – lime and coconut, candied lime zest, lime cordial (home-made of course!) and not to forget a glass of sloe gin with tonic and a few slices of lime….but, I digress!

I found a recipe for Lime Drizzle Cupcakes in an old issue of Cupcake Heaven Magazine – they credit the recipe to the book Cupcakes and Mini Cakes.  Lemon drizzle cake is heavenly, but the lure of limes was strong.  I had to try this.  I was in love before I even started.

This is one of those recipes where you fling everything in a bowl and just blitz it. Another bonus! Quick and easy, not complicated, that’s the sort of recipe I like.

I did a minor deviation from the recipe by adding some of this: P1000970

It is a wonderful sharp lime extract, and difficult to resist using 🙂

I followed the rest of the recipe exactly.  Even with hindsight, there is nothing I can tweak, it is just right.

By the time I’d done this (it really doesn’t take long – for “cupcakes in a hurry” its a great recipe to try) I began to doubt myself – it didn’t look as if there was enough batter.  The recipe says if makes 12 cupcakes, I managed 11.  Of course I could have put slightly less batter in each cupcake case……and into the oven they went.

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Once baked, the cupcakes are moved to a wire rack to cool and drizzled with a lime syrup.  I added more lime juice than the recipe stated (would you expect anything less?!) but because of this I heated the syrup to thicken it slightly.  It still turned out fine.  The cupcakes are light and have a lovely sharp lime flavour.  No embellishment needed!

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful weekend 🙂