Marbled Chocolate Cheesecake

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It’s about time I did a baked cheesecake, isn’t it!  There are so many lovely recipes for no-bake cheesecake that I have been getting lazy.  So in this week’s search for a new bake, I thought I’d give this a go.  I chose this recipe because I had most of the ingredients already.  I had initially been looking for something with a butterscotch theme….but I’ll restrain myself and do that another time.  I can’t lie, I saw this recipe and I thought hmmmm……what if I do this instead…..what if I tweak that….but I kept some self-control and actually followed the recipe this time 🙂

This is a Mary Berry recipe for Chocolate Ripple Cheesecake (good old Mary Berry, I just felt that I couldn’t fail with her behind the idea).

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And so to the base of the cheesecake – this recipe used a biscuit crumb base – my favourite option, so easy.  I tend to find most recipes for this type of base use too much butter, with the result that the base is rock hard and you end up struggling when you dig in with a spoon to eat it, cautious of either smashing through the pudding bowl, or of half the cheesecake flying across the room.  As a result, I do my own thing, and err on the side of caution.  It’s a fine balance between ending up with a crumbly base which doesn’t hold together, and one that is firmly glued together!

The cream cheese is softened, sugar is added, a couple of eggs and a small amount of vanilla extract.  This mixture is then divided in half, with half of it being mixed into melted dark chocolate.

My attempts at rippling the chocolate mixture through the vanilla mixture were not terribly successful (must try harder next time!). But I dolloped both mixtures into the baking tin and put it in the oven.

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The cheesecake then bakes for its allotted time, and is left in the oven to cool.  This required patience, because it was then refrigerated to cool completely before cutting.  the top of my cheesecake had quite a few cracks in it, and so it looked awful in my photos (which I deleted).

The end result was lovely though, in spite of not being beautifully rippled, it tasted lovely and had that good texture that you get with a baked cheesecake.  All round, a success.

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

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Salted Butterscotch Whip

Aaah, butterscotch, remember this from last time?!  No, you can’t see a theme developing.  Well, maybe just a tiny one.  Yes, I admit it, I’m in love with butterscotch.

Do you remember Angel Delight?  That powdered pudding you whisk with milk, which gives a lovely whipped mousse-like pudding?  Especially the butterscotch flavour one?  Well, this recipe is a home-made version of this.

I saw the recipe for Salted Butterscotch Whip in the March 2018 issue of Olive Magazine. I had to make this!  It is oh, so easy to make, minimal effort and not many ingredients.

The only thing I did differently was that I used light muscovado sugar instead of, as the recipe called for, soft dark brown sugar.

This particular recipe has the addition of some sea salt flakes (that delicious sweet/salty combination).  It is, to cut it down to basics, a cornflour and milk based pudding, but certainly not reminiscent of any of the disgusting wobbly versions I ate as a child.

The butterscotch is made, milk is added and this is all thickened with cornflour.  The mixture is then refrigerated and once cold, softly whipped cream is folded into it.  I made the mistake of over-whisking the cream (unfortunately I seem to keep doing this unintentionally) and so it was slightly too stiff, but nevertheless I managed to combine it with the butterscotch mixture.  I should have piped the pudding into the glasses, as it would have looked so much better, and I should have topped the puddings with a sprinkling of grated dark chocolate……..but, it is ALL about the taste after all, isn’t it!  Now, don’t let’s waste any more time, grab a spoon and join me!

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

Cranberry, Apricot & Butterscotch Pudding

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When winter seems determined to hang on for just that little bit longer, when the days are cold and grey, we look for comfort.  To be honest, we don’t really need much of an excuse to have comfort food, but to justify it makes us feel better!!  Something warming and tasty is always welcome.

I found this recipe in the December 2017 issue of BBC Good Food magazine.  It is one of Nigel Slater’s recipes – oddly enough the first one of his recipes I have tried.  How could I have lived so long and not made more of Nigel’s recipes?!  Frustratingly enough, I am unable to find the recipe to give you the link.  When I searched the BBC Good Food website I could not find the recipe, and when I Googled Nigel Slater’s recipes the apparent link to this recipe kept taking me to a completely unrelated page.  I blame myself, as I am  not very tech-savvy, so please look this recipe up (I’m sure you’ll have more luck than me) as it is really worth making.

So, you think comfort food…….stodgy, unhealthy, fattening…..No!  It’s all about quantity and balance.  And in this case there are cranberries and dried apricots – two of your five a day!!  See, there’s always something good 🙂

This is a sponge pudding with the fruit, and it is accompanied by a butterscotch and cranberry sauce.  It is lovely.  The dried apricots and the cranberries have a nice sharp tang anyway, and they stop the pudding from being too sweet.

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I began to get a bit concerned when I made the batter, it was very stiff.  I re-read the recipe as I thought maybe I had put in too much flour, or misread ingredient quantities.  But I had followed the recipe exactly.  I gritted my teeth and put it in the oven.

Then on to the butterscotch sauce.  I was actually tempted to put all the cranberries in the pudding, instead of, as the recipe says, some in the pudding, but the larger quantity go in the sauce.  This time I went with the recipe.  Yes, honestly I did!

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This was also the first time I’d made butterscotch.  How could I not have made it before?! It was difficult not to devour the sauce before I had even put it on the pudding!

Towards the end of the cooking time, some of the sauce is poured over the pudding, and it is returned to the oven for 10 minutes.  You would then serve it with the rest of the sauce.  I poured all the sauce over the pudding before finishing baking.  In spite of my earlier concerns, the sponge part of the pudding turned out lovely and light.

The pudding goes really well served with a nice dollop of thick cream, or – as I did- some lovely vanilla ice cream.

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

Banana & Chocolate Chip Muffins

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What a year it’s been.  Today’s bake is, to be honest, a guilt bake.  I feel bad that I have not posted much this year at all, but I feel I have to make an effort.  F for failure then!

Between having to rebuild my computer (thanks, Microsoft for destroying it with your update), scattering my mother’s ashes, being stuck in the middle of nowhere due to ice and snow, being completely felled by one of the seasonal viruses doing the rounds, selling the house, I could go on and on.  But I’m exhausted, I need sleep, I need a break, I need good things.  Don’t we all, though.  A year of good news, and happy events would do us all the world of good.

So I found myself wondering what to bake.  I had some over-ripe bananas, but I’ve done various banana bread recipes, how about cupcakes……no, how about muffins!  Of course the recipe I saw on the internet didn’t have the same ingredients as I remembered it having…..you can see where this is going now, can’t you!  I’d committed myself to baking, so there was no alternative but to tweak the recipe………but you all know by now, tweaking a recipe is something I do a lot of – not always successfully!  In this case I used two different recipes as a reference point.

Muffins are a fairly forgiving bake, the only thing to remember is not to over-mix, otherwise they end up rubbery.

This recipe was for 12 muffins.  Preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan oven)

Ingredients:

3 ripe bananas, mashed

125ml light oil (I used olive oil, but sunflower oil is fine too)

4 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg

100g golden caster sugar

225g cake flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

220g chocolate buttons

Method:

Beat together the oil, egg, milk and vanilla extract.  Add the mashed bananas and the sugar and mix well.

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Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder, and add in the chocolate buttons, covering well with the flour mixture, in the hope that the buttons don’t sink to the bottom when you bake the muffins.

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Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients, mixing gently to combine only. Don’t over-mix, it doesn’t matter if the batter is a bit lumpy.

Spoon into muffin cases and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.  Let cool on a rack before eating!

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

Smoked Salmon & Mackerel Parcels

I love smoked salmon.  Love, love, love it.  But it’s a luxury and so sadly I don’t get to eat it as often as I would like.  I have been eyeing up a recipe for ages, thinking I want to make this, but can I justify it?  Ummm…ah…yes…..no….should I?  Shouldn’t I?  Finally decision time!  Hell yes, because every now and then you just have to do something special.

I saw this recipe first in the Good Housekeeping Christmas Collection magazine in 2011, it is for a Smoked Salmon and Mackerel Mousse Ring.  I don’t have a ring mould, and don’t think I could justify buying one just to make this one recipe.  However, I have a crazy number of ramekins, so I decided to make parcels instead of one large ring.  Problem solved 🙂

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The recipe is easy enough, line the ring mould (or ramekins) with cling film.  Place layers of smoked salmon to line the mould, with the edges overlapping.

Mix together the cream cheese, crème fraîche, chopped parsley, flaked smoked mackerel, chopped capers and lemon zest.  I added a bit more lemon zest than the recipe asked for and I really liked that extra zing it gave.

Spoon the filling into the mould and level off, before covering with more smoked salmon.  Wrap tightly in clingfilm and refrigerate for a few hours.

Serve with some freshly ground pepper, a squeeze of lemon juice, a fresh zingy salad and thin crisp toast slices.

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

Chocolate Fudge Tia Maria Cake

Well hello, hello! Yes, I’m back.  2018, huh? What a year, and it’s still only January.

There is a recipe I have been wanting to bake for years.  Yes, years.  But for some reason or other, I never manage to get round to it.  When I was in primary school, my best friend Becky’s mum made a lovely cake called Parkin.  It was so delicious, I persuaded her to let me have the recipe, and a few months later I was at my stepmother’s house and decided to bake this for everyone.  Not being familiar with the kitchen, and where she kept everything, I could not find the flour.  I busied myself getting the ingredients together and then, somehow, managed to get distracted and forgot to ask where the flour was.  The cake was mixed, put in the oven and baked…………….the finished result was….well, let’s just say, it didn’t hold together well.  As we were all munching on the bits of cake – which were, everyone agreed, delicious – it suddenly came to me…the flour!!! That’s what was missing. 11-year old me didn’t have the confidence to confess, but, anyway, everyone enjoyed the (not quite proper) Parkin.

Fast-forward rather a lot of years, and this weekend I decided to revisit this cake.  I didn’t have the original recipe anymore, but, there are plenty about on a Google search.  The result?  Fail!!! I don’t know if it was me, the recipe, bad luck or a combination of all three.  It was horrible, dry….it ended up in the rubbish bin.

I felt I had to bake.  I had to bake something that would work out.  I had to bake something I had not baked before.  Saturday was #NationalChocolateCakeDay.  What else, then, but a variation on the chocolate cake theme!  Chocolate cake with a slight twist, the ultimate Tia Maria Chocolate fudge cake.

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I didn’t have any white sugar, and so the sugar I used was light muscovado sugar. In the method, I mixed the melted chocolate mixture with the flour, whisked it well and then added all the eggs, whisking as I added.  I didn’t think it would make a crucial difference to the outcome and I don’t think it did.

The cake is lovely, rich, moist, chocolatey and fudgey.  I have not iced it, but I think a good dollop of thick boozy cream would go very well with it instead of icing.

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