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 🙂

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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 🙂

Cappuccino Cheesecake Cups

I don’t particularly like traditional Christmas pudding, and years ago I decided that as long as I was cooking the Christmas meal, I would make a pudding I wanted.  Sod tradition! The pudding I make most often is Christmas Crumble, which is always popular, and is sufficiently “Christmassy” to satisfy most people’s idea of what is acceptable on the day! I have, however, also made various trifles, and various chocolate-based puddings.

This year I was particularly indecisive.  I wanted to do something that required minimal effort.  A no-bake cheesecake was an option.  Years ago there were many variations on a theme of cheesecake pots – little pots of cheesecake mixture, usually involving brandy, rum, or some kind of alcohol.  I eventually found – in my gigantic trunk of recipes collected over the years – this one.  In the end I didn’t make this for Christmas day as the numbers of my guests doubled and Christmas Crumble was an easier way to feed the masses.

I still had cream, and cream cheese which I had bought in preparation, to use up, and so this weekend I made these Cappuccino Cheesecake Cups.  This recipe is so quick and easy, minimal effort.  It is very adaptable in that the flavour (in this case coffee and chocolate) can be easily varied.

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Ingredients:

3 tablespoons light muscovado sugar

1 tablespoon instant coffee granules

450g cream cheese

150ml double cream, plus extra for decorating

3 tablespoons Tia Maria

Amaretti biscuits

Dark chocolate for decorating

Method:

Put the sugar and coffee granules in a food processor and blitz to a fine powder.

Soften the cream cheese and mix in the sugar & coffee mixture with the Tia Maria.

Add the cream and using an electric whisk, beat it all together until it is well mixed and thick.

Place an Amaretti biscuit at the bottom of a small glass and spoon the cheesecake mixture on top (it would look really neat if it was piped). Pour a thin layer of cream over the top and finely grate the chocolate to cover the cream.  Refrigerate for a couple of  hours to set.

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

Sticky Ginger Cake with Caramel Frosting

I haven’t blogged for a few weeks.  Truth is life got in the way.  As it does.  There has been sadness, tears and heartbreak. And my baking mojo went away.  As it does.

I keep thinking I must post something, but what….? I don’t at this stage feel ready to put out a miserable post of my life events, and so I’ve avoided the blog.  I am hoping that come the new year, life will start settling down.

Today’s post is simply a re-visit of a cake I have previously made.

You may remember that not that long ago I baked a Jamaican Ginger Cake which had a caramel buttercream frosting?  I really loved that cake, the strong ginger was really well complimented by the caramel buttercream, but the cake itself….it didn’t turn out quite as I’d hoped. It was good, but not quite the sticky ginger result I had hoped for.

After reading many recipes for ginger cakes in various forms, I couldn’t see much that I could do differently.  The recipe I had used asked for gluten free flour, and I couldn’t help wondering if the cake would either need a little something else to give that moist, sticky cake result.  Since the cake already contained dates, I didn’t know what else I could add. In the end I thought I’d replace the gluten free flour with standard cake flour.

I am so glad I did, because, reader, I aced this cake!  I substituted the exact amount of plain cake flour for the gluten free flour, and didn’t change anything else in the recipe.  The result is a lovely dark, moist, sticky ginger cake! Success!  A minor change, but it made all the difference.

I’d be interested to know if anyone else who made the original recipe had the same result as I did?

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

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 🙂