Fig and Walnut Cake

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I have had a packet of dried figs in the cupboard since December last year.  Every now and then I look at it and think…..nah! I put it back and forget about it.  I love figs – fresh figs particularly, but the dried figs were for a Christmas-themed pudding which I didn’t make.  To be honest I’ve been a bit put off dried figs as a snack ever since – years ago – I soaked some, took a nice plump soaked fig and cut it in half, and there was a worm, who, poor thing, had obviously been dried with the fig!! Bleurgh.  It reminds me of the “what’s worse than biting into an apple and seeing a worm?” joke.  The answer of course is “seeing half a worm”.  And, folks, I’ve been there too……but I digress.  I had these dried figs, they had an expiry date, and I needed to use them.

Back to Aunty Google, and I eventually settled on this recipe for a fig and walnut cake.  Plus, fruit, nuts, some of your 5-a-day!  Win-win!

The figs are chopped and soaked in water and melted butter (there were no worms!!).  I did think should I replace some of the water with Cointreau (and reduce the sugar) but I restrained myself……  The sugar and eggs are beaten together and the rest of the ingredients added.  Simple.  There is also mixed spice and cinnamon in the mixture, which gave off a lovely scent as it was baking.

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The mixture is poured into the baking tin and cooks for around an hour.  I did start to get those crazy thoughts….I couldn’t see how the cake could be anything but dry.  I don’t know why that bothered me because the end result was not dry.

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My cake has a crack – it looks like it’s smiling, I can almost see two eyes as well…noooooo!

 

Final verdict?  There was nothing wrong with it, it wasn’t dry, but as a cake, and flavour-wise, it just didn’t work for me.  The spices are very subtle, not “in your face”, you can smell them more than you can taste them. I do think the Cointreau addition and some orange zest might give it a little much needed zing.  So there we are – neither success nor failure strictly speaking, just not my cup of tea!

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

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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 🙂

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 🙂