21 janv. 2015

Crumbly Cranberry Cheesecake Pie

The idea for this cheesecake came about because I had a punnet of cranberries and some cream cheese to use up, so I thought of a cheesecake. Crumble toppings seem to be in fashion and this would give an extra dimension to the dessert.
So, there's a pastry crust, then the cheesecake, the cranberry layer then a final crumble layer.
The cranberry layer has the same consistency as cranberry sauce, so you could use a jar of sauce instead of fresh cranberries.

Preheat oven 180C/gas4       23cm tart or pie tin

To make the cranberry filling - put  250g cranberries in a pan with 6tbspn granulated sugar, 1/2 tspn lemon zest, 1 tspn lemon juice and 120ml water. Bring to the boil on medium-high heat, then reduce to simmer for about 10 mins till cranberries are soft; leave to cool.

To make the crumb base and topping - mix together 175g plain flour, 100g sugar, 1/2 tspn baking powder, 1/2 tspn salt ; add115g butter cut into dice and rub together till breadcrumbs. Take out about 50g crumbs for the topping, and bring the rest together to make a ball.
Press into the base of the tart tin; try to make it even.

For the cheesecake - put 250g cream cheese in a bowl with 100g caster sugar; beat with electric mixer till light and fluffy. Add a large egg and 1 tspn vanilla extract and beat gently to mix. Pour the cheesecake mixture over the pastry base and spread it evenly.
spoon the cranberry mixture over the cheesecake then sprinkle over the rest of the crumbs.

Bake for30-35 mins till the topping is golden and the cheesecake filling is set.

Cool, then put in fridge for about 2 hrs before using. Keep in the fridge.

I didn't spread the cranberry mixture to the edge of the crumb base, but left a border all round. I think I'd make more crumb mixture another time to get a better crumb topping.
 Not sure whether to call this a pie or a cheesecake! We loved the sweet/tart flavour with the cranberries, and the cheesecake is smooth and creamy .A good contrast of flavours and textures.
 An unusual dessert, and a good way of using fresh cranberries.

14 janv. 2015

Chocolate and Pear Tartlets

My turn to host Book Group, so thought I'd make tartlets rather than a cake. Found a small tin of pears in the cupboard that needed using, hence the idea for these tartlets. I love any chocolate and pear combo, so this would be the base.
So, a pastry shell filled with an almond cream, slices of pear, then a creamy chocolate topping. I used 2 pears from a tin of pears in juice, but you could use fresh pears which have been poached in a sugar syrup.

I made a sweet sc pastry with 150g flour, 50g caster sugar, 75g butter, 1 egg yolk and 1-2tbsp water, but you could make the pastry without the sugar if you prefer. You don't need to be told how to make this pastry, but put it in the fridge for about an hour before you use it.

Roll this out to about 2mm thick then cut out circles with a cutter to fit your tart tin. It makes 12; prick bases with a fork then put in the fridge.

For the almond cream, in a bowl mix  together 50g ground almonds with 50g icing sugar, 40g soft butter, a beaten egg, a couple of drops of almond extract and a tbspn of single cream.
Take the tartlet shells out of the fridge and spoon a layer of almond cream into the bottom. Bake for 15mins at 180C/gas4. leave to cool.

For the chocolate cream, heat 6cl of milk in a pan with 6cl of single cream. - don't boil. Beat an egg yolk into 25g of caster sugar till white, then pour in the warm liquid and stir well. Pour back into the pan and over a gentle heat stir continuously to thicken the mixture. Break 85g dark chocolate into pieces, pour the milk mixture over and stir gently till the chocolate has melted - leave to cool.

Slice the pears thinly [you only need 2 pears] then put a couple of slices onto the almond mixture and cover with the chocolate cream. Smooth the top then put in the fridge for about 30 mins before serving.

Excuse the silly ribbon in this photo - my daughter's idea! These are the finished tarts.

My Book Group loved the various textures - the crunchy pastry, the almond cream which has some  texture from the almonds, then the soft juicy pear and finally a lovely creamy chocolate topping. I'll certainly make these again.

10 janv. 2015

Two Galettes - Apple and Cinnamon and Raspberry and Almond

January is the month for Galettes.  Usually I make the traditional Galette de Rois, puff pastry with a lovely almond cream filling [there's a recipe on here for one],  but I decided to try something different. I had some apples and raspberries to use up, so decided to make an apple and cinnamon one, and a raspberry and almond one.
Cinnamon and apple are a marriage made in heaven for me, but wasn't sure about almonds with raspberries, but it turned out well.
Using bought butter puff pastry makes them so quick and easy to make. The French bought puff pastry comes in a round, very useful for making tarts etc. I haven't found any round ones here.

For the apple and cinnamon one:

You need 2 sheets of puff pastry or a 500g slab, 4 apples [ I used Granny Smith], 100g caster sugar, about 50g apple purée [I used a jar of ready made from Lidl ], 1 egg and 1 tbspn of cinnamon. 1 china bean or dried bean as a fève.

Preheat oven 180C/gas4
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Peel and core the apples and slice finely. Put the sugar, purée and cinnamon in a bowl and add the apple slices. Mix together. 
Roll the pastry into 2 circles, about the size of a large dinner plate, put one onto the baking sheet and spoon the apple mixture in the middle , leaving a 2 cm border around the edge. Add the bean to the mixture to be traditional.
Beat the egg and brush around the edge of the bottom circle before putting the other one on top. Press the edges together.
Brush the top of the galette with egg wash, and make the traditional marks [like on a pitivier] with a knife. Mine were a bit haphazard!
Bake for 30 mins till golden.

I used some purée as well as sliced apples to give a better texture to the filling. It's a trick my Mum used in her apple tarts.

If I do this again, I think I'd like to have some almond in the filling, maybe some chunks of marzipan., but it was good.

For the raspberry and almond one:

You need 130g ground almonds, 130g soft butter, 130g caster sugar, 130g frozen raspberries, 2 tbspns flour, 1 egg yolk, 2 sheets of butter puff pastry, or a 500g block and of course the bean.

Preheat oven 180C/gas4  and line a baking sheet with baking parchment.

Beat the butter with a fork to make it soft, then add the sugar and beat together. Add the ground almonds and flour and mix together. 

Roll the sheets of pastry out and cut into 2 circles about a large dinner plate size. Put one circle onto the baking sheet and spread the almond mixture onto it, leaving a 2cm border round the edge. Add the bean.
Beat the egg yolk then brush round the edge of the pastry. Sprinkle over the frozen raspberries. Cover with the other pastry circle and press the edges together firmly.
 If you want, make the circles on the pastry with a knife, then brush the top with egg wash.
Bake for 30 mins till golden.

I had this pretty cake stand as a Christmas present, so was happy to show it off! The raspberries and almonds worked well together, the tartness of the fruit complimenting the sweetness of the franzipane. Good variation of textures too.

6 janv. 2015

Gateau Nantais

After all the indulgences of Christmas and the New Year, I thought I'd make a simple cake. The addition of rum makes it a bit different, and as I brought a bottle back from France, this is a good way of using some of it.
 Doing some research about the origins of the rum, I found that in the 18th century it was very popular in Nantes, and came in on the trading ships from the Caribbean.
The cake is perfumed, dense, moist and has a hint of almond, and to enhance the rum flavour, the traditional white icing is usually made with rum instead of water.

 The cake:

Preheat oven 180C/gas 4             Grease and base line a 23cm cake tin

Beat 220g of room temperature butter with 250g caster sugar till white and fluffy. Gradually add 80g of sr flour, 200g ground almonds and 4 tbspn rum. Mix together thoroughly. One by one beat in 4 eggs.
Spoon the batter into the tin and bake for 30-40 mins till golden. Cool on a wire rack.


3 tbspn icing sugar mixed with enough rum or water to make a soft but not too runny icing.
Pour over the cooled cake and smooth with a spatula.

As I said, it's a very simple cake, but the rum gives it its unique flavour. If you don't like rum and leave it out, I guess you'd get a routine almond flavoured sponge cake!

My French friend thinks it's best made the day before you want to use it, to let the flavours develop. We ate ours the same day, and it had plenty of flavour!

29 déc. 2014

Bavarian Apple Cake

It was the big family get together for my in laws on Saturday. As there are now too many for my sil's house, she hired her church halls. We ate fish and chips as there was a chippie round the corner, and each branch of the family made a dessert or two.

I bought rather a lot of apples last week, so decided to make a recipe which my lovely German dil had given me, for a Bavarian apple cake. It's nice to have a new recipe using apples, and this one is really delicious and easy to make. The cake is in layers - a cakey layer, then jam, then a cheesecake type layer, then apples and finally almonds. It does use a fair amount of sugar, 200g, so I used Bramley apples, but any tart apples would do.

Preheat oven 220C/gas8

Grease the sides of a  20cm springform cake tin, but line the bottom with foil to prevent any mixture seeping out. Dil advised this as she's had a problem with a leaking cake!

Cream 125g butter with 75g caster sugar and 1/2 tspn vanilla extract. Add 150g plain flour and mix together -it's a crumbly mixture. Press this into the bottom of your tin, using a spoon to press it down firmly. Spread this with 3 tbspn seedless raspberry jam.

In another bowl mix 225g cream cheese [like Philly] with 50g of caster sugar, an egg and 1/2 tspn vanilla extract. Pour this batter over the jam layer.

Peel. core and slice 4 medium apples, then toss with 75g caster sugar and a good tspn of cinnamon. Make sure they're well coated, then sprinkle them over the cheese layer.

Sprinkle a handful of flaked almonds over the top then put the cake tin on a baking sheet and bake for 10mins,then reduce the temperature to 200C/gas6 and bake for 35-45 mins till the cake is golden and the cheese layer has set.

An unusual apple cake; I liked the different textures of the layers and the crunchy almonds on top. Keep and eye on the cake towards the end of cooking time, and cover it with foil if it's getting too brown.

22 déc. 2014

Peppermint Bark Cookies

This is something for visiting children over Christmas. but I'm sure adults would like them too!

I've made peppermint bark for several years, but recently, looking on Pinterest, I saw that you could make cookies with a bark topping. I had to try these, as I wanted to take something for my grandchildren when we visited them yesterday.

I decided to make a shortbread type dough.

Preheat oven 180C/gas4 and grease a Swiss roll tin and line with a strip of parchment paper down the middle, leaving the ends overhanging to get the cookie out of the tin.

Beat 220g butter till creamy and white, then gradually beat in 200g of caster sugar. Keep beating till it's nice and fluffy. Add 1 tspn vanilla extract and a large egg yolk and beat in. Add 240g plain flour plus a pinch of salt and slowly add to the batter till blended.

I found it easier to drop spoonfuls of this into the tin as it's a stiff mixture, then using my fingertips I pressed the dough into the tin to make a layer. Prick all over with a fork.
Bake till light golden, about 30 mins.

While base is warm and still in the tin, spread over 175g of melted dark chocolate, then top with 6 - 8 chopped up candy canes. Cool.

Melt 60g white chocolate carefully and drizzle this over the chopped candy. Chill for 30 mins till the chocolate is set.

Use the parchment paper to get the cookie out of the tin, then cut into pieces.

Not a very clear photo - sorry. Only had the one on my phone to use.

My grandchildren loved them and I put them in cellophane bags with a pretty ribbon, so they looked very festive.
They are of course, sweet, but I like the biscuit layer underneath as a contrast to the sweet topping. Will certainly make them again next year.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

17 déc. 2014

Choccamocca Cheesecake

Couldn't think of a good name for this cheesecake, but as it has chocolate and coffee in it I thought this name would do. It's my normal cheesecake, but with an added something. It's a rich cheesecake, just right for an occasion, so am going to make another for Boxing Day.
 It's for those who love dark chocolate and coffee.
You need a 23cm springform tin. Preheat oven to oven 160C/gas3

Make sure that the cream cheese and eggs are at room temperature.

Put 200g of chocolate digestive biscuits in a bag and crush with a rolling pin [or use a food processor].
Add 125g plus 2 tbspns of melted butter and 1/2 tspn almond essence and mix together. Press this firmly into the bottom of the tin. Put in the fridge to set.

In a bowl mix together 140g granulated sugar and 1 tspn of espresso or any other strong coffee granules [more if you want a strong coffee flavour].

Melt 250g of 70% dark chocolate and 125g of 50% dark chocolate [or milk if you prefer] in the microwave or over simmering water.

In a mixer, or using a hand mixer, beat 4 x 250g packs of cream cheese [such as Philly] together till smooth. Carefully and slowly add the melted chocolate keeping the mixer on a low speed. Pour in the sugar mixture slowly and then 3 tbspn of double cream and mix till well blended.

Again at a low speed, add 3 large eggs, one at a time and 1 tspn vanilla extract.

Pour this batter over the crumb base in the tin and bake in the oven for about 40-50 mins.Take it out when the surface of the cheesecake looks dry, but it still has a bit of a wobble. Don't overbake it.

Leave it to cool in a warmish place and leave it there for about an hour before moving to somewhere cooler to cool completely.
When it's cool, leave it overnight in the fridge to set. Before you remove it from the tin, it's a good idea to run a thin spatula around the inside to loosen it.

You can decorate the top with some chocolate curls made using a potato peeler. I used some milk chocolate - about 100g.

As I said earlier, this is a rich cheesecake, so it will feed quite a lot of people. I like the base made with chocolate digestives instead of plain ones - it doesn't really add much more chocolate flavour, but looks quite good.