#Recipe Sweet ‘n’ Salty Upside Down #Cheesecake

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I recently ran a poll on my Twit-stream in connection with #NationalPopcornDay asking for votes for which recipe people would like to see from a selection of three. Each of the recipes used popcorn in an alternative way. Not that there’s anything wrong with just munching on a bag in front of a good movie! But you know me and how I like to mix it up a bit!

Think of this, if you will, as a “deconstructed” cheesecake. Literally flipping everything your familiar with about cheesecake on it’s head. “Salty taste in a cheesecake?”, you say, “That’s a bit unusual”. “The crumb layer is ON TOP!?!…well that’s just crazy!” Welcome to my world.

 

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Sweet ‘n’ Salty Upside Down Cheesecake

Cheesecake

200g Feta Cheesecake

300g Cream Cheese

130ml whipped cream

1/4 teaspoon salt

 

Caramel sauce

210g of sugar

85g butter

120ml double cream

 

Crumb topping

14g Sweet and Salty popcorn, crushed

90g digestive biscuit crumb

50g unsalted butter

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

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To make the cheesecake:

  • In a stand mixer bowl, beat the feta cheese until smooth.
  • Add in the cream cheese, half of the whipped cream and the salt, and mix until combined.
  • Add in the remainder of the whipped cream and mix again until fully combined.

 

To make the caramel sauce:

  • In a large saucepan, heat the sugar over a moderate heat. Continue to heat until the sugar turns a deep amber color. DO NOT STIR! If needed you can swirl the pan.
  • When the deep amber color has been reached add in the butter and stir until melted.
  • Once the butter has melted, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cream. Take extra care here as adding the cream will cause the mixture to foam up and steam. Continue to whisk until the foaming subsides and the sauce is smooth.
  • Leave to cool fully before proceeding.

 

To make the crumb topping:

  • Over a medium heat melt the unsalted butter in a frying pan.
  • Add in the biscuit crumb and crushed popcorn. Toss to coat in the melted butter.
  • Mix in the brown sugar and stir to evenly coat.
  • Continue to stir until the crumb mixture gently browns and caramelises.
  • Remove the crumb mixture from the pan and allow to cool on a plate or bowl until needed.

 

To assemble:

  • In an oblong pie dish, spoon the cheesecake mixture and smooth.
  • Pour over the caramel sauce and spread to smooth.
  • Liberally sprinkle over the crumb mixture and lightly press down.
  • Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
  • Serve and enjoy!

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#Recipe Candycane Brownies

 

 

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And now January has set in. Tinsel and lights have been packed away. Christmas tree carcasses litter the sidewalks- emaciated reminders of festivities past. On the whole January would appear to be a pretty “grey”- The Month of M’eh. Each mouthful of chocolate or candy is now succeeded by a guilty pang of remorse. “December was pretty indulgent, I really shouldn’t be eating this”…said no one in my kitchen. Ever!

“Seize the moment. Think of all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.”

Erma Bombeck

There’s usually a surplus of sweet treats of some variety in my house after the festive season. This year is was candy canes. Having fulfilled their duty of adorning the christmas trees for the best past of a month (and surviving the voracious eyes of my children!) it’s now time to put them to an alternative, and somewhat tastier, use.

For something so small and simple candy cane have an assortment of end uses in the kitchen. Aside from having a good ol’ fashioned chomp on them, there are recipes available for flavoured vodkas, cupcakes, and hot chocolate. I opted for using them in one of my favourite flavour combinations- mint and chocolate. My Candy cane Brownies are rich, indulgent treats laced with peppermint and studded with chewy, mini nuggets of stripped cane and chocolate chumks. Just for good measure there’s an extra sprinkling of smashed candy canes topping each brownies with extra festive whimsy.

Having arrived in our new home of Canada just ahead of the festive blitz I had little time for baking and experimenting with the new array of ingredients that have since become available to me. New brands, varieties and flavours lined shelfs, all there for the taking in my greedy mitts. The cocoa powder I used here, Fry’s (which is a Dutch processed cocoa), resulted in a much darker and richer chocolate flavour compared to those I’ve used in the UK. I’d highly recommend trying to get your hands on some if you can! So this recipe provided the perfect excuse for not only using up the excess candy canes but also as a trial for using unfamiliar ingredients. I hope you like them. And yes I know it’s strictly speaking a christmas recipe and the festive season is done and dusted, but just them of them as a legitimate excuse for resurrecting it for a brief few minutes. Enjoy!

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Candy cane Brownies

makes 12

Unsalted butter 185g, cubed

185g Bakers unsweetened chocolate, broken into pieces

1 tablespoon Nielsen Massey peppermint extract

3 eggs

275g caster (superfine) sugar

85g plain flour

½ teaspoon salt

50g Fry’s cocoa powder

50g Bakers semi-sweet chocolate, cut into small chunks

50g peppermint candy cane, broken into smalls pieces

To decorate

75g peppermint candy canes, smashed into irregular pieces

  • Set your oven to 180C/gas mark 4 and line a deep 12″x9″ baking tray with baking parchment.
  • Melt the butter and chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (or bain-marie), stirring occasionally. Once melted, remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  • Beat the eggs and sugar until the mixture is thickened and fluffy, then, in a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder and salt.
  • Stir the peppermint extract into the cooled chocolate mixture, and the fold into the egg mixture.
  • Sieve in the dry ingredients, and fold together.
  • Mix in the chocolate chunks and candy cane pieces. Fold again until well combined.
  • Pour your mixture into the lined tray and gently spread to level the surface. Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes. To test- insert a skewer into the mixture about 1 inch from the edge of the tin and it should come out clean.
  • To decorate-sprinkle the top of the brownies with the smashed candy cane pieces and gently push into the surface so the stick.
  • Leave to cool completely in the tin before cutting into squares, and serving.

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#Recipe Brownie Fries w/ Raspberry Ketchup & Yuzu Mayo

So this recipe originally started as an idea to create smaller “bite-size” brownies with a difference. Sadly after a quick Googling (!) I found someone else had beat me in creating the concept. Oh well, imitation is the best form of flattery as they say. Brownie Fries or “Fruffles” (a portmanteau of Fries + Truffles) as they appear to be called in some places Stateside have been around for a while. Usually they’re served with a berry compote “ketchup” and yogurt “mayo” but not one to let a chance for experimentation go by I decided to mix up the flavours a bit.

Berry ketchup and yogurt mayo? Oh no, no- not for me! So all aboard the “Flavour train” for a raspberry dipping sauce with fresh and spicy notes thanks to basil and black pepper, paired with rich, creamy and zingy mascarpone dip. Here’s my take on Brownie “Fries” and they’re deep-dipping, lip-smacking good!

 

Brownie Fries (2)

Brownie “Fries”

185g unsalted butter, cubed

185g 70% cocoa dark chocolate, broken into pieces

eggs 3

275g caster sugar

85g plain flour

1 tbsp Espresso powder

50g dark chocolate chips

50g milk chocolate chips

100g pecans, lightly roasted and roughly chopped

To decorate

125g 70% cocoa dark chocolate, broken into pieces

125g milk chocolate, broken into pieces

Coarse sea salt to sprinkle

Freshly ground vanilla (Dr. Oetker do a wonderful grater/grinder)

Raspberry “Ketchup”

75g fresh raspberries

Handful fresh basil leaves, torn

½ tsp black peppercorns

Yuzu “Mayo”

250g Mascarpone cheese

100ml single cream

1 tsp agave syrup

2 tbsp Yuzu juice

  •  Set your oven to 180C/gas mark 4 and line a deep 12″x9″ baking tray with baking parchment, or 9” x9” brownie tray (with short dividers removed).
  • Melt the butter and chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (or bain-marie), stirring occasionally. Once melted, remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  • Beat the eggs and sugar until the mixture is thickened and fluffy, then, in a separate bowl, combine the flour and Espresso powder. Fold the cooled chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. Sieve in the dry ingredients, and fold together until just uniform in color.
  • Fold in the chocolate chips and chopped pecans until fully incorporated.
  • Pour your mixture into the lined tray, or brownie pan, and gently spread to level the surface. Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes, then leave to cool completely in the tin before removing.
  • Start by cutting the brownie slab in to 3” wide strips. If you’re using a brownie pan the long dividers will already have done this for you. Next, rotate the strips 90 degrees and cut strips approximately ¾ inch wide. Arrange on a sheet of baking paper with about 1 inch space between.
  • To finish, melt the dark and milk chocolates in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (or bain-marie), stirring occasionally. Once melted, remove from the heat and allow to cool. When cool enough to handle, pour the melted chocolate into a piping bag and snip a small piece from the end to make a fine nozzle.
  • Pipe the melted chocolate over your brownie fries so that it drips down over the sides, forming the “batter coating” to your “fries”.
  • Leave to cool for about 15 mins then sprinkle lightly with seas salt and grind over fresh vanilla.
  • Leave to finally set.

To make the Raspberry “Ketchup”

  • In a bowl combine the fresh raspberries, basil leaves, and black peppercorns.
  • Using a hand blender, blitz until a fine pulp.
  • Pass through a sieve to a bowl below.
  • Set aside until serving.

To make the Yuzu “Mayo”

  • In a bowl combine the mascarpone cheese, cream, agave syrup and yuzu juice.
  • Beat until fully combined.
  • Spoon in to a bowl for serving.

To serve

  • Arrange the brownie fries alongside the ketchup and yuzu mayo.
  • Now dip away to your heart’s content!

Brownie Fries (5)

#Recipe: Chocolate, Guinness & Black Garlic Bundt cake with Smoked Chocolate glaze

So I’ve (eventually) gotten around to posting this recipe- massive apologies for the delay. This cake first started out as an experiment using black garlic and was finished with a salted caramel sauce and served with forest fruits. I wanted to create something that looked and tasted indulgent but had a slight edginess to it- nothing too frou-frou! For me it was a Gothic romance in cake form. Time moved on and so did the recipe development. I replaced the salted caramel with a chocolate glaze but wanted to still keep my (signature) twist. And so liquid smoke was added. Depending on how much you use, this wonderful ingredient adds a tasty smoky flavour and in this case married really well with the black garlic of the bundt. It’s availble online or from good food ingredient stores.

iness; Chocolate and Black Garlic Bundt

The original version of the Chocolate, Guinness & Black Garlic bundt cake

Bundt cake mixture

375g plain flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

70g unsweetened cocoa powder

225g butter, softened

110g unsalted butter, chopped and softened

600g caster sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

5 eggs

125ml milk

125ml Guinness stout (from a bottle as opposed to a can)

6 cloves black garlic, chopped

100g dark chocolate chips or pieces

Chocolate glaze

12 Tablespoons icing sugar

4 teaspoons whole milk

1 tablespoon liquid smoke

*this mixtures makes enough for a very ample bundt cake (using a 25cm tin) or 2 standard sized ones (I used Nordicwares Fleur De Lis and Anniversary tins)

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To make the bundt cake

  • Preheat the oven to 170 C. Grease and flour  your Bundt cake tin(s)- or if your like me spray the inside with cake release spray.
  • Sift flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa together into a bowl and place to one side.
  • In a jug combine the milk and the Guinness. Set
  • In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream butter, margarine, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. (A tip here is to keep beating until you can no longer feel the sugar grains between you fingers).
  • Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Add flour mixture alternately with the milk/Guinness mixture. Mix to combine.
  • Add in the chopped black garlic cloves and chocolate chips. Mix well.
  • Pour into your prepared Bundt tin(s). Bake in the preheated oven for 70 minutes or until a skewer inserted into cake comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes in the tin, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely before glazing.

To make the glaze

  • Combine all the ingredients in a jug and mix well to combine until smooth. The mixture should fall easily from  your whisk and leave a slowly sinking trail in the bowl. If you find the mixture too stiff add some more milk in 1/2 teaspoon increments.

To finish

  • Place the cake on a cooling rack with some foil or baking parchment underneath to catch the drips.
  • Drizzle or paint the glaze onto the fully cooled cake until coated.
  • Spinkle with finishing decoration of you choice.
  • Slice, serve and enjoy!2015-11-18 16.55.00-1

 

 

Recipe Alert…I am The Muffin Man

Whilst you may think that there is always cake available in my house (and to be quite honest you wouldn’t be wrong) there is also always a hearty supply  of fruit- perhaps to ease my conscience for numerous bakes? An influx of bananas of late has lead to a near constant presence of the over-ripening fruit. So much so that my husband commented the other evening, “Why is this place turning into the house of black bananas?!?!” Fair enough- he has a point. I however think it’s not necessarily a bad thing to have some fragrant, burnished fruit lying about. They make for much more interesting and tasty bakes once the process of almost “self-caramelisation” is under way. An earlier post of mine gave the recipe for Banana Bread– a firm memory of mine from the kitchen of my childhood. Having only just finished off out latest batch of this I needed something different to make use of the over-ripe bananas now taking up residence on my butchers trolley. So what better way than muffins- that versatile, anytime treat (but not a treat) bake.

Going slightly off track, I recently made some cookies, Maple Butter Cookies with prosciutto dust, using Moose Maple Butter. I am in fact chomping on some as I type- their gloriously maple sweet crumbs littering the keyboard here- oh dear! However- I digress. As a result of this still have some of the said maple butter left and wanted to try other bakes to use it in. So my muffins to be were to provide the perfect excuse for this as well. Kill two birds with one stone – or bake two pans in one oven (to sound a little less brutal about it all).

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Banana Bran Muffins (feat. Moose Maple Butter)

Makes 9

Ingredients

250g self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/4 tsp pinch of salt

1/2 tsp mixed spice

115g caster sugar

100g oatbran

75g melted Moose Maple butter (if can also use regular unsalted butter)

125ml milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 medium, over-ripe bananas

2 medium eggs

 

Method

  • Heat the oven to 190C electric/ 170C fan.
  • Melt the (maple) butter and allow to cool.
  • Mash the bananas well.
  • Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, and mixed spice together in a large bowl, add caster sugar and oatbran, stir through to combine.
  • In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs, vanilla extract, melted (maple) butter and milk. Add the mashed banana and mix well.
  • Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the egg mixture, stirring roughly with a fork. Be careful NOT to overmix at this point. You just want it mixed enough so that no pockets of dry ingredients remain. It should look lumpy and pastey – like how a cake batter ISN’T supposed to look!
  • Line a 12 (or 2 x6 ) muffin tray with 9 muffin cases. Fill the cases to the top .
  • Bake for between 2o- 25 minutes, until muffins are springy to touch. Rest the muffin tray on a wire rack for five minutes then remove the muffins and leave to cool.

Hope you enjoy!

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In the meantime,

“Remember Mom’s the word- that’s Mr. Mom’s!”