Tag Archives: desserts

Raspberry and Rose Cheesecake Sandwich

raspberry and rose cheesecake sandwich

I created this cake for a competition I entered. I had in mind a cross between a cheesecake and a Victoria sandwich, and I must admit I am rather happy with the result!

It took a little bit of work to get the texture right for the filling, as it needs to be dense enough to support the sponge on top and keep its shape, while still being creamy and light.

I am no cake decorator, hence the simple topping of fresh fruit with a dusting of icing sugar (almost anything looks fancier with icing sugar!).

I didn’t win the competition, by the way, and I realised that I am actually quite a bad sport: never mind the taking part, I really wanted to win! 🙂

You will need:

 For decorating:

About 150 g mixed raspberries and strawberries
Icing sugar
1 pink rose
1 egg white
2 tbsp granulated sugar

 

For the sponge:

4 eggs
225 g caster sugar
225 self-raising flour, sifted
2 tsp baking powder
225 g butter, at room temperature, diced
50 g raspberries

 

For the raspberry coulis:

50 g raspberries
2 tbsp icing sugar
3 tbsp rose water

 

For the cheesecake filling:

150 g double cream
50 g crème fraîche
250 g cream cheese
200 g cottage cheese
100 g caster sugar
30 ml rose water
8 g gelatine (leaves)

 

Method:

 The day before:

Gently peel the petals off the rose, rinse and pat dry with kitchen paper. Lightly wisk the egg white. Dip the petals in it one by one, shaking off any excess and arrange them on a tray lined with greaseproof paper. Sprinkle with the granulated sugar, and leave to dry for 24h.

 On the day; make the sponge.

Switch the oven on to 180C/ fan 160C/ gas 4. Grease and line 2 x 20 cm Ø sandwich tins.

Whisk the eggs, butter and sugar together until just combined, then fold in the flour and baking powder, being careful not to over mix. Finally, add the raspberries.

Divide the batter between the two prepared tins and bake for about 25 min, or until golden and springy in the middle, and the edges are coming away from the tin. Cool in the tins for 5 mins, then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

 Make the coulis:

In a small pan, put the raspberries, icing sugar and rose water and bring to the boil over a low heat, lightly crushing the raspberries with a spoon. Leave to simmer for about 5 mins or until slightly reduced and syrupy. Leave to cool.

 Make the filling:

Soak the gelatine leaves in a small bowl of cold water.

Mix the double cream and crème fraîche and whisk to stiff peaks.

In another bowl, whisk together the cream cheese, cottage cheese, sugar and rose water.

Squeeze the softened gelatine to release excess water. In a small pan, boil 1 tbsp water, add the gelatine and stir to melt, then pour straight away into the cream cheese mix and stir through. Gently combine the cream cheese mix with the whipped cream.

Mix 1 tbsp of the filling into the raspberry coulis, then pour the coulis into the filling, stirring once or twice to get a marble effect.

 Assemble the cake:

Place one of the cakes on a serving plate, and top with big dollops of the filling; keep going until the filling is all used up. Use a palette knife to straighten the edges and flatten the top, but don’t worry about being too tidy at this stage. Refrigerate for about an hour, then top with the other sponge and use the palette knife to neaten the filling up a bit. Chill for another hour.

Just before serving, top the cake with the raspberries and strawberries, dot with the candied rose petals, and sprinkle with icing sugar.

 

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Let’s Start 2013 In Style: Chocolate Orange Tart

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If you want to impress the in-laws, or your best friend, next time they come for dinner, but you are not sure what to make, read on…

When I first produced this tart at the end of a meal, it was greeted with “ooohs” and “aaahs” and guests saying that really, I shouldn’t have gone to so much trouble, it looked fabulous, etc. In this situation, and regardless of how many hours you have been slaving away in the kitchen, social etiquette demands that your response should be along the lines of: ” oh, it was no trouble at all, it is actually very easy to make, really!”.  Which is pretty much what I said to my guests that day; but you know what? I wasn’t even lying!

This tart is really easy to make. The filling just needs mixing before baking, so no risk of curdling egg yolks while trying to make a custard-based filling. The pastry demands a little bit more care, as it is closer to a cookie dough than to traditional pastry, but as long as you keep it nice and chilled it should behave obediently enough.

I have borrowed the recipe for the pastry from Jamie Oliver’s “Fifteen Chocolate Tart” recipe. I love this chocolate tart more than words can express, but as I am still in a bit of a post-holiday chocolate hangover, I decided to go for something a bit lighter and fresher than chocolate on chocolate. I have evolved the filling from a lemon tart recipe I copied out years ago; I obviously replaced the lemon with oranges, upped the juice content a bit and added zest for a stronger citrus flavour.

The chocolate decoration is just there to make it look a bit fancier (and it works!), I just wish I had a steadier hand when wielding a piping bag; the picture below is proof that I am no artist… 🙂  New resolution for 2013: practice my piping.

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You will need (for 6 to 8 people):

For the pastry:
325g unsalted butter
225g caster sugar
Pinch salt
565g plain flour
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
3 large eggs
65g cocoa powder

For the filling:
5 eggs
140g caster sugar
150 ml double cream
100 ml freshly squeezed orange juice (from about 1 1/2 oranges)
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated.

Optional: 50g dark chocolate, for decorating.

Method:

Butter a 28 cm Ø loose-bottomed tart tin.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and salt, then fold in the flour, eggs, zest, and cocoa powder (you can do this by hand or with a food processor, but this makes quite a lot of pastry so your food processor needs to be a large one).

When the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs, gently bring it together until you have a ball  of dough. Do not knead it too much or it will become chewy. Flour the dough lightly, then wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Remove from the fridge, roll out to the desired size, and carefully line your tart tin with it (any tears can be easily repaired by patching up with offcuts, lightly brushed with water then pressed down over the cracks). Put the lined tin in the freezer for 30 min.

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/ fan 180ºC/ Gas 6. Bake the pastry for around 12-15 minutes or until it is firm and almost biscuit-like, then remove it and leave to cool while you make the filling.

Turn the oven down to 160ºC/fan 140ºC/Gas 3.

To make the filling, beat all the ingredients, except for the zest, together. Sieve the mixture into a large jug, then stir in the zest.

Pull the middle shelf half-out of the oven, and place the tart tin on it. Carefully pour the filling into the pastry case, taking care that it stops a few millimetres below the edge of the pastry. Gently push the shelf back in. Bake for 30-35 min until just set.

Leave to cool to room temperature, then carefully remove the tart from the tin.

For the decoration, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl placed over a pan of simmering water (take care that the bowl doesn’t touch the water). Immediately transfer the melted chocolate to a piping bag fitted with a nozzle with a small, plain opening, and pipe criss-crossing patterns onto the tart. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Gone in 60 Seconds: Raspberry and Almond Cake

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Disclaimer: this post has nothing to do with stealing cars. If this is what you were looking for, try here instead. What this post is actually about, is cake, and how fast it disappears from the plate (just so we are clear).

I made this cake for my friend J. and her little girl E. who came to visit at Greedy Frog Towers today. I fancied a raspberry/almond combo, but I wasn’t really in the mood for a Bakewell tart so I came up with this instead.

We had some with a cup of tea when she arrived, then a little bit more as a dessert after lunch. It sounds like there should still be about half a cake, right? Wrong! One small slice is all that is left. Bearing in mind that Mr Greedy Frog only had one slice, this means that J. and me pretty much ate a whole cake between us…

Am I feeling guilty? Not one bit. Do I wish I had made two cakes instead of one? Hell, yes!

You will need:

100 g butter, softened
150 g unrefined caster sugar
3 eggs
75g plain flour
75g ground almonds
1 large handful frozen raspberries
30 g flaked almonds

Method:

Preheat the oven to 210ºC/ fan 190ºC/ th 7. Butter a Ø26 cm cake tin.

Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one by one, mixing thoroughly inbetween each addition. Add the flour, then the ground almonds and mix until smooth. Add the raspberries and mix gently (you don’t want to beak them up too much).

Pour the batter into the prepared tin, scatter the flaked almonds on top and bake for 20/25 min or until nice and golden on top, and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.image

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How to Make Friends and Influence People: Dark Chocolate and Raspberry Cake

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Every so often, I find myself in a situation where I badly need a favour from someone. I tend to feel very guilty asking for favours, though; I am always worried of imposing on people. So I usually come up with a way of returning said favour, and this normally involves cake.

There are also times, like now, when I want to thank someone with more than words. And this, too, normally involves cake. In this instance, I wanted to repay my long-suffering work colleagues for their kindness. I applied for a promotion recently, and had an interview which went well, but despite the good feedback I received, the position was given to someone else. I was obviously very disappointed, and I must have looked rather upset because all my lovely colleagues have done since I found out, is try and cheer me up. They even went as far as saying that they were delighted that I didn’t get the job because it meant I wouldn’t have to leave the office, and would still be working with them.

I suspect that this statement was partially motivated by the fact that I do often bring cake to work, especially as I am always in need of testers when I am working on a new recipe. But I also know that they meant it. So, thanks guys, I am really glad to be working with all of you.

If, like me, you rely on cake to do the talking at times, then this is a great recipe to have up your sleeve. It is quick and easy to make, the ingredients are likely to be in your kitchen already, and it can convey a message pretty well.

You will need:

200g good quality dark chocolate
4 eggs
Pinch salt
150 g caster sugar
50 g plain flour
150g butter, at room temperature, + extra for the tin
A handful raspberries (frozen are fine)

Icing sugar, to serve.

Method:

If you are using frozen raspberries, take them out of the freezer and lay them out on a sheet of kitchen paper.

Preheat your oven to 200ºC/ fan 180ºC/ gas 6. Butter a 26 cmØ cake tin, or deep tart tin (I use a fluted one, but a straight-edged one is fine too).

Break up the chocolate into even-sized chunks, place into a heatproof bowl. Find a pan on which the bowl can sit securely, with plenty of space between the bottom of the bowl and the bottom of the pan. Bring water to the boil in the pan, and place the chocolate on top, taking care that the bowl isn’t touching the water. Turn the heat down to a simmer and leave to melt for a few minutes without stirring.

Meanwhile, separate the eggs. Add a pinch of salt to the whites and whisk to stiff peaks.

Mix the butter and sugar until combined, but do not overmix (this will give the cake a fudge-like texture). Add the melted chocolate and mix thoroughly. add the egg yolks one by one, mixing all the while.

Add the flour and stir until incorporated. Add the egg whites a bit at a time, mixing delicately to avoid losing any of the air trapped inside them. Pour the batter into the prepared tin, scatter the raspberries on top (it doesn’t matter if they are still partially frozen), and press down gently on the fruit so it sinks into the batter a bit.

Bake for 20-25 min, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 5 min, then turn out onto a wire rack. When completely cool, sprinkle with icing sugar.

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The Ultimate Idiotproof Dessert: Vanilla Crème Caramel

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This recipe is stupidly easy, and it has the added advantage of producing a rather good-looking dessert. No specific skill is required: if you can mix ingredients, you can make this crème caramel.

“But what about the caramel?” you might ask, “isn’t it a bit tricky to make? Won’t I end up with a crystallised, burnt-out glue solidified in my pan?” (not that this has ever happened to me; ahem).

Well, fear not, my fellow foodies, as I am about to reveal the secret ingredient which will assuage all your caramel-related fears: liquid glucose.

Now, I am not normally one for cheffy tricks, but this one blew me away: who would have thought that a substance that is basically sugar could transform so radically the texture of, well, cooked sugar? 

I added some to my caramel just as the last bits of sugar were starting to melt; the mixture bubbled up rather fiercely, but when the volcanic activity died down I was left with the smoothest, silkiest, most gorgeously coppery caramel I have ever made. Not a single sugar crystal in sight! So if you have ever had any caramel disasters, I would urge you to try liquid glucose; I, for one, am a convert!

I use sweetened condensed milk here as it is a convenient shortcut; I didn’t find this out all by myself though, I borrowed the idea from a recipe by Bill Granger.

You will need (for 6):

30 g liquid glucose (optional, see above)
150 g caster sugar (unrefined if possible)
1 x 400 g tin sweetened condensed milk
5 eggs
1 litre milk
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160ºC/ Gas 4.

In a wide, non-stick frying pan, heat up the sugar on a medium to high heat until melted. Add the liquid glucose if using (see intro). Pour the caramel into a 24 cm ovenproof dish (not a metallic one, ceramic or Pyrex are ideal).

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs then add the condensed milk, the milk, and vanilla extract. Strain the mixture into the prepared dish.

Carefully place the dish in a deep roasting tin, and pour boiling water into the roasting tin until it reaches halfway up the sides of the dish. Cover with foil, and bake for about an hour, or until set but still wobbly in the middle.

Take out of the water bath, cool completely then refrigerate for at least 4h (or preferably overnight).

To serve, carefully run a knife between the crème and the sides of the dish, put a large serving plate over it, then while firmly holding the plate in place, invert the dish onto it.

Enjoy!

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Mr Greedy Frog’s Birthday Cheesecake (Peach, Honey and Vanilla Cheesecake)

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It is Mr Greedy Frog’s birthday. I asked him a few days ago if he had any request for his birthday cake, and the answer was immediate: Mr Greedy Frog wanted cheesecake.

To be honest, I don’t know why I bothered asking. Cheesecake is a favourite of his, he ALWAYS orders it if it is on the menu when we eat out, and when I bake one at home, it disappears faster than you can say “cream cheese”.

I fancied something summery, so opted for peaches, and I had some lovely orange blossom honey which I thought would taste great with the fruit. You can of course use almost any type of honey in this recipe, although I would probably avoid strong-flavoured ones like eucalyptus.

You will need:

For the cheesecake:
150 g biscuits (I used oaty ones, but you can use any plain biscuits you like)
70 g butter + extra for the tin
600 g cream cheese
170 ml double cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp plain flour
150 g caster sugar
2 eggs + 1 yolk
1 peach
2 tbsp honey

For the peach glaze:
2 peaches
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

Butter a 20 cm springform tin, line the bottom with baking paper, then butter again on top of the paper. Preheat the oven to 180 C/ fan 160 C/ gas 4.

In a food processor, blitz the biscuits to fine crumbs. Gently melt the butter over a low heat, and mix with the biscuit crumbs.

Press with your hand into the prepared tin to create a base. Refrigerate until your filling is ready.image

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and cream together. Sieve the flour over the mixture, and whisk it in. Then add the sugar, vanilla and eggs, beating thoroughly.

Peel the peach, then chop into small pieces. Don’t make the pieces too big or they will sink to the bottom of the cheesecake. Stir into the cream cheese mixture, along with the honey.

Pour into the tin, and bake for 30 to 40 min, or until set and golden on top but still wobbly in the centre. When done, turn the oven off, leave the oven door slightly ajar, and leave to cool completely.*
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Make the glaze: peel and dice the 2 peaches, and cook on a low heat with the honey and vanilla. It is ready when the fruit is breaking down slightly and the juices are starting to reduce.image

Pour the fruit and juices into a blender and pulse until smooth. Strain the purée to make sure it is nice and glossy, and reserve until the cheesecake has cooled down to room temperature.

Spread the glaze on top of the cheesecake, and refrigerate in the tin overnight. image

When ready to serve, carefully remove from the tin and discard the baking paper.
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*cooling the cheesecake in the oven prevents cracks from forming on the surface. I didn’t do it this time, because I needed to use the oven for something else; and lo and behold, a crack appeared…

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If Al Pacino were a cake…(Chocolate Cake With A Crunchy Almond Crust)

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This cake is quite a bit like Al Pacino: at first glance, it doesn’t look like much. You wouldn’t really notice it on a cake stall, next to all the cupcakes and layer cakes, all tarted up in their rainbow-coloured frosting and sprinkles.

This cake is what you would call the underdog. But take a bite, and you will realise that it is every bit as bad ass as the star of “Scarface”.

And this is where the comparison ends, because adjectives such as moist, delicious, or moreish wouldn’t really apply to Mr Pacino. But you get the idea.

The beauty of this cake is that you get the crunchy almonds on top, which contrast wonderfully with the soft chocolate cake.

You will need:

125 g dark chocolate (ideally at least 70% cocoa solids)
125 g unsalted butter, softened
125 g self-raising flour
250 g sugar
5 eggs
50 g flaked almonds
A few drops natural almond extract

Method:

Preheat your oven to 200 C/ fan 190 C/ gas 6. Butter a metal cake tin (I use a rectangular one of 31×18 cm), and scatter the flaked almonds over the bottom.image

Melt the chocolate, either in the microwave, or in a pan on a low heat, with a drop of milk. When melted, mix with the butter in a large bowl.

Add the egg yolks to the chocolate mixture, mix thoroughly, then add the sugar. Mix energetically for a few minutes, to ensure your cake is light and fluffy. Add the flour and the almond extract.

Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks, and add gradually to the chocolate mixture, mixing very delicately.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin, and bake for 20 to 30 min or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean (the cooking time will depend on the depth of your cake tin).image

Have a slice with a cup of tea or coffee. Then another one. And I guarantee you that you will want a slice for breakfast, too!

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