Tag Archives: vanilla

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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