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Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes

October 2, 2009 1 comment

Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcake

I’m not sure if this says more about my shopping than my cooking habits, but I seem to be forever coming up with ways to use up leftover mascarpone. Of course, depending on how you look at it, this isn’t a bad thing since these new inventions are usually sweet treats.

Overwhelmed with new cupcake recipes and techniques this month, from my recent book purchase, and a feature in this month’s Sainsbury’s Magazine, I drew inspiration from these and elsewhere, but ended up going my own way. In this case, these are plain vanilla cupcakes with a light and creamy strawberry-cheesecake-esque topping. Sometimes, I do think that vanilla cupcakes are the way to go, if you’re adding a good frosting, since, if nice and moist, they offer a comfortingly bland yet satisfying backdrop to a delicious topping. Although, having said that, on any given day I’m equally likely to make flavoured cupcakes that complement their frosting – one of the best things about these pretty little treats is they’re so adaptable, to what you have in the house, to a special event, and not least to your current mood.

Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes

This is a fairly standard cupcake mixture, which made enough for 9 muffin cases, my preference for cupcakes, but would equally, with the cooking time adjusted, make 12 smaller but perfectly formed cakes in standard cases. The frosting is, of course, adaptable – cupcakes seem to be the thing right now, and I reckon more recipes I see seem to call for a cream cheese frosting, so mascarpone wasn’t much of a stretch, since I had it anyway, and although I think this adds more of a cheesecake-yness, if you will, you could use Philadelphia-type soft cream cheese, full fat please, if you so wish.

Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcake 2

Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes (makes 9)

  • 100g butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 100g self raising flour

For the Strawberry Cheesecake Frosting

  • 125g mascarpone (at room temperature)
  • 50g butter (at room temperature)
  • 225g icing sugar
  • 2 tablespoons strawberry jam
  • a little pink food colouring (optional)
  • 2 digestive biscuits (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180°C and line 9 holes of a muffin tray with muffin cases (or 12 holes with smaller fairy cake cases).

Put the butter and sugar into a bowl, and cream together until pale and fluffy, with an electric handwhisk or mixer.

Continuing to beat, add an egg, until incorporated, then a spoonful of the flour, incorporate, then the final egg, and incorporate that too. (Adding the eggs one at a time, with a spoonful of flour between, reduces the chance of the batter curdling.) Finally, add the vanilla and milk and beat some more.

Add the flour, and mix in well, but briefly, either with your mixer on a low speed or by hand, since overworking the batter once the flour is added may affect the rising of your cakes.

Divide the mixture between the waiting cases, ensuring they are not more than two thirds full. Bake for 20-25 minutes, checking at 20, until the sponge is lightly golden, springs back if you gently touch it, and/or an inserted skewer or similar emerges clean. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cakes are cooling, or even while they’re baking, make your frosting. Put the mascarpone, butter and icing sugar into a bowl, and beat together, slowly at first, and even if completing the job power-assisted, I would start of with a spoon to avoid the dust-cloud of icing sugar you may otherwise get. Once combined, turn up the mixer and continue beating until quite light and fluffy.

Force the jam through a sieve with the back of a spoon, and then scrape the now bit-free jam from the reverse of the sieve. Add this to the frosting, beat it through, and then taste, and add a little more jam if you think you need it. If you wish to add a little pink food colouring, do so now, and again beat, until you have an even colour. If your frosting seems too runny, add a little extra icing sugar, and then chill in the fridge until your cupcakes are completely cold and ready to be iced – this will also help the frosting firm up a little after all of the beating.

When you’re ready, top the cupcakes with the frosting. Bash, whizz or otherwise pulverise the digestive biscuits into crumbs, and scatter over to decorate. These will keep in a sealed container, in the fridge if its warm, for a couple of days, although do please bring them back to room temperature to eat. 

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Baked Chocolate Orange Cheesecake

September 15, 2009 2 comments

Chocolate Orange Cheesecake

Chocolate and orange is one of those combinations people either seem to love or hate. This may well serve to convert them. The orange flavour is subtle, but enough, and the cake rich, but just right. And this comes to you, from me, via way of a few detours.

I wanted to make a chocolate orange cheesecake because I had flicked through the Philadelphia (as in the brand of soft cream cheese) Cookbook, and seen one there, but was taken by the idea only. There was no real chocolate, which I knew I wanted (needed?), and their method seemed a bit of a faff. I had an idea of how to make a baked cheesecake, and what to put in, so next I turned to (of course) Nigella, (Feast, to be exact), to get an idea of the proportions for the ingredients to make sure I ended up with cheesecake rather than a cheesy custard sat atop a burnt biscuit. That done, I fiddled with ingredients and amounts some more, dispensed with the idea of a waterbath, and here is my final version.

Do allow this the time it needs to chill. I, being both too greedy and too impatient for my own good, didn’t, for the first slice at least, and although it was good slightly warm, it was a little more moist-mousse-pudding-cheese-cake, only reaching its desired baked cheesecake taste and texture once fully cold.  

Baked Chocolate Orange Cheesecake (10-12 slices maybe?)

For the base:

  • 200g (dark) chocolate digestive biscuits
  • 75g butter

For the filling:

  • 150g good dark chocolate (70%)
  • 500g soft cream cheese (e.g. Philadelphia)
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 large egg yolks (freeze the whites!)
  • 150ml double cream
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder, dissolved in two tablespoons hot water
  • zest of 1 orange, juice of half an orange

Preheat the oven to 160°C.

To make the base, bash the biscuits the fine crumbs. My trusty mini-chopper did this for me. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat, and stir in the biscuit crumbs, until you have a damp, clinging mixture. (If you were processing the biscuits to make the crumbs, you could pour the melted butter down the funnel of the machine, continuing to mix until you get the desired result.) Tip into a 23cm springform tin, shake to spread and then firm into an even-as-you-can base by pressing it with your fingers. Whack into the freezer to set a little while you make the filling.

Melt the chocolate, either in a bowl over simmering water, or very carefully in the microwave, watching and regularly stirring. Put it to one side to cool a little.

I did the majority of this next part with a handheld electric mixer, although there’s no reason you couldn’t do it by hand. Beat the cream cheese until it’s really soft. Tip in the sugar and cornflour, and beat some more to combine. Add the eggs and then the yolks one at a time, (or if like me, they’re all cracked in a bowl together, pour them in a bit at a time), continuing to beat. In another bowl, whisk the cream until it forms peaks, then quickly beat this into the cream cheese mixture too. Add the cocoa solution, the melted chocolate, and the orange zest and juice, and give everything a final beating, until you have a smooth batter. It will be quite runny, don’t worry.

I wrapped 2 sheets of foil round the outside of my tin, so that it had a protective wall that rose about 5cm above the top of the tin.

Whole Choc Orange Cheesecake

This was for two reasons – to give the cheesecake a little protection from the heat, so the top didn’t burn or dry out too much, as my oven is fan-assisted, and fairly vigorous at that, and also as my tin is a bit old and I didn’t want it to leak.

Pour the filling over the biscuit base, and cook in the oven for an hour, checking after 45 minutes. The top should be firm, but feel like it is a little wobbly below. And it will fall a little, so don’t be surprised! I let mine cool in the oven for the first half hour or so, then removed to a wire rack. When it’s completely cold, chill for at least two hours before serving.

Chocolate Cheesecake Pots

August 27, 2009 1 comment

Chocolate Cheesecake Pots

This recipe started as a way of using up some leftovers – I had half a tub of mascarpone and half a pot of double cream left in the fridge from some other meals I’d made, and wanted to make sure they got used, and, with a few bits and pieces added, cheesecake seemed the obvious answer.

Using up leftovers is, as we are increasingly reminded, important in two respects. Firstly, it saves money, clearly, buying food and then throwing it away is not fiscally prudent, and secondly, throwing away food is bad for the environment. When I talk about leftovers, I guess there are two meanings – food you’ve cooked too much of, and, like here, leftover ingredients where perhaps you didn’t need a whole tub of mascarpone for the recipe you had bought it for. Perhaps food you have cooked too much of is easier to deal with – you’ve roasted a chicken, it’s not all been eaten, so you can use leftover meat in sandwiches, stir-fries and the like. Made too much bolognese? Reheat it the next day, or freeze it for another time. But it can be more difficult not to waste leftover ingredients, particularly if your concern is saving money, because usually you’ll need to add more to them, which of course, means further expenditure. Forward planning is one option, as I increasingly try to do with food, but the fact we buy most things in packages of certain sizes means it’s likely something will often be leftover, and here we are back to my cream and mascarpone.

These cheesecake pots were good, more than good in fact, and maybe now the cream and cheese will be purchased especially for them, but all I added to them were ingredients I had in the house anyway – and nothing unusual, nothing that the average home baker, probably, wouldn’t have in their own cupboards. Of course, as I’ve touched on, the addition of chocolate and other bits means this is obviously more expensive than throwing away half a tub of cheese and a dribble of cream, which don’t freeze particularly well, but why not indulge, and remind yourself you’re doing the planet a favour too?

You’ll also need the pots, and this amount (very nearly, and see picture for evidence) filled 4 ramekins about 4cm deep and 7cm in diameter. (Incidentally, I didn’t go out and buy ramekins, but bought Gu Hot Chocolate Souffles which come in ramekins, and wholeheartedly encourage you to do the same. Indeed, I have stacks of ramekins and other little pots that arrived with a dessert already inside them!)

Chocolate Cheesecake Pots (makes 4)

  • 85g bourbon chocolate biscuits (or any biscuits really, perhaps with a little cocoa added if not chocolate ones)
  • 30g butter
  • 125g mascarpone
  • 100g good dark chocolate (70% cocoa)
  • 75ml double cream
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa mixed to a paste with 1 tablespoon hot water

Blitz the biscuits to fine crumbs in a mini-chopper or processor, or if you’re having a bad day, seal them into a freezer bag and pulverise them with a rolling pin. Melt the butter gently in a saucepan, then, off the heat, stir in the biscuit crumbs. Divide the buttery crumbs between the ramekins and press down with your fingers to form a firm-ish base, then whack them into the freezer to harden a little while you get on with the rest of it.

Break the chocolate into pieces, and then melt gently in a bowl over simmering water. (Or, melt, very carefully, in the microwave, say in twenty second blasts on half power, and remebering that chocolate likes to play tricks on you by keeping its shape when melted, so stirring in between each nuking.)

In one bowl, beat the mascarpone, with an electric hand whisk, until light and smooth. Put to one side.

In another bowl, whip the cream to somewhere between soft and firm peaks, but don’t overdo it. Quickly beat in the icing sugar and the cocoa-water paste, until evenly combined. Then gently fold in the melted chocolate, until just combined and a consistent colour all the way through.

Finally, quickly beat the mascarpone into the cream-and-chocolate mix. Now, I know we’ve just folded in the chocolate, but I think quick and rough is the order of the day when mixing in the mascarpone, as you want to make sure that everything is well mixed rather than having lumps of cheese, so I would return to beating here.

Remove the ramekins from the freezer and divide the cheesecake mix between them, pushing down gently with a silicone spatula to ensure you don’t leave a gap between cheesecake and base, although this is easier said than done with these small pots, and since you’ll be eating them from the pot with a spoon, it doesn’t matter too much.

Stick the pots back in the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how eager you are to eat these, so they set a little, and then remove to the fridge to store, and indeed leave at least half an hour before you tuck in anyway, just in case they’ve begun to freeze.

 

Tesco Finest Raspberry Brulee Cheesecake

August 4, 2009 Leave a comment

Tesco Finest Raspberry Brulee Cheesecake

Even the most hardcore foodie shouldn’t feel guilty about buying a good pudding. I mean, sometimes, if you’re getting home from work and cooking dinner, especially one requiring more than  a mild amount of effort, you might not be in the mood or have the time for the extra work involved. You may, of course, disagree – some puddings are easy to make, some are worth the effort, and some can only be homemade – it is a rare supermarket cake that stands up to something you’ve baked yourself, or isn’t full of tut you wouldn’t put in at home.

Everyone’s idea of what constitutes a ‘good’ shop-brought pudding will be different too – for me it is probably going to be about trying new flavours, or something far to complicated for me to even comtemplate making, and probably won’t be full of strangely named ingredients that I don’t know the purpose of.

And so, I present to you a recent discovery and my freezer standby of the moment – Tesco Finest Raspberry Brulee Cheesecake. Very delicious, with its ‘Madagascan vanilla cheesecake’ and ‘Heritage’ raspberries, the highlight of this is its brulee style hard caramel topping. Yum. Having worked my way through much of Tesco’s Finest frozen dessert selection recently, (they all look so delicious!), this is the winner for me, and I encourage you to try it.

Overexcited by the novelty of a cheesecake with brulee topping, or, indeed, anything with a hard, sugary crust, my plan is to explore in what direction I can take this concept, so hopefully home-made bruleeing reports to follow.

Tesco Finest Raspberry Brulee Cheesecake – £3.49 (475g), Tesco.

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