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Carrot cake muffins

Hello!

It has been a very long time, I am afraid that I have neglected my blog for the past few months. The reason being (and it is a very good reason indeed), I have become a student! This means that my blog about cooking has been suffering as I have been mostly living on pasta, bacon and Heinz baked beans and tomato soup, and I am sure that you would not be interested in learning how to heat soup up in a microwave.

I am now however the proud member of a baking club! It is a very good deal, I pay about 2 pounds a week and they provide all the ingredients, utensils, ovens, etc. It is all done in the university kitchen so it is really nice! I have done a few things there all ready like apple pie, cupcakes and gingerbread but unfortunately, did not think to share it with you. I am just on a break now after my exams so I am back in La Belle France making the most of my gas hobs, giant oven and dad’s KitchenAid that he got for Christmas, I REALLY want a KitchenAid! I will only be able to have one though sadly once I have my own flat. It is the first thing I will have in my imaginary future kitchen… One day…

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Anyway, I am going to show you a new recipe now that I found in a magazine, it is from The Great British Bake Off (for Comic Relief). Introducing Carrot cake muffins! I may have made a few hiccups along the way, for example instead of using shredded bran cereal I raided my mums cereal cupboard and used her Fruit and Fibre, I think the raisins that came with that add a nice taste but she was not very impressed. Also my ones do not look a lot like the picture they used in the magazine, because of the filling it looks like they have some odd growths on the side of them so for the sake of presentation I have selected only the finest of the batch for my photoshoot.

Carrot Cake Muffins

Ingredients

75g/ 2 1/2oz shredded bran cereal

225ml/8fl oz milk

zest of 1 medium orange

120g/4 1/4oz cream cheese

1 level tbsp caster sugar

3 large carrots

125g/4 1/2oz light brown muscovado sugar

200g/7oz self raising flour

1 level tsp baking powder

1 1/2oz level tsp of ground cinnamon

1 level tsp ground ginger

2 eggs

4 tbs sunflower oil

Recipe

1 Put the bran cereal and the milk into a big bowl, like a giant bowl of cereal, and stir it around to mix. Leave it for 15 minutes to soak. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/gas 7.

2. Tip half of the orange zest into the big bowl of cereal, mix it and put to one side. Mix the cream cheese, caster sugar and the remaining orange zest in a smaller bowl, this is the lovely filling.

3. Peel the carrots and, using the coarse-hole side of the grater, grate onto a board. Weigh out 150g of carrot and add it to the large bowl.

4. Add the brown sugar to the big bowl and mix well with a wooden spoon. Sift in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and ginger but avoid mixing them in for now.

5. Break the eggs into another bowl and add the oil. Beat with a fork until the egg yolks and egg whites are mixed together. Then tip it into the big bowl and mix everything together with a wooden spoon.

6. Using a medium-sized spoon, drop a dollop of the mixture into each paper muffin case in the tray. Drop a smaller spoonful of the cream cheese filling into the middle then cover the filling with more carrot mixture.

7. Place in the heated oven for 20 minutes until golden brown. Check that they are cooked by gently pressing the centre of a muffin with your finger, it should spring back when ready.

8. Remove the tray from the oven and leave for 5 minutes. Then place the muffins on a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container and eat within 24 hours.

Hope you like it!

Meggy x

Carrot muffins

Chocolate digestive cheesecake with white icing

Another recipe that my Nan picked out over Christmas! This cake is very easy to make however, I have a few suggestions to make to Miss Lorraine. The biscuit base is very crumbly and she only puts it in a room to chill for 2 hours, which didn’t work. It was still quite runny and tasted too cheesy, but when I left the half that hadn’t been eaten in the fridge overnight the next day it was gorgeous! As you can see though the white chocolate design didn’t go as planned but I think it gives it a nice homemade look!

Ingredients

400g of chocolate digestives (I don’t think that 50g less would hurt though) crushed into fine crumbs

75g of butter, melted and cooled slightly

4 x 200g tubs cream cheese

icing sugar, to taste (I used about 25g)

400g milk chocolate (at least 35% cocoa solids), or a mixture of 300g milk and 100g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)

1 tsp of vegetable oil

100g white chocolate

23cm springform tin

piping bag with a very small nozzle

Preperation

1. Mix the crushed biscuits with the melted and cooled butter squeezing them together with the back of a wooden spoon until everything is well incorporated. Put the biscuits in the springform tin and use something flat to make it nice and flat. (At this point Lorraine just leaves the biscuits but I think I would put them in the fridge while the filling is being made.)

2. Put the cream cheese and icing sugar together in a bowl and mix together gently. This should only take a few turns of the spoon.

3. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, make sure the bowl doesn’t toch the water. You can also simply melt the chocolate in the microwave. Pour about a quarter of the chocolate into a jug, add the oil and put to the side. Before this is used again put it in the microwave for 20 seconds to warm it up a bit again, if you don’t have a microwave put a tea towl over it to keep warm.

4.  Add a large dollop of the cream cheese mixture to the chocolate mixture and stir to combine. Keep adding the cream cheese mixture, one dollop at a time, mix it like mad until the mixture until the chocolate mixture begins to look smooth and silky. At this point, tip all of the cream cheese mixture into the chocolate mixture and mix together until everything is completely incorporated.

5. Tip the mixture on top of the biscuit base and smooth the top.  Put the cheesecake in the fridge for 20 minutes or until the chocolate at the top is beginning to firm up a little.

6. Five minutes before the cheesecake is ready, melt the white chocolate and make sure the jug of milk chocolate is nice and runny. Remove the cheesecake from the fridge and quickly pour the milk chocolate ontop of it until it is completely covered. Now drizzle white chocolate lines across the top about 2cm apart so you have a grid. Using a cocktail stick drag it across the white lines (this is how Lorraine does it but you can do whatever you want). Leave the cheesecake in the fridge for 2 hours.

Meggy x

Yummy New York Cheesecake

You would think that France, being famed for its food, would have an enormous amount of ingredients in its supermarkets but alas, it is not so. The closest we can get to double cream (which I absolutely ADORE by the way) is “Chantilly” which comes in a can and you spray it on your food, which is not double cream at all. My mum started to lust after cheesecake after seeing it on tv and getting nostalgic about our home country and she asked me to make some, so I started trying to find a recipe. I was very disappointed because all of my favourite chefs use double cream in their cheesecake recipes so I started to despair but then my mum found a recipe that uses cream cheese and no double cream! However it did say that you need sour cream, which is also not available over here but sour cream is luckily very simple to make, and the digestive biscuits can be found in the “English aisle” along with PG tips and Heinz baked beans, unfortunately the price is much higher than in England as they are imported but it is impossible to use French biscuits because they would simply soak up all the liquid coming out of the cake and fall apart.

Anyway, this recipe might not be made with double cream but it is the best cheesecake I have ever tasted (if I do say so myself).

First of all, some quick tips : Keep everything at room temperature and be careful about mixing the ingredients! Under-beating can lead to a lumpy mixture, over-beating can whip in too much air.

Ingredients:

For the crust

(If you prefer a thick crust, which I do, add a quarter of each ingredient for the crust)

  • 85ml butter melted, plus extra for tin
  • 140g digestive biscuits , made into fine crumbs
  • 1 tbsp sugar, granulated or golden castor

For the cheesecake filling

  • 3 x 300g/11oz pack full fat soft cheese
  • 250g golden castor sugar
  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • 1½ tsp vanilla extract
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon (about 2 tsp)
  • 1½ tsp lemon juice
  • 3 large eggs, plus 1 yolk
  • 284ml carton soured cream

For the sour cream

  • 142ml carton soured cream
  • 1 tbsp golden castor sugar
  • 2 tsp lemon juice

If you can’t get sour cream simply use natural yogurt with some lemon juice in it instead.

Preperation:

  1. Preheat the oven to fan 160C/conventional 180C/gas 4. Line the base of a 23cm springform cake tin with parchment paper. For the crust, melt the butter in a medium pan. Stir in the biscuit crumbs and sugar so the mixture is evenly moistened. Press the mixture into the bottom of the pan and bake for 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack while preparing the filling.
  2. For the filling, increase the oven temperature to fan 200C/conventional 240C/gas 9. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the soft cheese at medium-low speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low, gradually add the sugar, then the flour and a pinch of salt, scraping down the sides of the bowl and the paddle twice.
  3. Swap the paddle attachment for the whisk. Continue by adding the vanilla, lemon zest and juice. Whisk in the eggs and yolk, one at a time, scraping the bowl and whisk at least twice. Stir the 284ml carton of soured cream until smooth, then measure 200ml/7fl oz (just over 3⁄4 of the carton). Continue on low-speed as you add the measured soured cream (reserve the rest). Whisk to blend, but don’t over-beat. The batter should be smooth, light and somewhat airy.
  4. Brush the sides of the springform tin with melted butter and put on a baking sheet. Pour in the filling – if there are any lumps, sink them using a knife – the top should be as smooth as possible. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to fan 90C/conventional 110C/gas 1⁄4 and bake for 25 minutes more. If you gently shake the tin, the filling should have a slight wobble. Turn off the oven and open the oven door for a cheesecake that’s creamy in the centre, or leave it closed if you prefer a drier texture. Let cool in the oven for 2 hours. The cheesecake may get a slight crack on top as it cools.
  5. Combine the reserved soured cream with the 142ml carton, the sugar and lemon juice for the topping. Spread over the cheesecake right to the edges. Cover loosely with foil and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.
  6. Run a round-bladed knife around the sides of the tin to loosen any stuck edges. Unlock the side, slide the cheesecake off the bottom of the tin onto a plate, then slide the parchment paper out from underneath.

This really is an amazingly gorgeous cake, and it is very filling, so it is ideal for when you have friends round to help you out!

Meggy x