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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

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Black Beer Gingerbread

Last night we saw my heroine, Nigella Lawson, on the TV and she was doing a Christmas episode! She was throwing a cocktail for her glamorous friends in her beautiful house that was covered in fairy lights, and was making lots of snacky things to serve. She also made candles out of apples and cucumber which was (as she admitted) quite crazy but I liked it. One of the snacks she made was Black beer gingerbread, it looked very nice and my mum and I were drooling in front of the screen, you could almost smell the spices… So I made decided to make it!

Of course nothing goes smoothly in my kitchen. The first thing that I had trouble with were the measurements, which is in cups, but I soon got used to it.  Then I NEARLY forgot the golden syrup, so mum, who had been waiting for my mistake, swooped in and tried to take over. But everything was soon under control and the mixture was put in the oven.

Here is a picture of my gingerbread (that I tried to make look just like Nigella’s with the reindeer, snow and trees)! It is very nice! Even my boyfriend who doesn’t like spices likes it!

 

Ingredients

10 tablespoons of butter, plus some for greasing

1 cup of golden syrup

1 cup of dark brown sugar (packed) + 2 tablespoons

1 cup of stout

2 teaspoons of ground ginger

2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoons of ground cloves

2 cups of all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons of baking powder

1 ¼ cups of sour cream

2 eggs

1 rectangular aluminium foil pan, approximately 13 by 9 inches

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 160C/ 325 Fahrenheit and grease your foil pan
  2. Put the butter, syrup, dark brown sugar, stout, ginger, cinnamon and ground cloves into a pan and melt gently over a low heat
  3. Take off the heat and whisk in the flour and baking powder. You will need to get rid of any lumps
  4. Whisk the sour cream and eggs together then beat into the gingerbread mixture, whisking again for a smooth batter.
  5. Pour the mixture into your cake tin and bake for about 45 minutes, when it’s ready it will be gleamingly risen at the centre, and coming away from the pan at the sides.
  6. Let the gingerbread cool before cutting it into slices or squares.

Meggy x

Five-spice baked ribs, by Lorraine Pascale

My first savoury dish on this blog! My mum and I saw this being prepared on Lorraine Pascale’s tv show Home cooking made easy and I thought it would be nice to make because I like ribs but I don’t like to order them in restaurants because they are very messy and I end up with my face and hands covered in sauce, which is not a good look, so I thought that it would be good to make them myself and get messy in the privacy of my own home. Of course, the French seem determined to stop me from making anything properly and pretended not to know what pork ribs were. Even when I pointed at my ribs and said “these, but from a pig” the butcher I was talking to still said over and over again “that doesn’t exist”. Despite this discouraging conversation my mum went back the next day and bought a side of pork, which the butcher said he couldn’t cut up! Seriously??? Anyway, I cut it up with a meat cleaver into ribs sized chunks and voila! Maybe I should go back and show the butcher how to do it.

This is a really nice meal that isn’t too spicy, is very tasty and it’s good fun to make.

Ingredients

For the rub

  • 1 star anise
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • few whole Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp five-spice peppercorns
  • salt

For the ribs

  • 1kg/2lb 4oz pork spare ribs
  • ½ bunch spring onions, trimmed, chopped
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the honey glaze

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • few squidges honey
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped
  • 150ml/5fl oz soy sauce
  • 1lime, zest only
  • 3 tbsp sesame seeds (optional, although I love them!)
  • 1-2 red chillies, deseeded, finely sliced

Preparation method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Line a large baking tray or roasting tin with aluminium foil.
  2. For the rub, crush the star anise, fennel seeds and Sichuan peppercorns in a pestle and mortar. Then add the five-spice powder and some salt and mix together to combine.
  3. Put the ribs into a bowl, sprinkle over the rub mixture and rub everything in. Tip the ribs onto the baking tray and spread them out in a single layer.
  4. Cook in the oven for 45 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, mix all the ingredients for the honey glaze in a small pan. Warm over a low heat until the honey is melted and all the ingredients are well combined.
  6. Remove the ribs from the oven, brush generously with the honey glaze, then sprinkle with the spring onions and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. (Set the rest of the honey glaze aside for later.)
  7. Return the ribs to the oven and cook for a further 15 minutes.
  8. Once the ribs are cooked, remove them from the oven and tip them onto a large plate. Reheat the remaining honey glaze and serve as a dipping sauce with the ribs and a large green salad.

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

 

Intense chocolate cookies, by Nigella Lawson

I think that it is fitting to start my blog with a Nigella Lawson recipe since she is my favourite cook and is the one that inspired me to start cooking. I loved her Nigellas Kitchen and since that was on TV I have been in a cooking frenzy.

These cookies are simply heaven, the first time I made them I made burnt them slightly but even then they were still nice, I have made them again since and they are absolutely gorgeous. They are nice and crispy on the outside but the inside is so nice and soft, they melt in your mouth… I’m getting hungry just thinking about them!

Ingredients

  • 125g/4oz dark chocolate
  • 150g/5¼oz plain flour
  • 30g/1oz cocoa, sifted
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 125g/4oz unsalted butter, softened
  • 75g/2½oz light brown sugar
  • 50g/2oz caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 free-range egg, cold from the fridge
  • 350g/12¼oz dark chocolate chips ( I did this recipe with 100g of chocolate chips and it’s still gorgeous, so don’t worry if you don’t have enough)

Preparation method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3.
  2. Break the 125g/4oz dark chocolate into pieces and place into a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. Heat, stirring occasionally, until melted.
  3. Place the flour, cocoa, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a large bowl and mix well.
  4. In another bowl, cream the butter and two sugars together until light and fluffy. Add the melted chocolate and stir well. Beat in the vanilla extract and crack in the egg, then mix in the dry ingredients. Finally stir in the chocolate chips.
  5. Scoop out 12 equal portions of the mixture – an ice cream scoop and a palette knife are the best tools for the job – and place onto a lined baking sheet about 6cm/2½in apart (I didn’t realise how big they were going to be so I had to make all the portions smaller and use another baking sheet, so I got about 18 out of the mixture, and even though they were smaller than Nigella’s I can assure you that when they had grown into cookies I didn’t really want them bigger as they were so filling). Do not flatten them. Transfer to the oven and bake for 18 minutes, and during those 18 minutes enjoy the cookie dough left in the bowl! Then test with a skewer – it should come out semi-clean and not wet with batter. If you pierce a chocolate chip, try again.
  6. Leave the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 4-5 minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack to harden as they cool.

Here is a picture of my cookies! They are so fun to make and I hope you enjoy making them!

Meggy x