Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Baked Cherry and Almond Cheesecake



For anyone who enjoys a bakewell tart and/or a cheesecake, they will love this combination of a rich baked cheesecake with cherry swirls and an almond studded biscuit base. I adapted this recipe from bbcgoodfood.com :)

This recipe makes one 23cm cake.

Ingredients:
150g biscuits – hobnobs/oaty biscuits work well
50g toasted flaked almonds
½ tsp almond extract
75g butter, melted
450g soft cheese (full-fat)
125g caster sugar
2 tbsp plain flour
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 medium eggs
100ml soured cream
half a 300g jar of cherry jam/compote
*

Method:
  1. Preheat your oven to 200c/180 fan/ gas 6. Grease and line the base of a 23cm springform cake tin with greaseproof paper.
  2. Blend your biscuits of choice in a food processor until sandy in texture. If you don't own a food processor, double bag the biscuits and hit with a rolling pin/pan. Mix with the almond extract, 30g of the flaked almonds and melted butter.


3. Pour the base into the tin and flatten with the back of a spoon. Bake for 10 minutes, then leave to cool for around 20 minutes.


4. For the filling, lightly whisk the soft cheese, before adding the caster sugar and plain flour. Whisk again until all the sugar and flour has been blended in, before adding the eggs, one at a time. Finally add the vanilla extract and soured cream, and whisk a final time.


5. To assemble the cheesecake for baking, ladle a spoonful of the batter into the tin and place teaspoons of cherry jam around the base. Repeat with another layer of batter, then place jam again. Aim for around 3 tsp per layer.



6. Once you reach the end of the cheesecake batter, place the final few spoonfuls of cherry jam on the cake, and use the end of a knife (or a metal skewer if you have one), to go through the jam and create a pink marbled effect.


7. Bake for 10 minutes at 200c/180 fan/gas 6, before adding 20g flaked almonds to the top and reducing the temperature of the oven to its lowest setting (usually 110c/90 fan/gas ¼. Bake for 25 minutes more, before turning the oven off and leaving the cake in the oven for another hour.


8. After this hour, take the cheesecake out of the oven, and once cool, refrigerate overnight.
9. The next day, the cheesecake will be ready to serve!





* This was for my boyfriend's birthday, so I added a message in milk chocolate on top of the cake - I simply melted the chocolate and used a piping bag to pipe his name (once the cheesecake was completely cool). The chocolate looked pretty and gave an extra dimension to the cheesecake, so try it out on your friends and family.

Like cheesecakes? Then you may also like:

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Sunday, 29 March 2015

Store-cupboard Fudgy Chocolate and Peanut Butter Brownies




So, what do you do when you're craving brownies but don't have bars of chocolate in the cupboard? This has happened to me on several occasions, so I've been experimenting to bake a brownie recipe  using cocoa powder in place of chocolate.
The last time I made them I went one step further, and added peanut butter to the mixture before baking.

Result: These brownies taste fantastically chocolaty and gooey, with a grown-up nutty aftertaste. I would highly recommend people try out this recipe and let me know your results!

This recipe makes approximately 16 squares.


Ingredients:
  • 145g butter
  • 250g granulated sugar
  • 75g cocoa powder
  • 65g plain flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp smooth peanut butter*

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 160c/gas mark 3 /325F. Line a 19cm square tin with greaseproof paper, and dust with cocoa powder (I found that this brownie mixture tends to stick to the greaseproof paper without this dusting).
  2. Heat the butter, granulated sugar and cocoa powder in a pan. At first it will look too dry, but stirring, as the butter will melt and a dark chocolaty liquid will form. Take off the heat and leave to cool for a few minutes.

  1. Add the eggs, plain flour, vanilla extract and salt, and mix in. I add the eggs with the flour just in case the pan was still hot (we don't want the eggs to cook yet). Once well mixed pour into the prepared pan.



  1.  Melt the peanut butter in the microwave. Once liquid drizzle over the top of the brownie, and gently swirl into the brownie (so that a peanut butter ripple is formed). I found 4 tsbp of peanut butter plenty, but if you are a peanut butter addict add more, and if you're not a fan, the brownies taste great without too.
  2. Bake for around 20-25 minutes. It is cooked when you take it out of the oven and shake the tin a little – there should be a little wobble right in the center of the brownie but no more.
  1. Leave to cool before taking out of the tin and cutting in to squares.


    * You would also get great results using crunchy peanut butter,but ripple it through the brownie before placing it in the tin (to get peanut chunks throughout the brownie).


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Friday, 27 March 2015

Bron's Traditional Vanilla Fudge




Remember the classic fudgy sweets from when we were little? This classic recipe for fudge will take you back to those days. There are only 4 store-cupboard ingredients, and the fudge can easily be made lactose-free by using lactofree milk and butter. The brown sugar adds a depth of flavour to the fudge, making it delicious for adults and children alike.

This recipe will make about 20 good sized shards of fudge. You can use any tin to set the fudge in (depending on the thickness you like it). I tend to use a small 1 pound loaf tin when making this quantity of fudge. 
I only make small batches as they are incredibly moreish. However, if you have more self control than me, the recipe doubles or triples easily – just be aware that the cooking time will increase.

Ingredients:

  •      150ml milk *
  •    175g light soft brown sugar
  •    50g unsalted butter
  •    ½ tsp vanilla extract

Method:

  1.         Line a 15x15cm tray with greaseproof paper. Start heating the milk, sugar and butter in a  non-stick pan. Melt gently, stirring frequently. 

      2. Once the butter has melted, boil for around 10-15 minutes, stirring pretty much constantly. This is worth the effort, as the mixture can stick to the base, and burnt fudge is not tasty (I learnt that the hard way!). Place a sugar thermometer in the pan and cook until the temperature reaches 115c – this is the soft ball stage. If you don’t have a sugar thermometer, when the mixture looks like it has thickened and is a deep caramel colour (see pictures), take a small spoon of the mixture and place in ice-cold water. When you press it with your fingers it should feel like a soft ball.



    3. Once the mixture has reached the correct temperature, take off the heat, and beat (stir vigorously) with a wooden spoon/spatula. You will see from my pictures that the mixture starts very glossy and a little thick, but once it has cooled and been stirred this gloss disappears and the mixture becomes very thick.



 
4. Once the mixture is dull in colour and forms a ball, place in the tin. Don’t be tempted to use your hands to press the mixture out – you may get burnt! Pat down to the desired thickness (I go for about ½ cm). Leave to cool before breaking into shards and serving J





* I use whatever milk I have in the fridge, and have experimented with whole, semi-skimmed and skimmed milk. The higher the fat content of the milk, the creamier it is, but I still find the healthier skimmed milk version amazing.

Note: If you want neater pieces of fudge, set the fudge in moulds - for example moulds for cake pops or easter eggs. If you're speedy, you could also use a spoon to place spoonfuls of the hot fudge onto a tray (so no cutting would be required).

Hope you enjoy the recipe! If you get pretty results, I'd love to see them, and if not, I can do my best to give advice x

Like this recipe? Why not use the fudge to make this Fudgy Caramel Chocolate Cake?
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Thursday, 26 March 2015

Experimental Healthy Baking - Dairy-Free Chocolate Mousse



Usually I like eating healthy food…but I tend to sway away from making healthy cakes/bakes, as I find that 90% of the time they don’t taste good as the full-fat version. However, healthy puddings are a growing food trend, and the use of avocado in desserts has soared.

So, I thought I’d give avocados a whirl, and found many different recipes online showing dairy-free chocolate mousses with avocados being the star ingredient. The advantage of it is that is completely vegan friendly, and only takes about 2 minutes to make…

I already had  an avocado in my house, but not the natural sweeteners suggested by many recipes. After rooting through my cupboards I decided to try using golden syrup and vanilla extract instead.

Result: A few spoonfuls of the mousse was actually really pleasant. The texture is great and there is a chocolate-hit, which vegans/lactose-intolerant sufferers may appreciate.
HOWEVER, at least for me, there was a smell of avocado in my kitchen and the more of the mousse I ate, the more the avocado taste came out (so in a way, it's even healthier as you only eat a small amount of it?)

So, my suggestion would be to experiment with the recipe. If you taste the mixture and it is not chocolate-y enough, add another teaspoon of cocoa powder with a teaspoon of water (or milk if you’re not vegan). If it's not sweet enough, add a dash more golden syrup.
This mousse definitely tastes healthier than the standard one, although my use of golden syrup is probably sinful in many eyes. To make this even more natural, try using honey, maple syrup or another sweetener such as agave syrup.

This recipe makes 1 small glass (it's a good idea to start small in case you don’t approve of the avocado/only have a small food processor).

Ingredients
  •        1 ripe avocado
  •        45g golden syrup
  •     20g cocoa powder
  •       1 tbsp water
  •       1/2 tsp vanilla extract 
Method
  1. Scoop the flesh out of the avocado and place in a food processor with the rest of the  ingredients.
  2. Process for about a minute, until smooth. Taste. If you find the mousse too avocado-y, add more cocoa and water, and adjust for sweetness with golden syrup.
  3. Spoon into a glass.
  4. Done!



Let me know if you want to be adventurous and try out this recipe. If you try a variation and find you get a tastier result, comment on the post to share the info.

Like this healthy recipe? Then you may enjoy my Maple Syrup and Banana Breakfast Cupcakes :D
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Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Bron's Crème Eggs


Behold the wonder that are home-made Crème eggs. These taste fantastic – even people who don’t like the traditional Cadbury's Crème eggs are addicted to these. 
For those who might not be aware of Crème eggs, they are egg-shaped chocolates filled with an egg-themed fondant. They are traditionally sold around Easter in the United Kingdom, and are the perfect present for a loved one around this holiday.

This is a perfect recipe for children to make, as no hobs or ovens are needed, so why not make these with younger members of your family this Easter weekend?


The recipe makes a small batch of between 8-10 Crème egg spheres. However, this is one of the easiest recipes to scale up to make double or even triple the number of eggs.

Ingredients:

  • 100g milk chocolate + 25g for placing the hemispheres together
  • 30g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 85g golden syrup
  • 185g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp water
  • Orange food colouring – I used a gel. If you use a pot of liquid, be sparse in your addition as it will affect the consistency of the fondant.

Method:

  1. Prepare your moulds. I had a brainwave for this – cake pops were a big trend last year, and moulds are very easy to get hold of (we can definitely get them in Britain for a couple of pounds). These are made from silicon and do not need greasing! Other egg moulds may require this, so if you don’t use cakepop moulds be wary of this.


  1. Melt 100g of the milk chocolate. This can be done in a bowl over a pan of simmering water (known as a bain-marie), or in the microwave. Be careful with the microwaving method to only heat for 20-30 second bursts, before stirring. The chocolate burns otherwise!
  1. Once melted, use a teaspoon to place the chocolate in the moulds. I found about ½ tsp of chocolate enough – spread up the edges using the teaspoon, being careful to cover all sides. Leave to set – if you are in a hurry put in the fridge, but they will set at room temperature also.
  1. Prepare the filling. In a mixing bowl weigh out the softened butter, vanilla extract and golden syrup. Beat with a wooden spoon until a smooth consistency is achieved. Add the icing sugar and beat again. This can be messy so an apron is recommended!


  1. Take a third of the mixture and place in a separate bowl. To this third, add a squirt of the orange food colouring and mix in. This will be the yolk of the egg.


  1. Once the chocolate has set place spoonfuls of the white fondant into the hemispheres.
  1. Smooth out and make a slight indentation in the middle of the half-sphere. To this add smaller spoonfuls of the orange fondant. Place in the freezer for 5-10 minutes.


  1. Melt the other 25g milk chocolate. Very gently pop the half-spheres out of their moulds. Dribble (or pipe if you have a piping bag in your kitchen) chocolate around the circumference of the hemisphere, and place the halves together. Place in the freezer to set for another 5-10 minutes.




  1. The eggs are then ready to be eaten! The eggs will last for over a week in the fridge, or keep them in the freezer. The fondant stays good and gooey even when taken straight from the freezer.


  1. If you want to jazz the eggs up to use as gifts, why not try melting more chocolate once the eggs have set? Here I melted 20g white chocolate and drizzled it over one egg, and covered another egg in white chocolate. As the eggs are frozen, the chocolate sets very quickly and gives a pretty effect.
    Other things you could do after coating the eggs in more chocolate would be to add sweets, glitter, or coloured icing.

Enjoy!







Like this recipe?? Why not try another classic British chocolate - my Mega Malteasers :D






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Saturday, 21 March 2015

Bron's Orange Chocolate Honeycomb Crunchies


I am a honeycomb fiend and make it several times throughout the year. I've adapted it from a recipe by the baking queen Mary Berry, all my family and friends adore it. It's a great treat for any occasion, so get baking, and I promise you will not be disappointed!

This recipe makes 16 large squares of delicious-ness.

Ingredients:

75g caster or granulated sugar
4 tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
150g orange chocolate
100g milk chocolate
100g butter (margarine also works)
150g biscuits (My preference are malted milk biscuits)


Method:

1. Prepare for the honeycomb! Get a baking tray, and line with greaseproof paper. If you don't have any paper, you can grease with butter, but I've found the honeycomb tends to stick to the tray. Also have a whisk on hand, and the tray near to the hob.

2. Heat 2 tbsp of the golden syrup with the sugar in a pan (on low-medium heat). Stir with a wooden spoon at first to dissolve the sugar, then leave, swirling occasionally.




3. Keep an eye on the pan. You want the colour of the mixture to turn to a caramel colour (see below). This usually takes from 5 to 10 minutes, but I've found it depends on your own pans/hob. 





4. Once the caramel colour has been reached, turn the heat off and add 1tsp bicarbonate of soda. Very quickly whisk the honeycomb, and once the bicarbonate of soda is whisked in, pour onto the prepared tray (see below for how much the honeycomb expands!!). This is a very quick reaction, and be VERY careful not to touch the mixture. Leave to set. If you are in a hurry, you can put the honeycomb into the fridge now. Otherwise it'll take about 10 minutes to become solid.



5. Whilst the honeycomb is setting, break the chocolate into another pan with the butter and the remaining 2 tbsp golden syrup. I use orange and milk chocolate here, but use whatever mix of chocolate you prefer – it's very fun to experiment. Heat gently until the chocolate and butter have melted.



6. Once the honeycomb has set, break the honeycomb and biscuits into pieces (of your choosing depending on how much you love honeycomb), and add to the chocolate. Stir to combine, then pour into a lined tub. I find a standard lunch box lined with cling-film works perfectly, but lining any tin or tub (provided the mix fits in) will work. Place in the fridge, and leave for approximately 1-2 hours to set. Again, if you are in a rush, you can place the tub in the freezer, where it will only take 30 minutes to be set enough to cut.

7. Cut into squares, and devour.




NOTE: After you have made the honeycomb, run very hot water into the pan immediately to remove the residual honeycomb in the pan. This will make your life A LOT easier when it comes to washing up, believe me. 
NOTE 2: You'll find after making the honeycomb a few times how dark you like to get the caramel before the bicarbonate of soda addition. A lighter colour (cooked for less time) will result in a deliciously chewy toffee-like honeycomb, whereas leaving it longer makes it amazingly crunchier, and leaving it longer still makes it super crunchy, but also more bitter. Just experiment and have fun testing the honeycomb on your friends and family!

Like this recipe? Why not try a variation - White Chocolate and Ginger Honeycomb Crunchies 
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