Sunday, 28 April 2013

Baileys and chocolate cheesecake - a birthday celebration

It never ceases to amaze me that the CCD (Caked Crusader’s Da) didn’t like cheesecake for the first 70 or so years of his life.  Now, he likes it so much that he requested it for his birthday cake this year.  Proof – if needed - that our taste buds never stop changing no matter what age we reach.  And further proof that we should continue to revisit foods we don’t like...although I’m still giving mushrooms a wide berth.  Fungus?  No thanks.

This cheesecake takes no time at all to prepare but really is something rather special.
  The addition of Baileys (even a small amount like this) gives a velvety taste and texture to the cheesecake – the harsh alcohol flavour isn’t there, but the creamy richness is.  The flaked chocolate provides extra bursts of flavour.  All in all, a hit!

I pondered how to decorate the cheesecake to give it more of a ‘birthday party feel’ and decided on covering the top with maltesers.  I’m not sure if that conjures up a ‘birthday party feel’ or not to a wider audience...we’re not really party people...more sit down and eat lots people.  So it was a success on that basis!

I am going to be (potentially) controversial here, but I do think the best cheesecake is an unbaked one.  Don’t get me wrong, there is love in my heart for all cheesecake, but I like the texture of the unbaked ones better and they are so quick to make; you can go from needing a cheesecake to having a cheesecake in about 20 minutes (if you're not fussy about chilling it).

The CCB (Caked Crusader’s Brother) is a connoisseur of cheesecake i.e. he eats a lot of it, and declared this the best one I’ve made.  I suspect it’s because it combines two of his favourite things: Baileys and cheesecake.  The malteser topping probably didn’t hurt its chances either!

Happy birthday CCD and Nunks (my uncle – they are twins!)


For the base:
250g digestive biscuits
100g unsalted butter, at room temperature

For the topping:
600g cream cheese – I used Philadelphia
100g icing sugar
4 tablespoons Baileys
4 Cadbury’s flakes, broken up – you could also use 100g grated chocolate
300ml double cream

To decorate: maltesers


Place a 20cm food ring (or the ring part of a 20cm cake tin – springform would be easiest to release) on a plate.  Line the ring with baking paper – this aids release later on.

Place the biscuits in a food processor and blitz until you have crumbs.  You could instead place the biscuits in a bag and beat with a rolling pin.

Add the butter and blitz again until you have clumpy wet sand.  If you are making the base without a processor, melt the butter and stir into the crumbs.  NB. There is no need to melt the butter with the processor method.

Press the buttery crumbs into the base of the food ring and level out.

Refrigerate while you make the topping.

Beat the cream cheese in a bowl until smooth and glossy.

Add the icing sugar and Baileys and beat again.

Add the chocolate and beat again.

Pour in the cream and beat until the mixture starts to thicken up.  At first it will seem very wet but – have faith – the cream will start to thicken and you will get a silky cheesecake.  It will still be unset at this stage.

Spoon over the biscuit base and level the surface.

Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or – ideally – overnight.

On the day of serving cover the top with maltesers.  If you put the maltesers on when the cheesecake is still in the fridge they risk getting wet.  As it’s a softish texture, serve it from the fridge.

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.


Friday, 26 April 2013

And we have a winner!

Mr CC has just drawn the winner of the Mustard choc-a-bloc cake mould and it is....drum roll please.... xxsarahxx!

xxsarahxx said...
I absolutely love a good old topic....although i'm sure they have reduced dramatically in size, i still get satisfaction from the lovely nougat, nut and chocolate combination x

Many congratulations xxsarahxx.  Please can you email me your address so I can pop your prize in the post next week.

Thanks to everyone who entered and best of luck in my next giveaway!

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Chocolate rum and raisin cake....and a prize giveaway


When the nice people at Mustard, the incredibly funky online homewares store, asked me if I’d like to select something from their site to review on my blog – and be given a second one to giveaway as a competition prize – I felt that Christmas had come early!  But what to pick?  I wanted everything on the site!

I eventually chose the choc-a-bloc cake mould.  It had stiff competition from the house brick cake mould (which must've sold out now, as it's not on the site anymore) but I felt there were more occasions perhaps where one could bake a bar of chocolate cake, than a house brick.  It sells for £8 and details of how you can win one are at the end of this post.

Much as I like to be contrary, for the first use of this mould it had to be a chocolate cake.  The CCD (Caked Crusader’s Da) has always had a soft spot for rum and raisin.  As luck would have it my copy of Eric Lanlard’s latest book had just arrived and I noticed a very nice chocolate rum and raisin loaf cake.  I’ve tweaked the recipe (i.e. put the rum and raisins in the cake, rather than the ganache) and played around with the quantities to suit this mould.  The raisins pop in your mouth with a hint of rum, which adds pleasing depth to the chocolate cake. 

Please note my comments in the recipe on the ganache – I found its looks a little disappointing but it tasted lovely (beyond chocolate - so intense).  It set firm, quickly – look!  I hardly had time to spread it:

So, how can you win a fantastic choc-a-bloc cake mould?  Simply leave a comment to this post telling me about your favourite chocolate bar – it could be something that isn’t made anymore, it could be something that’s in every supermarket across the country, it might not even exist but in your dreams!  But it has to be your favourite!  For me, nothing can ever beat a four finger kitkat – particularly if you get one of the ‘faulty’ ones where one stick is solid chocolate.

The prize is open to any readers in the UK, sorry to everyone else.  Competition closes 7pm Friday 26th April and the winner (chosen by lucky dip!  I know rafflecopter etc is all the rage these days but – for a blogger – I am actually rather old school!) will be announced on the blog shortly after.  Good luck!


For the cake:
100g raisins
4 tablespoons rum – I used spiced rum
100g unsalted butter
150g dark chocolate, broken into squares
4 eggs – separated
200g golden caster sugar
50g ground almonds
100g self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

For the ganache: (NB.  I found this far too much and recommend you halve it.  I also was concerned that it was too thick – there’s soooo much chocolate in it - so I thinned it with more cream.  If you have a reliable ganache recipe maybe use it instead of this one)
175m single cream, plus extra if needed (about 2 tablespoons)
25g golden caster sugar
350g dark chocolate – broken into squares
25g unsalted butter, at room temperature


A day in advance of making the cake soak the raisins and rum and leave in a covered bowl.  Stir occasionally.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/gas mark 4.

Line a 900g loaf tin with baking paper.  If using a silicone mould (as I did) use cake release spray.  As my mould was smaller, I used a 450g loaf tin to bake the leftover batter i.e. I got 2 cakes out of it!

Start by making the cake: melt the chocolate and butter together in a bowl over a pan of simmering water – taking care that the bowl does not touch the water.

Leave to cool.

Beat together the egg yolks and sugar until they are pale and creamy.

Beat in the cooled chocolate mixture and the ground almonds.

Beat in the flour and baking powder.

Stir in the rum and raisins, making sure you don’t leave any rum in the bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.

Take a spoonful of egg white and stir it into the chocolate mix to slacken it.

Gently fold in the remaining egg whites.

Spoon into the prepared tin(s) and level the surface.

If using the 900g tin, bake for approximately 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.  If using two 450g moulds, bake for about 30 minutes before checking.

Leave to cool in the tin(s) for about 10 minutes before turning out and leaving to cool completely on a wire rack.

Now make the ganache: heat the cream and sugar in a saucepan until very hot but not boiling (i.e. what used to be called scalding point).

Remove from the heat and add the chocolate.

Stir until thick and glossy.

Stir in the butter.  Now I might be getting old and puny but I couldn’t do this by hand so used my kitchenaid.  The mix was very thick so I added some extra cream.

Let the ganache cool –but not set - before finishing the cake.

Place the cake on the serving plate and carefully spread the ganache over it.  Let it run down the sides a little.

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.


Sunday, 14 April 2013

Apple and blueberry tart


Apple and blueberry is such a beautiful combination in look and taste.  This tart looks quite fancy but is very easy to make.  It’s a twist on a bakewell tart really if you think about it – pastry, fruit, frangipane.  The main difference being that the fruit is fresh and sits on top of the frangipane rather than underneath in the form of jam.

It’s deceptive, but that’s really just one apple covering the top of the tart.  The trick is to slice it thinly.  I found the trickiest artistic decision placing the blueberries and making sure they were evenly distributed!  It took a steady hand to transfer the tart to the oven without making the blueberries roll all over the place!

I suppose this tart is more autumn than spring but who cares?  I fancied something comforting and fruit and almonds always hit the mark with me.  As with anything laden with almonds, the tart keeps well and actually improves with age.

Sometimes, you make a pastry and the whole time you’re making it you’re thinking “this is going to be such a nightmare to roll out”.  This was such a pastry.  When I bought it together to form a ball of dough my heart sunk.  It was so sticky.  It looked and felt like marzipan and I couldn’t see how this was going to become a lovely tart case.  The key is refrigeration:

After two hours in the fridge it rolled like a dream – I didn’t use any flour to roll it out (I don’t like changing the texture of the pastry by adding more flour), it didn’t crack or tear and I didn’t have to patch it in the tin.  Oh, and did I mention how delicious it is?  The almond gives it an almost shortbread like texture and flavour.


For the pastry:
125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
125g golden caster sugar
1 egg
250g plain flour
30g ground almonds

For the filling:
150g unsalted butter, at room temperature
150g golden caster sugar
150g ground almonds
2 tablespoons plain flour
3 eggs
1 dessert apple – I used pink lady but any apple such as golden delicious, granny smith, gala, braeburn etc would work
125g blueberries

Optional: icing sugar for dusting
To serve: cream


Start by making the pastry: place the butter and sugar into a food processor and blitz until smooth and creamy.

Add the egg and blitz again.

Add the flour and almonds and blitz until a dough just starts to form.

Tip out onto a sheet of clingfilm and, using your hands, bring to a sticky ball of pastry.  Don’t worry that it is so sticky – it should feel more like marzipan than pastry at this stage.

Shape into a fat disc and wrap in clingfilm.

Refrigerate for approximately 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan oven 170°C/375°F/gas mark 5.

Roll out the pastry between two sheets of clingfilm until it is big enough to line a 23cm loose bottomed flan tin.  No need to grease the flan tin – the pastry is buttery enough that it won’t stick.

Line the pastry case with baking paper and baking beans and bake for 15 minutes.

Remove the paper and beans then return to the oven for a further 5 minutes or until the pastry is golden.

Now make the filling: beat together the butter and sugar until smooth and creamy.  It won’t turn pale and fluffy because of the ratios and the fact it’s golden caster sugar.

Add the ground almonds and flour and beat again.

Beat in the eggs one at a time until you have a smooth cream.

Peel and core the apple, before cutting it into thin slices.  I cut the apple into quarters and aimed for at least four slices from each quarter.

Pour the almond mixture into the pastry case and spread out until it is even.

Place the apples on top.

Scatter the blueberries over the apple and almond.

Bake for 45-50 minutes or until it looks golden, risen and set in the middle.

Leave to cool, in the tin, on a wire rack.

If desired, dust with icing sugar.

Either serve warm with ice cream for dessert, or at room temperature with cream for afternoon tea.

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.


Sunday, 7 April 2013

Famous Faces’ Favourite Fancies – Lemon and poppy seed cupcakes with lemon butter icing

I have often voiced my dislike of lemon on this site and balanced it with my family’s love of it.  I even married into a lemon-loving family so now have even more relatives flying the ‘we love lemon’ flag.  What has proven to me, once and for all, how my lemonphobic ways are out of step with society at large, are the Famous Face responses I received.  Of the responses, I would estimate that maybe as many as three quarters of the male choices are for lemon cakes of one kind or another, mostly lemon drizzle.  The ladies are far more varied in their tastes.  I wonder why this is? Do women think more about cake than men?  Are we more willing to try different flavours, whereas men find something they like and stick with it? This is also why I have to ration the Famous Faces posts....otherwise it would be week after week of lemon drizzle cakes (I can hear my family murmuring that wouldn’t be a bad thing!)

Gyles Brandreth is someone I can always remember popping up on the television in one guise or another throughout my life.  Whether you recall the ‘interesting’ jumpers he wore on TVAM, his anecdotes in Countdown’s Dictionary Corner, or his reports for The One Show, I defy you not to have had a chuckle at/with him at some point.  I remember, in my younger days, reading that Gyles and his wife ran a teddy bear museum in Stratford-Upon-Avon, now relocated to Wimbledon (the museum that is, not Stratford-Upon-Avon) and thinking this was the most wonderful thing anyone could do! Then he became a Conservative MP for Chester for five years.  I think that could be termed a broad career!

Here’s an interesting thing: for my Famous Faces feature I wrote to many different people and chose a selection of better known politicians from each of the major parties.  I have had three responses from politicians (Boris Johnson, Gyles and one who thanked me for writing but declined to answer) and they have all been from Conservatives.  What can this mean?  Is it mere coincidence?

I have tried my best to meet Gyles’ selection criteria.  He said: “a lemon cupcake with butter icing takes my fancy...who cares about cholesterol?!”  The lemon sponge element is particularly interesting in this recipe.  The combination of lemon zest with yoghurt gives it a light, lemon curd flavour.  The poppy seeds add crunch, so often missing in cupcakes.

The buttercream is as classic and simple as buttercream can get.  I think people often say that this type of buttercream is too heavy but I don’t think it is; my theory is that it isn’t whipped enough.  If you whip buttercream long enough it becomes light and fluffy – like whipped cream. 

PS. For a confirmed, card-carrying lemon hater...I thought these cupcakes were delicious!


For the cupcakes:
175g unsalted butter
225g self raising flour
175g golden caster sugar
2 lemons – grated zest only
3 eggs
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
100g natural yoghurt

For the buttercream:
225g unsalted butter –at room temperature
400g icing sugar
1 lemon – juice only

To decorate: flowers and sprinkles


Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/gas mark 4.

Line a 12 hole cupcake pan with paper cases.

Start by melting the butter over a gentle heat and then leave to cool slightly before making the cupcakes – about 5-10 minutes is plenty.

Place the flour, sugar and lemon zest in a bowl and stir together.

Stir in the poppy seeds.

Add the eggs and yoghurt to the cooled butter and whisk together.

Pour into the dry mix and combine.

Spoon into the cases – they will look fuller than with a normal cupcake batter but don’t worry; they rise nicely and won’t overspill the pan.

Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the sponge comes out clean.  I recommend using the skewer test as the cupcakes remain pale, so judging them on colour won’t help.

Leave to cool completely on a wire rack, and remove from the baking pan as soon as it is cool enough to do so.

Now make the buttercream: beat the butter until pale and whippy.

Beat in the icing sugar and lemon juice.

Keep beating until you have a light whippy buttercream that looks almost like cream – you can’t rush this!

Spoon into a piping bag and swirl generously on each cupcake.

Decorate with sprinkles or wafer flowers.  Best eaten on the day of making.

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.