No bake cheesecake with black pepper strawberries

2

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Hello. It’s me. I’m still here, I’m just mostly on the other side, watching Tasty video after Tasty video and admiring all the drippy cakes on Instagram. A lot has changed since I last blogged, food seems to be moving in the direction of fast forward videos and I felt like food blogging had its day. Then I made a recipe for black pepper strawberries with chocolate crumble from delicious. magazine (August 2016 issue, page 57), it was written by Franceso Mazzei, a chef at Mayfair restaurant Sartoria, it’s essentially strawberries and cream with crumble but Jesus Christ it was bloody perfect. So, I thought I’d adjust it a bit and turn it into a cheesecake, I was still impressed by the flavours, something about black pepper and strawberries just works and I don't know why. So here it is - I hope you make it! 
No bake cheesecake with black pepper strawberries

Ingredients

For the base
  • 100g butter, at room temperature 
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 75g plain flour
  • 25g cornflour
  • 80g ground almonds
  • 25g cocoa
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon 
  • 1 egg white
For the cheesecake
  • 4 leaves gelatin
  • 300ml double cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 120g icing sugar
  • 160g mascarpone 
  • 280g cream cheese
For the topping
  • 200g strawberries 
  • 60g caster sugar
  • Zest and 2 tbsp juice of a lemon
  • 5 turns of a pepper mill 
Note: You can leave the gelatine out, the cheesecake just won't have a firm set, but it will still taste good. 

Method
  1. To make the base, preheat the oven to 180 C/160 F and lightly grease a 7-inch springform pan. Beat the butter and sugar to combine, then add the rest of the ingredients and mix just until a dough forms. Press the dough into the base and prick all over with a fork. Bake for 20-22 minutes until firm in the middle, then transfer to a wire rack to cool. 
  2. To make the filling, soak the gelatin in cold water for 5 minutes, then transfer to a small saucepan with 150ml of the double cream and stir on a low heat until the gelatin dissolves. Pour the gelatin cream and the rest of the cream into a large bowl and leave to cool completely. Once cooled, add the rest of the cheesecake ingredients and use an electric whisk to mix until smooth and thick. Spread the filling over the cheesecake base and level it off with a spoon or offset spatula. Put the cheesecake in the fridge to set for 4 hours, or overnight. 
  3. To make the topping, slice the strawberries into halves and quarters and put them in a bowl with the sugar, lemon and pepper. Stir to coat the strawberries and leave to macerate for 10 minutes, then pile the strawberries on top of the cheesecake. Reserve the juice for guests to pour over the cheesecake before they dive in. 
Em x

Violet iced gems

5

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

These violet coloured gems were cobbled together from a batch of leftover pastry, and the remaining whites of an egg that I used to brush over Tom Kerridge’s milk buns recipe. I’m not trying to go off focus, but if there is ever a bun that needs to accompany your dinner, let it be Tom’s buns. 

Tiny biscuits make for the sort of baking you want to do on a Sunday, after you’ve spent all day slaving over a joint of meat for a Sunday roast, but still feel the need to put together something sweet that’ll tide you over during the weekday afternoon slumps ahead. They’re a childish feat, but I think they look a bit charming – how could anyone turn down a home-made iced gem when the packaged version tastes like actual cardboard?

Violet iced gems

Ingredients

For the biscuit base:
  • 225g unsalted butter
  • 450g plain flour
  • 170g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 egg yolks
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Splash amaretto (optional)
For the icing:
  • 1 egg white
  • 225g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp glycerine
  • 2 drops purple food colouring
Note: I used half of the biscuit base recipe to make these and I ended up with roughly 30 iced gems. You can use whatever shortcrust pastry or biscuit dough you have leftover from another recipe. The dough will last for 3 months, covered, in the freezer. 

Recipe
  1. In a food processor whizz together the butter and flour until fine breadcrumbs form. Add the sugar, baking powder, vanilla, egg yolks and lemon zest and pulse until the mixture comes together in a ball. Add a splash of amaretto or water if the mixture looks dry. Split the dough in 2 and wrap each piece in cling film. Freeze 1 half (it will keep for 3 months) and chill the other half for 30 minutes. 
  2. Line a tray with baking parchment. On a floured surface, roll the chilled dough to the thickness of a £1 coin. Use the wide end (about 1 inch)  of a piping nozzle to stamp out the biscuits, then space the biscuits apart on a lined tray and chill for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 160 C/180 F, then bake for 10 minutes or until they’re golden around the edges. Leave to cool. 
  3. To make the icing, whisk the egg white in a large bowl until frothy. Mix in the icing sugar, then add the lemon juice,  glycerine and food colouring. Beat the icing until it’s the consistency of toothpaste and stiff peaks hold their shape. Fill a piping bag fitted with a small french tip with the mixture and pipe a gem on top of each biscuit. Set aside to dry, about 2 hours, then serve. Lasts for 3 days if kept covered.
Love Em xx

PS. Please forgive me for the low quality iPhone photo!

Loganberry ripple ice cream with chocolate wafers

4

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Until my electrical ice cream machine with built-in freezer magically turns up, home-making proper ice cream is on hold. Hand churning for 6 hours does produce smooth ice cream but the risk of crystallisation is high. Plus, who has a spare 6 hours to spend patiently waiting by the freezer? 

True, you can whip together some condensed milk and double cream and call it ice cream, but it doesn't deliver on richness, achieved only from the egg yolks in traditional ice cream. I think you can get away with using store bought ice cream in a recipe and still call it homemade because a lot of love went into making those chocolate wafers and the tart loganberry compote or whatever else it is your adding to pimp it up a bit.  Not too long ago I baked off chocolate chip cookies from the freezer, then chopped them up into chunks whilst warm and folded them through honeycomb ice cream followed by a generous ladle of store-bought chocolate fudge sauce and yes, I think my use of chocolate chip cookies rendered that dessert homemade. Power to the cheaters, I say. 

We picked the loganberries at a picking farm we found on the way back from Camber Sands beach. I'm not gonna lie, I did feel like the only way to get rid of 500g worth of berries was to reserve some for snacking and then reduce the rest down into a sauce with a longer life span. After eating your weight in berries whilst picking them, who wants to continue eating them raw when they get home?! The only option is to bung them into a gorgeous pie or ice cream, anything summery will do the trick.

I've used the chocolate wafer recipe from last month’s peanut butter pie because they're the closest I've come to recreating an Oreo cookie, which I think pairs really well with really sweet ice cream. If your berries are sweet rather than tart then add a couple tablespoons extra sugar to the compote.  

Loganberry ripple ice cream with chocolate wafers

Ingredients
  • 2x500g tubs good quality vanilla ice cream
For the loganberry compote
  • 450g loganberries (or tart raspberries)
  • 80g caster sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
For the wafer base
  • 295g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 75g cocoa powder
  • ¼ tsp fine salt 
  • 225g butter, softened plus 100g , melted 
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 25g light brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp honey
Method
  1. Start with the compote. Put the loganberries, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves then simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes until the juices have reduced and it starts to look jammy. Set aside to cool, then pour in a clean jar and refrigerate until needed. It will last for 3 days in the fridge. 
  2. To make the wafers, sieve the flour, cocoa powder and salt in a bowl then set aside. Cream the softened butter, sugars and honey with an electric whisk for 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Fold in the dry ingredients, take care not to over mix. Wrap the dough in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour. 
  3. Preheat the oven to 180 C / 160 F and line 3 baking trays with greaseproof paper. Generously dust a clean work surface with flour and roll the dough ¾ inch thick, the dough will be sticky, so keep rotating and adding more flour as needed. Stamp out 3cm rounds with a round cutter then carefully transfer to the lined baking trays. Bake the wafers for 10 minutes, until firm to the touch – they shouldn’t have any colour on them. Leave to cool on a wire rack. 
  4. Meanwhile, take the ice cream out of the freezer and leave to soften for 10 minutes. Transfer to a freezer safe shallow container and dollop 6 tablespoons of the compote over the ice cream, then use a knife or toothpick to ripple the compote through the ice cream. Close the container and put it back in the freezer for 15 minutes. 
  5. Sandwich 1 scoop of ice cream between wafers or place 1 scoop on top of each wafer and serve immediately. Or cover the sandwiches well and place back in freezer. Lasts for 3 weeks in the freezer. 

This post is sponsored by Waitrose, as part of their #TasteofSummer campaign. Make sure to get involved by hash tagging your summer treats on social media!

Chocolate peanut butter pie

5

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Peanut butter can be so sticky to eat. Yes, I know, it’s sweet and salty, smooth or crunchy, but the thickness of it makes me feel like a dog playing with a Kong. That said, mixing peanut butter with honey and cream cheese and folding in glorious whipped cream then letting it chill on top of a deeply chocolatey homemade wafer base is (think saltier Oreos), perhaps, the best way to avoid the perils of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth. I’m not boasting… but the peanut butter filling in this oh-so American pie barely hit the sides of my mouth. 
Chocolate peanut butter pie

Makes one 8 inch pie

Ingredients

For the wafer base
  • 295g plain white flour
  • 75g cocoa powder
  • ¼ tsp fine salt 
  • 225g butter, softened plus 100g , melted 
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 25g light brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp honey
For the filling
  • 250g cream cheese
  • 340g natural smooth peanut butter 
  • 40g light brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp honey
  • 220ml double cream

For the topping
  • 380ml double cream 
Note: Use 450g chocolate wafers such as Oreos if you don't have time to make your own. 

Method

  1. To make the wafers, sieve the flour, cocoa powder and salt and set aside. Cream the butter, sugars and honey with an electric whisk until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in the dry ingredients, taking care not to over mix. Dump on a large piece of cling film and use it to shape the dough into a 30cm log, then wrap it up and chill for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180 C / 160 Fan and line 3 large baking trays with greaseproof paper. Use a sharp knife to make an incision in the wafer log every 1/4 inch, then slice the cookies using the guide and place each wafer 2cm apart on the trays. Bake for 10-11 minutes or until the cookies are firm to the touch. 
  2. Let the wafers cool completely on a wire rack. Whiz them in a food processor until broken down, then pour in the melted butter and whiz to a fine crumb. Tip into an 8-inch loose bottomed cake tin and use your hands or metal spoon to evenly smooth the crumbs up the sides and bottom. Place in the fridge to set.
  3. To make the filling, beat the cream cheese, peanut butter, sugar and honey in a bowl with an electric whisk for 2 minutes, until the mixture is pale and smooth. If using a freestanding mixer, transfer the peanut butter mixture to a large bowl and use the whisk attachment to whisk the double cream to soft peaks. Spoon all of the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture and gently fold it through with a spatula. Pour the peanut butter mixture into the chilled wafer crust and smooth the top, place in the fridge to set, then whip the remaining cream to soft peaks. Dollop the cream on top of the filling and smooth off with a spatula. Leave to set in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight, then serve. 
Love Em xx

Tahini buns (tahinli çörek)

5

Sunday, 10 May 2015

While I agree there’s nothing better than dipping a big chunk of warm bread in a bowl of tahini, recipes with tahini are endless and just…good. The Cake Hunter told me that she uses it to make vegan chocolate fudge. Another genius use for tahini is to stir it through some buttercream before layering with cake or adding a teaspoon to Greek yoghurt and dipping cubes of fried aubergine in it. It’s clear that tahini is a sweet and savoury melting pot. 

I’ve recently discovered that my favourite thing to do with it is to complement this stuff of gods with crappy vegetable fat. If I’m going to spread tahini on some dough like I would with a cinnamon bun, there needs to be a savouriness to make up for that lack of spiciness, even if it comes from smelly veggie fat. Dare I even say that using a pastry chef’s nightmare ingredient in a recipe actually yields flakier results? You’re not reminded of the richness of butter with these buns, instead there are crumbly edges and short textured interiors. I tell ya, veggie fat really brings out the pure taste of carbohydrates. Also David Cameron promises to put us through our paces for the next 5 years so I probably won’t be able to afford butter soon. 
Tahini buns (tahinli çörek)

Makes 16 buns

Ingredients

For the dough

  • 560g plain flour, plus extra for rolling
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 240g vegetable fat or margarine, cold and cubed
  • 300g buttermilk, cold
  • 1 egg
  • 50g poppy or sesame seeds
For the filling
  • 150g tahini
  • 120g sugar
Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C/160 fan/gas mark 4 and line 3 baking trays with greaseproof paper. Put the tahini and sugar in a small bowl, stir and set aside. The mixture should be thick and spreadable.
  2. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and cubed margarine to a bowl and mix with an electric whisk until the texture is coarse and there are still lumps of butter here and there. Make a well in the middle and pour in the buttermilk, then mix until the dough looks shaggy. Tip out onto a clean surface and lightly knead into a rough ball, then leave to rest for ten 10 minutes. Split the dough in half and put one aside. Flour the surface again and roll the first half into a 30cm circle, then roll the second half of dough so that it looks identical to the first half. Spread the tahini sugar paste over one half, making sure to go right to the corners, then carefully lay the second half on top. Using a pizza roller or knife, cut ½ inch strips diagonally. Hold 1 strip from both ends, lift and twist, then repeat until the strip is completely twisted. Tightly roll the strip into a round then tuck the end in the bottom of the bun. Repeat with the rest of the buns, then space them apart on the baking trays. Beat the egg in a small bowl and brush each bun with it, then sprinkle with the seeds. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the bottoms are golden brown, leave to cool and then serve. These are best eaten the day they are made. 
Love Em xx

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