Fudge! Cheesecake! Two of my favourite things in the world….put them together and add salted caramel into the equation and I am in heaven! I have always been a lover of a decadent cheesecake, whether baked or the fridge cake variety, and I cannot resist it if it is on the menu. There are two things that I usually look out for on restaurant menus and that is cheesecake and creme brulee. I have been known to rate a restaurant by their cheesecake and creme brulee! I have made many cheesecakes in my lifetime. At one stage I was making 4 a week to supply to a local coffee shop. Recently I started looking for some inspiration to try a new flavour and I came across some images for caramel cheesecake or fudge cheesecake. I love anything fudgey/caramel/dulce de leche/milk jam so I decided to try crumbling creamy blocks of fudge into the actual cheesecake to be baked and then serving it with a caramel topping. To cut the richness of it I decided to add salt to the caramel. It was soooo good and my whole family loved it!
FUDGEY BAKED CHEESECAKE WITH SALTED CARAMEL TOPPING
Serves 8 big slices
200g Ginger Biscuits (coconut or oatmeal biscuits would work well too)
160ml Melted Butter
2 x 230g Full Fat Cream Cheese
250ml Full Cream Greek Yoghurt
4 XL Eggs – lightly beaten
1 Can Condensed Milk (397g)
3-4 Lemons – juice squeezed and strained (should be about 100ml or just over
1 Vanilla Pod – split and seeds scraped out (keep the pod for vanilla sugar)
50g Creamy good quality Fudge (don’t use crystallized flopped fudge because it will spoil the creaminess of the finished cheesecake)
Preheat oven to 160 °C
Grease a 24cm loose bottomed springform pan with butter (I like to line the base of mine as well with baking parchment)
Crush the biscuits very finely to a powder – use a food processor or meat mallet but they need to be very fine
Add to a mixing bowl then pour over the melted butter and mix in.
Press the crumb mixture into the base (I use the bottom of a highball glass) and right up the sides of the pan. Place the pan onto a baking sheet or cookie pan and bake for 15 minutes
Add all the filling ingredients (excepting for the fudge) to your mixer or food processor
Process or whisk on top speed for a few seconds until just creamy with no lumpy bits of cream cheese or yoghurt
Pour the filling into the prepared base, scraping all of it out of the mixing bowl
Crumble the fudge over the top of the filling (push some of it down into the filling using a cocktail stick)
Place on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for one hour until it is just set then turn off the oven, leave the door slightly ajar and allow to cool completely to room temperature in the oven
Cover with cling film and refrigerate until needed
Remove from fridge and bring to room temperature before slicing and serving with a delicious salted caramel sauce
Tip: The crust needs to stand higher than the filling in this cheesecake…..the edges don’t have to be level or smooth….rustic is good!
SALTED CARAMEL SAUCE
150g Soft Brown Sugar
50g Golden Syrup
5ml Good Quality Sea Salt Flakes
Melt the butter and syrup in a medium saucepan with high sides
Remove from the heat, add the sugar and return to the heat to dissolve the sugar, don’t stir at this stage, you can swirl the contents of the pan if you need to
As soon as the sugar is all dissolved remove from heat and pour in the cream (it will spit madly and want to boil up) and half of the salt and stir well with a wooden spoon
Return to heat and heat through while stirring continuously until it has all mixed in well and the sauce has started darkening and thickens….not too long as it burns quite easily. It will thicken more as it cools down
Allow to cool then add the rest of the salt flakes
Can be bottled and stored in the fridge
To serve as a sauce heat a few spoonsful of salted caramel with 1Tbs Milk or Cream to thin it a bit. Drizzle over the slices of cheesecake and prepare to be transported into salted caramel cheesecake nirvana!
Check out my Dark Chocolate Amarula and Oreo Cheesecake
Or how about a savoury Mexican inspired cheesecake? Nachos Guacamole Tart with Spicy Salsa and Sour Cream
And if you’re in a brownie sort of a mood I urge you to try my signature dish DECADENT DARK CHOCOLATE AND CHEESECAKE SWIRLED BROWNIES
Comfort food. A lot of foods fall into this category for me…..steaming soups, stick meat on your ribs stews and casseroles, a bowl of delicious pasta, risotto, a roast leg of lamb or pork or whole chicken with all the yummy trimmings……and cookies, or biscuits as they are better known to me. Especially the biscuits that take me back to my childhood and these custard creams sure do that. The custard creams were one of my favourites out of all the biscuits that my Mom baked. She used to bake a lot….partly to make a living and partly for us 5 children. I can close my eyes now and smell the aromas that greeted us kids as we neared our home after the long walk home from school. I can see the colourful row of biscuit tins (some with such pretty animal pictures on the lids) on the top pantry shelf where we were not supposed to be able to reach, each one filled to the top with a different flavour and shape of cookie. I can see the old cast iron Welcome Dover wood stove in the kitchen, fire crackling in the grate and my Mom slaving away pulling batch after batch of perfect biscuits from that oven. And cakes….and Christmas cakes! Oh my! Only in later years, as a baker myself with a wonderful electric oven and an accurate oven thermometer, can I really appreciate how difficult it must have been to create such magnificent cakes and baked goodies using that old stove. But my Mom had it waxed….must have taken years of practice surely.
With the miserable weather in Cape Town lately I have had a sudden yearning to bake biscuits. I had been paging through my recipe book with some of my favourite of my Moms recipes in it and wondering which biscuits to bake. During one of my brief blog reading sojourns I came across a blog post about custard biscuits and I suddenly knew I had to bake my Moms custard creams. I used to bake them regularly when my children were young but I suddenly realized I had not baked them in years…certainly not in the last 15 years or so! It was time to remedy that! Delicious nostalgia!
OLD FASHIONED CUSTARD CREAMS
Makes about 44 single cookies (depending how big you roll the balls of cookie dough)
180g Butter at room temperature
180g All Purpose Flour
60g Custard Powder
60g Icing Sugar
Knife tip of Vanilla Seeds
Preheat the oven to 170o Celcius and make sure the rack is in the middle of the oven
Line a cookie sheet with parchment
Place the butter and vanilla seeds into the bowl of an electric mixer, sieve the icing sugar over the butter then whisk until very light and fluffy
Sieve the flour, salt and custard powder into over the mixture then mix in until incorporated using a dough hook or k-blade.
Pinch off small balls (mine weigh 10g each) and roll the balls between your palms, placing them a little bit apart onto the lined baking sheet
Place in the preheated oven and bake for 10-12 minutes
Remove when lightly golden and place onto a wire rack to cool completely
These biscuits must not really darken, I left mine in the oven slightly too long
When cool match like sized and shaped cookies and frost them together with a bit of icing dolloped onto the middle of one half then pressing two cookies together
125ml sifted Icing Sugar
10ml Soft Butter
Mix the butter and sugar together with enough lemon juice to form a soft spreadable frosting. Dollop a small amount in the middle of one biscuit and spread to the edges by gently pressing the matching biscuits together. Allow to set before enjoying! They are also delicious iced together with a bit of chocolate ganache
This is kind of what I remember our old wood stove looking like. I found this photograph on the internet here
Imagine baking all those perfect cakes and biscuits in that oven?
These are wonderful cookies to make as a project with your young children or grandchildren. They have a lovely texture and are fun to roll between your palms and then press with a fork. The dough is also highly addictive
Top o’ the mornin’ to ye all…..and a Happy St. Paddy’s Day! Help ye’selves to one of my wicked Irish Moss Cupcakes! Wash it down wit a pint of ale and be merry! Today we are all Irish!
What is tat ye all are sayin’? It’s not St. Patrick’s Day today? It’s the 18th already? How can tat be? I started workin’ on tis post so much earlier but……aaaw…ye all caught tis lazy Irish colleen nappin again. ‘Appens more and more these days. And it was all tat ‘orrible Murphy fault anyways I tell ye. He has been hangin’ around here for te better part of tree weeks now – messin’ wit me ‘puter! And messin’ someting bad wit me head too! Well tats my excuse for tat anyway. I am hopin’ tat now he will leave me be and go chat up some other milk maids…… honestly ye’d all think he’d kissed te blarney stone wit all his blabbering! I won’t miss him one little bit I tell ye!
So I’m late, well just a wee bit for St. Patrick’s Day anyway, but in some parts of the world it is STILL the 17th so let me get on with this post quickly so I can at least not hang my head too low in shame. I really have had endless problems with my computer and today was a very bad day! But I seem to have it going so while things are looking up….here goes!
Last year I came across some cupcakes called Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes and I loved the sound of the ingredients although I felt that the name was rather offensive, even though there is a recognized alcoholic drink by the same name and many many links to cupcakes made from the same three alcohols used in the cocktail. So, I decided that I was going to bake the family some of these for St. Patrick’s Day this year (leaving the whiskey out of a bit of the ganache for the little boys). But, so as not to offend any readers all over the world who may have been affected in some way by the many acts of terrorism involving that despicable cowardly act, I decided to give my cupcakes a rather delightful name more suited to the day. I asked on facebook for ideas and one Irish friend came up with the name Dublin Moss Cupcakes. I rather liked that and decided to call mine Irish Moss Cupcakes…what do you think?
Now…..strictly speaking, there is absolutely nothing Irish about my cupcakes. My hubby could not find single cans of Guinness at our local bottle store and neither of us are ale drinkers so I decided to use a bottle of local Milk Stout that I had on the shelf in my pantry. Come to think of it now though I know a few leprechauns who would have relieved us of the other 5 cans! We did not have any Jameson Irish Whiskey in this house but we did have a bottle of J&B and of course there was no Bailey’s Irish Cream Liqueur either. There to save the day however was half a bottle of our delicious South Africa Amarula Cream liqueur in the cupboard So hey, these are a real twist on the original but let me tell you they are delicious! And because we are ALL Irish on St Patrick’s Day these are being passed on to you as my Irish Moss Cupcakes. Tell me that makes sense in an Irish kind of way please!
IRISH MOSS CUPCAKES
(inspired by and adapted from Sugar & Snapshots Blog)
Yield: 22 Cupcakes
Stout Chocolate Cupcakes
250ml Cocoa Powder
5ml Good Quality Instant Coffee Granules
250ml Stout beer or Guinness
625ml Cake or All-Purpose Flour
10ml Baking Powder
2 Extra Large Eggs
250ml Buttermilk or Greek Style Yoghurt (Sour cream could also be used)
Preheat the oven to 180°C
Line two muffin pans with paper cupcake liners
Melt the butter, stout and sifted cocoa powder together in a small saucepan over medium heat or in the microwave on high and whisk until smooth. Set aside and allow to cool while you make the batter
Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt together, add the sugar and set aside
In the bowl of your electric mixer beat the eggs and buttermilk together until smooth
Add the vinegar and mix in
Slowly pour the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture with the mixer running on a low speed then turn up to medium until all combined
Mix in the dry ingredients on low speed until just incorporated. Don’t over mix at this stage
Pour the batter into the cupcake liners, filling each one about ¾’s full
Bake for about 15 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean
Allow to cool in the pans for 5-10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely before frosting
Whiskey Chocolate Ganache
125 ml Cream
120g Dark Chocolate (I used 70% cocoa solids) roughly chopped
15ml butter at room temperature
Heat the cream in the microwave until just below boiling point
Place butter and chocolate in a small mixing bowl
Pour the hot cream over and leave to stand for 2 minutes before whisking together until shiny and smooth
Add the whiskey and whisk in. Set aside until needed, whisking every now and again. As it cools it will thicken in consistency
3 Egg whites
185 ml Vanilla Flavoured Castor Sugar ( I always have this – fill a Consol or Mason Jar with Castor Sugar, split a Vanilla Pod and stick it into the sugar and seal. Refill as needed with sugar)
375g Butter (at room temperature)
125ml Icing (Confectioners) Sugar – sieved
80 ml cream Liqueur (I used Amarula of course)
In the metal bowl of your mixer whisk the egg whites and salt until frothy
Add the sugar and whisk on medium speed until incorporated
Now place your mixer bowl over a smallish saucepan of barely simmering water – the base must not touch the water
Continue whisking with a balloon whisk by hand until the sugar has dissolved into the egg whites and it is starting to look like meringue – test by rubbing a bit of the whites between your fingers and it is ready if no grains are felt. It doesn’t take too long to reach this stage – maybe 5 minutes
Return the bowl to the mixer stand and whisk on high until the mixture has cooled and is almost tripled in volume. It needs to be glossy and at the stiff peak stage
Divide the butter into 4 and add one portion at a time, whisking well to incorporate between each addition – it will thin the frosting down a bit but will build up again to a fluffy consistency
Add the icing sugar and beat in well
Pour in the liqueur and whisk well
I added a bit of green food colouring gel to make it a soft green shade
Fit a piping bag with a star nozzle and fill with the frosting
To decorate the cupcakes:
It seems that most people make a filling of the ganache by removing a scoop of each cupcake and piping in a bit of ganache but I was running late so just spread a thin layer of the cooled thickened ganache onto each cupcake with a spatula, allowed it to stand for 10 minutes and then piped the buttercream on top.
I have to say, this was the most amazing buttercream and I will most definitely use it often!
Enjoy! And I will be back as soon as I can with a delicious exotic mushroom and blue cheese risotto!
Happy week everyone! Almost Easter holidays and my two young hooligans will be invading my space again! Where does the time go?
Who doesn’t love a dense, moist, decadently dark, fudgey brownie? My tagline on this blog says “there is more to life than brownies….but not much!”
I think that chocolate cures just about anything! And yes, there is a reason that I am known as browniegirl……..and here it is! My signature dish Cheesecake Swirled Brownies – deliciously moist, heavy and fudgey. Delightful on their own straight out of the fridge….but best at room temperature a day or so after they have been baked. By this stage the texture has settled into darkly deliciously fudge like and moist. We love them as a dessert with a dollop of creme fraiche to cut through the richness and some fresh berries in season. But equally delicious with a scoop of Vanilla ice cream! Enjoy them however you choose to…..but do make these!
DECADENT DARK CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE SWIRLED BROWNIES
a decadently dark, rich, fudgey and dense chocolate brownie, swirled with cheesecake. What more could you want?
Original Recipe taken from “Cookies & Brownies” by Alice Medrich; Adapted by me!
Recipe type: dessert
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 45 mins
Serves: 16 squares (depending how you cut them)
125 grams Lurpak unsalted butter, cut into pieces
150 grams 80% dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
250 grams granulated white sugar
Fresh Vanilla Bean – split and seeds scraped out with the tip of a sharp knife
2,5ml pure vanilla extract
2 Jumbo Free Range eggs – at room temperature
90 grams Cake (or all purpose) Flour
5ml Finely Grated Orange or Clementine Zest (optional)
Cream Cheese Layer:
250g Philadelphia Cream Cheese at room temperature
50ml Fresh Cream
70 grams granulated white sugar
2,5ml pure vanilla extract
1 Jumbo Free Range egg – at room temperature
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C and place the rack in the center of the oven.
Melt a little regular butter then brush base and sides and line a 23 x 23 cm square baking pan with 2 sheets of baking paper across the bottom and up all four sides of the pan. The paper needs to come above the edges of the pan as you will use it to lift the baked brownies out of the pan. Brush the paper as well. Set aside.
In a large glass bowl melt the butter and chocolate in the microwave – you can do this over simmering water but I prefer the micro method. It only takes 1 -2 minute at about 50% power. Remove from microwave, stir well then stir in the sugar and vanilla extract and seeds and the zest if using.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well (with a wooden spoon) after each addition.
Stir in the sifted flour and salt and beat, with the wooden spoon, until the batter is smooth and glossy and comes away from the sides of the bowl (about one minute).
Remove 1/2 cup of the brownie batter, cover with cling film and set aside.
Pour the remainder of the brownie batter evenly into the prepared pan.
Then in the bowl of your mixer or processor (or with a hand mixer), beat the cream cheese & cream until smooth.
Add the sugar, vanilla and egg and blend until creamy and smooth.
Spread the cream cheese filling evenly over the brownie layer.
Spoon small dollops of the reserved brownie batter evenly on top of the cream cheese filling. Then with a table knife or wooden skewer, swirl the two batters a little bit (without mixing them together) to make a marbled effect.
Bake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes or until the brownies just start to pull away from the sides of the pan and the edges are just beginning to turn golden.
Remove from oven and place pan on a wire rack to cool.
Once cool refrigerate the brownies (still in the pan covered with foil or cling film) for at least 2 hours but preferably overnight.
Once chilled, remove the brownies from the pan by lifting with the ends of the paper and transfer to a cutting board.
With a sharp hot dry knife, cut into 16 squares. It is a good idea to have a damp cloth handy to wipe your knife between cuts.
These brownies can be stored in the refrigerator for several days. Bring to room temperature before serving if you want the fudginess! Dust with icing sugar before serving.
Delicious with a scoop of ice cream or creme fraiche, mascarpone and fresh berries in season – or just alone straight from the container
Don’t use a mixer when you make brownies….you don’t want to incorporate any air into the batter which will not result in fudgy dense brownies
Don’t use any leavening agent in your brownie mixture
Don’t over bake – You want your brownies to be a little bit moist in the middle when you take them out of the oven
Do use the best quality ingredients that you can afford to buy. These days you can get a very good comparable local cream cheese called Lancewood Superior (South Africa) which I have started using.
Pegs come in very handy in my kitchen. Use them to peg the paper firmly into place onto the edges of the pan. Once the batter is in the pan you can remove the pegs but if you use wooden pegs you can put the pan into the oven with the pegs attached
This recipe was featured in Issue 13 of Crush! Online Magazine. If you are not already subscribed to this fabulous, classy food and wine magazine go on over and subscribe. It is free and is delivered monthly to your inbox!
I almost missed the boat on this one…….almost, but not quite! A couple of days ago I was taking a look at my timeline on twitter and came across a tweet from Tandy over at Lavender and Lime about a competition and challenge issued by her – bake something sweet and stand a chance to win a Le Creuset Cassis bakeware set! Well, I do love competitions! And lately they seem to rather like me too. I hope that doesn’t change anytime soon hehe! My brother is literally begging me to give him 6 lucky little numbers for the lotto! And he is adamant it has to be in secret via sms or skype and not in public (ie on facebook) so that the “vultures”, as he calls the rest of my family and friends, will not be able to see the numbers I give him. Think I should help him out?? Anyway…..loving Le Creuset products as much as I do and enjoying baking and competitions I just knew I had to participate in this event. Of course I’m just screeching in once again as this competition closes at midnight tonight. The challenge was to bakes something sweet that you have not baked before and for a while now I have been thinking of trying my hand at a crème brûlée. Or Burnt Cream if you want the English translation. I love this fabulously simple dessert but more often than not when you eat out at restaurants you are disappointed when you crack through the burnt sugar shell and find either runny or stodgy, dry, sometimes split and oily or stale tasting custard beneath. So last week I saw George from Masterchef Australia show the contestants how to make his crème brûlée that he has in his little red book. And when I saw Tandy’s tweet a couple of days later I knew what I would be making for the challenge – crème brûlée! The first challenge of course was that I do not possess any little ramekins but a suggestion by a friend to use teacups did the trick! Then I looked around for a recipe that I fancied but eventually made up my own based on a few others that I read through. The ingredients are pretty basic so it was just a matter of kicking up the flavour a notch and hoping that my custard came through for me. I am very happy to report that I can honestly say I make a very, very good crème brûlée The sugar topping was just perfect to crack the spoon through and I held my breath as I dug the the spoon through the hard topping into WHAT LIES BENEATH! Sounds like a good novel or movie to me! The baked custard….oh the baked custard! It was rich, smooth like velvet, set just enough to hold its shape, very delicate vanilla and lavender flavours, dotted with the tiniest black speckles from the vanilla bean seeds. It was…..PERFECTION!! Better than the best I have ever tasted in the best restaurant I have ever eaten at! Seriously! I am so thrilled with how this turned out. So here is my crème brûlée entry into Tandy’s challenge to stand in line to win the Le Creuset rectangular bake set…..
LAVENDER VANILLA CRÈME BRÛLÉE WITH A PISTACHIO SUGAR TOPPING
500ml Fresh Cream
200ml Full Cream Milk
6 Jumbo Egg Yolks (the whites are ageing for macarons)
90g Castor Sugar
1 Vanilla Pod – split lengthwise and the seeds scraped out with the tip of a knife
1 Lavender Flower, washed
100g Castor Sugar or Flavoured Sugar for the topping (Demerara apparently works well but I didn’t have any)
Preheat oven to 150deg Celcius
Place 6 – 8 ramekins onto a flat folded tea towel in a large roasting tin (depends on the size of your ramekins)
Fill the kettle with water and switch it on
Place the cream, milk, vanilla seeds and pod and the lavender flower into a small saucepan and place over a medium heat to scald – don’t boil it. Take it off the heat just as the bubbles start forming around the sides of the saucepan
While the cream is heating up whisk your egg yolks and sugar together very well until very pale and thick
When the cream is ready strain it through a sieve into a jug then pour it gently into the bowl with the eggs while whisking all the while. You do NOT want it to start scrambling the eggs so constant whisking is essential
Once all incorporated pour the custard into the ramekins almost filling right to the top
Place the roasting tin as close to the oven shelf as possible then pour in the boiling water from the kettle to come about half way up the sides of the ramekins (I find it much easier to have the empty roasting pan close to the shelf
otherwise you carry the heavy pan with boiling water all the way to the oven!
Cover loosely with a sheet of tin foil then place on the middle rack in the oven
Bake for about 1 1/2 hours – the top should be well set but the custard can still wobble a bit underneath
Cool completely then cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight
When ready to serve the dessert sprinkle an even layer of sugar over the top of each one then caramelize with a blow torch or under the very hot grill for a few seconds
I tried both methods and found the little kitchen blow torch absolutely ideal for this. You don’t want the custard to start melting underneath
Repeat the process once more if you want a thicker burnt sugar topping then allow to harden and cool for a few minutes before serving