Nigella’s Cheesecake

I’ve made this cheesecake from Nigella Lawson’s Feast cookbook more than any dessert I’ve ever made. Many reasons; I am not really into desserts or sweet things. I’m definitely a savoury person; much to my wife’s dismay.

Baked cheesecakes are the best. The whipped up cream ones just don’t do it for me – or the shop bought ones where breaking into the plastic packaging is a mission in itself. No thanks!

I think I made this for the first time ten years ago, and have probably made it five or six times since. There’s a Nigella’s Nutella one posted on this blog somewhere that I made in next to no time – but this one takes a bit longer and requires a lot more effort.

Before you consider spontaneously making it one day make sure you have a deep sprung cake tin (I still use the same one from 10 years ago despite it being on its last legs) and clingfilm – AND tin foil. If you don’t have these it probably won’t come out right.

I usually make this the same and mix up the sauce a little each time. Nigella’s recommended sauce is Apple Schapps but this isn’t the easiest to come by – especially in small bottles – so a cheesecake can end up costing you £30 to make. It’s worth is – but.. probably too much!

I’ve since made it without booze, with Besos (vegan monkey nut Baileys), and most recently Chambord (raspberry and blackberry liqueur); my friends Vicky and Dan made theirs with Bourbon and raved about it.

The making is quite simple; you can actually prep everything in the same food mixer, and not even bother cleaning it between the base prep and the cheese part. The base is just Hobnobs and butter blitzed and press into the sprung tin. I went rogue and used chocolate chip Hobnobs for the most recent cheesecake – and I won’t do it again – the base went soggy, so stick to plain Hobnobs.

The baking is not so simple, and can cause issues if you don’t do it right.

Now in the same food mixer beat together double cream, cream cheese, vanilla, cornflour, caster sugar and eggs. I wouldn’t bother getting a branded cream cheese like Philly – but don’t go for the half fat own brand stuff, as it won’t come out as well. Full fat for this.

When you’ve beaten it for a while put some booze in it. Don’t go nuts with it or you’ll probably mess up the chance of the cake setting. In any case your sauce will be all over the cake so go easy!

You now need to wrap the outside of the tin with lots of cling film. The cake tin is going to sit in a water bath and if you don’t seal the tin the water will seep in to the base and ruin it. Once it’s wrapped up – I usually do three layers, pour the cheesecake mixture into the tin.

The cheesecake should now bake in the over in a bath of hot water. It is suggested that you make a nest with tin foil. When you make this for the first time you are quite diligent and have this done well in advance. When you’ve made it a few times you don’t and it can get you in a pickle. So either do this well in advance – or fill the bottom tray of your oven full of water – mine takes 2 kettles worth!

Bake it until it starts to colour and a wobble offers some resistance. I usually wait for the surface to crack. Again it doesn’t matter as you’re gonna pour sauce all over it anyway. Make sure it cools right down before unspringing it – it’ll keep cooking after you take it out anyway.

The sauce is a standard caramel sauce of butter, 2 sugars, cream, and then the booze of your choice. The most recent Chambord one I added a load of frozen dark fruits (that I usually have in my breakfast smoothie) and it was an epic sauce!

Whatever you do with it – the sauce makes it. The rest is amazing – but the sauce! Whenever we make it we are sick of it by the time is it gone – there are only two of us and it is 16 people big. Really big slices too.

Make this. You’ll definitely keep making it – despite the effort.

Hazelnut and Chocolate Cheesecake

The planned BBQ at Freya’s parents on Sunday almost became a wet one. It was windy and rainy all day, in complete contrast to the previous day – which was sunny and hot and made our Monopoly Board Pub Crawl a very pleasant day indeed.

Aside from all the BBQ’d food – which was delicious – I knocked up this cheesecake in response to Freya’s mums request. It wasn’t quite the desconstructed cheesecake she wanted but it was quick and easy – and time wasn’t on my side on Sunday.

The recipe comes from Nigelissima by Nigella Lawson, so as you can imagine it isn’t particularly low in fat, or low in anything for that matter.  It was made in less that 10 minutes. You just needed to firm it up in the fridge for a while.

Simply blitz some digestive biscuits with some hazelnuts, butter and a scoop of Nutella until you get a soggy biscuity mess. Press this into a spring loaded cake tin.  Then whip the rest of the jar of Nutella with some icing sugar and some cream cheese until smooth. Spread this over the biscuits. Finally top with some crushed hazelnuts.

I did it all in Freya’s mums Thermomix in seconds. Must get one of those!

Clearly I didn’t do this last step. I forgot to keep some nuts to one side so I ended up adding strawberries as a topping instead. Looks just as good I think.

This is delicious. Everyone’s eyes lit up at the prospect of a Nutella anything and it tasted as good as it looked.

Not good for the diet. But amazing all the same

Ultra Choc Brownies

Ultra Choc Brownies

Freya finally got her wish for a chocolate dessert last night with these Ultra Choc Brownies – from – you guessed it – Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s River Cottage Light and Easy cookbook.

There have been two slabs of dark chocolate floating around the back of the fridge for over a month since my failed attempt to get my daughter Olivia to make cookies with me. I seem to recall I made them while she watched TV (or played with the iPad – I can’t remember) and then Freya and I ate all of them because she forgot to take them home with her.

Anyway – rather than have this chocolate gradually disappear square by square (not unlike the bag of marshmallows that seemed to suggest we either had mice or secret marshmallow stealer) – I figured I’d use it to make these brownies.

The recipe calls for chocolate with at least 70% cocoa solids. Mine only had 60% but it didn’t seem to matter. It also called for coconut oil – which you won’t find everywhere. Morrisons didn’t have it – they didn’t even know what I was on about! I ended up getting mine from the small Turkish supermarket on Brentford High St. I bought a few bottles as I figured I might make these again!

To make these you melt the chocolate and coconut oil over a bowl of water (they way you’re supposed to) and let it cool down to barely warm. While that’s cooling whisk a couple of eggs with light brown sugared some vanilla extract. I didn’t have any so I split a vanilla bean I found in that back of the cupboard!

Then sift some ground almonds, rice flour and baking powder. Add the egg mix, and the chocolate mix and fold it all together. Finally add some chopped walnuts. You end up with a thick batter which should pour easily into a baking tin. It’s a good idea to line the tin with parchment or you’ll never get the brownie out!

Since we moved onto the boat, we found a leak on one of the roofs so we used our silicon baking tin as a ‘stopper’ and it’s been out there for over 6 months. Suffice to say we didn’t use it – we bought another one!

Bake the mixture until a skewer comes out clean – then take out of the oven and leave to cool in the tray. Let it go cold in fact or it will probably fall to pieces as it is quite fragile.

While it was cooling we watched Guardians of the Galaxy. Far better than The Maze Runner – and full of that Marvel humour that I love. If you want to see how far CGI has come on over the years – and how it is put to good use –  this is the film for you!

By the end of the film the brownie was cool enough to eat! So I cubed it and we had a few squares. Well – you’re never sure with just one piece are you!

They are fairly gooey on the inner squares – fairly crumby on the outer squares. One things for sure – they are very chocolatey. The nuts add a very nice texture too!

According to the book if you leave them in the fridge they will get fudgey. I shall be finding this out today!

UPDATE: They very much do become more fudgey after a day in the fridge. Must be the coconut oil. So – make them – and be patient – they will be so much better this way!