Talk About Cheesecake

Musings, meanderings and meditation for my mind.


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White chocolate and Strawberry Cheesecake

You may recognise this cheesecake – it’s the one pictured on my header and it’s truly delicious – definitely currently leading the taste test! I’ve been asked to post the recipe, so here it is.

STARS (out of 5)

Difficulty – ***

Time – ***

Taste – *****

This particular cheesecake is taken from the BBC’s Saturday Kitchen.

It’s marked down slightly on difficulty because although putting the ingredients together is straightforward, cooking it thoroughly make take some practice. The quantities given make a pretty humungous cheesecake which, when following the cooking times, meant that this was firm round the outside but still runny in the centre. Which, I should be clear, did not affect the taste AT ALL (I actually quite liked the contrast, almost like a cheesecake sauce on the cheesecake itself) but did make for problems serving and a really messy presentation.

The 2nd time I made it I reduced the quantities and cooked slightly longer on a lower heat so the insides had time to cook through too.

Timewise, the cheesecake itself is a cinch but the coulis takes ages. But maybe that’s just me – I hate pressing fruit through a sieve!

Tips

  • Chop the chocolate chunks into very small, chip size pieces as these don’t melt so you come across large lumps of chocolate as you eat.
  • If the top browns before the inside is cooked, cover with some silver foil so that it stops colouring but carries on cooking.
  • I added a lot more sugar to the strawberry coulis. Although it remained tart it accompanied the cheesecake beautifully. Don’t worry if you haven’t got a lot – a little goes a long way.
  • Use a ready made sponge base.

 

Ingredients

For the cheesecake
  • 23cm/9in ready-made sponge base
  • 200g/7oz caster sugar
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice only
  • 4 tbsp cornflour
  • 850g/1lb 14oz full-fat cream cheese
  • 3 free-range eggs
  • 1 vanilla pod seeds scraped out (I used a teaspoon of Vanilla Essence)
  • 375ml/13fl oz double cream
  • 250g/9oz strawberries, cut into quarters
  • 150g/5oz white chocolate roughly chopped
For the strawberry sauce
  • 250g/9oz strawberries
  • 1 lemon, juice only
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar, or to taste
To serve
  • 100g/3½oz strawberries

Preparation method

  1. For the cheesecake, preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
  2. Place the sponge base into the bottom of a 23cm/9in springform, loose-based cake tin.
  3. Place the sugar, lemon juice and zest and cornflour into a bowl and whisk together.
  4. Add the cream cheese and beat well. Crack in the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition. Add the vanilla seeds and mix well, then pour in the double cream and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Fold in the strawberries and white chocolate.
  5. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and give the tin a light shake to evenly distribute the mixture.
  6. Wrap the cake tin in a sheet of foil to make it waterproof, then place it into a roasting tin filled to a depth of about 0.5cm/¼in with water. Transfer to the oven and bake for 50 minutes, or until the top is lightly golden-brown and the cheesecake is just set. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin, then keep in the fridge until ready to serve.
  7. For the strawberry sauce, heat a frying pan until hot and place 250g/8oz of the strawberries into the pan. Stir-fry for one minute.
  8. Stir in the lemon juice and icing sugar, to taste.
  9. Pour the mixture into a blender and blend until smooth, then pass through a sieve, pressing with the back of a spoon, to remove all the seeds.
  10. To serve, remove the cheesecake from the fridge, remove from the tin and place a slice onto a serving plate. Top with the sauce and some strawberries.
Wrap the cake tin in a sheet of foil to make it waterproof, then place it into a roasting tin filled to a depth of about 0.5cm/¼in with water.
Wrap the cake tin in a sheet of foil to make it waterproof, then place it into a roasting tin filled to a depth of about 0.5cm/¼in with water.
The finished cheesecake, browned on the top.
The finished cheesecake, browned on the top.
The first slice with a dash of strawberry coulis.
The first slice with a dash of strawberry coulis.

 

 

 

 


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Cheesecake sandwiches and zombies

Weekends can be pretty samey round here. Family life is not about partying every weekend, spontaneous weekend getaways and daredevil extreme sports.

Well – I am sure some people do sign up to that and manage to fit it in with picking dirty pants up off the floor and baking 24 cupcakes ready for the school fundraiser. But the majority of us mums just about cope with keeping the house ticking over and the kids growing.

However this weekend was one of new experiences for me, which I thought I would share.

My great mate B came to stay for the weekend. We went through school together from the age of 11, and there is not a lot that can bring two girls closer than enforced sisterhood in boarding school. We bond to survive!

This lady saw me through my first period, acne, blubbering over boys and dealing with the evil witch who was our ‘surrogate mother’ whilst holding us in her merciless care throughout our school years. No matter what, I know she has my back even now. If there was a body to bury, we would do it together. Probably whilst drunk.

So when we get together there is often a mutual sharing fest of wine, memories, laughs, even some sadness maybe.

This weekend B arrived with some chocolate wine. Not something I have tried before – a new experience. We had already arranged to try out an experiment we saw on that font of knowledge known as Facebook – skittle vodka. Basically this involves taking all the red skittles and leaving them to disintegrate in vodka, doing the same with the purple skittles, yellow skittles and so on.

Prepare the skittle vodka, leave for a few hours to dissolve. Drink.

Prepare the skittle vodka, leave for a few hours to dissolve. Drink.

Having prepared our experiment, purely in the name of research you understand, we went shopping for some more new experiences to try.

We found  . . .  chocolate Philadelphia, traditional Mead and mulled cider.

B introduced me to fresh baked bread dipped in melted  Camembert. I introduced her to Philadelphia and Lemon Cheese sandwiches (cheesecake in bread – mmmm).

If you are now sensing a theme for our weekend, it was not all about food and drink you know. Just wait for the ending!

Chocolate wine, traditional Mead, mulled cider and chocolate Philadelphia.

Chocolate wine, traditional Mead, mulled cider and chocolate Philadelphia.

I invented these when I was a child and have loved them ever since. Philadelphia and Lemon Cheese sandwiches. Yummy

I invented these when I was a child and have loved them ever since. Philadelphia and Lemon Cheese sandwiches. Yummy

The outcome – Skittle vodka with lemonade tastes just like, well, skittles. Marks out of 10 – 8. We concluded we need more skittles per inch of vodka. But worth trying again.

Chocolate wine. Conclusion – two items that should never be mixed. Marks out of 10 – 3. It’s drinkable, but if there is skittle vodka around I would choose that anytime.

Traditional Mead – wow. It’s like drinking pure honey. As in, it is so incredible sweet it could melt your teeth as you drank it. Marks out of 10 – 2. I am sure it is drinkable, but even my sweet tooth was wincing.

Unfortunately we did not get around to the mulled cider and we were undecided on the chocolate Philli. I know now that I do not like Camembert, however I have succeeded in converting another friend round to my cheesecake in a sandwich fetish.

I know what you are thinking. You are clearly now of the opinion that we are just about the most suave and sophisticated pair of young women you have ever heard of. Hey – don’t knock it!

So after our experimenting on a Saturday night, we then woke on Sunday bright and early for the next new experience.

We dressed in our best. As in – ripped jeans, dirty T-shirts, holey jumpers and grubby trainers.

And off we went to be zombies for the day.

Yep – on Sunday I tried out being an extra in a movie. Get me!

Well, in the internet trailer for the movie anyway. What a fabulous way to spend a Sunday, covered in blood and gore. Here is a quick picture preview – once the link is ready I will post it. Guess which one is me!

Zombie trailer coming soon. PIcture courtesy of Wasteland Feature Filmhttps://www.facebook.com/WastelandFeatureFilm?fref=ts

Zombie trailer coming soon. PIcture courtesy of Wasteland Feature Film
https://www.facebook.com/WastelandFeatureFilm?fref=ts

So I guess today is about trying out new experiences. There is so much out there to try. It doesn’t have to be huge, it doesn’t have to be expensive. Being an extra was unpaid, free fun. The only charge, a little time.

Tell me about a new experience you have had recently – share it, I might just want to try it too.

And if you do nothing else this week, try a cheesecake sandwich. Trust me, you will thank me for it.

This post was brought to you as part of Project Optimism. To find out more, click on that cute little elephant over there on the right or try out the post here 


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The most unpopular colour is the most tasty

Ask someone what their favourite colour is and you will invariably hear of deep sexy red or fresh natural green. Maybe  a refreshing cool blue or a pretty young pink!

Very few people tell you they like the colour brown. It’s not a choice for most people’s living room or a seductive mood swinging choice for a bedroom. Brown is the colour of earth. It’s reliable, sturdy. It promotes feelings of security, wholesomeness and order.

Brown is not fun or vibrant. We don’t buy bland brown decorations for Christmas. Very few people choose a brown car. Watch a young child learn their colours and they focus on bright primary colours first.

So I ask you – what is one of the warmest, friendliest, tastiest colours there is? Did you say brown? I bet you didn’t.  

And you are so wrong! 

 

Rich, deep brown is the colour of dark, smooth chocolate, firm in the hand and flowing like a thick blanket down the throat.

Warm, earthy brown is the colour of hot chocolate, smothered in twirling white cream and dotted with marshmallows, comforting on a snowy day in front of a roaring log fire.

Light, golden brown is the colour of freshly baked cake, crisp on the outside, light and moist in the middle.

Fresh baked bread

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And don’t forget the various middling shades.

The crunchy brown of a farmhouse loaf, warm from the oven and smeared in butter.

Divine sausages, browned in the oven and served with mash and onion gravy.

Succulent steak, panfried in sea salt and pepper.

Tender roast beef, with yorkshire puddings and lashings of horseradish sauce.

My personal favourite, a crunchy biscuit base rising to a dense chocolate cheesecake.

 

Now you are thinking in the right direction, what’s your favourite brown?

Wedding cake

Rich dark and succulent, my chocolate wedding cheesecake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written for the DPchallenge – and now I am so hungry, I may just have to go and search my kitchen cupboards to see what other browns I can find. All in the name of research, of course.


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So – am I thin yet?

I thought I should return a few months on . . .  well, eight months on, to update on how my diet has been going. There is good news and there is bad news. Or maybe it’s all good news depending on how you look at it.

To recap (or you could just read the earlier post!) I lost 3 stone doing the Cambridge Diet in 6 months up to January this year. I have been following the stories of others on the same diet and I know that you can lose it faster. But a key to my dieting is that if I want a weekend off for a party or a night out with my husband, I want to be able to do that without beating myself up. So I did! I am not making excuses, this is about what works for me and total restriction just doesn’t. I took a weekend off here and there and I hit my target, losing another stone before March this year and my wedding.

Cue honeymoon, over indulgence and generally thoroughly enjoying myself, as one should on honeymoon. Seriously, I stayed in a hotel with a cold room set aside just for puddings – at every meal. Well, it would have been rude not to, right?!

Back to the UK and I climbed on my scales, very gently and expecting the worst. So I was actually pleasantly surprised to find just 8 pounds had snuck back on. It must have been all that swimming and exercising I was doing!

However, having been happy on the Cambridge Diet for so long, I found it very hard to climb back on board the shakes and soups. Motivation had left the fridge. After faffing about for 3 or 4 months I decided to plod along to a Slimming World session with my friend, who was raving about how fabulous it was. On Slimming World, I was told, you can eat endlessly, filling you face all day without stopping to breath, so long as you eat the right food types. No measuring, no weighing, just choices. What a mantra! I had to see for myself.

It is true that you can eat all day on Slimming World. I was given a list of acceptable foods, that seemed long and detailed – if it’s a fruit or a veg, it’s a free for all. I had bowls of apples, trees of bananas, there were pears overflowing the work surface in my kitchen. I discovered crab sticks again, which I hadn’t had since I was a child, and was snacking on them a packet a day. Meals are fine, just make sure a third of your plate is over flowing with veg and don’t use fat in anything. Low fat yoghurts? Why not, I’ll have 5 a day.

Did it work? Well no, not for me. Admittedly, my friend has lost 4 stone and is going strong. A lot of people have success on this diet – clearly it does work. But I found that, despite continually chomping my way through a veritable fruit market, I never felt truly full. I was constantly wandering through the kitchen opening the fridge door and staring blankly into cupboards looking for anything to chew on. And whilst I wasn’t gaining weight, it was hard work to shift just one pound. In fact, 8 weeks in and I am the same weight as day 1, with a few small ups and downs in between.

I think the difference for me with Slimming World is that while it is more varied, every extra calorie does count. So when I choose to take a weekend off, it takes a week to get past it. For me, the slow erosion of ounces is just not motivating. Yes, the group weigh ins can be a great help – at first I found it spurred me on. But weeks of getting nowhere made me dread sitting in that circle and having to admit that, once again, no losses.

On the bright side, after 8 weeks of it, I have learnt some great new recipes that are tasty and low fat. I know that I can maintain my weight quite well. So – all I have to do is just shift that pesky honeymoon weight and I can be more relaxed about the fear of putting it all back on.

My plan – well, I haven’t quite worked out the details yet, but I will shift it soon.


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Wedding cheesecake.

While I am thinking about cheesecake – again – did I mention the fabulous cake that we had at our wedding!

Mr George and I are just not that keen on fruit cake, or sponge cake. What we do like is cheesecake! (Well, I do anyway). So we decided to have a big cheesecake as our wedding cake.

Not having planned a wedding before, I didn’t realise that there was a new fad or fashion in having a cheese cake – as in each tier being made from a round of a different flavour of cheese. However, after some googling, I quickly learnt that this was a much more common request that the one I had in mind. In fact, only one company in the UK seemed to offer cheesecake as an option – and they did not offer a lot in the realms of decoration.

So plan B – I emailed all of the cake makers in the vicinity of the venue and asked whether they could do what I wanted. Only a few replied, and only one responded with enthusiasm, suggestions and better yet, questions about what I personally wanted. The fabulous Chris, from Dulcie Blue Bakery in Shrewsbury.

We emailed over descriptions of what I envisioned in my mind, and went to see Chris at her home. She had prepared a number of samples for taste testing – a chore which we happily got stuck into. And then we discussed design.

My intention was to have a wedding cake that looked like a cake – i.e., a normal 3 tier stacked cake. None of the guests were to know that this was a cheesecake until we cut into it. Now we came to the actual planning, a few questions came up that had not occurred to us before – and this was a first for Chris too.

Firstly, stacking the cake. Normally dowel rods are rooted in the bottom tier to support the weight of the tier above. A sponge or fruit cake is denser, thereby supporting the bottom part of the rods. But in a cheesecake, which is normally softer, the concern was that the foot of the dowel would slip sideways. While Mr G began to get a bit technical, drilling holes in the cake board and developing scaffolding in the planning department of his mind, Chris and I decided that the recipe should be amended to make a more solid mix.

Then onto the melting point of cheesecake. A room of 60 people combined with radiators and lighting can make a room pretty warm pretty fast. If the cake started to melt not only could it collapse, but we had concerns about losing the taste and texture. Chris set to over the next few weeks, experimenting with different mixes and leaving them around her home next to radiators. I imagine this was a unique form of torture for her husband and kids!

Meanwhile I went to speak with the venue. Rowton Castle in Shrewsbury – a beautiful location and fantastic staff. I discussed the issue with the manager, and (after a little confusion over the difference between a cheese cake and a cheesecake!) he rose to the challenge immediately, muttering about bowls of ice under tables and assuring me he could keep everything chilled until required.

 

There comes a point in wedding planning when you have to sit back and trust in the people around you to do their part. So I left it in the hands of the experts and went to fret about some other details.

The day before the wedding I understand that Chris had to empty her entire fridge, shelves and all, in order to fit the completed cake in (I found this later from Facebook!). However, the trial and effort was total worth it.

The first time we saw the cake was after the ceremony and just before the guests came in for the wedding breakfast. Mr G and I went in to preview the room – and there it was. Set up before the (open) window, in front of the radiator (off) and on top of a frozen table – the most beautiful wedding cake and even better than the picture I had in my head.

Oh – and it tasted amazing too!

 

 

So – here it is.

Tier 1 – chocolate honeycomb, Tier 2 -chocolate fudge, Tier 3 – chocolate orange. Surrounded by shards of chocolate, with a cascade of roses falling down the side.

                      

 

Many thanks to Chris for her amazing effort and willingness to try something new.

 

http://dulciebluebakery.co.uk/AboutUs.aspx

 

 

 


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Cheesecake cocktails!

I may have mentioned in a few previous posts how much I like cheesecake. I might not yet have mentioned that I don’t mind the odd drink. And last week it occurred to me to try to combine the two. So, I had a look online for ‘cheesecake cocktails’ – and there were a fair few recipes!

Now why didn’t I think of this before?

So – I think that I might have to do a bit of research into the best cheesecake cocktail recipe! Maybe this can be my new project (along with the venture into self-employment, completing my writing course and finishing this diet!).

Sounds like a fun one anyway! I’ll keep you updated.