Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Lime and Ginger Cheesecake with Mango Coulis

Today I am sharing with you a cheesecake recipe.

I have always been a bit suspicious of the cheesecake. I like cheese and I like cake, but bring the two together and you get something that doesn't really resemble either very much.

But then again, cheesecake is the perfect cake for someone who isn't a great lover of the usual variety. It's rich, but has a fresh quality about it, brought by the cheese, and you can easily cut through the richness and sweetness of the filling with a fruity topping.

This is what I've done here. This cheesecake recipe cake came about one year when my dad asked me to make one for his birthday and requested a cheesecake that was "a bit different".

After I repeatedly watched a remix of Masterchef clips about cheesecake (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfeyUGZt8nk), I got down to work on this recipe, adding some tropical flavours for a classic baked cheesecake with a twist.

The first time I made this cheesecake I had a few hiccups along the way but this time I like to think I had learnt from these mistakes and it went off with barely a hiccup.

I took the cheesecake along to a picnic, where it was greatly appreciated.

You will need:

For the cheesy bit:

900g full fat cream cheese
115g soured cream
2 eggs
115g caster sugar )
grated rind of one lime
½ tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp cornflour

For the base:

250g ginger biscuits (I used ginger nuts)
150g melted butter

For the coulis:

2 ripe mangoes
1 tsp agar agar
juice of half a lime

1. Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and line a 24cm spring form cake tin. Crush your ginger nuts (alright, stop giggling).

2. Mix the ginger nuts with the melted butter and press them into the base of the cake tin. Bake for ten minutes then place on a wire rack to cool.

3. Turn the oven up to 200C. Mix together the cornflour and caster sugar in a bowl.

4. Add the cream cheese and beat until fully combined. Add the eggs, vanilla extract and lime rind and beat again.

5. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the top is slightly browned and the filling is set round the edges. Then turn the oven off and stand cake for as long as possible while the oven cools. Do NOT open the oven door, even for a cheeky peek. This stops the cheesecake from cracking too much on top.

6. Take the cheesecake out of the oven and put in the fridge to set properly.

7. While the cheesecake is chilling (getting cold, that is, not relaxing with a G&T), peel and stone the mangoes, blend in a processor and then force through a sieve with a spoon into a small pan. Be persistent - it may seem like you won't get much mango through, but keep at it and you should be able to get it all but a lump small enough to fit in a tablespoon through. Make sure you scrape any remaining mango puree off the bottom of the sieve. 

8. Add the lime juice and agar agar to the mango puree and heat. stirring regularly until it starts to spit and bubble. Take the mixture off the heat and pour it gradually on top of your cheesecake, spreading it all over the surface of the cheesecake as you do so. If the cheesecake has not cracked, you may not need to use all the coulis, so set aside the rest in a jug for pouring. If it has cracked, you may want to pour extra in the middle, to hide the cracks. If you keep the cheesecake horizontal this should not be a problem, as the cheesecake should be slightly bowed in the middle.

8. Refrigerate the cheesecake until serving. Do NOT, as I once did, tilt it whilst looking for space in the fridge, as you will tip mango coulis off the side. Clear a space in the fridge, leave the door open and then and only then go and get your cheesecake and place it carefully in the fridge. Treat it like a baby or housepet, that, for some inexplicable reason, needs to be refrigerated.

There you go, a beautiful, fruity cheesecake.

Happy baking!


Thursday, 2 July 2015

Almond Croissants

I've been experimenting with puff pastry this week. On the whole it went really well. I made salmon en croute and it was delicious, but I'm not completely sold on the recipe. I used a recipe that used half bread flour, and the pastry was almost too crisp, it was hard to cut through the base. 

So I'm not going to give you that recipe. Instead I'm going to give you this awesome recipe I learnt at the weekend. It's not strictly baking, but it does involve baked goods. 

As most of you will probably know, it was Gay Pride in London this weekend. My flatmate had some friends to stay and after a late night on Friday, I woke up early feeling like something had died in my mouth, which is inevitable when beer and I get together. I naturally decided that what I needed to take the taste away before we headed out to watch the parade was an almond croissant and some good strong coffee and that I might as well make enough for everyone.

A few minutes and a quick Google on my phone later I had a recipe for the baked treats and let me tell you, they were so easy to make, I couldn't believe they tasted so good.

This recipe takes  very little time at all and the results are impressive. Brew some coffee, whip up these almond croissants and you can serve up an awesome breakfast and look like a domestic god/goddess with very little effort.

One of the best things about this recipe is it uses stale croissants. Come on! You bought too many croissants? No problem. Almond those bad boys up. Instant awesome.

You will need:
8 one or two day-old croissants (croissants that have previously been frozen also good)
3 tbsp flaked almonds
icing sugar, for dusting
2 large eggs
250g ground almonds
115g butter
120g caster sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Mix together the ground almonds and sugar in a bowl. Beat in the butter and then the eggs and whisk until fully incorporated.

2. Slice the croissants in half horizontally and spread a good 2 tbsp of the almond paste on each bottom half. Put the top half back on and spread a 1 tbsp on top.

3. Sprinkle the almonds over the croissants and bake for 15 minutes. Dust liberally with icing sugar and serve.

That is it. Can you believe you just made something that looks so good so easily? Go you. 

In other news, Pride 2015 was really fun and we all looked fabulous. Here's a picture of me sporting the rainbow flag on my cheek and pouting, because I'm like that.

Stay fabulous,