New York Cheesecake

Baked cheesecake is good, really good. It is pretty simple and it always goes down well at social occasions. It is easy to adapt by adding whatever toppings you like (fruit, sauces, a pint of caramel and 16 smashed up Dime bars etc) which means it is a good thing to take to birthday parties or barbecues. Anyway, I recently make a salted caramel and dark chocolate button one for a Eurovision Party.

 

Cheesecake

 

The recipe here is for the basic recipe but you can add whatever you like to the top.

 

Base:
100g butter melted, plus extra for tin
200g digestive biscuits smashed up with a rolling pin or whatever

Filling
3 x 300g Full-Fat Philadelphia cheese, or other full-fat soft cheese
250g golden caster sugar
3 tbsp plain flour
1½ tsp vanilla extract
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1½ tsp lemon juice
3 large eggs, plus 1 yolk
200ml soured cream

 

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to fan 170C. Cut out a circle of baking parchment and line the bottom of a 9 inch tin. This makes quite a deep cheesecake so in needs to be quite a deep tin. For the base, melt the butter in a medium pan then in the biscuit crumbs and mix until it is moist. Press the mixture into the bottom of the pan with the back of a spoon and bake for 10 minutes. Take out of the oven and cool on a wire rack while preparing the filling. Sometimes I find the base can go a bit soggy, so if you like you can use a brush of egg white before you bake it to create a bit of a barrier from the filling.
  2. For cheesecake bit turn the oven up to 220C. In a  stand mixer (I use a KMix) use the paddle attachment to beat the Philly fairly slowly creamy for a minute of two. Keep the mixer running and add the sugar, then the flour making sure you scrape down the sides of your bowl a couple of times during baking.
  3. Switch the paddle attachment for the whisk and with the mixer on medium add the vanilla, lemon zest and juice. Whisk in the eggs and yolk, one at a time scraping down the bowl from time to time. Stir the soured cream and whisk until smooth.
  4. Grease the sides of the springform tin and put on a baking sheet. Pour in the filling. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 120C bake for 40 minutes more. If you gently shake the tin, the filling should have a slight wobble. Turn off the oven and leave the door closed. Allow to cool for two hours in the oven. The top may crack but don’t worry, it is a good excuse to add more topping.
  5. Put it in the fridge for least 8 hours or overnight.

 

EXTREME CLOSE UP! Served with salted caramel sauce and homemade buttons (dark chocolate poured into a button mould)

 

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Hazelnut Praline, Nutella and Salted Caramel Pavlova

Quite often I am asked to bake stuff that is gluten free. My tendency until now has been to use GF flour mixes and hope for the best. Results have been pretty mixed. Then I started thinking about meringue and how yummy it is obviously it doesn’t contain gluten.  So I decided to make a pavlova for a Thanksgiving potluck I was going to (and a cheesecake, forgot to take pictures so will blog that next time I make it) It turns out Nutella and salted caramel go really well together. I had been thinking about the combination but it was only when I doubled them up on a spoon, I realised they are REALLY GOOD. The pavolva was topped with fresh cream, Nutella sauce, salted caramel and homemade hazelnut praline crushed up and sprinkled over.

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The recipe:

For the meringue

  • 210g free-range egg whites (about 6 large eggs)
  • 420g caster sugar – I used golden for a more caramelly taste.

(weigh the egg whites and then do 60g of sugar per 30g egg white)

  1. Draw a 10 inch circle on a sheet of baking paper (to serve as a template for you meringue) and turn it over so the pencil mark is on the other side
  2. Line a roasting tray with baking paper and heat 420g caster sugar at 200C until the edges are just beginning to melt. Heating the sugar helps it to dissolve in the egg white more quickly, creating a glossy and more stable mixture. Now, turn the oven down to 110C.
  3. Add egg whites a bowl (you will find this much easier if you have a stand mixer). At first whisk slowly allowing small stabilising bubbles to form, then increase the speed until the egg whites form stiff peaks (and you could hold the bowl over your head – if it starts to go cotton wooly stop – it is becoming over whisked)
  4. Using a large spoon, add the sugar spoon by spoon while continuing to whisk. It is ready once you have a full bodied, stiff and glossy mixture (about 5 minutes). Don’t put in the melted edge clumps
  5. Spoon onto a lined baking tray making sure it is slightly higher around the edges to hold all the filling.
  6. Bake for around 3 hours at 110c. Its good to keep our meringues mallowy and soft in the middle, so take them out of the oven as soon as they lift off the baking paper with the base intact

Toppings:

  • 100g Nutella with 3 tbsp cream or milk stirred in to make a sauce
  • 1 quantity of Nigella’s salted caramel
  • 300ml of double cream whipped
  • Hazelnut Praline

For the hazelnut praline:

  • 200g white caster sugar
  • 50g toasted chopped hazelnuts
  • 2 pinches of salt
  1. Put the sugar in a smallish heavy bottomed pan and cover with 75ml water and stir gentle so the sugar is wet
  2. Heat the sugar until is is 105c – use a sugar thermometer and watch it like a hawk
  3. While the sugar is heating, line a baking tray with baking paper and put a thin layer of the hazelnuts on the tray and sprinkle salt evenly over them
  4. When the sugar is ready pour it over the hazelnuts
  5. Allow to cool and smash up two-third fairly finely and leave one-third in larger pieces to decorate.

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To assemble:

Put half the caramel and Nutella sauce in the centre, top with the cream and then drizzle the remainder of the sauces over the top using disposable piping bags if you want it to look neater, sprinkle with the crushed up and larger praline pieces

Spiced Apple Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Italian Meringue Buttercream

Toffee apples are an amazing thing but I find them rather too sweet so I got to thinking that salted caramel apples should totally be a thing (I know, I know, I am obsessed) I made a spiced apple sponge with salted caramel Italian Meringue Buttercream. The sharpness of the apples was a good contrast to the salty/sweet icing.

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For the cakes (makes between 12-16):

  • 200g butter, softened
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 225g self-raising flour, sifted
  • 80 ml milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • half tsp mixed spice
  • 5 medium apples (750g) – I used Granny Smiths
  • 100g saltanas soaked in 100ml boiling water and allowed to cool (I did mine in half rum, half boiling water)
  • 25g butter, extra
  • 1/3 cup (75g) soft brown sugar

Method

  1. Preheat oven 180°C and put cases in a 12 hole muffin tin – I usually do a few extra in a second tray just in case
  2. Peel and core apples. Cube into little cubes (no bigger than 0.5cm). Sprinkle cubed apples a bit of lemon juice to avoid browning. Melt the 25g extra butter in a large frying pan; cook apple cubes until browned lightly (about 5 minutes). Add brown sugar and saltanas (including soaking rum if used, if not drain the water off); cook stirring until it goes nice and thick (about 5 more minutes). Allow to cool completely.
  3. Beat together the butter and caster sugar until light & fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one. Add flour and milk in 2 batches folding in gently.
  4. Fold in the apple mixture into the cake mixture until totally combined.Fill cases to about 3/4 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes (till golden brown springy).

 

For the buttercream (this makes enough for about 24 cakes; it is worth making lots and then freezing the rest if you are doing less cakes)

Basic Recipe

  • 375g white caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • 100ml water
  • 6 egg whites
  • 600g soften unsalted butter in 2cm-ish chunks
  • 2 quantities of Nigella salted caramel sauce (totally cooled – use it from the fridge ideally)

 

Method

  1. Put sugar, golden syrup and water in a medium heavy bottomed saucepan and stir until totally combined.  Brush the inside of the saucepan with clean water on a damp pastry brush to dislodge any stray grains. Set over high heat and bring to a rapid boil. When the sugar mixture has come to the boil add a sugar thermometer and keep cooking until it reaches will into soft ball stage, 121°C.
  2. Meanwhile put the carefully separated egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer (with a whisk attachment) and whisk the egg whites to soft peaks – be careful not to over whisk. Then slowly pour a steady stream of sugar syrup into the egg whites, being careful not to hit the whisk while doing so – I find pouring down the side of the bowl is the easiest way of doing this. Continue whisking until sides of the bowl feel cool. Add the softened butter chunk at a time one by one at a time and whip until fully incorporated and smooth
  3. Add in caramel and whisk until fully combined
  4. Pipe on to cakes and drizzle with a bit of caramel

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I used the left over icing a week later on a version of these cupcakes: https://bakeitinstinct.com/2013/07/08/salted-caramel-oh-salted-caramel/ and added sugar glass for some slightly Halloweeny decoration.

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Salted Caramel and Apple Chelsea Buns

I am really into cooking with apple and toffee-ish flavours at the moment because it is all autumny and lovely. I have also been baking a lot of cakes using old recipes lately so wanted to try something new. I bake bread quite often, I just don’t blog about it because it is usually less fun than cake but these Chelsea buns were a bit too lovely to not talk about.  I made them for my team at work to have for Monday breakfast.

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I used the a recipe I found here  but used a batch of my preferred Nigella salted caramel recipe. I also found it needed about 50ml more milk than stated and I doubled the proving time on both prove and used one large baking tray.  Amazing!
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FUCK cake

Hurrah! It was my birthday on Friday. Happy Birthday to me and what a very happy birthday it was. I had some friends over on Friday night to christen our new house and celebrate. I am still recovering – best night ever and all that. I don’t think I have had a birthday cake since I lived at home 15 years ago so I decided this year that I would make my own (with help from A on the washing up). And, if I have to make my own birthday cake I am going to make it both amazing and offensive.  I give you the amazing FUCK cake.

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I used this chocolate, caramel and vanilla ombre cake recipe from BBC Good Food but sandwiched it with homemade salted caramel sauce (the usual Nigella recipe) – it was pretty tasty and I think the ground almonds made it particularly moist. Also when you cut it, you get impressive layers. Yay!

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The biggest challenge was finding the multicoloured strands/sprinkles – weirdly everywhere was out of stock. I could find metallic ball ones and pink ones (because baking is only for little girls or something – URGH) but not the basic kind. Found them eventually and used letter cookie cutters placed onto the chocolate ganache to make the letters.

The best endorsement of this cake came from a Christian school friend who said: “I’m offended by a chocolate cake. Well this is definitely a first!!!!” – My work here is done, people. Done.

Stroopwafel Cupcakes

For part 2 of my Dutch cupcake series, I made stroopwafel cupcakes. Stroopwafels are those delicious biscuits with caramel in the middle that come from the Netherlands or Starbucks or a corner shop in Mile End.  Sainsbury’s in Tooting sell them. They are usually best served warmed over a cup of coffee or made into a cupcake. I made a cinnamon sponge, with a caramel core and cinnamon and caramel icing topped with a mini Stroopwafel. Served in a Delft blue cupcake case – very Dutch, ja?

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Anyway, on to the recipe (makes 12 big-ish ones)

For the sponge:

  • 200g softened butter
  • 200g self raising flour
  • 200g soft brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1tsp cinnamon

For the caramel filling:

  • 2 quantities of Nigella’s salted caramel sauce making it with just enough salt to cut away the sweetness but not enough to be fully salted caramel (hold some back for the icing and decorating)

For the icing:

  • 80g butter, softened
  • 400g icing sugar, sieved
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 100g of the salted caramel
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

To decorate:

  • Mini stroopwafels or chunks of the big ones

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170c and line a muffin tin with 12 good size cupcake cases
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat really well after each one. Pro Tip: making sure the eggs are at room temperature will stop it curdling but if it does add a tablespoon of the flour to bring it together
  4. Sift together the flour and cinnamon and add this gradually and fold in until just combined
  5. Fill your cases to about two-thirds full
  6. Bake for 18 minutes or until they spring back when touched. Leave to cool slightly before putting on to a cooling rack.
  7. When the cakes are totally cold  core out the middle and fill with the caramel.
  8. For the icing cream the butter and caramel until it is really really soft and add a small amount of the icing sugar and the cinnamon (taste as you go to see if you need more). Keep adding icing sugar slowly, adding milk in between additions to moisten the mixture if you need to.  Add more icing sugar if it is too sloppy or buttery.  Beat until fluffy and smooth.
  9. Pipe it on to the cakes
  10. Get a disposable icing bag and add a few tablespoons of caramel, cut the very tip off and drizzle over the cakes and finish with a mini-stroopwafel

These got really good reviews in my office and lots of happy noises.

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Salted Caramel Popcorn Cupcakes

I have created a monster. Genuinely, I think there are some things that are probably best left in my imagination for the sake of people’s dental and pancreatic health and this is definitely one of them. I have been thinking about doing a popcorn cupcake for a while and then that morphed into a toffee popcorn cupcake and then finally I thought that actually salted caramel is way nicer than toffee so… yeah.

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It is a vanilla sponge, with a salted caramel core, salted caramel buttercream icing, Butterkist toffee popcorn and salted caramel sauce drizzled on top.

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Here, have a recipe:

Sponge:

  • 175g Softened Butter
  • 175g Golden Caster Sugar
  • 1 Vanilla Pod deseeded or scraped or whatever you call it or you can use 2 teaspoons of Vanilla Essence instead
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 175g Self-raising Flour

Filling:

  • 2 quantities of Nigella’s salted caramel sauce (hold some back for the icing and the drizzle)

Icing:

  • 80g butter, softened
  • 400g icing sugar, sieved
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 100g of the salted caramel

Decoration:

  • Butterkist Toffee Popcorn (or similar)
  • Few tbsp of salted caramel

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170 C
  2. Put the butter and sugar into bowl and mix until light and fluffy. You can’t over mix it, so when you think it is done enough, do it a bit more.
  3. Scrape in the vanilla seeds (or put in the essence) and add the eggs whizzing well between each egg and scraping the sides clean
  4. Add the flour and fold into the egg/sugar/butter mixture
  5. Bake for about 18minutes but keep an eye on them from 10 minutes. They are done when they are all springy and your skewer comes out clear
  6. Leave on a cooling rack for 30 minutes or so until they are totally cool
  7. Next, take the corer or use a sharp knife to take out the centres. Push a bit of the caramel sauce into the middle of each one. Make sure you save some caramel left for the icing and for the tops of the cake.
  8. For the icing cream the butter until it is really really soft and add a small amount of the icing sugar. Keep adding icing sugar slowly, adding milk in between additions to moisten the mixture if you need to. If the mixture is too hard or looks like it is cracking when you make peaks with it, add a splash more milk. Add more icing sugar if it is too sloppy or buttery. Next add the caramel you will probably need to add bit more icing sugar was needed to stiffen it up again. Beat until fluffy and smooth.
  9. Pipe it on to the cakes starting at the outside and working in and up – you don’t have to be very neat about the icing as the popcorn covers it.
  10. Cover the top with as much popcorn as will fit and then a bit more.
  11. Get a disposable icing bag and add a few tablespoons of caramel, cut the very tip off and drizzle over the cakes to finish

And there we have it. Sorry, world.

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