Monday, 3 June 2013

From the ashes of a delicious fruit cheesecake, grew a decadent chocolate recipe...

Rating: Easy
Time: About 1.5 hours

So from the previous recipe, I invented a bit. Worked out well enough to get written up here, so win win for everyone I think ;) Still using the 50/50 full fat/reduced fat ingredients, but it is full of chocolate so will have a slightly higer calorie count than the previous recipe. But if you're eating chocolate cheesecake, why are you counting calories in the first place??? It is a bit rich though, so small slices only ;)

100g Unsalted butter
50g Hazelnut meal
100g Plain flour
50g Caster sugar
25g Cocoa powder (if desired - I only thought to put this in after I'd made mine, so haven't tried it. If you use this you may need to up the sugar a little, and possibly the butter by about 10-20 grams too)
A little egg white for sealing base when baking (can use some of the egg white you get from separating eggs for the filling)

Note: if you want the base to go up the sides of the tin, you'll need to double the quantities here.

250g Sour cream (low fat, room temperature)
250g Cream cheese (full fat, room temperature)
100g Caster sugar (or to taste, depending on what chocolate you use and how sweet you like things)
200g block dark chocolate (% cocoa fat is up to you, I used half 45% (which is the standard dark I can get here) and half 70% cocoa and it turned out a little rich. Next time I'd use all standard, and I'm someone who loves really dark chocolate!)
3 eggs, separated
A splash of either a chocolate liquor, or something nutty like Frangelico if desired

150g dark chocolate
50-100mL cream

So basically follow the method of the previous recipe. For those who didn't read that one, or who can't be bothered flicking back one, here it is anyway:
To make the base, combine all base ingredients in a bowl (except the egg white) and rub in the butter until your mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs and you can't really see huge lumps of butter left (one day I'll take step-by-step photos and edit them into this post). Take a 23cm springform tin, give it a light spray with cooking oil and line it with baking paper. I like to cut out a base the same size as the tin, then with the tin opened line the paper around the sides. Then I close the tin, pinching the paper between the sides of the tin and the base. It might make it a little wrinkly, but is much easier to handle later. I also trim any excess to just above the level of the tin to make it easier to work with.
When you've lined your tin, press the base mixture into it. Again if you want it to go up the sides, you'll need to double the quantity.
Bake in a 150 degree oven (celcius) for 15 minutes, or until golden. Then remove from oven and brush with a little egg white to help seal it, and bake for another 5 minutes or so. Take out of oven to cool while you prepare the filling.

To make the filling combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until as smooth as possible. Then scrape down the sides of the bowl and add in a spoon or two of sour cream, and beat again until smooth. Keep doing that until all the sour cream is in, and the mixture is silky smooth - this way tends to result in fewer lumps than what happens if you add it all together at once. Add in the egg yolks one at a time, beating well between each addition. If you're using any liquor, it's best to add it at this point, while the mixer is still running and to ensure it's combined well so it doesn't make the chocolate go awful when it's added.
Beat the egg whites to stiff peak in a different bowl and set aside.
Melt the chocolate either carefully in a heat-proof bowl in a microwave (just make sure it doesn't burn) or over a double-boiler (I'm lazy so use the microwave) and while the mixer is running at moderate speed, beat the melted chocolate into the cream cheese mixture. It may go quite thick, but that's ok. It'll be thinner if you use liquor too though.
Stop the mixer when it's all combined and smooth, and mix in about half of the beaten eggwhites with a wooden spoon or plastic spatula. You don't need to be too finicky about folding them in, if they flatten a bit that's ok. Once they're well combined, gently fold in the remaining egg whites. Doing them in 2 lots means you do lose some air from the first half, but they combine better and it makes it much easier to fold in the other half carefully. So overall I find you tend to lose less air than if you folded them all in carefully at once. Pour this mixture into the tin with the base in it, and bake in a 150 degree oven for about 45-50 minutes, or until the top is set and feels a little springy to the touch (it might wobble a bit in the middle but will firm on standing).

Once the cheesecake is cool, make the topping by melting the chocolate (again, I use the microwave) and adding the cream. Stir until well combined and glossy, and spread over the top of the cake. You could take the cheesecake out the tin and spread the topping over the top and down the sides if you didn't put the base up the sides of the tin, up to you. I just put it on the top.
The more cream you add to the topping, the softer it will set. It will get to a point where it doesn't set at all. I like it soft, as it's easier to cut, but it's up to you.
And that's it! Enjoy!

In a word? Rich

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Lucious Low(ish) fat baked Lemon Cheesecake

Rating: Really easy
Time: About 1.5 hours to bake (including the base and the filling), about 20 minutes prep

So today was a reminder that even the most simple cakes can be heavenly.
Below is the recipe for a lower fat lemon cheesecake that is baked, but almost has the texture of a no-bake one. (sorry about the terrible picture, I only remembered to take one once it had already been massacred!). I say lower fat, as 50% of the filling is low-fat, 50% full fat. I find this tends to give the depth of flavour that full fat has, while still reducing the fat content by about half.
I also don't really like biscuit based cheesecake, so made a shortcrust/shortbread-like base for this one. It worked out brilliantly! Yay! Light and crispy and not too heavy and fatty. I also only made enough to cover the base, not go up the sides of the tin. If you want the base to go up the sides, just double the quantity.

Ok, now for the recipe...

- 50g Almond meal
- 100g plain flour
- 50g caster sugar
- 100g unsalted butter, softened and chopped into small cubes

- 5 medium lemons (you need ~ 1/3 cup of juice, and the zest of 1)
- about 150g or 1/2 cup of caster sugar (or to taste - 1/2 cup tends to make this a little tart, which is how I like lemon things to be, but for those who prefer sweeter things, just add a bit more)
- 3 eggs
- 250g of low-fat sour cream*
- 250g of full fat cream cheese*

*make sure these are at room temperature. It will make it much easier to beat them until smooth. If you use them straight from the fridge you'll have lumps that will never go away

To make the base, combine butter, flour, almond meal and caster sugar in a small bowl (remember, if you want it to go up the sides then double the quantity of all ingredients here). Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs, then tip into a well greased, paper-lined 23cm springform tin (make sure the paper lining it goes all the way up the sides, as you'll want that there to stop the filling sticking to the sides of the tin later - if you don't do this it can give a weird metal taste to the filling). Press mixture into pan evenly over the base, and bake in a 150 degree (celcius) oven for about 10-15 minutes, or until it is golden brown .
Take out the oven and cool while you make the filling (it should be room temperature to cold before you put the filling in, no hotter or you'll start to melt the cheese and cook the eggs when the mixture hits the base).
As an aside, this is basically a hybrid short-crust pastry and shortbread biscuit recipe, so the more you work it  the firmer it will be. I wanted a light, crispy-crumbly base that was only just firm enough to hold together, so worked the mix only to fine breadcrumb texture. If you want it firmer, work it more (but not too much as you'd not want a really tough base, surely?!)

To make the filling combine sugar and cream cheese and beat with an electric mixer until the mixture is smooth. Then scrape down the sides of the bowl and add a spoonful of sourcream and beat until smooth. Keep scraping down the sides of the bowl and adding spoons of sour cream and beating smooth until all the sour cream is in. This is the best way I've found to get a nice smooth batter. If you add it all in together at the beginning you tend to end up with little lumps that are almost impossible to get rid of. I'd also suggest starting slow then speeding the mixer up as it starts to get smoother, otherwise it'll slop everywhere. Once the mixture is nice and smooth, add the lemon zest and the eggs 1 at a time, beating well in between adding each egg. At this point it should go quite liquid. While beating, add lemon juice and continue to beat for about a minute, until the mixture is smooth and the chances of it curdling are past :)

*NOTE: Having made this one multiple times now, I've found that separating the eggs and only beating in the yolks works well. I then beat the whites to stiff-peak, and fold them into the mixture (half at a time, folding them in after the lemon juice has been added) to make it even lighter and more mousse like. It works really well - I'd recommend doing that every time from now on!!!*

Pour mixture onto base, and bake in a 150 degree (celcius) oven for about 50 minutes, or until just set in the middle (it should be a little springy to the touch, but might look a little wobbly in the middle. This is ok, it should firm up on standing).
Turn the oven off, leave the door open and allow the cake to cool. In theory this should stop it cracking, but I was impatient and just took it out the oven so mine cracked hugely. Having said that, even when I've tried doing this to stop the cracking, it's still always cracked for me. Any ideas as to how to stop that happening?!

Once the cheesecake is cooled, you can either serve it dusted with icing sugar, or make a tangy lemon jelly to go over the top. Beware if your cake has cracked, the jelly will sink into the cake and form a layer near the bottom (mine did this). This does work well, but I think for simplicity sake I'll just dust with icing sugar next time. If you put jelly on the top, make sure you don't remove the paper yet!!! otherwise it'll leak ;)

To make the jelly, I added a few spoons of caster sugar to a heat-proof measuring jug, and dissolved that sugar in boiling water. Next I added some limoncello and lemon juice (to taste), and a little more warm water. I then dissolved a few teaspoons of gelatin into the liquid (there should be directions on the gelatine packet indicating how many teaspoons of gelatine you'll need to set a particular volume of liquid) and allowed it to cool. When it cooled to about room temperature, I poured it over the top of the cheesecake and stuck it in the fridge until it was set. You could use a sweeter packet dessert jelly for this, and of course the more jelly you have, the thicker the layer will be ;)

This was a delicious cake, silky smooth and light. The base stayed crisp, the jelly was tart and the filling had almost a moussey texture. I've made it a few times now, it's really easy to make and is sure to be a hit with everyone.

In a word? Easy!