Cherry Streusel Cheesecake

Wine and cheese afternoons during working hours are fine and classy, but not worth attending if they are not crowned with a nice cheesecake. That will be my contribution to the party, it’s all about cheese after all.

Cheesecake is a Science in its own right. There are so many ways of making it as cultures involved: New York style, British style, cuajada-based, baked, twice-baked, refrigerated only… even the Japanese have a trendy variety.

I’m starting with a German cheesecake, which typically uses quark and a fresh dough base instead of buttery crushed cookies. Quark is cheese curds, i.e., the proteins that coagulate when enough acid is added to milk.

This new recipe series (look for cheesecake on the right!) is not intended to be a rigorous comparison, we would need a controlled, blinded studyfor that, and cheesecake is good, yes, but in moderation. Let’s instead record the results as case studies, and maybe in a little while we fancy a nice retrospective analysis base on literature data.

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Cherry Streusel Cheesecake

For the Shortcrust Pastry

  • 1 egg
  • 300 g flour
  • 150 g butter
  • 80 g sugar

Combine the ingredients until the dough is homogeneous.

Wrap in cling film and let it cool in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 160°C fan.

Roll the dough and place on a 30×20 cm baking tray lined with backing paper.

Bake for 15 minutes, and increase the oven temperature to 180°C fan once the tray is out..

For the Streusel

  • 50 g butter
  • 50 g sugar
  • 100 g flour

Put the ingredients in a bowl and rub them using your index finger and thumb until the consistence resembles breadcrumbs.

Let cool in the fridge, covered.
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For the filling

  • zest of one lemon
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 180 g sugar
  • 750 g quark, 0.1% fat
  • 4 eggs
  • 80 g butter
  • 75 g wheat semolina
  • 1 tsp backing powder 
  • 1 pack of vanilla pudding powder (37g)
  • 350 g sour cherries (pitted)

Mix the quark, sugar, egg yolks and lemon (zest and juice).

Add the melted butter.

Combine the vanilla pudding powder, backing powder and semolina and mix with the quark.

Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks are formed and fold into the quark filling.

Finally fold in the cherries (drained and lightly dried by tapping with paper tissue).

Pour the filling on the shortcrust pasty and extend carefully.

Finally sprinkle the streusel on top and bake at 180°C fan for 30 to 35 minutes.

Let cool and cut in squares.

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Croquembouche in Meringue Plate

Today we commemorate the birth of the source of my mitochondria. Happy bday mum!

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Croquembouche in Meringue Plate

For the choux pastry puffs (makes 50)

  • 300 ml water
  • 15 g sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 120 g butter
  • 150 g plain flour
  • 4 eggs

An image (or a video in this case) is worth more than a thousand words, especially when you have to do something after you read it (and probably only have enough eggs in the fridge to try once).

Bake the puffs at 180°C fan for 15 to 20 min. He suggests going down to 150°C fan and leaving the door VERY SLIGHTLY open for 5 extra minutes when the puffs are golden.

Let cool!

For the Pastry Cream

  • 480 ml milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 70 g sugar
  • 40 g cornstarch
  • 15 g butter

Again, let’s have a look

For the Meringue Base

  • 4 egg whites
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 0.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp cornflour

Preheat the oven to 130°C fan. Whisk the egg whites in a large until stiff but not dry. Now add the sugar, a bit at a time, whisking. Finally add the vanilla and cornflour and combine well.

Spoon the meringue on a baking sheet making a circle and shape with the back of a spoon. Place in the centre of the oven and bake for 1 hour until very lightly coloured and crisp on the outside. After 1 hour, turn the oven off and leave the meringue in for 1 more hour.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely.

For the Caramel Glue

  • 250 g sugar
  • 80 ml water

Put water and sugar in a pan at low heat and stir with a spoon until sugar dissolves. At this point stop stirring and increase the heat (swirl occasionally, but don’t you event think about putting the spoon inside again, it will start crystallising) . After 3-4 minutes of boiling, the caramel should turn light amber in colour. Remove from the heat by then.

To assemble

Fill the puffs with the vanilla pastry cream (make a little hole on the bottom and fill using  a piping bag, do it before making the caramel).

Dip the puff tops in caramel.

Assemble your cone using the caramel as glue (place puffs sidewise, dip the bottom side in caramel, biggest ones on the bottom, much easier than it seems). Ta-da! Let’s try a visual aid (minute 4:50).

 

Dulce de Leche Argentinian Cake

Never heard of Maillard reaction right? What about if I said it helps you wake up everyday? Yes, the Maillard reaction occurs during coffee bean roasting. And it is also involved in the creation of this delight: dulce de leche (obtained by slowly heating sweetened milk).

There are very few things tastier than dulce de leche but funny enough, Argentinians say that to “row in dulce de leche” might not be the best thing. I must strongly disagree…

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Dulce de Leche Argentinian Cake

Ingredients:

  • 150 g dark chocolate
  • 150 g butter
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 40 g sugar
  • 250 g Dulce de leche
  • 300 ml double cream
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 0.5 tsp vanilla extract

Melt the chocolate and butter together.

Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until pale, then beat in the chocolate mixture.

Beat the egg whites until stiff  and fold into the other ingredients.

Pour into a 23 cm round tin, spread uniformly and flatten the surface.

Bake for 30 minutes at 140 °C fan.

Whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla extract

When the cake is cold, spread the dulce de leche on top and finally cover with cream.

Salted Caramel Stuffed Brownies

The sweet-savory combination seems to be something most of us really enjoy, isn’t it? We were taught in school how the taste receptors are distributed in different areas in the tongue, remember that? Well, guess what, it’s a lie.

Something I find fascinating about Science (in the bad way) is how some scientific discoveries work their way into textbooks sort of by mistake. The tongue map is a hilarious example of this: the whole tongue maps originates due to a mistranslation of the 1901 paper by D.P Hänig “Zur Psychophysik des Geschmackssinnes“.

Not that it made any difference when we took care of these brownies… enjoy!

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Salted caramel stuffed brownies

The original BBC Good Food recipe seemed to sweet for me, so I reduced the sugar to half and used only 70% chocolate.

  • 200 g butter
  • 200 g 70% chocolate
  • 397 g can Carnation caramel
  • 1 tsp flaky sea salt
  • 100 g golden granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 130 g plain flour
  • 50 g cocoa powder

Preheat the oven to 160 °C fan and grease and line a 23 cm square traybake tin.

Melt the butter in a pan, break in all the chocolate, remove the pan from the heat and wait for the chocolate to melt.

Mix 175 g of the caramel with the salt and reserve.

Beat the rest of the caramel with the sugar and eggs until even. Whisk in the chocolate-butter mixture and sift on top the premixed flour and cocoa. Beat just until smooth.

Now assemble the brownie: pour half the batter into the tin and level it with a spatula. Using a teaspoon, dollop 1/2 to 3/4 of the salted caramel on top of the batter layer in 5 thick, evenly spaced stripes. Spoon the rest of the brownie batter on top and smooth it out.

Top with the rest of the salted caramel in thin waves by using a plastic bag with a small hole as piping bag.

Bake for 25-30 mins or until it shows a firm crust on top. It will still jiggle little when completely cooked.

Let it cool in the tin, then cut into squares.

Torró mousse cake

Today we gather to celebrate a very special bday. Many happy returns, Sir Newton.

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Torró Mousse Cake

For the base

  • 210 g Digestive biscuits
  • 150 g melted butter

Crush the biscuits (I put them in a bag and bang them with a rolling pin until there’s nothing left but fine crumbs), add the melted butter and mix well. Coat the base of a 20 cm diameter spring form with a homogeneous layer of the mixture and place in the freezer whilst you prepare the filling.

For the filling

  • 150 g soft torró, in cubes
  • 1 cuajada packet
  • 375 g double cream
  • 125 ml whole milk
  • 50 g condensed milk

 

 

 

 

Star Wars Cookies

I haven’t had time to go watch it yet, I’ve been busy…

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Star Wars Sugar Cookies

For the sugar cookies

  • 110 g butter
  • 80 g brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 0.5 tsp caramel flavour
  • 200 g self-raising flour
  • 0.5 tsp NaCl

Cream the butter and sugar together. Incorporate the egg and then the flavour. Sift in and mix the flour and salt. You can do all this with a fork!

Gather up the dough and roll it to 0.5 cm thick. Stamp the cheewbacas and Darth Vaders and bake at 160 °C fan for 10 to 12 minutes until the bottom is browned.

For the icing

  • 90 g powdered sugar
  • 1.25 tbsp water
  • Food colouring

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Cassis Macaroons

It seemed to me today that making macaroons was a perfectly good excuse to avoid going outside and meeting the inclement weather.

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Cake-Pop Cassis Macaroons

For the macaroons

Enough for 60 small shells (30 macaroons)

  • 3 egg whites
  • 210 g powder sugar
  • 125 g ground almond
  • 30 g caster sugar
  • Purple food colouring (Wilton Violet icing colour)

Mix and sift powder sugar and ground almond.

Beat the egg whites. When bubbly, add caster sugar slowly and keep beating until very stiff, dense and creamy (3-4 minutes).

Incorporate with a spatula the food colouring and finally fold in the powder sugar and almond mixture in small additions.

Pipe 3 cm diameter circles of mixture onto a baking tray, leaving some space among them. 

Bang the baking tray a couple of times against the table to remove trapped air bubbles and flatten the shells. Smooth any defects on top with a small spatula. If you want to add some sprinkles on half of them, now would be the moment. 

Leave the trays for 30 mins to form a skin on the top, longer if it is raining like hell outside, like here (I had them 90 minutes or so). Maybe it will start snowing soon 🙂 

Bake at 130 °C fan for 14 min, they are done when they feel firm to the touch. When the shells are cold you can assemble the macaroons, using a pipping bag to dispense the filling gives more precision but it is totally optional.

The video in this blog is excellent, take a look.

 

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For the cassis flavoured whipped cream filling

  • Whipping cream
  • Crème the Cassis

Add a good splash of Crème de Cassis to the cream and whip it.

For the cassis flavoured ganache filling

  • 100 g dark chocolate 70 %
  • 20 g cream
  • 30 g cassis liqueur
Heat the cream and liqueur and pour onto the chocolate – mix until well combined and allow to cool.

 

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