20 July 2014

Summer Punch Jelly Cheesecake

Would you believe that I've been living in Cambridgeshire for a year now? That's a year in which I have come to understand what a Fen is, why Ely has its name and what a Fenland Tiger is. A year in which I have got so used to being surrounded by fields and being able to see for miles because the landscape is just so flat that forestry is a novelty and hills are way more challenging than they should be.

My life is very different to when I was a student (when I moved down here I had just graduated from Newcastle University) - not just because I actually have money now. I simultaneously have more time than before and also have less time for baking than when I was a student. I'm not going home to study and my free time is my time, which is really nice; it also means that I have more time to socialise, and I'm finding that I have less and less time where I have the time and energy to make dramatic cakes like this Eight Layer Kahlua Cake, or even the less dramatic Vodka Rainbow Cake.

Fortunately, this Summer Punch Jelly Cheesecake didn't take longer than 15 minutes to put together. I made it for this month's Baking With Spirit challenge, alcohol for parties. Laura at I'd Much Rather Bake Than... is kindly giving me a break and guest hosting this month. You've still got eight days to enter, so why not have a go?

So what does this dessert consist of? I based it off a drink I invented for myself using Pineapple & Coconut juice (easy to find at the supermarket), Malibu and some orange liqueur which I obtained from the duty free on a recent holiday to Spain. I think peach schnapps would make a fine replacement for the orange liqueur, on the probable chance that you don't have any knocking about in your cupboard.

I used the juice as a base for the jelly, and added orange liqueur and gelatine to make it set. I then added the liqueur and Malibu to the cheesecake part. You'll notice that there isn't a base on here; this is entirely aesthetic as I prefer not to eat the base, but if you can't go without you can use the base in the recipe here.

Makes 6-7 Tumblers

  • 520mL Pineapple & Coconut Juice
  • 4 Leaves Gelatine
  • 75mL Orange Liqueur/Peach Schnapps
  • 25mL Malibu
  • 600g Philadelphia Cheese
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 150g Caster Sugar
  • Prepare the gelatine as per the maufacturer's instructions.
  • Pour the juice and 50mL of the orange liqueur/peach schnapps into a saucepan and heat on low until hot, but not boiling.
  • Stir in the gelatine, then continue to stir the mixture for 2 minutes. 
  • Remove from the heat and leave to one side to cool.
  • Put the Philadelphia cheese, Malibu, vanilla extract, caster sugar and the remainder of the orange liqueur/peach schnapps into a mixing bowl. Stir until well combined.
  • Divide the Philadelphia mixture between six or seven tumblers, then gently pour some of the juice mixture on top - try not to let the pressure from the juice falling onto the cheese mixture disrupt the layers.
  • Place the tumblers in the fridge for at least four hours until the jelly has set, then decorate however you wish. Sprinkles and whipped cream, perhaps?

12 July 2014

Stem Ginger & Banana Muffins

I recently made two fatal errors. The first was buying more bananas than I was going to eat. The second was throwing the bananas into the same cupboard as some more, already over-ripe, bananas. Bananas release a ripening chemical into the air as it is, so putting these two bunches together quickly led to some rather black bananas. 

What to do with these over-ripe bananas? I've already made Chocolate & Banana Loaf Cake, Peanut Butter, Banana & Chocolate Cake  and a Totally Bananas Banana Cake; maybe it was time to try something different. For some reason I was drawn to the concept of ginger and banana, and so the concept for these Stem Ginger & Banana Muffins was born.

Right at the back of my baking cupboard was a jar of stem ginger in syrup, so I used what was left in these muffins. As always, this recipe was a but ad-hoc but the results were spectacular. The muffins tasted of fiery ginger and toffee-banana, and were very moist. I brought them into work so I wouldn't have to eat them all, and they went down very well.

Makes 24

  • 225g Plain Flour
  • 2 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 150g Caster Sugar
  • 75g Dark Muscovado Sugar
  • 2 Ripe Bananas
  • 1/2 Jar Stem Ginger + Syrup
  • 350mL Milk
  • 225g Butter
  • 2 Eggs
  • Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan and line a muffin tin with muffin cases.
  • Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and stir in the caster sugar, muscovado sugar and baking powder.
  • Roughly chop the bananas and stem ginger, then stir into the flour mixture.
  • Melt the butter over a low heat, then remove from the heat.
  • Make a well in the flour mixture, then pour in the melted butter, followed by the stem ginger syrup, the milk and the eggs.
  • Gently stir until the mixture is just combined. Overmixing will lead to tougher muffins.
  • Divide the mixture between the muffin cases, then bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

I'm adding this to Cook Blog Share, a round up of recent recipe posts hosted by Lucy at Supergolden Bakes.

26 June 2014

Malibu & Coca-Cola Cake

This post would have reached you sooner if I had had access to the internet for the past five days, but unfortunately my gran isn't that technologically advanced. She can't even fathom that there are more than five channels available, let alone understand how to work a computer.

As I've just implied, I recently spent time visiting with family. I went up to Liverpool, a place where I magically slip into a scouse dialect. I spent four years in Newcastle and grew up in Devon but Liverpool is apparently where my tongue feels most at home. Thankfully, just as it magically turns up, the accent disappears as soon as I cross the Merseyside border.

Before I went on my trip I made this moist and chocolatey Malibu & Coca-Cola Cake. Craig at The Usual Saucepans is hosting my challenge, Baking With Spirit, this month; he asked us to reinvent a classic. My classic drink is Malibu and coke; if I'm not on the wine, this is what I go for. When I remembered Nigella Lawson's How To Be A Domestic Goddess contains a Coca-Cola Cake, I knew exactly what I was going to do. The cake has a hint of je ne sais quoi (from the coke) and a hint of Malibu, but otherwise it's just a very moist chocolate cake. What's not to love?

I adapted the recipe somewhat because on a previous attempt to make the original I ended up with a more pudding-like consistency than cake. As you can see, my alterations were quite successful.


For the cake:
  • 200g Plain Flour
  • 250g Caster Sugar
  • 1 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 2 Medium Eggs
  • 75mL Malibu
  • 75mL Milk
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 125g Butter
  • 2 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
  • 100mL Coca-Cola
For the icing:
  • 225g Icing Sugar
  • 30g Butter
  • 3 Tbsp Coca-Cola
  • 1 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • Preheat the oven to 180C and line a springform tin with foil (to prevent leakage). Grease the foil, making sure you get into the corners.
  • For the cake, melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat, then stir in the cocoa powder and Coca-Cola. 
  • Allow to cool, then beat in the egg, Malibu, vanilla extract and milk. 
  • Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and stir the sugar and baking powder into it.
  • Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture, and pour the butter mixture into it.
  • Gently fold the ingredients together using a wooden spoon, ensuring that all the dry ingredients are scraped from the bottom and mixed in well.
  • Pour the batter into the springform tin, then bake in the oven for 40 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
  • Meanwhile, sift the icing sugar into a mixing bowl.
  • Melt the butter for the icing over a low heat, then stir in the Coca-Cola and cocoa powder. 
  • Stir the vanilla extract into the butter mixture.
  • Pour the butter mixture into the icing sugar, and beat well to ensure that there are no lumps. The icing will be a bit runny, but will set after it has been poured onto the (cooled) cake.

13 June 2014

Popcorn Squares

I bought popcorn for a film night a few months ago, but then forgot about it when I decided that coke floats (ice cream scoop in a glass of coke, for the uninitiated) were more fun. Recently I rediscovered the popcorn, and thought eating it plain would be just too boring. Instead, I've mixed popcorn into melted marshmallows and sprinkles, let the mixture set and cut it into squares.

These are an adapted version of the rice crispie squares that many of us enjoyed as kids. I used Nigella Lawson's recipe, exchanging popcorn for the rice crispies and adding a ton of sprinkles. They took less than ten minutes to make from start to fridge, so are perfect for any party or when you are too busy to do anything extravagant.

Got leftover popcorn? Make some today!

Makes 15
  • 45g Butter
  • 150g Marshmallows
  • 200g Popcorn
  • Sprinkles
  • Place the butter in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan and melt on a low heat.
  • Add the marshmallows and stir occasionally until melted.
  • Pour the popcorn into the pan and gently fold it into the marshmallow mixture.
  • Decorate the top with sprinkles.
  • Transfer to a deep roasting/brownie tin that has been lined with baking parchment.
  • Cover with cling film, then refrigerate for 3-4 hours until set (this will also make it easier to slice into squares)
  • Cut into squares and serve (I used cupcake cases as a non-sticky portion holder).

2 June 2014

Leftover Wine Biscuits

Some of you may pale at the thought of this, but I often fail to finish a bottle of wine before it goes off. This troubles me because I'm wasting not only some nice wine, but also some money.

Fortunately, a collection of recipes on BBC Food has saved the day. It turns out that you can make some pretty tasty biscuits using leftover wine. I had a friend come to stay a few weeks back and she left about half a bottle of rosé wine behind; I only like red wine, so naturally there is now a plentiful supply of rosé in my kitchen. I also had about a glass of red wine left from Easter. I really tried to finish the bottle - I even brought it home to my parents' for the weekend - but alas I could not. Therefore I made half the biscuits using red wine (the purple ones), and half with rosé (the white ones). Both taste excellent, by the way.

Unable to leave a recipe alone, I have adapted the original recipe for Ciambelline Al Vino by Sophia Real. The recipe listed fennel as an ingredient, and since I'm not hugely keen on aniseed notes I switched that for cinnamon. I also added sprinkles because they make most things look better.

I actually made the sprinkles myself using this recipe from Bravetart; the piping part is rather tedious and I gave up half way through the batch. Luckily the mixture keeps well, so I can pick up where I left off on the piping front when my wrist/hand has recovered.

Makes 20
  • 250mL Wine (I used 125mL each of red and rosé)
  • 250g + 25g Caster Sugar 
  • 250mL Sunflower Oil
  • 650g Plain Flour
  • 1 Tbsp Ground Cinnamon
  • Sprinkles
  • In a mixing bowl, whisk the wine, 250g of the sugar and the sunflower oil together.
  • Slowly add the plain flour, stirring as you go (you may want to switch from whisk to spoon), until a smooth, elastic dough has formed.
  • Cover the mixing bowl and leave the dough to rest for an hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 180C and line 4 baking trays with parchment paper (or just reuse the same one or two trays).
  • In a wide bowl, stir together the remaining sugar, the sprinkles and the cinnamon.
  • Pinch of tablespoon-sized pieces of dough and roll them into balls.
  • Roll each ball in the sugar-cinnamon-sprinkle mix and place on a baking tray, leaving about 1inch/2.5cm radius between them.
  • Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, then allow to cool on a wire rack. Remember the biscuits will get harder as they cool, so don't overcook them because you think they are still too soft.

I'm adding this to a new link party called Cook, Blog, Share. It's hosted by the very talented Lucy of Supergolden Bakes, and is here as a platform for sharing your blog posts with other food bloggers. 

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