Mixed Berries Cheesecake

INGREDIENTS:

Crust:

  • 1 cup crushed graham crackers or malt crackers
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped

Toppings:

  • 1 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 3 punnets strawberries
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch

for the cheesecake:

  • 3 packs cream cheese, softened
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups thickened cream or whipped cream, chilled
  • 4 tsp unflavoured gelatine
  • 1/4 cup hot water

METHOD:

  1. Combine all ingredients and make sure it’s mixed well and butter is evenly spread throughout the crushed crackers, press it in a 9 in pie pan.
  2. Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 10 minutes (this makes the crust more firm, but you can omit this process if you wanted to)
  3. Chill in fridge for around 20 minutes.
  4. Topping: Place 1/2 cup of blueberry, 1/2 cup of raspberries, 2 punnets of strawberries and all other ingredients in a saucepan and cook in medium heat until all berries have broken down. Using a hand blender blend the berry sauce until smooth in texture, cook for 5 more minutes.
  5. Set aside and let it cool down before using.
  6. Place softened cream cheese in a bowl together with sugar and vanilla extract, now using an electric mixer beat the cheese until thoroughly mixed.
  7. Dissolve gelatine in hot water then let it cool for a while.  Once cooled down add into the cream cheese mixture, continue to beat until mixture becomes fluffy.
  8. Now add thickened cream and fold until it’s evenly mixed.
  9. Pour over the prepared crust.
  10. Then top it with the berry sauce and mixed berries. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours before serving.
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Peach Froyo and Basil Snickerdoodle Sandwiches

INGREDIENTS:
makes 10 – 12 three-inch sandwichesfor peach frozen yogurt:

  • 2 medium peaches, ripe
  • 3 Tbspn (38 g) + ⅔ cup (133 g) sugar
  • 1½ cups (345 g) whole milk
  • 2 Tbspn (15 g) tapioca starch
  • 4 Tbspn (57 g) cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup (134 g) light corn syrup
  • 1¾ cups (367 g) Greek yogurt

METHOD:

  1. Peel and pit the peaches. In a food processor, roughly puree the peaches, leaving very small peach bits in the puree. Measure out ¾ cup (165 g) for peach puree and stir in 3 Tbspn (38 g) of sugar. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together 3 Tbspn (43 g) of milk with the tapioca starch to make a slurry. Set aside.
  3. In a separate large bowl, whisk the cream cheese until smooth. Set aside.
  4. In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining (302 g) milk, (133 g) sugar, and corn syrup. Over medium heat, bring the milk mixture to a boil and let boil for 4 minutes, being very careful not to let the milk boil over.
  5. Remove from heat and gradually whisk in the starch mixture.
  6. Return the saucepan to medium heat and bring to a boil. Let cook for about 1 minute, until slightly thickened. Remove from heat.
  7. Gradually whisk the milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Whisk in the Greek yogurt until smooth, then stir in the peach puree.
  8. Cover the yogurt base and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Then freeze according to your ice cream maker’s directions. After freezing, let firm in the freezer for at least 4 hours or overnight.

for basil snickerdoodles:

  • 3 cups (383 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tspn cream of tartar
  • 1 tspn baking soda
  • ½ tspn salt
  • 1 cup (226 g) butter, at room temperature
  • 1½ cups (300g) + 2 Tbspn (25 g) sugar
  • 14 g fresh basil leaves, very finely chopped
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tspn ground cinnamon

METHOD:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk to combine the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  2. Place the butter, 1½ cups (300 g) sugar, and chopped basil leaves in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Add in the flour mixture, beating on low just until the flour is incorporated. Cover the dough and refrigerate for about 30 minutes, until firm.
  5. Preheat the oven to 190° C. Prepare cookie sheets lined with parchment paper or silicon mats.
  6. Combine the remaining 2 Tbspn (25 g) sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Using about one heaping Tbspn of dough, form a ball and roll the ball in the sugar and cinnamon mixture.
  7. Place the dough balls on the cookie sheets, leaving about 2 inches between each cookie. Do not flatten.
  8. Bake each sheet of cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through the baking time. 9. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to let cool briefly. After about 2 or 3 minutes, use a spatula to remove the cookies from the tray. Place the cookies on a wire rack and let cool completely.
  9. for assembly. Remove the peach frozen yogurt from the freezer and let soften briefly. Scoop a spoonful of frozen yogurt onto the bottom of a cookie and top with another, pressing gently. Freeze until firm.

Note: I highly recommend seeking out good cinnamon that packs a spicy kick for these cookies because it will make all the difference.

Double chocolate (espresso) Cupcakes with Rose-scented cream cheese frosting

INGREDIENTS:
adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Cake Bible
makes 6-7 large cupcakes, more if using regular-sized cupcake liners

  • 2 Tbspn Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbspn + 1 1/2 tspn black cocoa powder (or substitute with Dutch-processed cocoa)
  • 1 tspn instant coffee powder or espresso powder
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 1 1/2 tspn vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups (125 gr) AP flour
  • 3/4 cup + 2 Tbspn (175 gr) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 tspn baking powder
  • 1/4 tspn salt
  • 13 Tbspn (184 gr) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

METHOD:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
  2. Whisk to combine the cocoa powders, coffee powder, and boiling water. Let cool to room temperature.
  3. Once the chocolate mixture is cool, whisk in the vanilla and eggs until combined and set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a mixer, combine the cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix to combine.
  5. Add half of the chocolate mixture and the softened butter to the flour. Mix on low until the flour is moistened and then increase speed to medium and beat for one minute to aerate.
  6. Add the remaining chocolate mixture to the batter in two additions, beating for twenty seconds after each addition. Finally, beat in the chocolate chips.
  7. Divide the batter amongst the paper cupcake molds, filling each about 3/4 of the way.
  8. Bake in the preheated oven for about 30-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.

Rose-scented cream cheese frosting
adapted from Magnolia Bakery

  • 1/2 stick butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tspn vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tspn rosewater
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, cold
  • 1 drop pink gel food coloring

METHOD:

  1. Beat the butter until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add the vanilla extract and rosewater and mix until combined.
  3. Beat in the sifted powdered sugar.
  4. Gradually add small chunks of the cold cream cheese, beating well after each addition. Mix in the food coloring at the end.
  5. Use to pipe onto cupcakes immediately.  Top with shaved dark chocolate.

Salted Black Cocoa Brownies & a Parfait

INGREDIENTS:
Salted Black Cocoa Brownies
makes one 9 x 13″ brownie or two 8″ brownies

  • salted butter, for greasing the pan
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup black cocoa powder
  • 2/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 2 tspn baking powder
  • 1 tspn salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 tspn vanilla extract
  • coarse sea salt

METHOD:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.  Using the salted butter, grease the bottom and sides of the pan(s).  Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa powders, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, melted butter, and vanilla extract.
  4. Combine the wet ingredients with the prepared dry ingredients, folding until all of the dry ingredients are incorporated.  Batter will be very thick and difficult to stir.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pans, smoothing the tops.  Sprinkle liberally with coarse sea salt.
  6. Bake for 35-40 minutes if using a 9 x 13″ pan and for 25-30 minutes if using two 8″ pans.  Be careful not to over-bake.
  7. Remove the brownies from the oven and let cool completely before removing from pans and cutting.  (This part is the most difficult–resisting until they are all cool!)

the Parfait
I don’t have exact amounts here because it’s basically layering however much skyr, strawberries, and brownie you want.  🙂

  • strawberries, hulled and chopped
  • freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • vanilla sugar (recipe here)
  • plain skyr / or plain greek yoghurt
  • half-and-half (or milk or cream)
  • salted black cocoa brownies, chopped into small pieces

METHOD:

  1. Combine and toss together gently the strawberries, a sprinkling of lemon juice, and vanilla sugar to taste.  Let sit while you prepare the skyr.
  2. Pour a small amount of half-and-half into the skyr and stir together, until the skyr’s consistency resembles thick yogurt.
  3. Layer between and top skyr with chopped brownies and macerated strawberries.

Chocolate Cake

INGREDIENTS:
For the icing:

  • 275ml double cream
  • 250g granulated sugar
  • 130g 99% unsweetened dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 100g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the cake:

  • 450g granulated sugar
  • 200g plain flour
  • 85g unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 275ml milk
  • 135ml canola oil/another oil with no flavour
  • 275ml boiling water

METHOD:

  1. Start with the icing. Combine the cream and sugar in a large saucepan. Put over a medium heat and bring to the boil. Once it starts to properly bubble, turn the heat down to low and simmer for 6 minutes. It foams up a lot. Take off the heat and leave to cool for one minute then add the butter and chopped chocolate. Stir until smooth then transfer to another bowl and stir in the vanilla. Leave to cool, stirring occasionally.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Butter, line and flour two 8″ cake tins (not ones with removable bases, the batter is too liquid).
  3. Place the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer with the beater attached. Stir on the lowest setting until a uniform brown colour.
  4. Add the beaten eggs, milk and canola oil then turn the mixer up to medium and beat for 2 minutes. Boil the kettle while it beats then turn off and pour in the water. Mix it on low until smooth – it is very soupy.
  5. Divide between the two tins – I think mine were 650g each. Carefully transfer to the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes or until a skewer can be removed from the centre cleanly (mine took 40). Leave to cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes in the tins then turn out and remove the paper.
  6. By the time the cakes are totally cool, the icing should be thick enough to ice – it should hold its own weight.
  7. Place one of the cakes onto a serving plate lined with paper strips. Spoon some of the icing into the middle and spread it out. Add the top layer then spoon about half the rest of the icing onto the top. Drag down and over the sides and smooth over. Add the rest as you need it, working fairly quickly. Use a palette knife dipped in a jug of hot water then dried with a towel to get a shiny finish. Watch out as you move it – the layers can slide a little until it sets up.
  8. Add any decorations, final flourishes and candles then slice and enjoy.
Version 2
INGREDIENTS: 
makes one 3-layer 8″ cake

for frosting:

  • 1 3/4 cups (350 gr) sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 7.5 oz (213 gr) unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
  • 12 Tbspn unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 1/2 tspn vanilla extract

METHOD:

  1. In a saucepan, bring the sugar and heavy cream to a boil over medium heat.
  2. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the cream and sugar for six minutes. Be careful not to let the saucepan overflow.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate and butter until they have completely melted.
  4. Stir in the vanilla extract.
  5. Let the frosting cool completely, whisking every now and then during cooling.  (You can do this step in the refrigerator to speed up the process)  Once completely cool at room temperature, the frosting will be spreadable.

for cake:

  • 3 cups (600 gr) sugar
  • scant 3 cups (425 gr) AP flour
  • 1 cup + 2 Tbspn (135 gr) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tspn salt
  • 2 1/4 tspn baking powder
  • 2 1/4 tspn baking soda
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cup hot coffee

METHOD:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease, flour, and line the bottoms of three 8″ round cake pans. If desired, wrap the cake pans with bake-even strips.
  2. In a mixer bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix to combine.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the beaten eggs, vegetable oil, and milk. Stir to mix. Then, with the mixer on low, pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix on low until evenly distributed.
  4. Pour the hot coffee into the batter and mix on medium low until smooth. The batter will be soupy.
  5. Divide the batter between the cake pans.
  6. Bake for 35-45 minutes. When a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out cleanly, the cakes are done. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
  7. Level the cakes (this is easier if they’ve sat in the freezer for at least one hour beforehand).
  8. Stack the cakes, spreading a layer of frosting in between each cake layer. Frost the outside of the cake–for a smoother finish, use a hot knife.

Note: this recipe also works for a 3-layer 9″ cake, with slightly shorter layers.

Pumpkin S’mores Cake

INGREDIENTS:
makes one 3-layer 8″ cakefor pumpkin-graham cracker chiffon:

  • 225 gr graham crackers (preferably homemade), finely ground or digestive biscuits
  • 1 cup (200gr) sugar
  • 1 Tbspn baking powder
  • 1 tspn salt
  • 2 tspn ground cinnamon
  • 1 tspn ground ginger
  • 1/2 tspn allspice
  • 1/4 tspn ground nutmeg
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup (~170gr) pumpkin puree
  • 6 Tbspn vegetable oil
  • 2 tspn vanilla extract
  • 7 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 2 Tbspn sugar (additional)

METHOD:

  1. Preheat oven to 165 degrees C. Prepare three 8″ spring-form cake pans. Do not grease. If desired, use even-bake strips.
  2. Sift together the ground graham crackers, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices. Set aside.
  3. Whisk to combine the egg yolks, pumpkin puree, oil, and vanilla extract together. Add in the dry ingredients and stir together.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites to soft peaks, gradually adding the remaining 2 Tbspn sugar.
  5. Stir 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter, then fold in the remaining egg whites just until there are no streaks left.
  6. Divide the batter amongst the three cake pans and bake for 40-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out cleanly. Remove from oven and invert the pans to cool upside-down on wire racks.
  7. When cool, run a knife around the edge of the cake pans to remove the cakes.

for toasted marshmallow filling:

  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 cup (200 gr) sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbspn light corn syrup
  • 5 Tbspn water
  • 1/4 tspn cream of tartar
  • 1/8 tspn salt
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract

METHOD:

  1. In a double boiler over boiling water, combine the egg whites, sugar, corn syrup, water, cream of tartar, and salt. Whisk for 6-8 minutes over heat, until a meringue forms.
  2. Remove from heat and continue whisking, gradually adding in the vanilla extract, until the meringue is cool and very thick.
  3. Spread the meringue in a thin layer on a baking sheet and, using a blow torch or under a hot broiler, toast the surface of the meringue until brown. Return to the bowl and whisk until cool. Use immediately.

for dark chocolate ganache:

  • 9 oz. dark chocolate (at least 60+%), chopped
  • 7.5 oz. heavy cream
  • 3 Tbspn butter

METHOD:

  1. Prepare the chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl.
  2. Cook the heavy cream and butter over medium high heat until a simmer. Remove from heat and pour over prepared chocolate. Stir until no streaks remain. Use immediately.

for assembly:

  1. Spread each cake layer with dark chocolate ganache.
  2. Stack the cakes with a generous layer of toasted marshmallow frosting in between.
  3. Spread a thin crumb coat of ganache over the cake and let cool briefly before glazing with the remaining dark chocolate. Reheat the dark chocolate if necessary to maintain a pouring consistency. Top with nonpareils. Serve immediately.

Peaches with Ginger, Pecan & Brown Sugar Cake

INGREDIENTS:
makes one 8″ round cake
for ginger-pecan cake:

  • 1 cup (140 gr) All purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (60 gr) toasted pecans, finely ground
  • 1/2 tspn salt
  • 1 1/2 tspn baking soda
  • 30 gr (1 oz) fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 1 cup (200 gr) lightly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, at room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tspn vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup whole milk

METHOD:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and flour the bottom and sides of the cake pan, and line the bottom with parchment paper. If desired, use bake-even strips.
  2. Whisk together the flour, toasted and ground pecans, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
  3. In a mixer bowl, combine the grated ginger, brown sugar, and butter. Cream on medium until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time to the butter mixture, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract.
  5. Add the flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the whole milk. Beat well after each addition, but do not overmix.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Smooth the top with the back of a spatula if necessary. Bake for ~60 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out cleanly. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before removing from the pan and cooling completely.

for brown sugar frosting:

  • 2 1/2 Tbspn All Purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 tspn vanilla extract
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
  • 1/2 cup (50 gr) dark brown sugar
METHOD:
  1. Combine the flour and milk in a small saucepan and cook, whisking constantly, over medium heat until the mixture thickens considerably. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Stir in the vanilla.
  2. In a mixer bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy and the sugar is no longer grainy. Beat in the flour and milk mixture.
  3. Spread over cake.

for topping:

  • 2 large peaches, sliced

METHOD:

  1. Arrange the peach slices atop cake.