Fruits of the Forest Cheesecake

Thank goodness the weather decided to perk up a little bit this week. I was starting to get horribly down in the dumps about the rain, but a little time out in the countryside, some sunshine, and of course, loads of sleep, have worked their magic.

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This cheesecake was one of the desserts I made for the housewarming party. I love unbaked cheesecakes for their simplicity, creamy texture and deliciousness. In fact, I love them so much I’m not sure I’ll ever go back to making the baked kind!

Anyway, at the housewarming party itself I never got round to taking a photo of the cheesecake, but it went down very well, and I still had plenty of ingredients leftover, so I of course, made it again.

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It was quite dark by the time I finished making it, so out came my camera to attempt some artificial light photography. I’m pretty pleased with the results!

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It’s just right for a crowd. I’d probably size it down by half if I was baking it again for just two – A and I managed to manfully eat our way through a large slice every day for a week.

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I’m a bit cheesecaked out at the moment, but as the festive season gets closer and closer I will be excited about thinking up some other variations, including peanut butter, baileys or even a spicy ginger version. Yum.

Hummingbird Bakery Raspberry Cheesecake Brownie

So now that we are into February, and the month of luuuuurve, the shops are full of Valentine’s Day themed cards, gifts, edibles and whatnot. It’s the time of year when, in theory, I like to go all-out and bake a bazillion pink cakes festooned with love hearts and sprinkles.

Anyway, thanks to getting distracted by all the other delicious things to bake out there, the pink/hearts/sprinkles thing never really happens. So this year, I decided the blog needed something V-day themed, but would happily satisfy my cravings for all other things cakey, chocolatey and so on.

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I remembered these raspberry cheesecake brownies, first tasted at the Hummingbird Bakery oh, approximately seven years ago (ugg feeling old) and a favourite of mine until they somehow dropped off the radar.

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I had a pack of cream cheese, some whipping cream, chocolate, plenty of eggs…so hey, it was as if it was fate.

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Last time I was somewhat health-conscious so used low-fat everything and sugar alternatives. This time, I just went with the full whammy. You only live once, eh?

The recipe for these is pretty much all over the internet. You can find it here and on various blogs where everybody raves about what a great brownie/cheesecake/raspberry cream/mysterious thing-of-joy it is. I divided all the ingredients by three, and baked it in a loaf tin. Otherwise there would be far too much raspberry cheesecake brownie lying around for our own good! They’re tasty, perhaps not as amazing as I remembered but then I’ve come down with a bit of a cold so my tastebuds are a little faulty this week.

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Want some other Valentine’s Day themed bakes? Check out my red velvet cupcakes, baci di dama or decorated sugar cookies.

Summer Berry Cheesecake

I baked a variation of this strawberry cheesecake at the weekend. It’s based on this BBC Good Food cheesecake, plus some extra lemon juice, and a smattering of blueberries for some very patriotic colours (if you live in the UK, USA, France etc).

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At first, I was afraid it was too rich. But it just needed more time in the fridge to set properly, and for the flavours to mingle and settle. It was a little tricky to cut tidily.If you want to cut it into small slices for a crowd, it might be better to add the fresh fruit and coulis onto each slice after cutting. I’m keen on trying more no-bake cheesecake recipes out there, they’re just perfect for a sunny weekend.

Photo credits and Photoshop wizardry for this cheesecake again go to A.

Also a big thank you to all my readers! This week, I finally crossed the 100 followers mark, and am so excited to have such a wonderful following of fellow cake enthusiasts. It means a lot to me. 🙂

Summer Berry Cheesecake

Adapted from BBC Good Food

For the base and filling:

  • 250g digestive biscuits
  • 125g salted butter
  • 600g cream cheese
  • 284ml double cream
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • the juice of 1/2 lemon

For the topping:

  • 400g fresh strawberries
  • sprinkling of blueberries
  • 1 heaped tbsp icing sugar

Make the biscuit base first. Crush the biscuits to crumbs. Melt the butter and mix the two together so the consistency is like wet sand, then press into the base of a 20cm cake tin. Put in the fridge to chill.

Make the cream cheese filling next. Beat together the cream cheese, icing sugar and double cream until thickened and able to hold its own shape. Beat in vanilla extract and lemon juice, adjusting to taste if needed. Spread over the biscuit base, smoothing the top, and return to the fridge to chill overnight.

Chop the strawberries into halves. Take one quarter of the strawberries and blend to a purée then sieve through to remove the seeds. Add a tbsp icing sugar, and set to one side.

Unmould the chilled cheesecake from the tin. Arrange the remaining chopped strawberries and blueberries on top, then drizzle with the strawberry purée and serve. Tada!

Scrumptious Strawberry Cheesecake

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If you’ve ever had grief with baked cheesecakes, this little recipe is absolutely perfect. No baking is required at all, no faffing around with leaking tins and cracked tops. And did I mention it is deeeeeelicious? 🙂

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The strawberries weren’t in season, but with the rain sheeting down, and the chilly days outside, it’s rather lovely to have a taste of Summer indoors! All credit for photography and whisk wielding goes to A, who as usual, outdid himself.

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Luscious Lemon Cheesecake

New Year, new resolutions. I didn’t intend to make any, but it turns out I’ve done some without realising. First up was throwing out an enormous pile of accumulated journals, and second was the stultifying task of sorting through my finances. What a grotty process – especially unearthing sneaky direct debits that have been leaching money out of your bank accounts for goodness knows how long. 😦

Anyway, post-Christmas I’m sure a lot of people are suffering a bit of the post-holiday blues. Sadly January isn’t the most giving of months. You get bogged down with the waiting – for lengthening days, warmer times, and sunnier skies. Meanwhile you have to put up with dark mornings, ice, and roads so windy your car gets blown from side to side. Nice.

But…and here is the good bit…. what a great time to say goodbye to stodgy Christmas cake, mincemeat and dried fruit puddings. It’s time to move onto lighter, zingier horizons…and I’m not talking about diet food here!

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To most people outside of the UK, cheesecake is probably most familiar in its baked American-style incarnation. But there’s all that stress with wobbly centres, soggy bottoms, cracked tops, and water baths. Why bother with that when you can make an unbaked version? It’s lighter in texture, almost moussey, and very, very moreish. Not only that, it’s so easy that it only takes minutes to assemble. I’ve kept it as simple as possible here but you can easily dress this cheesecake up on top with fresh fruit, lemon zest curls, curd and whatever else takes your fancy. I’ve also made this with limes, and it was just as lovely.

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Luscious Lemon Cheesecake

Makes a 15cm cheesecake

  • 100g gingernuts, crushed into crumbs
  • 50g butter, melted
  • 200g cream cheese
  • 250g sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 large lemon, juice and zest

Mix the biscuit crumbs and melted butter, and pat firmly into the base of a 15cm springform cake tin. Chill for 30 minutes.

Beat the cream cheese and condensed milk together, then add the lemon zest and juice and beat until thickened. Pour this on top of the chilled biscuit base, and tap the cake tin firmly to get rid of any bubbles. Leave the cheesecake to set in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Then unmould from the cake tin, and cut into slices with a hot, sharp knife.

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Chocolate Cheesecake

Baking familiar and simple recipes in my kitchen is always a pleasant way to relax. I had a spate of cheesecake making this time last year, so I thought I’d see if I still remembered all the tricks and turns it took to make it just right.

I baked a chocolate cheesecake on Friday evening, which is a version vastly modified from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook.  I’ve scaled it down in size, halved the biscuit base, and changed the entire contents of the filling, using half Quark and half Philly light for the cream cheese.

I also decided not to bother with melting the butter, and squished it together with the crumbed digestive biscuits using my hands, which got a little messy, but was infinitely satisfying, and in my mind, further reduces the risk of getting that dreaded soggy bottom (darn it Great British Bake Off, for raising standards of baking to stressful standards of perfection!)

The whole cheesecake turned out looking great. There was a smidgeon of chocolatey graininess when I mixed the melted chocolate and the cold cheese together, and I forgot to add the specified double cream, but it came out of the oven with just the right degree of wibble, and no cracks on the glossy brown surface. Fantastic. Into the fridge it went to set overnight.

And here is where I botched it. I couldn’t get it out of the tin without breaking the base, and so it didn’t look terribly presentable once I’d cut into it. The perfectionist inside me was wailing.

Ugliness aside, cheesecake 1 tasted pretty darn good and the family wolfed it down. The quark worked brilliantly – the filling nice and creamy – with none of the squeakiness I’d heard to expect from quark cheesecakes. The base was crunchy (which made it even more difficult to cut!) and not-at-all soggy.

So, after messing up the presentation of that cheesecake, I had to find an excuse to make another one. Onto cheesecake 2. At first, it seemed like everything was going to go wrong. The mixture was worryingly liquid, and it turned out rather grainy as I was too impatient, and combined the chocolate too quickly into the cheese mixture. The bain-marie leaked into the layers of tinfoil, I splashed hot water all over the kitchen floor, and the top of the cheesecake cracked slightly as well!

I persevered (having used up a great portion of my precious stores of Valrhona chocolate in it, I wasn’t about to give up!) and actually, this cheesecake really turned out brilliantly. No soggy bottom, creamy topping, fabulous ganache layer to finish it all off, and ultra top marks from all happy taste testers, who declared it even better than the first one.

Hurrah!

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Chocolate Cheesecake

  • 8 digestive biscuits, crushed into crumbs
  • 75g butter, softened
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 500g cream cheese
  • 6 tbsp double cream
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp plain flour
  • 200g dark chocolate, melted

Line the base of a 23cm springform cake tin and wrap the tin well in layers of foil .

Combine the biscuit crumbs with the butter and cocoa powder, and press together with hands until it forms a soft dough. Press this firmly into the base of the tin and chill until needed. Preheat the oven to 160˚C.

Beat the cream cheese together with the cream, sugar, eggs and flour. Beat in the melted chocolate. Spoon over the crumb base and smooth the top. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the top is just set. You can bake the cheesecake in a bain-marie for better heat distribution, and to reduce the likelihood of the top cracking.

When the cheesecake is done, turn the oven off and leave it inside for 1 hour. Remove the foil, and chill the cheesecake overnight before serving. You can make a ganache to cover the top of the cheesecake if it is very cracked, and it also tastes good!

Raspberry Cheesecake Brownies

Despite not having the budget to match, I really like the posh parts of West London. The King’s Road in Chelsea is blissful for shopping. There’s a warm rather than stuffy atmosphere with a great variety of shops. Despite the wealth (haha) of extremely expensive stores, you can quite happily splash out without breaking the bank.

I popped into Marks and Spencers and came out unexpectedly with a cute skirt, cut above the knee with a simple floral print just right for cooler summer days or autumn. I’m planning on wearing it with casual tees, some simple necklaces, and black ballet flats.

On my way back from my shopping trip, I headed to my old favourite the Hummingbird Bakery, and picked up a slice of their heavenly raspberry cheesecake brownie. It was so good that I just had to get out my recipe book and make it at the weekend.

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Doesn’t it just look like the bakery version? So happy with how it turned out. This version was made with Philly light and Truvia (some artificial sweetener), but I couldn’t tell the difference. I’m not sure I’d use the Truvia again as I do feel a bit uneasy about artifical sugars, but the Philly light is definitely getting a repeat running!