Blueberry Mousse Cheesecake

Since returning from my travels, I’ve been getting back into the swing of baking slowly – a few cookies to take into the office here, using up an old box of cake mix there – but nothing too extravagant or challenging.

I decided it was time to step it up a notch for my mum’s birthday, with this blueberry mousse cheesecake.

She’s not a cakey-cake sort of person, and definitely prefers fruit desserts to chocolate, so a fruity cheesecake seemed ideal (not to mention that it’s my favourite thing to bake).

I made a sponge base, because I think it’s a nice change to biscuit sometimes, a fairly standard fail-safe new york cheesecake recipe, and then a slightly more troublesome blueberry mousse on top.

I wanted to make the mousse without gelatine because it scares me a little, so decide to try a sort of fake mousse with melted white chocolate and whipped cream, which I’ve used to fill cakes before.

To give it the blueberry flavour and colour, I boiled down a pack of frozen blueberries and strained to make a coulis, then added this in – half into the melted white chocolate and half into the cream, for no reason other than I didn’t know which way would work best.

After pouring the mousse on top of the cheesecake I started to have doubts about whether it would set, so scraped it off, added more melted white chocolate, whipped it up some more and put it back. I really needn’t have done that, as left overnight it would have set up just fine, but lesson learnt I suppose.

I decorated the cake with the leftover blueberry coulis, and it looked rather nice I think.

My mum liked it, and even had a second slice for breakfast, and my dad and step dad seemed to like it too. I’d like to have another go and make a raspberry one to perfect the mousse, and I think you could come up with some great combinations if you changed up the flavour of the cheesecake as well.

Note – I made a 6″ cake because there were only going to be four of us eating it, but you could totally double up to make a 9″ one and the method would be exactly the same.

Blueberry Mousse Cheesecake

For the base:

  • 50g butter
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 40g self raising flour
  • 10g desiccated coconut

For the cheesecake:

  • 300g cream cheese
  • 100g caster sugar
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 75ml creme fraiche

For the mousse:

  • 300g frozen blueberries
  • 150g white chocolate
  • 150ml whipping cream

To make the base, beat all the ingredients together until smooth then pour into a greased and lined 6″ round tin. Bake at 180 degrees for 20 minutes, or until risen and golden. Leave to cool in the tin, then remove and level the top – you only want the sponge to be about 1cm thick.

For the cheesecake, beat the cream cheese to soften then add the sugar and lemon zest and beat to combine. Add the lemon juice and vanilla and beat; then the eggs and beat; then finally the creme fraiche. And beat.

Put the sponge back in the bottom of the tin and pour the cheesecake mixture on top. Bake at 170 degrees for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 120 and bake for another hour. I always have a tray on the shelf underneath with about an inch of water in, this creates steam and helps to stop the cheesecake cracking. After baking, leave in the oven to cool, then transfer to the fridge.

To make the mouse, start by heating the blueberries in a saucepan until all the juices have been released and it’s starting to thicken. Blend either in a food processor or with a stick blender, then pass through a sieve to get rid of any lumps.

Melt the white chocolate and leave to come to room temperature. Whisk the cream until it’s lightly whipped. Add a couple of spoonfuls of cream into the chocolate to loosen it, then add the chocolate back into the cream and fold in gently. Add the blueberry coulis a few spoonfuls at a time until you get a good flavour and colour, taking care not to add too much in case the mousse becomes too runny, and remember to keep some back for decoration.

Remove the cooled cheesecake from the tin, then line the tin with cling film and put it back in. This is a thousand times easier to do with a loose bottomed tin so you can keep the cake on that. Pour the mousse on top of the cheesecake and spread level, then leave in the fridge overnight to set.

When you’re ready to serve, gently lift the cake out of the tin, remove the cling film and transfer to a serving plate. Drizzle the remaining coulis on top and make it look all pretty, then you’re done!

 

Mango sticky rice

It’s been a while, but I am back!

Six and a half months of travelling are now sadly over, and it’s back to reality in the UK.

I’m not quite ready to forget my exotic adventures though, and so I have a super summery recipe from my time in Asia to share with you.

As I mentioned in my previous post, while I was in Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand, I took part in an all day cooking course at an organic farm.

(This photo is skinny me – I’ve come home a good stone heavier and now am on a serious diet and exercise kick to lose it again!)

After a starter of coconut soup with shrimps, delectable mains of sweet and sour stir fry and a green chicken curry, plus pad Thai to take home, we set to making a traditional Thai dessert – perhaps the most well known of all – mango sticky rice.

You can find it on the dessert menu of any restaurant in Thailand, and it’s as simple as it sounds, just fresh mango with coconut sticky rice.

I don’t actually like sticky rice, it’s far too chewy and dense, but when the texture is loosened a little by the coconut milk, sweetened with palm sugar balanced with a pinch of salt, and paired with the mango, it’s sort of ok.

What I like most about it though is the presentation. You can do it how ever you like, but with a little natural blue colouring in the rice, sesame seeds scattered on top and a flower to decorate, I was more than pleased with how mine turned out.

The recipe below is from the cookbook I got to take home, and if you happen to be in Chiang Mai I would highly recommend the school I went to, which was Thai Farm Cookery School.

Mango Sticky Rice

  •  1 cup steamed sticky rice (there are some good instructions for cooking here)
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) coconut milk
  • 1 ripe mango, peeled and sliced
  • 1-2 tbsp palm or brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp roasted mung beans
  • 1 pandan leaf (this might be tricky to get outside of Asia, so you could substitute with a vanilla pod)

Put the coconut milk and pandan leaf or vanilla pod in a saucepan and heat until boiling. Remove from the heat, take the leaf out, and add the sugar and salt to taste.

Transfer to a bowl and add the steamed sticky rice, mix well. You can add some food colouring if you like, we had a blue flower for ours, but it isn’t essential.

Put the rice on a plate and sprinkle with the mung beans. Add the sliced mango and arrange to look pretty, using flower or leaf garnishes if you have them.

Taking a food blogging vacation

This is the longest I’ve everyone without blogging, and while it’s entirely possible no one has even noticed, I thought I better explain why.

As I’m writing this, I’m sat in the sun on a veranda over looking a river, drinking from a coconut with Bob Marley as the soundtrack to my blogging.

I’m in Luang Prabang, Laos, and three weeks into a six month trip around the world.

I started in Thailand and have 11 more countries on my itinerary – which means a long time with no baking to write about!

What I can do is tell you about some of the food I’m eating while on my travels, which so far has been outstanding.

My favourite thing so far is probably the fruit shakes, sold street side everywhere in Thailand for as little as 40p – fresh fruit, ice and that’s it, but they are so refreshing in the heat that’s all you need.

I have discovered a serious love for Pad Thai, which is also simple but delicious, and another street stall favourite.

Eating on a budget here is easy, restaurants are cheap but street food is even cheaper. If you like meat you’ll be in heaven with fried and barbecued skewers everywhere, as well as curries sold in ‘Thai Tupperware’ (plastic bags), rotis (Thai pancakes with a tonne of butter and condensed milk) and lots of fresh fruit.

If you’re looking for something a little different, how about deep fried grasshoppers, bees and cockroaches? Mmmmm….

In Chiang Mai, the capital of Northern Thailand, I did a fantastic cookery course featuring five classic dishes; coconut soup with shrimp, green curry with chicken, sweet and sour stir fry, Pad Thai and mango sticky rice.

With the course held on an organic farm, everything was so fresh and all the ingredients and techniques were explained well, and with the recipe book I left with I’m pretty confident I can treat friends back home to some authentic Thai when I’m back.

If you want to read more of my travel adventures, visit http://www.travelfails.wordpress.com, or I’ll update on here when I have more food news. Recipes will return when I’m home!

Double chocolate raspberry rose ombre cake

I’ve been incredibly slow in posting this, so apologies to anyone who follows me on Twitter or Instagram and first saw this several months ago…

This cake was made for a colleague who was going on maternity leave – and as you may be able to guess from the colour and decoration, she was having a girl!

I used what’s become my go to chocolate sponge from Charlotte White, combined with a fresh cream and raspberry filling and a white chocolate icing.

This is the first time I’ve attempted rose swirl icing, and I have to say I was rather pleased with the results. The icing was a little too soft, and the day a little too warm, to pipe the swirls on the sides of the cake as well, so I gave up and just spread that normally, but keeping with the ombre effect going from light to dark pink.

I won’t write the recipe for this as I’ve written the cake before and the icing is the same as the triple ginger cake I made a little while ago, but if you want to have a go you basically need to make three times as much icing so you can pipe the swirls, and use about 100ml of whipped cream for the filling, plus half a punnet of raspberries.

To pipe the roses, you need  star shaped nozzle – I believe mine is a Wilton 2D – and just start from the centre of the cake, adding a little more food colouring to the icing for each concentric circle of roses.

It’s a technique I’m definitely going to be trying out again, and the cake went down a treat too.

The Stable, Falmouth

Earlier this year, I was very kindly invited to review a new pizza and cider restaurant in Newquay called The Stable.

The concept was simple but executed well – an extensive and unusual pizza menu featuring lots of local produce, with names related to local landmarks, and a cider menu with 80 bottled and draught ciders, included several local brands.

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If you read my review you’ll see that I was very impressed, and so when I heard that a new branch of the South West chain was going to be opening in Falmouth, I was more than happy to say yes to an invite of the launch which took place last night.

One thing all of the Stable restaurants has in common is being located in interesting and special buildings and locations. While the Stable in Newquay has stunning panoramic views of Fistral Beach, the Falmouth restaurant has taken over the old custom house overlooking the harbour, and is a building with real character. The Stable team have spent a year restoring the building to have it ready for opening, and the time and effort spent on it definitely shows.

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Along with some hungry and thirsty friends, I arrived last night and headed straight into the upstairs restaurant to try out some of the ciders.

If you’re indecisive like me, the tasting board is ideal – five 200ml glasses for £7.50, with a card explaining which is which. As I was driving, I shared the board with my friends, and their opinions were split on which were the best – one was a  fan of the Apple Slayer, while another preferred the sparking ciders, especially the Stable Drop Gold.

We were also big fans of one of the local bottled ciders on sale, Cornish Orchards Vintage – it’s a 7.2% cider, more commonly known as ‘night wrecker’…

Pizza was being handed out on boards by waitresses (and very young children) walking around the room. Between us, we tried the West Country Porker, with chorizo, mozzarella and rocket; the Lamb Roast with lamb, sweet potato and goats cheese; the Hawaiian with ham, pineapple and avocado; the Red Ruby Rustler with ground beef, chorizo, mushrooms and ham and the Smithick Scorcher, with chopped pork and Naga chillies.

Our group favourite was the Lamb Roast, but all were good with lots of toppings on thin and crispy bases – as I said before, a lot better than you’ll find in any other pizza chain around here.

The launch evening was extremely busy, with a band playing in the downstairs room which also houses the impressive cider display behind the bar – seriously, try choosing from all of these!

The Stable in Falmouth opens to the public tonight, and I’m sure it will be a great success – the one in Newquay is ALWAYS super busy, and with the same quality of pizza and cider I’m sure the Falmouth one will be the same.

Chocolate rum truffle cake

A little while ago, a friend of mine was approaching his 30th birthday.

If you asked him, he would say it was the worst thing in the world, he didn’t want to celebrate it, and no one would even remember. Yeah, right.

Instead of ignoring it, our group of friends decided to plan a surprise birthday afternoon/evening, taking him out for food, drinks, music and more drinks, and banishing the old age depression for one day at least.

Obviously, I had to make a surprise cake, and considering that near enough every time we’ve been in the same room one of us has been drinking rum, deciding the flavour was easy.

I used my new favourite chocolate cake recipe from Charlotte White, with each layer brushed with rum, and a chocolate rum buttercream inspired by this one from Oh Sweet Day.

It took me a while to decide how I wanted the cake to look, as a lot of my ideas were a bit too girly for this manliest of men. I settled on chocolate shards sprayed gold and placed all around the sides, and a pile of chocolate rum truffles on top (just in case this monstrosity of a cake wasn’t tall enough already).

I managed to transport the cake in secret to the place we were eating, and then bring it out after the meal. Even though we had all eaten insane amounts of food already, most people tried a bit of the cake and the feedback was good – my personal favourite comment was “I’ve never had an orgasm over a cake before, but….” – a decent if slightly weird endorsement, I think?!

Chocolate rum truffle cake (adapted from Charlotte White’s Burlesque Baking and Oh Sweet Day)

  • 220g dark chocolate
  • 220g butter
  • 160ml water
  • 125g plain flour
  • 125g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 480g caster sugar
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 125ml buttermilk
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp golden rum

For the icing:

  • 170g dark chocolate
  • 3tbsp cream
  • 225g butter
  • 85g cocoa powder
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 3-4 tbsp rum

For the ganache:

  • 50g dark chocolate
  • 50g double cream

For the truffles and decoration:

  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 50ml double cream
  • 1-2 tbsp rum
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • Edible gold shimmer spray

For the sponge, melt the chocolate, butter and water in a saucepan over a low heat then set aside. Sift the two flours, baking powder, salt, sugar and cocoa powder into a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl or jug, whisk the eggs, buttermilk and oil. Slowly pour this into the dry ingredients, and beat it in to create a thick batter. Add the melted chocolate mixture and stir until completely combined, then divide between 3 greased and lined 7″ round tins (the original recipe is for an 8″ cake, but I wanted it to be smaller and taller). Bake at 160 degrees (140 fan) for 35-40 minutes, or until risen and a skewer comes out clean.

When the cakes are cooled, slice off the tops of the cakes to level the layers, then brush the rum all over the tops. To make the icing, melt the chocolate and cream and leave to cool. Beat the butter to soften, then gradually beat in the cocoa powder and icing sugar until completely combined. Add the chocolate and rum and beat until light and fluffy – taste as you go with the rum, I like a strong flavour but you might prefer a little less.

To make the ganache, simply melt the chocolate and cream together and stir until smooth.

To make the truffles, chop the first 100g of chocolate finely, then heat the cream and rum to almost boiling. Pour this over the chocolate, leave for a minute to melt the chocolate, and then stir until smooth. Chill in the fridge until completely firm, then roll into small round balls. With the remaining chocolate, finely grate about 15g worth and use this to roll the truffles in before spraying them with the gold shimmer spray. Melt the rest of the chocolate and then spread fairly thinly onto a large sheet of baking paper and leave to set.

Spray the chocolate with the gold shimmer spray, then break it up into small shards. Assemble the cake by spreading icing between each cake layer and all over the outside. Place the shards of chocolate all over the sides of the cake, and then spread the ganache on top (if it’s cooled down and gone too thick you may need to give it 5 or 10 seconds in the microwave). Leave for 30 minutes to set, then place the truffles in a pile in the middle of the cake.

This is one of the longest methods I think I’ve ever written, but it’s worth it, trust me! Once assembled, keep the cake in the fridge until serving – it’s so rich that I think it tastes best colder.

Chocolate peanut butter swirl brownies

Want a deliciously dense and fudgy brownie? The base recipe for these is all you need.

Want to take it to a new level with a swirl of one of the most addictive food products I’ve ever tried? Keep reading.

When I first spied a jar of chocolate peanut butter, I knew it would be love. What I didn’t realise was that it would be so good I would eat about a third of a jar in one go, spoonful by spoonful.

Yes I am a massive fatty.

When I needed to bake something to take to a party, that would be relatively quick and simple, didn’t need a long time to cool down or be iced, and that could be served in bite-sized portions, brownies were the obvious choice.

Inspired by these Nutella swirl brownies, I decided to buy another jar of the chocolate peanut butter and swap that in instead – a brilliant decision, if I can say so without sounding too boastful!

I used my favourite brownie recipe as the base, then just swirled the slightly warmed chocolate peanut butter on top.

Because I was in a rush, I cut the brownies while they were still slightly warm, which meant the chocolate peanut swirls were gooey and the process was rather messy, but the end result was totally worth it.

If you like the chocolate-peanut combination, you must try these, seriously. Writing about them and looking at the photos has made me realise how much I miss them, and another batch may have to happen soon.

Just as long as the chocolate peanut butter doesn’t mysteriously disappear from the jar first…

Chocolate peanut butter swirl brownies (adapted from Apple and Spice)

  • 140g butter
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 180g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 eggs
  • 85g plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 100g milk chocolate, chopped
  • 150g chocolate peanut butter

Heat the dark chocolate and butter over  a pan of simmering water until melted and stir to combine. Remove from the heat, then stir in the sugar. Beat in the vanilla and eggs, one at a time, until well mixed and glossy. Sift in the flour and baking powder, mix until fully combined, then stir in the chopped chocolate.

Spread the brownie mixture into a greased and lined 8×8″ square tin. Heat the chocolate peanut butter in the microwave for 20 seconds or so, just to soften it up a little. Spoon in dollops over the top of the brownie batter, then gently swirl in with a knife or skewer, making sure not to over-mix.

Bake at 170 degrees (150 fan) for 25-30 minutes, until the brownies are crisping on top but a skewer still comes out with some crumbs. Leave to cool for as long as you can, then cut into squares and serve.

Blueberry Bluebird Cake

While I haven’t been doing a lot of general baking recently (brownies, cupcakes, cookies etc) I have done quite a few cakes for special occasions, which I’ve really enjoyed as not only does it mean they’re out of my kitchen and I can’t eat them all myself, but it’s also given me a chance to try out some different types of decorating.

Back in June, the Cornwall Clandestine Cake Club held a meeting in Truro, the town where I live, at a small cafe/cake shop called The Baking Bird.

The theme, naturally, was ‘free as a bird’, which could either be interpreted as being free to make whatever you want, or as I took it something with a avian link.

It took me quite a while to decide what to make, but in the end I decided to go for a bluebird theme, with a blueberry flavour to match.

I didn’t write down the exact recipe, but I based it on several ‘blue velvet’ cake recipes I found online, with fresh blueberries added in to the batter, a lime sugar syrup brushed over the sponges, and a layer of cheesecake in the middle (that came from this recipe).

To finish it off, I made a white chocolate buttercream and decorated it with fondant icing cut out birds, in three different shades of blue using templates I drew and cut out myself.

The blue velvet sponge didn’t turn out quite as I’d hoped – I think I had the wrong shade of blue food colouring and it was more green than blue – I really loved the flavours and the addition of the cheesecake layer, and I thought the decoration worked well too – people could at least tell it was meant to be birds!

I have quite a few more fancy cakes to post, which I’ll try to do interspersed with actual recipes, but hopefully the photos will help if you need some decorating inspiration!

Triple ginger cake

If you don’t like ginger, you really need read no further – this has a triple hit of spicy, warming ginger, which there’s absolutely no hiding from!

If you like ginger, then you’ll love these cake slices – I certainly did, and couldn’t get enough of them.

The sponge is made with both fresh and ground ginger, and there’s crystallised ginger spindled on top just for an extra kick with each mouthful.

To balance all the fiery ginger, I chose a sweet white chocolate icing which pairs perfectly. It was totally made up on the spot, but works in taste and consistency so I would definitely make it again.

Sometimes simple is what you need, and this cake comes together in no time. Plus, being a sheet cake makes it much easier to enjoy in bite size slices than a big layer cake so it’s great for taking in to work to feed colleagues or sharing with friends!

 

Triple ginger cake

  • 115g butter
  • 175g light brown sugar
  • 1″ ginger root, peeled and grated
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 60g natural yoghurt
  • 175g plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger (but adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the icing:

  • 25g butter
  • 100g white chocolate
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 30g cream cheese
  • Crystallised ginger to decorate

Start by beating the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add the grated ginger and beat again. Add the eggs one at a time, followed by the yoghurt, then sift together all of the remaining ingredients and fold into the batter. Test a little of the mix – you can always add more ginger if you think it needs it. Spread into a greased and lined 8″ square tin and bake at 170 degrees (150 fan) for approximately 25 minutes, or until risen and springy to the touch.

For the icing, melt the chocolate and set aside to cool. Beat the butter to soften, then add the cooled white chocolate and icing sugar and beat until it al comes together nicely. Finally, add the cream cheese and beat until light and fluffy (but don’t over mix or it will go too soft.) Spread over the cooled cake, then sprinkle the crystallised ginger on top – add as much or as little as you want, I say the more the better!

Cadbury’s Fruit & Nut cupcakes

A little while back now, I had a tiiiiiny accident, that caused just a minor bit of damage to my house.

Trying to take the curtains in the living room down while balanced precariously on the armchair didn’t go so well – I slipped, grabbed the curtain rail, and yanked it right out of the wall. Oops!

Luckily my housemate Becky’s dad is a DIY lifesaver, and within the hour was round clearing up my mess, and now you’d never know what a clumsy idiot I am.

I wanted to say thank you with cake, and after Becky mentioned that her dad’s favourite chocolate bar was Cadbury’s Fruit & Nut, these cupcakes were born.

Based on a basic chocolate cupcake recipe from the Hummingbird Bakery, I added chocolate covered raisins into the sponge, and chopped nuts and more chopped raisins into the icing. Topped with a chunk of the actual chocolate bar, they were a Fruit & Nut lover’s delight!

Cadbury’s Fruit & Nut cupcakes (adapted from the Hummingbird Bakery)

  • 40g butter
  • 120g plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking power
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 20g cocoa powder
  • 1 medium egg
  • 120ml milk
  • 150g chocolate covered raisins

For the icing:

  • 100g butter
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 60g cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2-3 tbsp milk
  • 50g chocolate covered raisins, chopped
  • 25g chopped mixed nuts
  • 2 regular sized Fruit & Nut bars

To make the sponge, beat the butter, flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and cocoa powder until it turns into a sandy consistency. Add the egg and milk and beat again until well combined, then stir in the chocolate covered raisins. Divide between 12 large cupcake cases and bake at 170 degrees (150 fan) for 20-25 minutes, or until risen and a skewer comes out clean.

For the icing, sift together the icing sugar, cocoa powder and salt beat the butter to soften. Add the sugar mix little by little, beating until the mixture comes together. Add 2 tbsp milk and beat until light and fluffy, adding a little more milk if it seems too stiff. Stir in the chopped raisins and nuts, then spread on top of the cooled cupcakes. Finish with a square of the chocolate bars on top of each.