Cherry cheesecake

cherry cheesecake

If there’s one fruit I’ve really gone crazy for this year, it’s cherries.

They’ve never really been my favourite, and I one point I wouldn’t touch them, but this year I just can’t get enough. It may well have something to do with the fact that when I was in Romania cherry trees were in abundance, and the fruits they produced were the sweetest, juiciest cherries I have ever tasted.

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My host in my first week in Romania, Christina, gave me a jar of her homemade cherry jam to bring home with me. I somehow managed to look after it for 3 more weeks of travelling around, and decided that I would save it for something special – and really, what could be more special than cheesecake?

Cheesecake is one of my favourite desserts, both to bake and to eat, and cherry cheesecake is a classic flavour combination.

I based my cheesecake on this recipe from BBC Good Food, but rather than making a cherry puree I used my fab cherry jam. It’s nothing like a ‘jam’ you would buy here, it’s more like whole cherries in a thick sort of syrup, and it’s not as sweet as a jam either – the downside of this is you can, and I do, eat it by the spoonful…

Instead of a creme fraiche topping I used more cream cheese, beaten with a little sugar, and used fresh cherries to decorate. The jam swirled into the cheesecake mixture created wonderful little fruity bursts in each bite, and the texture was, for me, spot on.

If you want to make this, I would recommend either buying the absolute best jam you can find, or making your own, otherwise I think it would end up being too sweet. I hope that doesn’t put you off though, because it really was delicious!

Cherry cheesecake (adapted from BBC Good Food)

For the base:

  • 140g digestive biscuits
  • 35g butter, melted

For the filling:

  • 500g medium fat cream cheese
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • zest and juice of a lemon
  • 100ml low fat creme fraiche
  • 100g cherry jam

For the topping:

  • 100g medium fat cream cheese
  • 15g icing sugar
  • 8-10 cherries, halved and stoned

To make the base, blitz the biscuits in a food processor to form fine crumbs, then with the mixer running pour in the melted butter. Press the biscuit crumbs down into the base of an 8″ springform tin, and bake for about 10 minutes at 170 degrees, until just starting to crisp.

While the base is cooling, make the cheesecake filling. Beat the cream cheese and caster sugar together until smooth, then add the eggs, vanilla, cornflour, lemon zest and juice and beat again. Finally, add the creme fraiche, beat and pour over the cooled base.

Bake the cheesecake with a tray of hot water on the shelf below, for 10 minutes at 170 degrees, then reduce the heat to 110 degrees and bake for a further hour – the cheesecake should be set but still wobble. Turn off the oven but leave the cheesecake inside to cool to room temperature, then chill in the fridge overnight.

For the topping, beat the icing sugar into the cream cheese and spread over the cheesecake. Arrange the halved cherries around the edge to decorate.

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Christmas cherry chocolate orange breakfast rolls

Christmas cherry chocolate orange breakfast rolls

Sorry, sorry, I know we’re in January now and the ‘C’ word shouldn’t be mentioned for another 48 weeks, but these rolls were so stupidly good I just have to post them now.

I wanted to make something special and a bit festive for the pony to have for breakfast, and inspired by some stolen flavoured cinnamon rolls (that I can’t for the life of me remember where I saw) and the Great British Bake Off Christmas special I came up with these.

I used Paul Hollywood’s recipe for the dough, then created by own filling of ground almonds, glace cherries and chocolate orange bits. The rolls were finished off with a cranberry glaze, which for some reason went perfectly and meant I kept sneaking back to the cake dome again and again…

I definitely doesn’t need to be Christmas to make these but it’s quite likely they will be back on my festive menu for 2013!

Christmas cherry chocolate orange breakfast rolls (basic recipe from BBC Food)

  • 250g strong white flour
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 20g butter
  • 1 medium egg
  • 7g fast action dried yeast
  • 75ml lukewarm milk
  • 45ml lukewarm water
  • 25g ground almonds
  • 50g light brown sugar
  • 100g chocolate orange segments, chopped
  • 50g (ish) chopped glace cherries
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp cranberry sauce

Add the flour, caster sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl, then make a well in the centre for the butter, egg, yeast and warm water. Stir with a wooden spoon until it all starts to come together into a sticky dough, then tip out onto a floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic.

Leave to rise in a covered bowl for an hour, or until doubled in size. Knock the dough back then roll out on a floured surface into a large rectangle (I would guess about 16″ x 10″). Mix the ground almonds and sugar together and sprinkle all over the dough, then scatter the chopped cherries and chocolate on top. Roll the dough up from the long edge nearest to you into a big sausage shape, then slice into 8 rounds, about 2″ thick.

Place the rolls in an 8×8 square tin, a couple of centimetres apart, and leave to rise for another hour until doubled again and the rolls are all touching. Bake at 200 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until golden and smelling amazing. Meanwhile, mix the icing sugar and cranberry sauce and add just enough water to make a thick icing. Pour over the rolls while still warm and serve straight away!

Cherry chocolate brownie cupcakes (GF)

My original plan for this month’s We Should Cocoa challenge, hosted by Janice at Farmersgirl Kitchen, was to make a classic black forest gateau – I’ve never tried it before and what better way to pair cherries and chocolate?

Unfortunately, I just haven’t had an occasion to bake a massive gateau, so I had to think of something else.

I decided to make some small cakes to take round to a friend’s house, and as she is gluten-intolerant I wanted to find something that was flour-free but with black forest flavours.

Even after buying the ingredients I still wasn’t entirely sure what to do, but I went ahead and used this recipe for flourless chocolate muffins as the base.

I was a bit sceptical that a mixture with no flour, no whisked egg whites and no direct flour replacement would produce a cupcake, and to be honest it was a bit more like a brownie in texture – but I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone complain about being given a brownie!

I decided to cut holes in the tops of the cupcakes to put the cherries in, then add a simple swirl of whipped cream on top.

For a cake that hadn’t really been planned, they turned out pretty well and got good reviews from my friends. I also discovered (with some of the extra batter) that microwaved for 60 seconds in a ramekin the mixture turns into a delicious hot pudding – added bonus!

Cherry chocolate brownie cupcakes

  • 155g dark chocolate
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 165g butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 55g cocoa
  • 12 cherries, stones removed
  • 150ml double cream
  • 1tsp icing sugar
  • chocolate shavings to serve

Melt the chocolate and butter over a saucepan of simmering water. Once melted, remove from the heat and whisk in the sugar, then the eggs, one at a time. Sieve in the cocoa powder and fold until just combined, then pour into 12 cupcake cases (it will be very liquid so I actually used a jug to pour). Bake at 180 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until risen and springy to the touch.

Once the cakes have cooled, use an apple corer to remove a hole from the centre of each one. Place a cherry (make sure the stones are removed!) in the centre of each. Whip the cream and icing sugar together until it holds it’s shape, then pipe small swirls on top of each cupcake, covering the cherry, then sprinkle chocolate shaving on top. Store in the fridge but leave out for 20 mins or so before serving to come back to room temperature.

This is my entry for the August We Should Cocoa Cherry Challenge!

Chocolate cherry brownies

Barbecue cakes part 3!

These brownies are basically the same as these amazing ones I posted last month, but with the milk chocolate chunks swapped for Green & Blacks dark chocolate and cherry.

Despite being the same recipe, the friendly pony was convinced these ones were even better. He thought they were more fudgy, which is a bit odd as I actually cooked them for longer, but I think that could just be down to my temperamental oven.

I prefered these ones too, but because brownies are so rich anyway they don’t really need the sweetness of milk chocolate, and the dark chocolate and cherries give them a bit more of an edge.

Anyway, I won’t re-post the recipe but these are definitely worth a try!