Triple Chocolate Cheesecake

ImageSo I am fairly certain that anything with three types of chocolate in it will always taste delicious, regardless of what it is. Add to that the fact that the chocolate will make up a beautiful rich cheesecake and you’ve got yourself a winner! Last weekend I decided to cook a three course lunch for my mum for mothers day and knowing that she loves all things chocolate and cheesecake I knew what the dessert had to be. But the question remained….how to do it?? 

I often steer away from making no bake cheesecakes after a previous experience which didn’t end up to be very successful. During that attempt, the recipe asked me to use gelatine powder to set the cake (again a chocolate cheesecake). Now either I was a bit heavy handed with the gelatine or the recipe itself was a little (or a lot) off but what I ended up with was a very dense, very firm cake that was a huge let down in all areas! After that time I thought that I would just steer clear of the gelatine set type cakes and stick to the baked cheesecake. 

Thankfully though, my approach changed completely after watching an episode of MKR (yep another recipe from this show! I’m sorry but I really love it!) where two contestants (QLD’s Paul and Blair) created what looked like a beautiful triple chocolate cheesecake. Aside from the fact that the recipe seemed very simple, the two dad’s are self confessed “non-dessert” people, so I thought that my chances of success would be slightly higher (it was one of those, “if they can do it so can I moments”). So off I went on a path of determination!

And luckily, I was NOT disappointed! Wow! what a recipe! The base is a lovely crumbly mixture that combines the flavours of chocolate, walnuts, dates and honey to make something really really special. The cheesecake mixture itself is beautiful, light, and creamy, with pockets of sour raspberries to cut through the rich flavours. Honestly, this would have to be the lightest, most delicious cheesecake I have ever ever eaten! If thats not proof enough, my family have continued to eat it every day this week and their still not sick of it! I promise you will love this one. It’s easy, tasty and so more-ish! The only issue that I had was that I think I used a slightly smaller cake tin then the recipe required, which meant I had a little leftover of the milk chocolate layer. I put this into another tin though to make a mini cheesecake, which my sister and boyfriend happily devoured as “chef-specials”!

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So here it is, the recipe for Triple Chocolate Cheesecake (original found here):

Ingredients

  1. Melted butter, to grease
  2. 300g plain chocolate biscuits
  3. 180g (1½ cups) walnuts, finely chopped, toasted
  4. 10 dates, pitted (Soak in boiling water to soften for about 15mins)
  5. 100g coconut oil
  6. 2 tbs honey

Filling:

  1. 750g cream cheese, softened
  2. 100g caster sugar
  3. 300ml thickened cream
  4. 200g white chocolate, chopped
  5. 200g milk chocolate, chopped
  6. 200g dark chocolate, chopped
  7. 3 tsp powdered gelatine
  8. 125g fresh raspberries, plus extra, to serve (I used frozen)

Method:

1. Grease a 23cm cake pan with removable base with melted butter. Process biscuits and nuts in a food processor until the mixture resembles crumbs. Add dates, coconut oil and honey and process to combine. Press mixture over base and sides of prepared pan and refrigerate until needed.
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2. To make the filling, using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar (on medium speed) until smooth and combined. Add cream and beat until smooth. Set aside.
3. Fill a small saucepan one-third full with water and bring to a gentle simmer. Place the white, milk and dark chocolate in separate small heatproof bowls. Working with one bowl at a time, place over pan and stir until chocolate has melted (don’t let the bowl touch the water). Allow to cool.
4. Place 60ml boiling water in a small heatproof bowl and sprinkle over gelatine. Stir until dissolved. With the motor running, gradually add to cream cheese mixture and beat to combine. Add a third of the cream cheese mixture to each bowl of melted chocolate and stir to combine.
5. Pour dark chocolate layer over chilled cake base. Dot with raspberries, then freeze for 5 minutes. Top with milk chocolate layer and freeze for 5 minutes. Top with white chocolate layer and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight to set.Image
6. Slice cheesecake and place on serving plates.
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I served mine with a raspberry coulis (cooked frozen raspberries with a bit of sugar and lemon juice to make a syrup) which is a lovely accompaniment!
 
Happy Baking and Enjoy!
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Baked Ricotta Cheesecake with a Nutella Surprise!

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Baked Ricotta cheesecake is a beautiful thing and up until recently I have only ever enjoyed it at Sydney’s Pasticceria Papa (where I might add, they make the best ricotta cheesecake you will ever taste!). For Easter though, I really wanted to bake something special for my family for dessert and after a little bit of googling I came across The Wholesome Cook, a beautiful food blog with a recipe based on the very cake that I love to eat!! Jackpot!

Now, as it is Easter I had to incorporate some form of chocolate into this recipe (but by all means you can leave it out) and as my family loves Nutella (who doesn’t!) I felt it was only appropriate to make my cheesecake a ricotta and Nutella flavoured one. I also had a few difficulties with the recipe so I have made a few changes/adaptations to the original (which can be found here at The Wholesome Cook’s Blog). Overall, this cake is beautifully moist and creamy and the Nutella hit is subtle and well balanced. Its a very light mixture, which I love and is encased in a crumbly, buttery pastry! I’m getting hungry just remembering it. If thats not enough to convince you to give it a go then let me add that my aunty (who hates dessert and never ever eats anything sweet) ate a huge piece in complete silence, occasionally omitting Oooh’s and mmm’s every so often. At the end of it she told me that she loved it! So it’s pretty safe to say its a winner of a dish! I will certainly be making this again especially after I’ve now ironed out some of my original problems.

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I think that the most difficult part of this recipe is getting the pastry into the tin without having messy join marks. Now mine was far from perfect, but I think if you were just making a plain ricotta cheesecake then the best way to achieve this would be to roll out one big piece of pastry (with overhang) that you would lay into your cake tin, fill with mixture and then fold over the top (to join the side walls on the opposite side of the cheesecake). Because we are piping Nutella into it however, the cake needs to be baked without a lid, otherwise it cracks when you press the piping bag into it. The original recipe also only calls for 45mins of baking time, which I initially did. When I went to transfer it onto a plate on Easter morning however, I noticed that the base had gone all soggy, a sign that the cake was not cooked through properly. When I removed the lid I was faced with a nasty surprise, the creamy filling was entirely raw still! Luckily there was still time to pop it back into the oven. Somehow though, I lost my marbles right at that moment and put the cake back into the oven without a tin to support it. Great choice there by me, the walls collapsed onto it! It was at this moment that I went into panic mode but luckily my dad was around to save the day. He managed to push the whole thing back into the tin!! It then baked through for about an hour and once cooled held its shape! What a relief!! But all the difficulties were totally worth it to see the looks of enjoyment on my families faces! I hope you enjoy this one as much as my family did!

What you need:

For the Pastry:

  • 100g butter, softened
  • ¼ cup caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup fresh cream (35% fat)
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder

For the Filling:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar
  • 250g cream cheese
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup fresh cream
  • 500g full-fat ricotta
  • Small tub of Nutella

What I did:

1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C.

2. The first step is to make your pastry. Put butter and sugar in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy then add your egg and cream and mix on a low speed to combine. Add your flour and baking powder to the mixer and mix on a low speed until combined into a dough. Kneed this lightly until just combined and set aside in the fridge for about 10mins.Image

3. In this time, make your filling by putting eggs and half the sugar into a bowl and mix with an electric mixer on high until pale and fluffy. In a separate bowl beat the cream cheese and remaining sugar on a medium speed until combined.

4. Combine the two mixtures with the vanilla extract and ricotta and mix on a low speed.

Assembling the Cake:

1. Greece your round cake tin with either butter or spray (I lined mine with baking paper which I think was unnecessary).

2. On a well floured surface, roll out your pastry to your desired thickness (don’t roll it too thin or it wont hold up with the filling. It should be about 4mm). Cut out a base first and place into your tin, then the side walls which you need to press into the base. Make sure there are no gaps or your cake will leak! Also cut out a lid which we will place on top later and prick this with a fork.

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3. Pour your filling into the tin carefully and smooth out the top.

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4. Put both pieces (the cake and the separate lid) into the oven and bake for about 1hr 45mins. The lid may be ready before this time so I would check on it at around 50mins and if cooked, remove to cool.

5. Once the cheesecake is cooked, it should have a slight wobble in the centre but be firm around the edges and have formed a nice “seal” on top. Turn the oven off and leave it to cool inside for 20mins with the door slightly open.

6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before chilling in the fridge.

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7. Using the nozzle of your piping bag, poke holes into the filling, piping Nutella into these as you go. You ca

n have as much or as little as you like then, when your happy pop the lid on top and trim off any extra pastry.

8. Dust the whole cake liberally with icing sugar and cinnamon and then serve and enjoy!

Happy Baking!!

 

Creamy Vanilla Ice Cream

Today marks the start of my Easter Baking preparations and the first thing on my list is Vanilla Ice Cream! To make this recipe I use an ice cream machine but I have heard of people using a still freezing method (where you alternate between freezer time and beating with an electric mixer). Believe it or not, my machine is from Aldi (yep good old Aldi!) and cost me about $50! One of the best pieces of machinery that I have ever bought I feel. Anyway, what is great about home made ice cream is that it is surprisingly simple to make but tastes a thousand times better then the store bought kind. The recipe below is a basic vanilla recipe but you could alter and flavour it in any way that you liked. I’ve made a cookies and cream flavour by adding smashed Oreo cookies during the freezing process. Either way, you won’t be disappointed by the rich, creamy, silky results. For Easter, I plan to serve this with self saucing chocolate puddings with a salted caramel surprise centre! The recipe will be posted early next week! The ice cream will keep in the freezer for ages (making it great for entertaining as you can get it out of the way early) or at least as long as its resisted by you and your family!

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Enjoy and Happy Baking!

You’ll Need:

1 cup Milk

2 cups Cream

1 Vanilla Bean (seeds scraped)

6 Egg Yolks (freeze the whites to use for meringues or Macarons)

2/3 cup Caster Sugar

What I did:

1. Heat the milk, cream and vanilla bean seeds in a saucepan over a medium heat until its hot (but not boiling). Test it by putting your finger into it, if its just too hot to touch then its ready. Remove from the heat

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2. Meanwhile, combine the egg yolks and sugar in a separate bowl and whisk until thick and pale in colour. Slowly add the hot cream mixture, whisking continuously.

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3. Pour the mixture back into a saucepan and stir over a low heat for four minutes or until the mixture is thickened slightly (you can test this by coating the back of a spoon with the mixture and drawing a line through it with your finger. It should leave a clean path). 

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(Notice how it coats the back of the spoon evenly and has a rich, creamy consistency)

4. Transfer to a container or tray and refrigerate until chilled. 

5. Pour the mixture into an ice cream machine, following the manufacturers instructions until it is firm, then freeze until ready to serve.

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Enjoy!!

Death By Chocolate

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Last night my friends and I went on what we like to call a “Food Safari”! Basically, we all have a huge passion for food (eating it and cooking it of course!) and so spend hours catching up every few months at a different eatery around Sydney. Despite the fact that we all live in the same area, we are more then happy to travel for great food, which is exactly what we did last night! Of course, as it is Easter, what better opportunity to venture to Brighton Le Sands to make a visit to Bay Vista, a chocolate cafe (who really needs an excuse anyway!)

Luckily, two of my friends had been before, so they were able to advise on whats what and thank goodness they did because the menu choices are HUGE!! Thankfully, I was also encouraged to go with an empty belly so as to leave optimum room for dessert, which is exactly what I did!

When you arrive at Bay Vista, you enter a warm chocolate coloured room with low lighting that provides a nice intimate feeling. A perfect location for eating rich chocolatey desserts. I could honestly smell the chocolate from the moment I entered the room, and not in a sickly way that was overpowering, but more in a subtle way that was warming and a little exciting. If that didn’t get my taste buds watering then the huge chocolate fountain filtering silky, shiny milk chocolate most certainly did! mmm yum! As I mentioned earlier, the menu is absolutely HUGE! Who would have realised that there were so many ways to eat and serve chocolate! Additionally, there is a savoury menu but hey, who has time for that! Cleverly, the owners have divided the menu for your convenience into areas including Crepes, Ice Cream, Frozen Yogurt, Drinks, Pancakes, Waffles and Ice Cream Bowls (and yes all of these are on offer for you to choose from!) Of course, for someone as indecisive as me this proved a huge problem…where do I even start! Never fear though because I had a plan. I firstly agreed with myself that I wanted 

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something with chocolate, preferably including ice cream and with something hot like a crepe or waffles. As my sister was with me we also agreed to share two things (that way you get the best of both worlds) and then finally eliminated waffles based on the idea that after past experiences at other venues, waffles can be a bit doughy (although they did look amazing and I think next time I go, I’ll give them a try). And there you have my fail-proof process of elimination! The only step was now to decide which crepe and ice-cream bowl we wanted (trust me, this then took a while) but eventually we agreed on the Snickers Crepe ($16) and the 5th Avenue New York Ice Cream Bowl ($24).

To be honest, the Snickers Crepe was my favourite of the two! A huge, thinly cooked crepe filled with Snickers pieces and roasted peanuts, then drizzled with chocolate and caramel sauce! The dish was served with a nice big scoop of vanilla ice cream and dusted with icing sugar! Wow! This was soooo tasty I could have eaten it all day! I loved discovering little pieces of chewy nougat throughout my crepe and the roasted peanuts added a nice little crunch. A very tasty option which I would highly recommend.

Our second dish was the Ice Cream Bowl which was served in the biggest parfait glass I have ever seen! Inside the bowl we had a scoop each of peanut butter, chocolate and boysenberry ice cream topped with another scoop of soft serve vanilla ice cream and some whipped cream (if there Imagewasn’t enough cream for you yet!). Scattered throughout were pieces of chocolate brownie and new york cheesecake before being drizzled in chocolate fudge sauce! Wow what a dish! Now I know that that sounds irrisitable on paper, and trust me it was, I had a few reservations about it. Firstly, if your ordering this then I would certainly share it with a friend and order something on the side like we did. Also make sure that you like cream, not ice cream but cream, because they put an awful lot of it on the top, which there’s nothing at all wrong with, I’m just not a huge fan of cream. My other sense of confusion was the inclusion of boysenberry ice cream, which didn’t seem to fit with the rest of the flavours included. Perhaps it should be replaced with something more caramel-like? Despite that thought, the chocolate fudge sauce was rich and gooey and the brownie pieces with the ice cream was just delish! I loved the peanut butter ice cream, in fact I wish they had given us a bigger scoop of that one, which had a very subtle peanut butter flavour (so don’t worry about it being too rich) and fantastic creamy consistency. Although we shared ours, I did see lots of people finish a whole one on their own so I’m sure if you’ve got a sweet tooth you would be able to manage! Overall, so much yummy-ness in one big bowl!

After a good rest we all got a hot chocolate ($6) which I would very much recommend as almost a meal in itself! Three cute little serving dishes were presented to me; one empty mug, one filled with warm frothy milk and the last with rich, silky milk chocolate. Then, if that wasn’t enticing enough, a skewer was placed across my cup with alternating waffle pieces and marshmallows! It was like a chocolate fondu AND hot chocolate in one! Great value! I decided to use mine for that exact purpose but in the end couldn’t quite finish it off as I slowly slipped into a food coma (a fact that I deeply regret now!)

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Overall, I would highly recommend a visit to Sydney’s Bay Vista! Be prepared for beautiful rich dessert dishes which will take you quite some time to decide upon. You may even need to have a little system like I did before you go!! Either way, you won’t be disappointed! I’m already counting down until I go again!!

PS. Check out their website here!!

Enjoy!!

Cheeky Tiramisu

ImageTiramisu is a classic Italian Dessert and one of my absolute favourites to make because it is just so damn easy! When it’s made properly, its a light creaming dessert that combines a subtle coffee flavour with soft, sponge-like biscotti! How can you go wrong with that!

Personally, I would really recommend this recipe for a dinner party where you want to impress your friends or family. The reason that I say this is because you can make the entire dessert the day before (it actually tastes better if you do this), meaning that you get to spend more time with your guests and less glued to the kitchen! Aside from that, most people tend to think that something that tastes as good as this does is really tricky to make! Thankfully for us home-cooks it is truly one of the simplest desserts to make. Now if that wasn’t enough to entice you, my recipe is kiddy friendly (I didn’t have any alcohol to add to the coffee mixture, but you of course could). PS Recipe serves 4

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What You Need:

1 Cup Cold Espresso Coffee (use better quality for a better taste and please avoid using instant coffee granules if you can!)

200 grams savoiardi biscuits

2 large eggs

75 grams caster sugar

500 grams mascarpone cheese

Cocoa powder (to dust)

What I Did:

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1. Break your eggs into a bowl, keeping only one of the whites. Add the sugar together and whisk together until thick and a paler yellow.

2. Fold in the mascarpone to make a moussy mixture.

3. Pour your cold coffee into a bowl (add alcohol here if you choose) and quickly dip one biscuit into the mixture at a time. Remember it should just be a quick dip on either side of the biscuit as they are very delicate and you don’t want the flavour to be overpowering. As you dip one biscuit into the coffee quickly transfer it to your serving dish (I’ve gone with individual wine glasses but anything with be fine. For my dish, I had to break the biscuit once soaked).

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4. Pour your cream/mousse mixture over the top and spread it smoothly using a spatula (or if presenting like me add some to your glass, continuing the layering process until you have enough). 

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5. Using a sieve, dust liberally with cocoa

6. Put into the fridge to set for at least 4 hours. Serve and enjoy!

Happy Baking!!

Scones, Jam and Finger Sandwiches

ImageI love High Tea!! I’m not sure exactly why I love it so much; is it that everything is in miniature, or perhaps the vast assortment of teas sipped from fine china or maybe even the way it is all served…I really can’t say but I love it all! For those of you that haven’t heard of it, High-Tea is a British tradition stemming from the 1700’s, where “ladies” and “gentlemen” would dine on tea, cakes and scones. Today, it is becoming somewhat of a popular place to go (particularly for women) to sample little mini sized scones, cakes and finger sandwiches, accompanied by a lovely pot of tea and sometimes if your lucky, a glass of Champagne! Ever since I was a little girl, the whole concept seemed fascinating to me and since then I’ve been a fair few times and tried out quite a few different tea rooms throughout Sydney. Being a tea lover (I don’t drink coffee), one of the important factors for me when choosing a tea room is the selection of teas available, and I must say that The Victoria Room Sydney does not disappoint! 

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Before I go into any further details and loose you in the soft, freshly baked Champagne and Rose scones I should probably recommend that you book a table before you head there. When we arrived (at 2pm), there was already quite a significant line forming at the front door. Luckily, my sister and I thought ahead and made a reservation, which is very easy to do. Once the doors were open we climbed to the top of a beautiful black staircase, dimly lit to arrive at the “reception” desk before being seated at a cosy little table for three. One of the highlights of any good tea room is the decor, and this can most definitely be said for The Victoria Room. The entire room feels very intimate and cozy, decorated in elegant 1920’s decor with beautiful lampshades providing low lighting throughout. It really transported you to another world! On top of that, the service was exceptional, with the waitstaff introducing themselves and explaining the menu. They continued to be attentive throughout, replacing jam, topping up our drinks and even cleaning up the table when I knocked over my tea pot (super embarrassing!)

But of course, my favourite thing to report on was the food! Now i’ll apologise for my pictures which are a little dark on account of the lighting. Hopefully my wording does the whole experience justice! Mum and I both had the Royal Tea ($55pp) which includes a glass of Champagne and my sister had the Classic ($45pp). Starting with the tea selection, there were so many intriguing choices to make! I went with a classic; Chai latte which I was able to have served with soy milk without any additional charge (a welcome change!) I would also highly recommend the Turkish Apple (served either hot or chilled) which both my mum and sister had (very refreshing and light).

ImageWhen it comes to high tea I like to start with the savoury so first up were the assortment of sandwiches including chicken & wild herbs, salmon with dill and capers, cucumber & creme fraiche and celery walnut & goats curd. Those alone could have filled me up, but don’t worry, I persevered! My favourite would have to be the chicken and wild herbs which was without a doubt the nicest chicken anything I have ever eaten! Rich and creamy with a fantastic combination of herbs that was so unusual, I really can’t figure out what was in there but boy it was good! Following this we each had two scones, one classic and one champagne and rose both served with a beautiful dish of chantilly cream and strawberry conserve. The scones were just so light and crumbly with a beautiful moist-ness to them and the jam, wow! I could have eaten it with my spoon! I really loved the addition of the rose flavour to the scone, which is something I’ve never thought to do but just added so much flavour to the scone. The final “layer” was a bit of a struggle for me to fit in my belly, but again there was no way I was going to miss out (a decision I regret later when I was suffering a severe case of food coma!) On the sweets plate we each had a house made pistachio macaron and a basil and passionfruit cream tartlet, which had such lovely crumbly shortcrust pastry. There were also soft, fluffy coconut & lime cupcakes and dark chocolate cup filled with salted caramel! I think I died and went to heaven when that thing hit my lips. De-Vine! Image

Overall, it was such a beautiful and pleasant experience at The Victoria Room Sydney and I really can’t wait to go again! It’s a perfect venue for birthdays, mothers day, baby showers or even just a nice catch up with good friends. Don’t be fooled by the whole “miniature” concept, you will get full and it will be hard to eat everything so I would recommend not having lunch before you go. High tea is served on Saturday and Sunday from 2pm so be sure to book a table so you don’t miss out! Trust me, you don’t want to!!

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