Archive for December, 2009

s t i l t o n a n d w a l n u t b i s c u i t s

December 18, 2009

 

These are becoming a December staple, and are a great alternative to the seasonal mince pie if your taste buds are more inclined towards nibbles of the savoury nature. They’re also a great addition to your festive cheese board; no need to get the cheese knife out, it’s already in the biscuit! They’re based on a pastry recipe so they’re light, flaky…. and packed full of flavour!

 

 

B I S C U I T P A S T R Y

2 cups plain flour

120g butter

130g stilton cheese

50g walnuts

2 egg yolks

 

T O P P I N G

1 egg, beaten

40g stilton cheese

50g walnuts

maldon sea salt


Preheat the oven to 175°C. To make the B I S C U I T P A S T R Y put the flour in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter in small dice. With your finger tips, rub the butter into the flour to form very fine crumbs. This takes a little patience! Chop the walnuts finely and add to the bowl along with the stilton, crumbled. Mix them into the crumbs with your fingertips. Add the two egg yolks and combine well to form a slightly crumbly dough mixture. It will fall apart easily, but should hold together enough for the purposes of rolling it out!

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry (this can be done in small batches) to approx 5mm thick. Using a round cutter or a glass which is about 5cm in diameter, press into the pastry to stamp out small rounds. Pop these onto a baking tray that’s lined with greaseproof paper.

For the T O P P I N G , firstly prick each biscuit gently twice with a fork. Brush them with the beaten egg. Chop the remaining 50g of walnuts, but not quite as fine as before. With your fingers, just crumble a small amount of stilton and walnuts over each biscuit, and then give a light sprinkling of maldon salt on top. Don’t bother crushing the sea salt too much between your fingers, it’s nice to see the larger crystals sitting on top of the biscuits.

To B A K E them, put them in the oven for about 20 minutes, until lightly golden. Place on a wire rack to cool, then store in airtight containers. They should last a few days, but that’s only if they’re not eaten first! Makes ~ 30.

 

 

v a n i l l a b e a n c h e e s e c a k e

December 3, 2009

 

I’ve only made cheesecake once before… and let’s just say it wasn’t perfect! When Andrew was reminiscing about it the other day he remembered it to be raspberry cheesecake with a chocolate base. I had to sadly correct him that it was in fact a burnt base, not chocolate. I can imagine how he might have been mistaken, a similar colour no? But Andrew REALLY wanted one for his birthday so I thought it was time to have a real proper go at it. Inspired by my NYC visit earlier this year, I opted for the big classic vanilla cheesecake. Most recipes floating about have similar ingredients. I think the difference in result, is really in the preparation, cooking technique and patience. You have to be committed to the cheesecake cause! So this recipe is with particular thanks to my Grandma, the internet, and a couple of books!

 

 

B I S C U I T B A S E

13 digestive biscuits, crushed finely

3 Tbsp salted butter, melted

 

C H E E S E C A K E F I L L I N G

1 kg full fat cream cheese, at room temperature

1  1/2 cups sugar

1 vanilla bean

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

250ml sour cream

185 ml milk

1 level Tbsp plain flour

 

T O S E R V E :

1 punnet raspberries

 

So the most important thing to know before you start, is that whilst this only takes an hour to cook in the oven, the overall process can take the better part of  a day. I would suggest you bake it the day before you need it, and then you won’t be rushing around frantically cussing at cheese and other inanimate objects!

Preheat the oven to 170°C (fan assisted). Now, you’ll need a 9″ diameter, non-stick springform C A K E T I N . It would be a nightmare to get it out of anything else! With a bit of butter, grease the inside of the tin thoroughly. Grease the base, and all the way up the sides. This will help to remove the cake from the tin, but it will also help prevent the cake from splitting across the top (As it cools down, the sides of the cake will pull away from the tin; so greasing it will ensure it doesn’t split during this process).

To make the B I S C U I T B A S E all you need to do is combine the biscuit crumbs in a bowl with the melted butter until it is mixed well. Now I really must stress using salted butter for this base, because it tastes especially sublime against the smooth sweet creaminess of the filling. Press the crumbs firmly and evenly into the tin.

To make the C R E A M C H E E S E F I L L I N G firstly ensure that all ingredients are room temperature. I remove my cheese, eggs, and sour cream from the fridge several hours before I start. It prevents lumps, which in turn prevents the cake from splitting! In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add the sugar and mix this in. Take the vanilla bean and split it lengthways, then run a knife down it to scrape the seeds out. Add the seeds to the mixture and stir them through, along with the milk and vanilla extract. Gradually stir the beaten eggs in, mixing to combine. Beat the sour cream til smooth in a small bowl first, then add to the mixture. Sift in the flour. Try not to over stir the mixture, just stir enough to ensure everything is combined and it’s smooth.

To A S S E M B L E, pour the filling over the biscuit base in the tin. Give the tin a little tap on the work surface, to help any bubbles rise to the surface. You want the filling to be as smooth as possible!

To B A K E the cheesecake, place it in the lower middle shelf of the preheated oven. Bake it for 60 minutes and then turn the oven off. It might look like it hasn’t finished after the 60 minutes baking time, or it hasn’t risen evenly, but trust me that’s all it needs! Take it out very briefly to run a knife carefully around the edge of the cake, gently loosening the sides from the tin. Put it back in the oven with the door closed for at least 2-3 hours. Longer if you can! It will set, settle, and cool in the oven during this post-baking period. This V I T A L step will help to prevent cracking of the surface, so please be patient! Once it is sufficiently cooled, chill it in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving, or overnight if serving the next day.

Now get those raspberries out and  scatter them all over a big massive slice and tuck in! Birthday candles optional…