Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Chocolate AND cheese cake

Seriously, two of my favourite desserts - in ONE! I saw these lil chocolate cheesecake cupcakes at this patisserie near work and thought, wow! What a concept! I figured I'd give them a go for my boyfriend's birthday.

The tricky part was trying to figure out how to bake the cake for long enough but then be able to add the cheesecake in the flatmate suggested baking paper, which totally did the trick. I tried to put some rice in the middle to weigh it down, but it just ended up rising with the cake.

However, in the end (little bit of Physics here...) because the cheesecake is denser than the chocolate, it held its own so the cake just rose around it. And I have to was indulgently good!
Gourmet Inspired Tip: I was short on time so I cheated and bought cake mix. I'm sure your favourite choc cake recipe will work just as well. Or you can try and mix up the flavours? Do an orange cake with chocolate cheese filling? Hmmm...combinations are pretty much endless!


Chocolate cake batter: here's a good one from Nigella that should work. I would just make enough batter for one 8 in cake tin and skip the frosting. Or if you're lazy, buy a mix!

For cheesecake filling:

250 g cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs vanilla
20ish Blueberries


Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Make the batter per instructions and pour into a round, greased 8 in cake pan.

Lay a sheet of baking paper across the surface, gently pushing down in the centre so that the paper sticks to the batter, but don't push the paper all the way to the edges of the pan. You want the edges of the cake to rise and a crust to form while the paper keeps the middle gooey.

Bake pan for 15-20 minutes.

While the cake is baking, gently fold the cream cheese into the sugar and the egg until smooth. Add lemon juice, vanilla and most of the blueberries and whip quickly until well mixed and the blue berries are just starting to break apart.

Remove the cake (but leave the oven on!) and gently remove the baking paper from the centre of the cake. The sides of the cake should just beginning to set while middle should still gooey without a crust. Carefully spoon your cheesecake mix into the middle of the cake, using the back of a wooden spoon to evenly distribute it into a general roundish shape. Don't worry if batter spills over the sides of the developing crust. Top cheesecake centre with remaining blueberries.

Put the cake back into the oven and bake for another 25 minutes until the cake part is cooked all the way through and toothpick comes out clean. The cheesecake part should be firm and not runny and little brown peaks should just be starting to form. Turn off the oven and cool the cake in the oven with the door ajar for about 2-3 minutes. Remove, let cool completely and serve.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

No fresh ingredients challenge - Tins and frozen veg can make a meal

So over the holidays, I ran into a strange Boxing Day dilemma. After a Christmas of ham and pastry, I was hankering for some homemade veggie soup. Specifically, I was looking to make a potato and leek soup, Only problem was, it being Boxing Day, every single fresh fruit and veg shop in Newtown was closed. Instead of succumbing to the easy Take Away option - Addison's on Erskineville Rd was still open - we hit the local "supermarket", aka glorified convenience store, to check our options.

Here's what we came back with:

1 tin whole champignon mushrooms
1 tin Mini taters with a hint of mint
1 pack frozen spinach
1 small carton of pure cream
1 stick salted butter
Approx. 300 ml chicken stock

And from this, with a bit of spices and herbs, we proceeded to make a very green but surprisingly tasty, cream of potato and spinach soup! :D How's that for a Boxing Day Feast?

Gourmet Inspired Tip: Nutmeg! Seriously - discovery of 2009. The flavour of the spinach was a bit to powerful and it wasn't quite complementing the cream the way I was hoping. Thanks Anthony Bourdain's potato and leek recipe, I added a bit of nutmeg to really tie everything together.


To the above list I added:

1 tbs chilli flakes
1 tbs nutmeg


Heat the chicken stock until boiling. Add potatoes and spinach and simmer on low for approximately 20 minutes. Add the butter and mushrooms and simmer for another 25-30 minutes. Remove from heat.

Scoop out the mushrooms from soup, they get lost if they get blended up with everything else. Blend the remaining soup until smooth. Return to pot, return the mushrooms and return to heat.

Add approximately 100 ml of cream and combine until smooth. Season with chilli flakes and nutmeg. Salt and pepper to taste.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Happy New Year - and Croquembouche 2009 was a #FAIL

Happy New Year folks! Had a lovely holiday as my friend came to visit. I even got to cook her my signature paella which she whole heartedly enjoyed.

Ahh – the Croquembouche test...I tried and I failed...miserably.

The main issue that happened was my first batch of choux pastry were way too they puffed up way too huge, which alarmed some of the people in the kitchen (non cooks of course!) who then suggested that I take them out of the oven. They then quickly deflated, became completely useless and I had to start again. This was about 6pm and I had run out of ingredients. :(

So the next batch was much too runny, they didn’t puff at all so I ended up with tiny little choux mounds instead of balls. They were impossible to fill with custard and I was utterly disheartened by then so I messed up the caramel part as well and it didn’t get hard enough.

I piled my little disheartened mound into something resembling a little runny volcano. Nothing like the glorious croquembouche it was meant to be. :(

Well that was my failed test for 2009. I’ll give it another go in 2010...hopefully with better results.