Tuesday 30 December 2014

More Pudding - Citrus Cheesecake Recipe

Are you ready for another stunning dessert recipe? Here is the Citrus Cheesecake I made for Christmas lunch. It takes a little more effort to make, but is definitely worth persevering. Its light airy texture and citrus tang make it a favourite in our house.

Citrus Cheesecake

125g (1/2 packet) gingernut biscuits - or any similar biscuit
60g butter

250g cream cheese
60g caster sugar
2 lemons - zest and juice
2 oranges - zest and juice
80g packet of lemon jelly
100ml boiling water
180ml  cream

To make the base: crush the biscuits, either in the food processor (quick) or by hand with a thick plastic bag and a rolling pin (slow, but equally effective). Add the melted butter and blend well. Press into a loose bottomed baking tin that has had the sides lined with baking paper. Refrigerate to set while you make the base.

To make the filling: zest and juice the oranges and lemons. Place the whole lot into a heat proof jug. Add the jelly crystals and boiling water and stir until the jelly is dissolved. 

Place into the fridge to cool, but do not allow to set hard. 

Beat the cream cheese and caster sugar until pale and creamy. 

Once the jelly mixture is cold and beginning to set, fold it into the cream cheese mix. 

Beat the cream until thick, then fold it in. 

Pour over the base and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before releasing from the tin and transferring to a serving platter. 

I've made this recipe for many years now. It's a lovely summer dessert, and especially good if you require a lightly textured end to any meal. We served it with some lightly whipped cream and raspberries.

Thursday 25 December 2014

Happy Holidays Everyone - Christmas Dessert Selection

 Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all! 

Here is the dessert selection from our extended family lunch. Chocolate Mousse, Pavlova decorated by Little Miss, Steamed Christmas Pudding, Citrus cheesecake, Strawberry Cheesecake made by my sister-in-law, the cream and brandy and ginger biscuit creation referred to in our family as Grog log, and fresh raspberries picked by us yesterday. And we were all happiness filled.... 

Hope you have all had a lovely, happy family day.

Chocolate Mousse with Orange Chia Recipe

Just in case, by this stage in the Christmas season, you haven't had enough pudding yet, here is an oldie but goody mouse recipe with a modern orange chia twist. You can add whatever fruit juice you might like to the chia. I chose the orange because it goes so well with the chocolate.

Chocolate Mousse

250ml whole milk
300g good quality 70% cocoa chocolate - I used Whittaker's
4 eggs
50g caster sugar
8g gelatine
2 tablespoons Tia Maria liqueur
400ml cream

Separate the eggs and set the whites aside. 

Hydrate the gelatine with a few tablespoons of cold water and set aside to swell. 

Beat the yolks together with the caster sugar until the mixture is pale, light and fluffy. 

At the same time heat the milk in a heavy based saucepan until it reaches boiling point. 

Pour the milk into the yolks and whisk until combined. It is particularly important to add the milk to the yolks: done the other way around the eggs will cook and scramble. 

Clean the bottom of the pot and transfer the eggs and milk back into the pot. 

Using a spatula gently heat the mixture, stirring it constantly until it starts to thicken. 

If you think its getting too hot too quickly take it from the heat for a minute or two and continue to stir. Don't allow the mixture to boil or the custard will curdle. 

Once the custard coats the back of the spoon remove it from the heat and set aside. 

Heat the gelatine and water in the microwave in short bursts until it is melted. Stir it into the custard. 

Melt the chocolate. I usually do this in a Pyrex bowl in the microwave: put it on for 30 seconds, then stir and repeat once. Now stir until the last of the chocolate lumps have melted. Don't overheat or the chocolate will be ruined and don't have the chocolate too hot or it will spoil the custard.

Stir the melted chocolate and the Tia Maria into the custard and set aside to cool. 
The mixture needs to cool until it is at room temperature. 

Beat the eggs whites until soft peaks form and transfer them to another bowl. 

The whites must be beaten in a spotlessly clean bowl or they will not reach their full volume. That's why I beat then first: otherwise I would need to thoroughly clean the bowl after beating the cream.


Now beat the cream to soft peaks and fold in the chocolate mixture.

Now fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture a third at a time. They need to be thoroughly mixed without losing too much of the air the egg whites bring to the mixture.  

Once mixed, spoon the mousse into individual glasses. Don't fill them right up as the mousse is very rich. I made 8 glasses with a little left over.

Orange Chia Topping:

6 tablespoons black chia seeds
juice of 3 large oranges
1 to 2 extra oranges for segmenting

Squeeze the juice from the 3 oranges into a bowl. Add the chia seeds and stir in. Cover the bowl with cling film and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Slice the skin and pith from the extra oranges and cut out the segments. Set aside to garnish the individual cups.

Just prior to serving, spoon a couple of tablespoons of chia seeds onto each mousse. Top with a couple of orange segments, and your all done! 

Monday 22 December 2014

Christmas nibbles - Biscotti

This is a super easy recipe that is great to have on-hand during the holiday season. Its sweet, crispy, fruity and chewy all at once. Pop some into a cellophane bag, add a ribbon and there's a cute little gift that has hand-made love all over it. You can substitute any fruit combo you happen to have in the cupboard, and I have made a non- nut version by just adding more fruit. It can also be very successfully made using gluten-free flour.

Christmas Biscotti 

3 egg whites
a pinch of cream of tartar
100g caster sugar
130g whole peeled almonds
50g walnuts
70g glace cherries 
100g whole cranberries
50g dried apricots - roughly sliced 
50g preserved ginger - roughly sliced
the zest of 1 orange
90g flour
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Preheat the oven to 180deg. C. Line a loaf tin with baking paper.

Beat the egg whites and pinch of cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Add the caster sugar to the beaten whites a tablespoon at a time, beating well in between each addition. 

Fold in the fruit, nuts, orange zest and vanilla. 

Wash and dry the glaced cherries before adding them, as otherwise the syrup will stain the mixture. 

Lastly, gently fold in the sifted flour. 

Place the mixture into the lined baking dish. 

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until lightly golden and cooked through. 

Don't worry about drying it out as it's going to be toasted anyway! 

Once cooked set aside to cool completely. 

Using a bread knife, cut the loaf into thin slices and place them onto a lined baking sheet. 

Bake at 120deg. C until crispy throughout. 

Keep checking them every 10 to 15 minutes as you don't want them to brown!

The biscotti will keep in an airtight container for a couple of weeks. Your visitors will be super impressed with these colourful, fruity treats. 

Happy Holidays! 

Saturday 20 December 2014

More Home Made Christmas Gifts - Elderflower Cordial

Elderflower Cordial is a great, inexpensive seasonal treat. For those of you in New Zealand, its not too late to get out there and gather up enough flowers for a brew of this lovely floral drink. We gathered ours from up at the farm. Though they do grow along the roads everywhere, its best to find a tree that's away from the pollution and dust. It takes a couple of days to soak, so allow yourself three days if your planning this as a gift. 

Elderflower Cordial

Boil and cool 2 litres of water in a large bowl. Add the rind of a lemon. 

Next stir in the juice of four oranges and 1 lemon, 1.5kg of sugar and 3 tablespoons of tartaric acid. 

Stir this mixture all around until the sugar is dissolved. 

Next add approximately 24 large elderflower heads. 

Push them down into the water, cover the bowl with plastic food wrap, and leave in a cool place for 48 hours to steep. 

Strain the mixture through a fine cloth. 

I strained mine twice: first through a kitchen cloth to remove the flowers, then through a tea towel to remove any finer pieces. 

Place into sterilised bottles and seal. I collected up a whole lot of used juice bottles. Remove the labels by pouring boiling water inside; the heat melts the glue and makes removing the label much easier. 

Store in the fridge until required. If left at room temperature it may start to ferment! For longer storage, place in half filled plastic soft drink bottles and freeze. We often mix ours with soda water, but it is also nice added to sparkling wine. 

Happy Holidays!

Monday 15 December 2014

Home Made Gifts - Christmas Mince Pie Recipe

My desk really did look this cluttered last week. Not sure how we all manage to squeeze quite so much into the last week of term. Despite the frenzy, I still made the time to make some of these super tasty Christmas mince pies for the great ladies of my faculty. 

This year I varied the recipe for the fruit mince a little by substituting cranberries and crystallised ginger for most of the sultanas. I've been making these for years and couldn't tell you where the recipe originally came from. The fruit mince keeps for weeks in the fridge, so you can have some on standby all through the Christmas season. We also made a little batch today for Little Miss to take to Santa.

Christmas Mince Pies

For the filling:

Rind of 1 lemon
Rind of 1 orange
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large tart apples
juice of 1 lemon
1 cup sultanas
1 1/2 cups cranberries
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup crystallised ginger
1/2 cup glace cherries
1/2 cup currents
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 cup brandy

Peel the rind from the orange and lemon with a potato peeler. Place in a large food processor with the sugar and process until the rind is finely chopped. 

Add the unpeeled apples cut into chunks and lemon juice, the sultanas, ginger, and half the cranberries and raisins. 

Process this first lot of ingredients until finely chopped. 

Finally add the remaining fruit and the spices and flavourings. Pulse briefly to combine. The final lot of fruit should retain most of its shape. 

Place the fruit mince into a large airtight jar and store in the refrigerator until your ready to use. 

Make the pastry: If time is short you can use store bought, ready rolled sweet pastry. 

Make a sweet pastry by creaming together 125g of butter with 125g caster sugar. Beat in 1 egg, then fold in 1 1/2 cups of sifted flour with 1 teaspoon of baking powder.
The pastry is very soft and delicate and needs to be wrapped and firming up in the fridge before it can be used. The pastry will keep on hand, quite happily, in the fridge for a few days, and can be frozen for longer storage. 

To make the pies:

Preheat the oven to 180deg. C. 

Roll out the pastry between two floured sheets of plastic food wrap. Cut into circles using a fluted cutter. Place the circles of pastry into a shallow tartlet tin. 

Place teaspoon lots of the fruit mince into each tart. 

Top each one with a star pastry cut out, or any similar shape you might prefer. 

Bake for 12 minutes until golden brown. 

Leave to rest in the tin for a few minutes before transferring onto a cooling rack. 

Dust with icing sugar before serving. I always keep a supply of cellophane bags handy for packaging up home made gifts. Little Miss was super excited to be visiting Santa today. She thought he might need a cup of tea and a Christmas Mince Pie after his busy day at Ballantynes.  

Sunday 7 December 2014

Strawberry Cheesecake with pink meringues

When I asked our little blossom what she might like for pudding when our friends came around she was adamant she wanted meringues. To be fair she and her buddies just loved them the last time we made then. Thinking the adults might like something more than a meringue, I decided to whip up this very simple and easy Strawberry Cheesecake. You can swap the strawberries for any summer fruit that happens to be handy. Be sure to allow yourself enough chilling time as it doesn't contain any gelatine, so needs the full 4 hours in the fridge.

Strawberry Cheesecake

250g plain sweet biscuits - I used Wine biscuits
80g butter

500g cream cheese - softened at room temperature
1/2 cup caster sugar
the juice of half a lemon
a 250g punnet of strawberries
1 cup cream

Line the sides of a loose bottomed baking tin with baking paper and set aside. 

Using a food processor, crumb the biscuits until they are fine. Add the melted butter and process again until combined. 

Press the buttery crumbs into the bottom and sides of the lined baking tin and chill in the fridge while you make the filling.

Clean the crumbs from the food processor and blend the cream cheese and caster sugar until it is soft and smooth. 

This will take a few minutes. 

Add the lemon juice and process again. 

Clean and hull the strawberries. 

Add to the processor bowl with the cream cheese mixture and process until the strawberries are completely combined. 

In a separate bowl, whip the cream into soft peaks. Fold the cream cheese mixture into the cream. 

Pour the filling into the chilled biscuit base and return to the fridge for a least 4 hours. 

Just prior to serving, take the cheesecake from the fridge and release from the tin by placing the base onto a cup and pulling the sides of the tin down. Remove the paper and place the whole lot, base and all, onto a serving plate. 

Decorate the top with a little extra strawberry.

Place the meringues around the outside of the cheesecake. I made a half recipe of these ones, but instead of piping the mixture, I just put teaspoons lots onto the tray.

Nothing like pudding to put a smile on everyone's face. 

Sunday 30 November 2014

Coffee, Walnut and Cinnamon Creams

With the first day of December tomorrow, I've been feeling a little festive. Not so much that I might get carried away and go shopping; just enough to make some spicy, indulgent little cookies for tomorrow's work meeting.
This recipe is based on a coffee biscuit my mother often makes. I've just added some Christmas spice in the form of a little cinnamon. Nothing like a little treat to sweeten up a Monday morning.

Coffee, Walnut and Cinnamon Creams

140g butter
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 egg
3 tablespoons very strong espresso
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 cups plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
about 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 extra beaten egg for glazing

Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the egg, at room temperature, and beat until well combined. 

Next add the coffee and vanilla essence. 

Fold in the sifted flour, cinnamon and baking powder. 

Wrap the mixture in plastic baking film and chill for about 20 minutes. 

Once chilled, preheat the oven to 180deg. C.

Take from the fridge and place between two sheets of plastic wrap. 

Roll out until the mixture is about half a centimetre thick. 

Remove the top layer of plastic wrap, then using a cookie cutter, stamp out a row of biscuits. 

Transfer them to a lined tray by removing the surrounding mixture, then lifting the bottom layer of plastic and peeling off the biscuit shapes before placing them onto the waiting tray. 

Gather up all the scraps and re-roll and repeat the biscuit cutting until all the mixture is used. 

Using a pastry brush, glaze the top of the uncooked biscuits with the extra beaten egg.

Sprinkle on the chopped walnuts and bake for 10 minutes. 

While the biscuits are baking prepare the filling: 

Beat together 120g butter, 1 cup icing sugar, 3 tablespoons very strong espresso, and 1 teaspoon vanilla essence until light and fluffy. 

Set aside until the biscuits are completely cooled. 

Place a teaspoon of filling onto half the biscuits and sandwich them together into pairs. 

The recipe makes about 24 depending on the size of the cutter. 

Time to start humming those Christmas Carols....