Thursday, 25 August 2011

Peanut Butter & Dark Chocolate Baked NY Cheesecake

Oh I've got a doosey for you this week.  You'll be able to feel your arteries hardening even as you read the title of this recipe.  This is one I invented some time ago and havent made in over 2 years.  I stumbled across it the other day and thought I would put it up here for you.

This is a very rich, decadent cheesecake.  I am definitely a fan of baked cheesecake over set cheesecake but  you certainly can't eat a whopping great wedge.  This is a sliver sized portion kinda guy.  Awesome - but like all good things, too much of it will make you feel a little 'over it'.

I used store bought GF Gingernuts in this recipe.  In Australia all the major supermarkets carry these in the green packet in the healthfood aisles and they're really rather good and they make a super base for this cheesecake.  Feel free to substitute any other GF Biscuit of your choice or even use the base from the Ginger Crunch recipe if you like.

Remember I always use a 250ml Cup measure and a 20ml Tablespoon Measure.

2 Packets Gluten Free Gingernuts
3/4 Cup Dessicated Coconut 
100g Melted Unsalted Butter
500g Cream Cheese ( I used Half Full Fat and Half Light.  If you use all light it may not set)
2 Teaspoons of Vanilla Extract
3/4 Cup Light Sour Cream
1/2 Cup Pure Icing Sugar
1/2 Cup Super Crunchy Peanut Butter (you could use smooth if you prefer)
2 Eggs
40g of Dark Chocolate

  1. Heat your oven to approx 160 Celsius.
  2. Begin by crushing your biscuits.  Either in your food processor or if you have aggression issues, put them in a plastic bag and bash with a rolling pin until they become fine crumbs.
  3. Stir through your coconut and then melt your butter and mix through .
  4. You will need a springform pan approx 20cm diameter and 7cm deep. A sponge tin really.  Take your crumbs and using the back of a desert spoon press into the bottom and up the sides of your tin. Then place in the fridge to chill while you prepare the filling.
  5. In a large bowl combine your Cream Cheese, Sour Cream, Vanilla Extract and Icing Sugar.  Using an electric mixer beat this mixture until it is smooth.  Approx 2-3 minutes.
  6. Now you need to incorporate your peanut butter.  If yours is already quite runny'ish then just add straight to your mix.  If yours is quite firm, then place in a bowl and heat in the microwave for a few seconds to make it more runny but not hot.  Add to your cheese mixture and beat with the mixer until properly incorporated.
  7. Now we need to add the eggs.   These babies are going to set your cheesecake but we need to add them one at a time beating well between each addition to combine them properly.
  8. Now we're ready to fill our tin.  Pour the mixture into the tin over the base.  If you have the right diameter /depth pan it should come right to the top.  Thats OK as its not going to rise.
  9. At this point you can either choose to add the dark Chocolate swirl or leave it out or get creative with something else in your cheesecake.  I take my dark choc and microwave on 80% power for about 1 min or until melted (keep a close eye on this as you don't want it to burn.)
  10. Now take a teaspoon and scoop some chocolate out of the bowl and put on top of cheesecake then take your spoon and stir it through.  It should make some lovely swirls.  Be careful not to dredge too deep or you will pull on the base.
  11. When you are happy with the look place it on a low shelf in your oven and bake for approx 50 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before attempting to release the pan.
  12. Cut yourself a little slice of heaven, put your feet up and relax !
Enjoy xx

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Gluten Free Ginger Crunch

OK its Friday Baking Day at my house.  Here's one for all you Kiwi's out there and if you have never tried this you will absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE it.  There's a reason Ginger Crunch is a treasured favourite for all New Zealanders.  I grew up with my Mum baking it often.  Its crispy crunchy, gingery and sweet.  Its catches in the throat then slides on down - little pieces of heaven.  

You really cannot stop at just one piece and I fully intend to give some of this away (notice I said only SOME....)  It is reprinted here with my Gluten Free adaptation but using the famed Edmonds Cookbook recipe (another Kiwi Institution) - if you don't own your own copy of the Edmonds Cookbook you can't call yourself a true Kiwi!

It looks plain and unassuming but I absolutley promise you beyond a shadow of a doubt, if you make this once - you will make it again, and again, and again until it becomes a favourite for your family too.

125g Softened Unsalted Butter
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 + 3/4 Cups of Gluten Free Plain Flour
1 teaspoon of Gluten Free Baking Powder
1 teaspoon of Ground Ginger

150g Unsalted Butter
1+ 1/2 Cups of Pure Icing Sugar
1/4 Cup Golden Syrup
6 Teaspoons of Ground Ginger ( don't be put off by that the sweetness needs it)

  1. Preheat your oven to 190C or about 180C if Fan Forced
  2. Line a Slice Tin with nonstick baking paper
  3. Cream your softened butter and sugar well with a hand mixer until light and fluffy
  4. Now add your Dry Ingredients - Flour, Baking Powder and ginger.  You don't need to sift these unless your flour is very lumpy.
  5. It should pull together in a dough upon mixing then tip out onto lightly floured bench and kneed it together for about 2-3 minutes
  6. Then place dough in Slice tin and using your hands work it out to the edges covering the entire base of the pan
  7. Prick lightly with a fork and place in the heated oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until lightly golden.
  8. Now begin your boiled icing by placing the remaining butter, golden syrup, icing sugar and ginger into a saucepan on a low heat and stirring constantly until the icing comes together.  
  9. Remove your base from the oven and pour the icing over the top getting it right out to the edges.  Before it cools completely get a sharp knife and cut into slices so it will be easier to cut again when cold.
  10. Leave to cool completely before serving

This recipe for Ginger Crunch ranks in the Top 20 Edmonds Cookbook recipes of All Time amongst New Zealanders.  Every Bakery in NZ carries this wonderful slice.  The GF base is not as crispy as a wheat flour one but still has a good crunch to it and not too shortbreadish.  The delicious buttery, gingery'ness of it more than makes up for it.  I hope this becomes a firm favourite for you and your families.

L xx

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Pistachio Macarons

I have sat on the sidelines for some time and watched the hysteria about macarons.  I admired the many jewel like colours of these wonderful creations when we were in Paris a year ago but was never moved to try to make them.  Well today I decided to give it a go.  To say I was nervous is an understatement.  The French rate a Macaron in terms of difficulty as a 10/10  !!!  So much can go wrong and mine is by no means faultless but it gives me something to work on and try to improve.
Apparently you want "feet",  thats the little frilly bit at the bottom and nice smooth tops with a sheen and no bubbles or holes.  There are more tips and tricks for creating macarons than I care to count and the more of them I read the more terrified I got.  There are two very different methods to making them as well (as it relates to the making of the meringue element).  The age of your egg whites is also important...who knew ?

Well, armed with information up to the eyeballs I decided to just jump right in with both feet and hope I didn't fail spectacularly.  I must add here there are a couple of tips I used from the multitude...and a good working relationship with your own particular quirky oven is essential also so you understand how it bakes.
Your Almond Meal and ground Pistachios if you use them must be (a) DRY, and (b) very fine - fine enough that they have been passed through a sieve.
Don't use fresh eggs on pain of death and if thats all you have, leave them out on your benchtop for at least a day before attempting them in a macaron.

Don't eat your macaron the day you make it!  Its has to sit in the fridge for at least a day to absorb the flavors before being removed from the fridge - returned to room temp before eating.
Put off enough yet ?  OK then lets get started...

225g Icing Sugar
125g Ground Almond Meal (I substituted in about 40g of ground pistachios into this mix)
30g Caster Sugar
Pinch Salt
110g Egg Whites

  1. Turn on your oven and heat to 160 Celsius ( actually found this a little hot and found 120C worked better in my oven.)
  2. Line 2 baking trays with baking parchment.  If you don't trust your piping skills, draw circles on the parchment to pipe within.  
  3. Measure and sift your icing sugar then sieve your almond meal / pistachio mix.  It must be fine and dry. Set aside.
  4. Measure out your egg whites and in a stand mixer or with your handheld mixer beat with the pinch of salt to form frothy peaks.
  5. When you have your frothy peaks, gradually add your caster sugar until you have firm glossy peaks.
  6. Using a spatula, fold the dry mix into the eggwhites.  At this point you can add a little dot of green food colouring gel to give a subtle pistachio colour.  Mix until the mix is combined and consistency of 'lava'... not my expression but the accepted one...Hahaha
  7. Place your mix into a piping bag with no nozzle and pipe your macarons onto the baking trays.  Try to not get peaks on them but if you do just flatten with with your finger.
  8. I left my macarons on the bench for about 5-10 minutes to develop a slight 'skin' prior to cooking.  Place them in your oven and cook for 11-16 minutes.  The oven is low but you don't want to  brown these.
  9. When cooked through remove and place on baking tray.
  10. Fill with your choice of buttercream or ganache filling.