Engagements. Slowly but surely, all of my friends are pairing off. I’m couldn’t be happier for them. Most recently was my old housemate Richard. He’s been with his now fiancée for almost three years now and they’ve moved away from Leeds, gotten themselves nicely onto their respective career paths and finally the other week he popped the question. They organised engagement drinks and I of course, offered to bake for them. Something like this is a fairly special occasion, so I wanted to do something a bit more fancy and decadent than my usual, run of the mill, cookies or cupcakes. I decided I wanted to do a high cake, and thus, decided on a Cheesecake Gateaux. Now, cheesecakes aren’t really my forte. I’m great with cakes and the like, but I’ve never done this too often. It prayed on my mind a bit the night before, and when I was placing it between the two cake layers on the morning on the party, it almost ended in disaster. It started to fall apart. When finally assembled though, this cake looks and tastes absolutely phenomenal.
Finishing this off with a simple cream cheese ganache just takes it to the next level. Each slice is excessive and delightful, without feeling like you’ve run a marathon. This needs a fair bit of fridge space, so make sure you’ve got the time and the space available.
Start with the cheesecake. Preheat your oven to 170°C (150 °C fan). Take a 22cm cake tin, lining it with non-stick paper, wrapping the outside tightly in foil to ensure that the water doesn’t get in. Place this in the center of a high sided roasting tin (or alternatively a larger cake tin).
Beat the cheese until it’s smooth. Add the salt and the sugar, beating for around 5 minutes.
Beat the eggs then add them. Beating well after the addition. Add both creams, and the vanilla, beat until well combined.
Transfer the mixture into the prepared cake tin. Pour warm water into the larger tin, until it’s around ¾ of the way up the cake tin.
Place in the oven and bake for around 40 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
For the cake. Preheat the oven to 180 °C (160 °C fan) and prepare two 22cm cake tins, lining them with paper.
Combine all the dry ingredients in the bowl of your mixer. Giving them a quick mix.
Create a well in the center and add the wet ingredients: eggs, buttermilk and oil.
Pour into the cake tins, ensuring each of them are a similar amount.
Place in the center of the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a tooth pick inserted in to the center comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack. Once the cakes and the cheesecake have cooled, chill in the fridge.
For the Ganache. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.. Add the cream cheese and vanilla extract and beat until smooth and thick.
Place this bowl in the fridge and allow it to chill.
Once everything has chilled sufficiently, place the bottom layer of your cake onto your cake stand or whatever it is you’ll be using to present it. Then place the cheesecake layer on top and finally the last cake layer. Take half of the ganache and, using a long spatula, cover the cake lightly.
Chill for a further 20 minutes, then cover in the rest of the ganache. Top with the chocolate (I blended it to get it nicely chopped).
Cupcakes, cupcakes, cupcakes. I’ve been doing far too many cookies lately, or else various non-cake related things. It is high time that I got my first cupcake recipe up here. There is little story to tell this time around. It was a Wednesday, I was trying to think on what to bake, and my workmate let slip that it was his Birthday. I’m not entirely sure why, but I’ve been getting the urge to do something minty of late, which is very not me. It’s not that I don’t like mint with sweet things (the odd after eight isn’t too bad), but I just don’t love it. I prefer my mint with my savoury foods, like lamb, or mint sauce with a pork pie. But as I said, I just got one of those urges to make something minty. So I started having a look around for some good looking mint frosting recipes. The best I came across was this one here on Sally’s Baking Addiction, which included the lovely addition of chocolate chips to give that added Mint Choc’ Chip ice cream nostalgia. Coupling mint with chocolate just has to be done, which lead me to tracking down the moistest cupcakes possible. The best recipe I found was here. The combination of the two was phenomenal, it had to be said.
225g unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
385-500g powdered (confectioners') sugar
2 Tablespoons double cream
¼ teaspoon peppermint extract (or more if you want)
2 drops green food colouring (I used a tad more than this)
100-200g mini chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 150°C and line your cake tray with cases.
Mix together the flour, sugar, cocao powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Whisk until it’s well mixed.
Add the “wet” ingredients, apart from the boiling water, and mix on a medium speed until well combined.
Reduce the speed and very carefully add the boiling water. Slowly up the speed until it’s on high and allow to mix for around 1 minute. This will get a good amount of air into the mix.
Distribute the batter evenly into the cases. Fill to around ¾ of the case. Depending on the size of the case you’ll get between 12 and 18 cakes, but always fill to about ¾.
Bake for 12-25 minutes. The cakes will be done when a tooth pick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly in the tray before transferring to a rack.
While they are cooling, prepare the frosting.
Take the softened butter and beat it until smooth and creamy, using a medium speed.
Add 385g of icing sugar, saving the rest just in case. Also add the cream, peppermint and food colouring. Be sparing with both the peppermint and colouring. You can always add more, remember.
Beat on a high speed for around 3 minutes. Scraping down the sides from time to time. Add more icing sugar if it is too thin, or more cream if it’s too thick. If you want to make it greener or mintier, add more of either but again do it in stages.
Stir in the chocolate chips.
Apply to the cupcakes, ensuring that they are cool first. This frosting looks great pretty rough so don’t worry overly about presentation.
Oreos. Truffles. What more could you want? Before I’d really started baking I went to a friend’s flat party. One of her friends had bought a selection of homemade treats with her and amongst them, were Oreo Truffles. They were simply incredible. A week later I tried my hand at them myself. They are possibly one of the simplest things possible to make and incredibly tasty. I’ve done them on numerous occasions and even put them inside cupcakes.
Chocolate for Melting (either White, plain or milk, whatever you want)
This is a no-bake recipe and the only time consuming part is chilling the truffles.
Start by breaking down the oreos, either put them in a bag and attack with a hammer (you couldn’t ask for better stress relief), or else put them in a blender or processor. Either way, break them down until they are fine crumbs.
Mix in the cream cheese.
Form in to balls and place in the fridge for several hours until they have firmed up.
Melt the chocolate (using the butter for shortening) and coat the truffles in the chocolate. This gets very messy.
Place back in the fridge to set the chocolate and get the truffles back to the right consistency.