Saturday, 13 August 2016

baked vanilla & chocolate cheesecake & cousintime





This week has been amazing. My cousin S came to visit and she and I had a lovely time eating and chatting and exploring my neighbourhood. I always look forward to seeing her as there’s about a year between us and we are good friends. So we talked about life and the present and a little about the future as we have both learned around the same time how important it is to live in the present and not live to plan the future. We ate across a whole spectrum of cuisines, Lebanese, Thai, Algerian and European. An Asian-inspired English fry up. My cousin told me she felt like she was on holiday and I guess I did too. The weather’s been nice lately. My ideal kind of non-sweltering heat with balmy evenings which are perfect for a stroll.


It’s the simple things that add value to our lives, spending time with family and friends, good food (of course!), good conversation and living with some sort of purpose. Of course the odd phase of drifting aimlessly is also ok. Since starting this blog and taking on some freelance work over the past couple years I feel that it would be a challenge to commute 2-3 hours daily during rush hour and swim against the tide of people that inhabit the capital and return home an exhausted mess. It would have to be something I loved as much as I love my food related ventures. At the very least it would involve a nice boss and colleagues I could eventually call friends.

This week has also made me realise that if you put out positivity into the world and conduct yourself with honesty, integrity and warmth, people respond to you in the most amazing ways. The joy of a friendly gesture, a kind act does not go unnoticed and I appreciate it with all my heart, clinging onto the warmth of human kindness so that it cocoons me until the next sunshiny face. I’ve learned to love my surroundings and the people in them and there hasn’t been a time that I can recall when a person hasn’t been helpful and friendly towards me, offering a smile, advice, suggestions. My Saturday at the market is filled with amazing fellow traders who light up the space with their enthusiasm and make me feel right at home in a place where only two and a half years ago I was a stranger with few connections. So I baked a cheesecake for my cousin to enjoy one of those good moments and it was worth going to the effort just to see her enjoyment as she took a bite. So treat yourself this weekend and bake this cheesecake. It’s super easy and is certain to give you happy smiles!


Inspired by Mary Berry

Ingredients (serves 8)
280g cream cheese
150ml single cream
2 small free-range eggs
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
160g caster sugar
Dark chocolate (minimum 70%)
8 dark chocolate digestives
40g butter, melted


Method
Preheat oven to 180c or 160 (fan) /gas mark 4

Place the digestive biscuits in a ziplock bag and crush lightly (and gently) with a rolling pin until the biscuits are crumbs.

Melt the butter in a bowl and mix in the crumbed biscuits and press into a non-stick 8 inch loose base cake tin. Ensure that the crumbs are spread evenly and pressed smooth into the base. Leave to chill in the refrigerator.

Meanwhile blend the cream cheese and sugar either by hand or an electric whisk and then slowly add the eggs, cream and vanilla.

In a separate bowl melt the dark chocolate, either in a glass bowl over a boiling pot of water for a few minutes or about 1 minute in a microwave until melted. Check after a minute and if it’s not fully melted put into the microwave for another 10-20 seconds.  Remove, stir and leave to cool slightly for about 5 minutes.

Take the chilled base out of the fridge and carefully pour in the cream cheese mixture. Then, using a tablespoon pour dollops of the slightly cooled melted chocolate onto the mixture leaving gaps between each spoonful. Use the back of a spoon to swirl the chocolate into a decorate pattern. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look perfect.

Transfer to the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until it appear set with a slight jiggle in the centre.

Leave to cool completely for a 1 ½- 2 hours and then chill overnight or at least 3-4 hours. The cooled cake will naturally fall away from the sides a little.

When serving loosen the sides with a butter knife then place the base on a unturned small bowl and push the sides of the tin down to remove the cake. Place the base onto a plate and use a butter knife to slice and serve.





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