Tag Archives: bake

Salted caramel cheesecake cupcakes

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One of my favourite things to bake is cheesecake. I’m not really sure why. I guess it happened to be one of the first things I learned how to bake once I graduated on from cupcakes. I have a classic New York Cheesecake recipe that I tend to make at least once every few months because it is unbelievable. And don’t they say that by the time you’re in your thirties you’re supposed to know how to cook a couple things really really well? Not that I’m thinking much of being in my thirties but I do like the idea of being the master of a handful of dishes.

Cheesecake can be a bit tricky- if you don’t have the temperatures right or if you overcook the cake the top will begin to crack or the sides will burn and you’ll ruin the texture and the taste of the entire dessert. Not only is it important to follow the recipe, it’s also pretty important to get to know your oven. In the past few years I’ve had to deal with a gas-lit oven that you had to basically throw a burning match into to turn on, a fan-forced oven in a brand new apartment that liked to shut itself off every once in a while, and an oven in a much older apartment that seems to be changing temperatures from minute to minute. But once you get used to the quirks you can handle pretty much anything.

Luckily I was at home when I made these cute little treats and I know that oven extremely well. This is a great recipe for party treats as you can make heaps of little cupcakes very easily. They keep well for a few days and taste amaaaazing.

Salted caramel cheesecake cupcakes
Makes 24 normal sized cupcakes
Recipe from Cooking Classy

Ingredients:
2 1/4 cups finely crushed graham crackers (from 18 sheets)
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
7 Tbsp salted butter, melted
4 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup heavy cream
Salted Caramel Sauce, recipe follows

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, whisk together crushed graham crackers with 3 Tbsp granulated sugar. Pour in melted butter and stir mixture until evenly coated. Divide graham cracker mixture among 24 paper lined muffin cups, adding about a heaping Tbsp to each. Press mixture into an even layer. Bake in preheated oven 5 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool while preparing filling.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar with 3 Tbsp flour until well blended. Add softened cream cheese to a separate mixing bowl and pour sugar mixture over top. Blend mixture on low speed until smooth. Mix in eggs one at a time and blend on low speed, while scrapping sides and bottom of bowl and mixing just until combined after each addition. Add vanilla, sour cream and heavy cream and mix just until combined. Tap mixing bowl against counter top about 30 times to release some of the air bubbles. Divide mixture among muffin cups filling each cup nearly full. Bake in preheated oven 20 – 23 minutes, centers should still jiggle slightly, don’t overbake (if they begin to crack they are starting to become overbaked). Remove from oven and allow to cool 1 hour. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and transfer to refrigerator and chill 2 hours. Serve chilled with a spoonful of Salted Caramel Sauce  (note: for best results spoon topping on just before serving). Store in an airtight container in refrigerator or freeze.

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Salted caramel sauce

Ingredients:
1 1 /2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp water
6 Tbsp salted butter
3/4 cup heavy cream*
Maldon or coarse sea salt, for sprinkling

Directions
Gather all of your ingredients and have them nearby ready to add to the mixture as needed. In a heavy-bottomed 3 quart saucepan, heat sugar and water over moderately high heat whisking constantly to dissolve sugar. Once mixture reaches a boil, stop whisking and allow mixture to boil until it reaches a dark amber color, carefully swirling pan occasionally. Once mixture reaches a dark amber color, immediately add butter and whisk until butter has melted then immediately remove from heat. Wait 3 seconds then carefully pour in cream and immediately whisk to combine (it will bubble vigorously). Whisk until mixture is smooth. Allow caramel to cool several minutes then pour into a glass jar to cool. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt after spooning caramel over cheesecakes.

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Guest post: Super easy breakfast tarts

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Living with two girls who turn out to be fantastic cooks has its apparent advantages. I can no longer count on two hands how many times I’ve wandered into the girls’ apartment to smell something amazing being baked/cooked/fried/prepared, roughly ten seconds before platters of food get shoved in my face accompanied with inquisitive stares that scream “what do you think? (and don’t you dare say anything bad about it!)”. Despite this pressure, these girls know how to cook and I can’t remember ever having anything bad to say about any of their creations. There’s definitely nothing more amazing than coming home after an epic night bartending and seeing an aluminium (sorry Allie, ‘aluminum’) foil-wrapped plate full of goodies waiting to be heated up and consumed at record pace. So I can’t really have anything to complain about right?

Unfortunately, skilled as Allie and Kahina are, there is one hugely embarrassing downside. Any time I attempt to create something of my own, it’s inevitably followed by ‘so-you’re-really-going-to-try-putting-those-ingredients-together’ stares, and two pairs of waiting eyes watching to see what my next culinary disaster will yield.

Take for example the last time Kahina made crepes. She is a genuine whizz when it comes to these things, I’m pretty sure making crepes is as inherent to French DNA as making pastries or appreciating fine wine. Anyway, Kahina was making us all breakfast and I, attempting to get in the spirit of things said “why don’t I try making my own?”. Cue raised eyebrows. Five minutes later what can only be described as a crepe batter explosion is all over the pan and surrounding benches and Kahina and Allie in stitches as I try to repair the damage to my breakfast. Crepes 1, Ciaran 0.

So my latest experiment was also something of a disaster. Both the girls were out and I figured I’d try to quickly cook up something before running off to Uni. We had a fair amount of puff pastry and some eggs left in the fridge from a previous cooking adventure, and having seen something about baked eggs in puff pastry on Masterchef, I thought I’d give it a go. What could possibly go wrong? Allie came home as I was finishing removing them from the oven and immediately I got the “omg-what-were-you-thinking-it’s-just-eggs-and-pastry” looks. Needless to say it was extremely embarrassing and yielded weeks of “Ciaran and his egg tarts” jokes. But this time I was intent on proving I could do something with the idea, and came up with these awesome breakfast tarts. I’ve seen variations of them at cafés all over the place and they’re just so easy that anybody can whip them up in a matter of minutes to impress even the most intense and critical foodie. Enjoy!

Ciaran

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Ingredients – Makes 4 medium sized Breakfast Tarts

2 Sheets Puff Pastry

6 Eggs

2 Rashers Middle Bacon

1 Tomato (Alternately you can use Cherry Tomatoes)

100gms Button Mushrooms

Rocket to Garnish

Salt

Pepper

Butter

Sauce of your choice

Method:

Try to use a muffin tin or something similar. Fortunately I managed to use the girls pie tins which turned out to be perfectly sized for these tarts. Take the puff pastry out of the freezer and leave to defrost. Fry the bacon until crispy and then leave it on the side. Slice the mushrooms thinly, cook in a pot until soft and then set aside in the pot. Grease the muffin/pie tin with butter and then arrange the puff pastry so that you make a small bowl in the tin to hold the eggs. Add one full egg and then more egg white if required to fill the pastry bowl you’ve made. This can vary depending on the size of the bowl but be mindful the pastry and the egg will rise so try not to overdo it. The bacon can be cut up a number of ways, I tried to break it into pieces so it was all through the tart but I’ve seen it done as a long single piece so its really up to you! Toss a few of the mushrooms into each of the tarts. Dice the tomato and throw a few pieces in as well. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees. Bake the tarts at 180 degrees for about 15-20mins and take care not to overcook them as they’ll dry through the centre. The yolk should be just turning that lighter yellow when you take them out to rest for 5 minutes. Overturn the tins and gently remove the tarts. They may take some encouragement so I found it easier to run a knife around the edge first to make sure you get them out cleanly. Serve each tart with a little Rocket on top to give them a little extra colour and flavour. Add salt, pepper and sauce to taste.

 

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Red Velvet cake

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When I think of velvet I think of fancy fat kings sitting on thrones in giant castles in England. They’re usually wearing capes or manly dresses (as manly as fancy men in the 18th century were). These garments are made of velvet, and the velvet is usually purple. Or dark green.

I don’t know why velvet conjures up that specific image in my head. It’s just what happens.

But I don’t think red.

And usually I don’t think baked goods.

So that chef in that fancy hotel that came up with red velvet cake was apparently on a whole other wavelength.

But luckily for him, he was a genius.

The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook is both of our go-to when we’re in the mood for these devilish, discolored delights. That is, in cupcake form.

But when one little cupcake just isn’t enough, and you need a whopper of red velvety joy you can use this recipe. It’s super moist and super tasty.

Enjoy!

Red Velvet Cake
From Let Them Eat Cake and Ice Cream

Who adapted it from Bakerella

Ingredients:

For the cake:

2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 ½ cups vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
60 ml red liquid food colouring
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cocoa

For the frosting:

500g cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups confectioners’ sugar

Preheat the oven to 175C fan-forced. Spray two cake pans with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, gently whisk together eggs, buttermilk, oil, vinegar, vanilla and food colouring until combined.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, baking powder and cocoa until combined. Add wet ingredients and mix on medium speed for one minute. Pour batter into prepared pans, and thump on the counter a couple of times to release air pockets.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

Make the frosting:

Sift sugar and set aside.

Beat the cream cheese and butter on high until creamy. Add vanilla.

Add the sugar in batches. Scrape down the sides in between each addition.

Frost away.

 

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Pecan pie

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Short crust pastry and puff pastry are not the same thing. Though they do look awfully similar when they’re frozen.

People who have grown up down under probably know that. I should probably know that too, but that doesn’t mean I do.

They should have easy Americanized definitions on the label, like short-crust = sweet, puff = savoury. I suppose the picture of sausage rolls on the front should have been a clue, but my brain was in a different place.

Despite pastry problems in the kitchen the pie turned out to be pretty tasty. Pecan pie isn’t seen that often in Australia, but it’s not too difficult to make and it’s super sweet and delicious.

As a side note, the egg in this recipe will cause the pie to rise pretty high while cooking, don’t worry, it won’t explode. I already did enough panicking for you.

Ingredients:

Frozen SHORT-CRUST PASTRY (caps make everything seem more important.)

5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
2 cups chopped toasted pecans
1 to 2 tablespoons bourbon
2 teaspoons pure vanillaextract
3 eggs, lightly beaten

Once the dough has defrosted a bit, lay it into a 9-inch pie pan and trim the edges, leaving about an extra inch hanging over the edge. Tuck the overhanging dough underneath itself to form a thick edge that is even with the rim. Flute the edge as desired.

Set separate racks in the center and lower third of oven and preheat to 200 degrees C. Put a piece of parchment paper or foil over the pie shell and fill with dried beans or pie weights. We didn’t have either so we used old uncooked ramen, it works as well. Bake on a baking sheet on the center rack until the dough is set, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and lift sides of the parchment paper to remove the beans.

While the crust is baking make the filling: In medium saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and stirring constantly, continue to boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the nuts, bourbon, and the vanilla. Set the mixture aside to cool slightly, about 5 minutes. (If the crust has cooled, return it to the oven for 5 minutes to warm through.) Whisk the beaten eggs into the filling until smooth. Put the pie shell on a baking pan and pour the filling into the hot crust.

Bake on the lower oven rack until the edges are set but the center is still slightly loose, about 35 to 40 minutes. (If the edges get very dark, cover them with aluminum foil half way during baking.) Cool on a rack. Serve slightly warm or room temperature with a dollop of cream on top.

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