It’s official. Spring has well and truly sprung. Well, it has in this part of the world anyway. We have early rhododendrons, all kinds of magnolia, and camelias galore. Not to mention the daffodil fields, which are now in full bloom. I am pleased we are leaving for Turkey in a week’s time, as I hate to see the daffodils which have been grown for their bulbs dying out – they look so sad.
Here are some shots that Robin has taken in the last few weeks when we’ve been out and about around Cornwall, including my favourite cottage that we pass every day on our walk, and some of the magnolias at Trelissick House:
That’s the botany study for today. Moving swiftly on to food. February and the first part of March have been lean months in that department, in a valiant attempt to shift the extra Christmas pounds, and I didn’t feel that you needed to suffer alongside us, hence the dearth of recipes.
Earlier in the month, Linda, our good friend and neighbour from Kaş, came to stay for a few days, so the diet was entirely abandoned – well, guests, you know. Prior to her visit, I had spotted a recipe for some rather decadent salted caramel cheesecakes on The Pioneer Woman website and had promised Linda I would make them while she was here. They are mini cheesecakes, made in muffin tins, and I made six – intending to give half of them to our lovely next door neighbours (of which, handily, there are three). Sadly for them, when I went over to deliver them, they were out and so the cheesecakes were returned to my fridge. I am sure I don’t need to tell you that, by the time we’d scoffed our half of the rations, a unanimous decision had been made not to give the rest of them away. Ooops, sorry Ali et al.
As with many US recipes, there were items on the ingredients list that we just don’t get here, and I felt there was too much chocolate going on, so I took the opportunity to switch a few things. I also added fresh raspberries for the topping, as I was worried the cheesecakes could actually be too much of a good thing with all that sweetness in the works. The raspberries were definitely the right decision, especially with a little drizzle of dark chocolate – just to finish them off. Strawberries would also have been perfect.
These are extremely easy to make and, because the cheesecakes are so small, there is no danger of them cracking across the middle. They definitely benefit from some time in the fridge, so making them the day before is absolutely fine. The only thing I would say is that I made six cheesecakes from this quantity of the ingredients, as per the recipe – not only did I have filling left over, the bases were too thick, so the good news is that the recipe now makes eight cheesecakes. Hurrah.
My other slight concern is that, by Day Two, the paper muffin liners had gone a bit soggy, so if you can get your hands on some of those tulip-shaped ones made from non-stick baking paper, this is a good time to splash out. If you are less shape-dyslexic than I am, you could make your own.
Salted caramel & raspberry cheesecakes
For the base:
12 Hobnob biscuits (eat the rest), or other biscuits of your choice
55g butter, melted
1 teaspoon ginger or cinnamon (optional)
1 x 340g tub Philadelphia full fat cream cheese (any brand will do)
115g white sugar
4 tablespoons (60ml) salted caramel sauce – you will use the rest for the topping (I used Tesco Finest, but all the supermarkets have their own brand – you can find it in the aisle with the ice cream sauces)
Splash of vanilla extract
24 fresh raspberries (or equivalent amount of sliced strawberries)
Approx 40g (half of a standard bar) of dark chocolate
1 teaspoon butter
8 teaspoons (approx) salted caramel sauce
You will need a muffin tin, eight holes of which should be lined with muffin cases (see note above)
Pre-heat the oven to 170°C.
Put the biscuits into a basin and bash gently with the end of a rolling pin or other weapon of your choice. (Yes you could use a plastic freezer bag, but please don’t, it may end up inside a whale and there is really no need). Alternatively, you can whizz the biscuits in a food processor – that would make you even lazier than me, but I am not judging. Stir in the melted butter and ginger/cinnamon, if using.
Divide the mixture evenly between the eight muffin cases and press down with the bottom of a jam jar (a full one is fine) to compact the crumbs.
In a clean mixing bowl, using a balloon whisk or electric whisk, thoroughly mix together the cream cheese, egg and sugar until smooth. (You can use a processor if you prefer, but wash it first if you’ve used it to bash the biscuits). Add the salted caramel sauce and vanilla and whisk again until smooth. Divide the mixture between the muffin cases, then bake for 15 minutes – they should be just set in the middle. It doesn’t matter if the top colours slightly in some areas, but be careful not to let them burn.
Remove the cheesecakes from the oven, allow to cool, then refrigerate for at least two hours – overnight is fine.
Spread each of the cheesecakes with a little more of the salted caramel (about a teaspoon each), then top each one with a few raspberries.
Break the chocolate into pieces and place in a small bowl (a coffee mug works well) with the butter, and microwave for 12 seconds. Stir, then repeat once or twice until most of the chocolate has melted – remove and continue to stir until all the chocolate is liquid. Using a teaspoon, drizzle a little of the melted chocolate over the raspberries, then return the cheesecakes to the fridge until you are ready to serve them.