Tag Archives: dessert

Gingerbread Cheesecake Squares

The flavours of gingerbread instantly remind me of the festive season. While gingerbread houses (or even Gingerbread Ovens) might be traditional, why not put a spin on your classic gingerbread by turning it into these Gingerbread Cheesecake Squares?

Funnily enough this recipe was the result of a bit of gingerbread dough that I left too long in the fridge. As I began to knead it between my hands to warm up, it just crumbled away into pieces. It was at this point that I thought it resembled a shortbread mixture rather than gingerbread biscuit dough and immediately I had the idea to crumble it into the base of a tin, bake it and pour over some cheesecake mixture to make little squares.

This recipe is also perfect for making cutout gingerbread biscuits and gingerbread houses. You will only need to chill the dough for 20 – 30 minutes instead of hours in this case. The longer chilling ‘dries’ out the dough, making it crumbly and impossible to roll out but making it ideal for these cheesecake squares. This means you can also make the dough ahead of time!

To add a decorative element, I remove some of the cheesecake mixture and add food colouring to it. This small amount of mixture requires just a single egg yolk. The addition of yellow colouring emphasises the egg yolk colour and helps to create an attractive design. The mixture is too fluid to swirl properly but it doesn’t bleed and run either, allowing you to create a random pattern on the surface.

The backdrops used in these photos was the Farmhouse backdrop from Backdrops By Lucy – read my review of their product by clicking here!


For the Gingerbread Base:

125g margarine

100g granulated sugar

50g golden syrup

300g plain flour

2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp mixed spice

1 tsp ground cinnamon

For the Cheesecake mixture:

250g cream cheese

75g granulated sugar

½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground ginger

½ tsp mixed spice

1 tbsp plain flour

Pinch of ground nutmeg

½ tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs, 1 egg separated

Yellow food colouring


In a pan over a medium heat, melt the margarine, sugar and syrup until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is even. Remove the pan from the heat, leave to sit for 1 minute before adding the pre-weighed and measured dried ingredients into the pan and stirring until it forms a dough which is aromatic and fragrant, soft but not sticky and a deep brown colour.

On a lightly floured surface, shape the dough into a ball, flatten into a disc and wrap well in clingfilm. Freeze for 2 hours until very firm and then leave in the fridge overnight or up to 2 days.

When you are ready to make the cheesecake squares, preheat the oven to 190°C. Take a square of baking parchment larger than a 20cm square tin. Grease the tin and flip it over. Fold the parchment into 4 and place the point of the square at the centre of the bottom of the pan and cut from the corner inwards until you feel the pan. Open up, push into the tin and it should line the tin perfectly.

Take the dough from the fridge and crumble it up into a mixing bowl. The pieces should all be various sizes, ranging from large chunks to small pieces to fine crumbs. Pour the mixture into the lined tin and use your hand to press the gingerbread into a single layer, pressing right into the corners until even.

Prick the surface of the gingerbread with a fork and bake for around 20 – 30 minutes or until the base is set on the surface and golden around the edges. Leave to cool completely.

Reduce the oven temperature to 170°C.

Prepare the cheesecake by beating together the cream cheese and sugar by hand until smooth. Sift over the dry ingredients and fold to incorporate. Add the vanilla and mix to combine. Remove about 50g of the mixture and place into a separate smaller bowl. To the larger bowl, add the whole egg plus 1 egg white and beat to combine until even. To the smaller bowl, add the egg yolk and some food colouring to make it a vibrant yellow colour.

Pour the non-coloured cheesecake mixture over the cooled gingerbread base. It should be fairly liquid and it may run down the sides of the gingerbread base slightly too – this is to be expected. Slowly spoon over the yellow cheesecake mixture randomly so it creates a nice pattern.

Bake the cheesecake for about 25 minutes or until the surface is lightly browned, golden at the edges and wobbles just slightly in the very centre. Leave the cheesecake to cool fully in the tin before slicing into 16 squares.

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Chocolate Popcorn Cake

While cakes with lots of sponge and buttercream layers may be amazing to look at, the simplest of cakes consisting of just 1 sponge layer with a glaze or topping are the ones I seem to make the most and this Chocolate Popcorn Cake is no exception!

The single chocolate cake layer gets a thin topping of my favourite chocolate glaze which sets hard – it’s the same glaze I used on my Dark Chocolate and Strawberry Mini Rolls. This adds a strong hit of chocolate flavour as well as giving the cake a wonderful crack when you slice through it! You could alternatively make a chocolate ganache and spread this on top too!

Topping the cake with a layer of my White Chocolate Confetti Popcorn is something a bit different but adds a huge amount of interest with a bright pop of colour. To stick the popcorn on, you have to work quickly as the chocolate glaze sets quickly and hard so make sure that the popcorn is broken into chunks already and on hand.

You can find the full recipe and method for making the White Chocolate Confetti Popcorn by clicking on the name.


For the sponge:

125g margarine

125g granulated sugar

2 eggs

½ tsp vanilla extract

115g self raising flour

30g cocoa powder

1 tsp instant coffee granules mixed with 3 tbsp milk

For the decoration

50g dark chocolate

15g margarine

1 tbsp golden syrup

1 batch of White Chocolate Confetti Popcorn


Preheat the oven to 170°C. Grease and line the base and sides of a deep 20cm loose-bottomed tin with baking parchment.

In a bowl, cream together the margarine with the granulated sugar until it is light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract and the eggs one by one, scraping down the bowl with a spatula after each addition. Sift in the self raising flour and cocoa powder and fold through until incorporated. Then beat in the coffee milk mixture until it is even and smooth.

Pour the mixture into the tin and level out the surface before baking for about 20 minutes until an inserted skewer comes out clean and the surface springs back when touched. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before removing the tin and parchment from the cake and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Prepare the White Chocolate Confetti Popcorn. Once the popcorn has set, prepare the chocolate glaze. In a microwaveable bowl, break the dark chocolate and add the margarine and golden syrup. Microwave for 30 seconds; the heat from the melted margarine and syrup should be enough to melt the chocolate too but if not, microwave for another 15 seconds. The glaze should be smooth, thick and shiny.

Working quickly, spread over most of the chocolate glaze on top of the cake and before it sets, arrange the Confetti Popcorn over the top of the cake. Leave the chocolate glaze to set at room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving the cake.

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Quick Apple Lattice Pie

With the clocks going back last week, the winter nights are coming and nothing sounds more ideal than a slice of pie warm from the oven with cream or custard. I think that my Quick Apple Lattice Pie would make everyone happy!!

I’m rapidly finding that this first term of my 2nd year of uni is so demanding; I have so many classes, tutorials and lectures and I am missing way too many. My nights seem to be taken up with making notes every night so I am always trying to find ways to make quicker versions of food I want and it was apple pie this time!

Instead of stewing apples, leaving the mixture to cool and baking a large pie for an hour or so, I decided to thinly slice apples, mix them with sugar so they cook and caramelise in the oven while the pastry bakes. I find stewed apples tends to be a bit of a nonentity texture wise so thinly slicing and leaving some of the surface exposed through the lattice creates texture and bite. I add flour and line the pastry with oats to absorb liquid and prevent a raw soggy bottom.

You can use shopbought shortcrust pastry if you don’t want to make your own however there’s nothing tricky about making this pastry at all! The food processor is an essential piece of kit for making pastry in my opinion as it is so fuss free and so quick! There’s also less risk of overworking since you only need to bring it together into a ball and then it rests in the fridge before rolling out.

This lattice is very basic and by no means perfect either. I see on Bake Off that the bakers make the perfect lattice on parchment and then flip it onto the top of the pie/tart and I know that I could never do that because it wouldn’t make it in one piece so I do this lattice on top of the filling, alternating over and under the strips of pastry – the filling isn’t sticky so this shouldn’t be difficult.


For the shortcrust pastry:

250g plain flour

2 tbsp granulated sugar

125g margarine or unsalted butter, cubed

Around 40ml cold water

For the filling:

4 Pink Lady apples, cored and peeled

Juice of a lemon

50g soft light brown sugar

25g sultanas (optional)

½ tsp ground cinnamon

Pinch of ground ginger

Pinch of ground nutmeg

¼ tsp mixed spice

1 tbsp flour

2 tbsp porridge oats (not instant)

15g margarine

Milk, for glazing

Apricot jam, for decoration

Double cream, to serve


For the pastry, combine the flour, sugar and margarine in the bowl of a food processor until it resembles breadcrumbs. While the food processor is running, add the cold water through the feed tube gradually until the mixture just comes together.

Tip out onto a lightly floured surface and bring together with your hands to form a ball which is even and not sticky. Flatten into a disc and wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.

For the filling, thinly slice the cored and peeled apples. Place into a bowl and squeeze over some lemon juice to stop browning. Add the sugar, dried fruit (if using), the spices and the flour and toss together with a spoon until even. Leave to sit for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Set aside a quarter of the pastry. On a lightly floured surface, roll the remaining three-quarters of pastry out to the thickness of a pound coin and line a 18cm fluted tart tin with the pastry, ensuring the pastry is tucked into the corners well. Cover the base with the porridge oats and then top with the sliced apple mixture, avoiding pouring in too much of the liquid in the bowl.

For the lattice, roll out the remaining quarter of the pastry into a rectangle which is at least as long as the tin to the same thickness. Use a knife to cut out strips of the pastry and create a lattice on top of the pie by alternating the pastry strips over and under. Use the fluted edges of the tin to trim the excess pastry.

Divide the 15g margarine between the exposed holes of the pie and then brush the pastry with milk before baking the pie for around 25 – 30 minutes until the lattice is golden brown and the apples are soft.

Brush the top of the pie with some apricot jam mixed with some boiling water. Then serve the pie warm straight from the tin with double cream or custard!

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No Churn Black Sesame Ice Cream

Inspired by Nadiya Hussain’s rhubarb ripple ice cream that she made last week on her British Food Adventure, I am fuelling my obsession with black sesame and I’m sharing my recipe for my No Churn Black Sesame Ice Cream.

The black sesame ice cream has this wonderful charcoal grey colour which I think is so visually pleasing and attractive. What’s more, you certainly don’t expect the nutty, bitter and smoky flavour of black sesame to come from this grey coloured ice cream and it’s that flavour which lingers after an initial hit of creamy sweetness.

Both Nigella and Mary as well as Nadiya have also demonstrated this no churn ice cream method on their shows and it really is so simple. Instead of using a crème anglaise base for the ice cream, double cream and condensed milk remove all the hard work of making custard and using an ice cream maker.

Condensed milk contains most of the sugar you need and because it is condensed, the moisture from the milk has been evaporated giving a creamy ice cream that doesn’t contain large ice crystals which would be good for a sorbet or a granita. Whipped double cream makes the ideal ice cream texture which is light and takes away the churning process. Golden syrup, or liquid glucose, reduces the firmness of the ice cream when set and I like to add evaporated milk for a similar reason.

If you cannot find any black sesame powder, you can make it yourself very easily – and remember it is very versatile! Buy a whole load of black sesame seeds and toast them over a medium heat in a dry pan until they are fragrant and then grind them in a food processor or blender until a fine and slightly damp powder forms. Put into a zip lock bag or an airtight container in the fridge and discard when the powder begins to lose its freshness.

Make sure to also check out my Dark Chocolate and Black Sesame Biscuits!


300ml double cream

225g condensed milk

50ml evaporated milk

4 tsp golden syrup (or liquid glucose)

50g black sesame powder

3 tsp black sesame seeds, plus extra to sprinkle


Pour all of the ingredients except for the black sesame seeds into a large bowl and whisk until it has increased in volume and become thick but does not hold soft peaks. Scrape down the bowl using a spatula and fold through the black sesame seeds.

Transfer to a plastic container, scraping down the bowl completely – don’t waste any of that black sesame goodness!! Sprinkle more black sesame seeds over the top and then put the lid on the container.

Place the container into a bag – I recommend using one that you can get at the fruit/veg section in the supermarket – and then freeze for around 6 hours or until the ice cream has set and is firm.

Serve the ice cream either in a waffle cone or in a bowl. Finish the ice cream by sprinkling over some toasted black sesame seeds.

 

Chinese Coconut Milk Pudding (椰汁糕)

One of my favourite sweet dim sum to have at yum cha is 椰汁糕 or Coconut Milk Pudding. It’s a very light little morsel of coconutty goodness and is also wonderfully refreshing but doesn’t require a lot of effort to make yourself at home either!

To get the correct balance of coconut flavour, I use an almost one to one ratio of coconut milk to whole milk; using too much coconut milk can make it very overpowering. Most tins of coconut milk are also sold in 400ml tins so you don’t have to worry about having any leftover. One tip is to use a chopstick or a fork to give the contents of the tin a mix before pouring into the saucepan as the coconut milk usually separates into water and the coconut cream and if the pudding mixture is not well mixed, it tends to separate out later on.

I prefer using gelatine powder as opposed to the sheets which all the chefs seems to use on TV. I find using the weight of a powder is much easier to control the set of the pudding and it’s also much cheaper too; I stocked up on gelatine powder when I went to Hong Kong however it can be easily found online.

150ml boiling water

20g gelatine powder

1 x 400ml tin of coconut milk

350ml whole milk

½ tsp vanilla extract

100g granulated sugar

Dissolve the gelatine powder in the boiling water, stirring until completely lump free. Set aside.

In a saucepan over a medium heat, stir together the coconut milk, whole milk, vanilla extract and sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Then add in the gelatin mixture and stir again to dissolve.

Strain the mixture into a deep rectangular or square plastic container and leave to cool for 30 minutes before covering and refrigerating for 4 hours or until it is set; it should have a firm wobble and come away from the edges cleanly when you pull the pudding away.

To serve the pudding, flip out the pudding onto a chopping board and use a knife to slice into even cubes.

White Chocolate Cheesecake Easter Eggs

You might not be left with many Easter eggs by the end of this Easter weekend however I beg you to save a few of them to make my White Chocolate Cheesecake-filled Easter Eggs; you’ll finish them even quicker than the Easter egg itself!

My choice of egg are the eggs that you might use for an Easter egg hunt so maybe persuade the young ones to hand over a few to make these cheesecake eggs. The eggs I used were from Co-op which I received as part of their #GoodEgg campaign. (I have not been asked to promote the Co-op or their product, I am stating where the eggs are from so that you can see what I am working with for reference, other supermarkets may have similar products available in their stores).

Slicing the eggs in half is very tricky and getting perfectly shaped halves was rare, as you can see! Hence you will need more than 6 eggs because some of them will crack in an odd place rendering them unusable. But reserve the broken pieces as they go brilliantly inside the cheesecake mixture! The quantity of cheesecake is enough to fill 12 half eggs as well as half of a large Easter egg or 2 large halves. The cheesecake recipe is adapted from the fantastic Becky over at https://biscuitbases.wordpress.com.


12 x 17g hollow milk chocolate Easter eggs, plus one half of a large hollow Easter egg or 1 large hollow Easter egg

100g white chocolate

200g cream cheese, at room temperature

25g icing sugar, sifted

175ml double cream


Use a serrated knife to halve the Easter eggs as best as you can and place one in each cavity of a 12 hole bun tin. Keep any broken pieces that fall off in a small bowl and break them up into small pieces.

Break the white chocolate into chunks and place into a microwaveable bowl. Melt the white chocolate in the microwave for 30 seconds and then in 20 second intervals until fully melted, stirring between each interval.

Working quickly, soften the cream cheese in a large mixing bowl. Add in the sifted icing sugar and beat in until smooth. Add in the melted chocolate and fold through until even. Then mix through the reserved Easter egg pieces.

Whisk the double cream until it holds a soft but thick peak; do not overwhip or it will split. Fold the whipped cream through the cheesecake mixture. It should be relatively thick and hold its shape.

Fill the hollow egg halves with the cheesecake mixture. You can do this with just a spoon or you can use a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle however the chocolate pieces can block up the nozzle. Place into the fridge for 2 hours to set the cheesecake mixture for the small eggs and 4 hours for the large eggs.

Finish with a few sprinkles and mini eggs and transfer the eggs into a paper case.

Simple Rich Chocolate Pots

Desserts are a fantastic time to show off a little bit of skill and flair using your culinary skills to leave a lasting impression on your guests. My Rich Chocolate Pots take hardly any time to make, uses only 1 bowl so there’s hardly any washing up and are rich tasting and a delicious way to end any meal.

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Some of the chocolate pot recipes around faff around whipping up egg yolks and egg whites – which to me feels more like a mousse rather than a rich chocolate pot – but I’m keeping mine both simple and easy by using only 3 ingredients: single cream, cocoa powder and dark chocolate (which has 56% cocoa solids) as well as assorted toppings.

The method is similar to making a ganache but the quantity of single cream means that it doesn’t set as firm as a ganache does if it were made with equal amounts of chocolate and double cream. It has a brilliant smooth and silky texture with a lot of richness, which comes from the dark chocolate and the addition of some cocoa powder.

To offset this texture, I top the chocolate pots with lots of different things to add a lot of interest once I’m ready to serve. These include cacao nibs which adds deep chocolate flavour, desiccated coconut and digestive biscuit crumbs. I also had a chocolate truffle leftover from another recipe which I threw on top too.

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I used a teacup to serve my chocolate pot but you can also use ramekins if you have those. This recipe is enough to make 4 chocolate pots so it’s easily scaled up and down.


300ml single cream

175g dark chocolate, broken into chunks; I used 56% cocoa solids

1 tbsp good quality cocoa powder, sifted

Cacao nibs, desiccated coconut, digestive biscuit crumbs, toasted nuts, to finish – you can personalise it here; maybe add fresh fruit to cut through the richness


Heat the single cream in the microwave in a bowl for about 1 minute on high. The cream should be warm enough that you can’t hold your finger in the cream for longer than 3 seconds. Add the broken up chocolate and sit for 3 minutes before stirring until the chocolate has all melted and it is silky, smooth and shiny. If the chocolate hasn’t melted fully, return to the microwave for 20 seconds and then stir until melted.

Sift in the cocoa powder and beat the chocolate pot mix for a good minute, this slightly aerates the chocolate pot mix and also makes sure the cocoa powder is well dissolved. Divide the mixture equally between your 4 serving dishes and allow to cool down. Then refrigerate for around 30 minutes or until the surface has just set. Remove from the fridge and finish with your toppings and serve.

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