Strawberry Shortcake

20150614_184641

As you may have figured out by now, my birthday gifts to my friends and family members usually end up being the birthday cake of their choice – no cake too elaborate, no tower of layers too high. We have had a few memorable ones over the years, but this one sticks out because when I asked Atlas which cake she’d like for her birthday a couple weeks ago, she said she wanted a strawberry shortcake. And I realized that I had never actually ever made this classical and simple dessert delight. So I decided to go right back to the cake’s roots and make it as classic as possible, following this recipe from Fine Cooking.

Strawberry shortcake, in its traditional form, is not really a cake at all. It’s more of a sweet sandwich in a biscuit (“short” cake indicating that the cake isn’t really made with any leavening agents and ends up pretty dense and flat). This recipe also doesn’t really lend itself well to making ahead, as it must be assembled immediately before cooking, but it’s simple enough that this is not a huge deal.

Strawberry Shortcake 13

Let’s start with our dough, shall we? I did make the dough ahead of time, and kept it in the fridge, wrapped in plastic, until I was ready to bake it.  Grab 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, 2 1/2 teaspoons  baking powder,  and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda (leavening agents, I know, but give me a break). Whisk those around in a bowl until they’re nice and mixed.

Strawberry Shortcake 3

Now grab yourself 1/2 cup cold butter and cut it into little cubes. Tip the butter into the flour and use a pastry cutter to blend it all up until you have a mess of coarse-looking flour with pea-sized bits of butter throughout.

Strawberry Shortcake 4

In another bowl, mix together 1/4 cup whipping cream, 1/4 cup buttermilk (why oh why don’t they sell buttermilk in smaller cartons?), and 1 large egg.

Strawberry Shortcake 1

Make a well in the centre of your flour/butter mixture and pour in the wet ingredients.

Strawberry Shortcake 5

Stir that around with a fork until you get a shaggy dough.

Strawberry Shortcake 6

Then knead it a little bit with your hand until it all comes together.

Strawberry Shortcake 7

At this point I wrapped it tight in plastic wrap and shoved it in the fridge overnight, but if you want to bake it right away you totally can.

Strawberry Shortcake 8

Ideally the biscuits are made so that they’re still slightly warm when you assemble them with the strawberries, but you can make them up to four hours ahead of when you need them. Just make sure to col them completely and then shove them in an airtight container until they’re needed. So when you’re ready to bake,  preheat your oven to 425°F, line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and lightly flour a nice surface to work on. Grab your rolling pin as well.

Strawberry Shortcake 9

Roll the dough out into a rough rectangle about 3/4″ thick. The original recipe calls for making six biscuits from this dough but those seemed absolutely ginormous so I cut the rectangle into eight biscuits instead and even then they were pretty big.

Strawberry Shortcake 10

Lay the cut biscuits on your baking sheet and brush with a tablespoon of whipping cream and sprinkle with a bit more sugar.

Strawberry Shortcake 11

Bake those for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown.

Strawberry Shortcake 12

While they’re baking and cooling slightly, you can do your strawberries. You can prepare the strawberries a couple hours ahead of time as well, because they need to macerate (i.e. sit cut up in sugar) for at least 30 minutes. The recipe calls for 1lb fresh strawberries, but I probably used about 1 1/2lbs, and we all agreed later that I could have used the whole 2lbs that I bought. You can never have too many strawberries in strawberry shortcake.

Strawberry Shortcake 14

Anyway, wash and hull the berries, and then take about one third of them and use a potato masher or pastry cutter to mush them up in the bottom of a bowl.

Strawberry Shortcake 15

Strawberry Shortcake 16

Slice the rest of the berries and plop them in the bowl with the strawberry mush.

Strawberry Shortcake 17

Tip in 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and give that a stir. Leave that to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. At this time you might as well also chuck a bowl for whipping cream into the freezer, along with whatever beater you are going to use. Cold utensils make for a better whipped cream.

Strawberry Shortcake 18

Now you’ve finished your lunch or dinner and it’s time to assemble the cakes. Grab your bowl and beaters out of the freezer and pour in 1 1/2 cups whipping cream. Add vanilla and sugar to taste. I don’t have any photos of this because the Pie did it while I was doing other things.

20150614_183555

Use a serrated knife to cut all the biscuits in half horizontally and set the bottoms of the biscuits on your serving plates.

20150614_184051

Spoon on a generous amount of strawberry goo. It’s okay if it spills off the edges – it looks all artistic that way.

20150614_184321

Add a generous dollop of whipped cream to the mix.

20150614_184425

Then plop the biscuit top on.

20150614_184503

Add another scoop of strawberry goo, followed by more whipped cream.

20150614_184644

Admire your handiwork.

20150614_184653

Then serve immediately! Yum!

Pumpkin Spice Latte Mix

Pumpkin Spice Latte 3

There’s a joke going around that you can tell it’s fall on college campuses because all the undergraduate girls are dressed in yoga pants, wearing Ugg boots, and hefting pumpkin spice lattes.

Fall College Girl Uniform of Black Yoga Pants/leggings and Uggs with whatever kind of top
Photo borrowed with thanks from John Paul Sullivan

When I was in undergrad, yoga pants hadn’t yet become the lazy fashion statement they are today, Ugg was something you said when someone punched you in the stomach, and the pumpkin spice latte was just a twinkle in the eye of the corporate coffee giants.  In fact, I have only recently discovered the pumpkin spice latte.  AND IT’S AWESOME.  Still, you’d have to pay me quite a bit of money to wear yoga pants outside the house these days …

Anyway, if you think that makes me seem old, let me tell you more.  Back in the early nineties, when Starbucks was just starting to become trendy on the Canadian west coast, the latte was a new beverage to be reckoned with.  My mother and I taught ourselves how to make them, just to see if we could (you see where I get it from?).  We used one of these fantastic wee espresso pots.  Total old school.

Pumpkin Spice Latte 11

Now, I had not used my latte-making skills in over twenty years, until I was scrolling through my Feedly and came across Just a Smidgen’s Pumpkin Spice Latte Mix recipe.  Upon finding this I knew that I had to dust off my skills (and my coffee maker) and git ‘er done!  And if you’d like to grown-up-ify this recipe, try adding a bit of fall spirit!

The mix itself is super easy to concoct: stir together 4 tablespoons pumpkin pie purée (the plain stuff we keep on hand to feed to Gren), 3 tablespoons sugar (or the sweetener of your choice, adjusted to taste), 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (you can get My Baking Addiction’s recipe here), and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.

Pumpkin Spice Latte 2

Shove that into a glass canning jar and chuck it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.

Pumpkin Spice Latte 1

Now for the latte.  If you’ve got a fancy espresso machine with a fancy milk foamer/steamer, then by all means go ahead and use that sucker.  I don’t drink these things often enough to justify losing that much counter space to another machine, so I have my ancient espresso percolator, which is easy peasy to use.  Just fill the bottom section up with water.

Pumpkin Spice Latte 4

Then take the mesh cup and fill it with ground espresso.

Pumpkin Spice Latte 5

Pumpkin Spice Latte 6

Then screw on the top piece.

Pumpkin Spice Latte 7

Plop it on the burner (if you’re using gas like me you’ll want to make the flames the same size as the bottom of the pot, else you may burn yourself horribly).

Pumpkin Spice Latte 8

For each latte you want to serve, plop 2/3 cup milk (your choice as to what kind) in your steamer or in a small pot.  Add in 1 heaping teaspoon of your pumpkin spice latte mix for each latte you are serving and whisk it in.

Pumpkin Spice Latte 9

Heat the milk until it’s steaming (don’t let it boil or you’ll get skin), whisking to keep it frothy (or use your fancy machine).

Pumpkin Spice Latte 10

Your espresso ready?  Good. Add a couple shots to your mug.  I’m feeling feisty so mine’s a double.

Pumpkin Spice Latte 12

Add in your pumpkiny milk.

Pumpkin Spice Latte 13

I’m not a huge fan of whipped cream on beverages, but if you want to get luxurious with this puppy you should add some to the top of this, sprinkled with a bit more pumpkin spice.  And that’s it!

**EDIT: And if you’re feeling adventurous, I’ve just discovered that it makes a great addition to your morning porridge!**

Fun with Gelatin: Coffee and Cream

Coffee Cream Jello 21

Still so much gelatin and condensed milk to get rid of!  This idea came from the Pie as I was bemoaning the large bottle of Camp coffee extract I hadn’t yet had a chance to use and wouldn’t be able to move.

Coffee Cream Jello 11

This, therefore, is what we’re gonna do.  And I hope it works.  Also, it’s sort of a commemorative thing for Cait, whose birthday was yesterday (Happy Day!), and whose love for coffee is surpassed only by her love for her dog.  And for me (I hope, but all bets are off).

Coffee Cream Jello 3

In one small bowl, plop about 1/4 cup cold water and sprinkle that with 1 envelope (2 1/2 teaspoons) unflavoured gelatin.  This is for the cream layer.  In a slightly larger bowl, repeat the process with 1/2 cup cold water sprinkled with 2 envelopes gelatin.  The slightly larger bowl is for the coffee layer.  Let both of those sit for about 5 minutes.

Coffee Cream Jello 2

Now, whether you use your microwave for this or your stove is up to you, but you’re gonna need two different hot liquids on the go here.  And the order of how you do this of course depends on whether you’re planning to unmould your gelatin or leave it in its container.  If you’re planning to unmould it (inverted), do the cream layer first.  If you want it to stay in the container in which you put it, do the coffee layer first.  The end result of what you’re looking for is a dish composed of about 2/3 coffee layer on the bottom and 1/3 cream layer on the top.

Coffee Cream Jello 10

For the cream layer, heat 1 cup water to boiling, and stir in 1 can sweetened condensed milk until fully incorporated.  If you’d like, you can add a few splashes of Irish cream liqueur (but not too much, because alcohol will hinder the gelling process).  Pour that hot mess over your gelatin in the smaller bowl and stir until everything is dissolved and smooth.

Coffee Cream Jello 9

Distribute the mixture evenly amongst your moulds and chill them for at least 25 minutes.

Coffee Cream Jello 15

For the coffee layer, you’ll need 3 cups hot coffee (fresh or reheated or instant, it’s up to you).  Add whatever sweeteners you like and a few splashes coffee extract (if you have it) to intensify the flavour.  Pour that over the gelatin in the slightly larger bowl and stir until everything is dissolved.

Coffee Cream Jello 13

Let your coffee mixture cool a bit (you can always divide the liquid and have half of it hot and half of it cold to cool it faster).

Coffee Cream Jello 14

Distribute the coffee mixture evenly amongst the moulds (either on top of the chilled cream layer or at the bottom if you’re not unmoulding), and chill for at least 4 hours (or 25 minutes if you’re layering with cream on top, then reverse the whole thing … you know what I mean).  I found that if I just poured the liquid in, it punched a hole through the cream layer (which isn’t entirely solid at this point), so I ended up spooning it in gently with a measuring cup and pouring it against the side of the mould.

Coffee Cream Jello 16

I think the very topmost layer of cream gelatin also dissolved into the coffee layer, which makes it more opaque than it was originally.

Coffee Cream Jello 17

To serve, immerse your moulds in hot water for a few seconds, then tip them out onto a plate.  If you were stupid and used plastic cups, like I did, you’re probably going to need a knife and a bit of persuasion to get them out.

Coffee Cream Jello 20

Maybe a dollop of whipping cream on top would go over nicely, or some grated chocolate?

Coffee Cream Jello 22

Confession time: I messed up this recipe when I made it the first time and didn’t use enough gelatin in the coffee layer.  So it didn’t gel.  So the coffee layer tipped out like this:

Coffee Cream Jello 19

And the cream layer stayed in the cup like this.  But was oh so tasty.

Coffee Cream Jello 18

So I froze it in order to get these pictures.  And if you do it that way (with only 1 envelope of gelatin for the coffee) and freeze it, it’s quite nifty: more of an Irish cream panna cotta on top of a nice espresso granita.  Sounds fancy.  Tastes delicious!

Coffee Cream Jello 24

Fluffy Lemon Creamy Pie Thing

Dairyman's Delight 14

This dish is actually known as “Dairyman’s Delight” but that seemed a little sketchy to use as a title.  So obviously I went with something equally vague and sketchy of my own devising.  Way to go Ali.  I think in essence it’s a lemon chiffon pie of sorts, but having never had one, I could be wrong.  Either way, this is a good way for me to use up extra cream cheese, condensed milk, and gelatin that I have hanging around.

Dairyman's Delight 18

In a bowl, stir together 1 cup whipping cream with 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice and let that stand for about 10 minutes.

Dairyman's Delight 2

In another bowl, plop 1 8oz (250g) package plain cream cheese.  I find that the closer to room temperature the cream cheese is, the smoother it ends up being.  Give it a bit of a beating to even it out. I confess here I wasn’t as diligent about my mashing and room temperature-ing as I should have been. Sue me.

Dairyman's Delight 3

Gradually beat 1 can sweetened condensed milk into the cream cheese mixture.  Leave that alone for a few minutes so you can do other things.

Dairyman's Delight 4

Sprinkle 1 envelope (2 1/2 teaspoons) unflavoured gelatin over 1/4 cup cold water in a heatproof bowl.  Let that sit for 5 minutes (you can do this first so it sits while you beat up your cream cheese and stuff).

Dairyman's Delight 5

Once it’s sat for a while and bloomed, set the heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water (or sit it in a sink of hot water) and stir until it’s all dissolved and incorporated.

Dairyman's Delight 7

Dairyman's Delight 9

Now, whip that lemon-cream mixture (that has been waiting so patiently for you) until it starts to stiffen.

Dairyman's Delight 10

Pour that creamy goodness into your cream cheesy goodness and continue to beat until it’s all well-blended. Stir in your gelatin as well as 2 teaspoons vanilla.

Dairyman's Delight 11

Pour the whole thing into a 10″ deep dish graham cracker pie crust  (I bought this from Sobeys but you could make your own) and chill until firm, at least 2 hours. My pie pan wasn’t deep dish, but the filling has enough structure that you can kind of mound it into a little hill on top and it will stay.

Dairyman's Delight 12

Serve with fruit on top.  Enjoy!

Dairyman's Delight 16

Wingin’ It Wednesday: Raspberry Ice Cream Meringue Sundae

Snow Day Dinner

This was dessert when Fussellette came to dinner last week.

Started first with a meringue (my recipe is from The Joy of Cooking, but you can see a chocolate version here).

We plopped on the meringue some raspberry ice cream (see post here, but minus the vinegar).  Then we topped it with whipped cream, melted chocolate, and fresh blackberries.  Sweet and simple.

Snow Day Dinner

Spiced Cider Gelee

Winter

Winter is a time for cooking comfort food.  Things are warm, spicy, and, usually, on the thick, rich, and heavy side.

Floating Holly Wreath

Why not try something a little different?  How about winter flavours with a lighter twist?

We served these gelled desserts after Christmas dinner, but they would be a great finish to any winter meal.  I don’t have too many pictures of the process, because, well, it was Christmas and I was busy doing other things.  But it’s a simple idea.  It comes from the Holiday 2011 issue of LCBO’s Food & Drink Magazine.

In a small pot, pour 1/4 cup apple cider and sprinkle it with 1 envelope unflavoured gelatin. Cook that over low heat, stirring all the while, until the gelatin has completely liquefied.  Set that aside for a spell, and don’t fret if the gelatin starts to set while it’s waiting.

Apple Cider Gelatin

In a larger pot, stir together 2 3/4 cups apple cider, a cinnamon stick, one 1/4″ thick slice of fresh ginger, 10 black peppercorns, and 1/2 teaspoon corriander seeds.  Bring that mixture to a boil, then turn it down to medium and simmer it for 10 minutes or so, until the mixture is spiced and reduced down to 2 cups.

Apple Cider Gelatin

Pour the spiced cider mixture through a sieve into the pot with the gelatin and stir until it’s all combined.  Pour into four little cups (we used some demitasses we had in the basement), and stick a cinnamon stick into each one.  Chill for 2 hours, or until set.

Apple Cider Gelatin

To serve, garnish with whipped cream mixed with maple syrup and a dash of ground cardamom or garam masala.

Have you tried Fussell’s?

Deep Dish

This is how Fussellette got her name.

She was sitting in the MUGS room with the Pie, talking about, of all things, pie (we don’t call him that because he’s sweet and flaky, after all).  They were discussing the merits of ice cream versus whipped cream as a topping.

Fussellette, a native Newfoundlander, mentioned that growing up, she had always had Fussell’s on her pies and desserts.

Deep Dish

The Pie’s first reaction was along the lines of, “what on earth are you talking about?  Fussell’s?”

I’ve never heard of it either.  So Fussellette bought us some.

Apparently it’s a sterilized thick cream in a can, a Newfoundland staple.  Ostensibly it’s from the Golden Butterfly Brand, but on the back you can see it’s distributed by Smucker’s, which is part of Nestlé.  Globalization …

It’s rather clotted and yellowish, but tastes just like what it is, thickened cream.

Deep Dish

We plopped it on our pie.  It was good.

Deep Dish

Poached Pears

Poached Pears

This is another recipe I borrowed from Caroline over at The Wanna be Country Girl, who in turn got it from David Leibovitz, one of my favourite chefs.  I may have borrowed a few of his recipes myself on a few occasions.

Poached Pears

Fall is the time for apples and pears, and delicate pears lend themselves well to a gentle poaching. So cut up 4 firm, ripe pears.  These are Bartletts, I think — I got them at Costco.  They could be Anjou. There was a big pile and they were all messed around, and I’m not that good at fruit identification. Quarter, core, and peel the pear pieces and plop them in a large saucepan.

Poached Pears

Slide in 1 sliced lemon, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, and 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar. Pour 1 quart (1 litre) water over the fruit.

Poached Pears

Cut a square of parchment paper, fold it into quarters, and cut a hole from the centre.

Poached Pears

So when it’s unfolded you have a hole in the middle.  This will let the steam out.

Poached Pears

Tuck the parchment paper into the saucepan and bring the fruit to a simmer for 25 minutes.

Poached Pears

Then I removed the fruit to cool slightly and turned up the heat on the remaining liquid to reduce it to a syrup.

Poached Pears

As we had clafoutis for dessert that night, we let the pears cool and had them for breakfast the next day, with their own syrup and a daub of whipped cream.

Poached Pears

Amazing on top of pancakes!  Try the pears in sandwiches and salads, too.

Poached Pears

Baked’s Sweet and Salty Cake

Sweet & Salty Cake
Not only do the Pie and il Principe share a birthday, but I’ll have you know that Cait’s birthday is only four days later.  And then Jiss’ birthday is only a scant five days after that.  Because we were heading back to Ottawa for a visit at the beginning of the month, we decided to postpone our birthday celebrations until we got there so that Cait  and Jiss could share in the fun.

So, for my husband on his birthday and my best friend on her birthday, and my husband’s friend’s spouse on HER birthday, I made them this fantastic confection, which comes out of our favourite cookbook of all time, Baked.
Sweet & Salty Cake
You can read the recipe online here, here, or here.  But you should really buy the book.  The pictures are glorious and the authors explain everything so well.

This recipe involves caramel, chocolate, and salt.  Yes, SALT.  I rarely use salt in baking but this one made it all worth it.  If you can get your hands on fleur de sel, all the better, but you can use sea salt as a substitute if necessary.  It’s also worth noting that this cake takes many steps, and you can save time by making things like the caramel the day before and putting it in the fridge.
Sweet & Salty Cake

For the Caramel:
Pour 1/4 cup water, 1 cup sugar, and 2 tablespoons light corn syrup into a medium saucepan and stir it around.

Sweet & Salty Cake

Plop a candy thermometer in the pot (making sure it doesn’t touch the bottom) and bring the mixture to a boil, cooking until the temperature reaches 350°F, which will take about 10 minutes.

Sweet & Salty Cake

Keep a close eye on it.  If you cook it any higher than the specified temperature it can burn super quickly.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup whipping cream and 1 teaspoon fleur de sel.  Bring that to a boil as well and cook until the salt is dissolved, about 5 minutes.  Remove that from the heat and set aside.

Sweet & Salty Cake

When the sugar has reached 350°F, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool for one minute.  See how it’s browned a little bit? That’s the caramelization of the sugar, but you don’t want it to get too dark.

Sweet & Salty Cake

Carefully (very carefully) add the hot cream to the sugar mixture.  It foams and fizzes quite a bit, so you don’t want that in your face.   Whisk that all up until it’s smooth.

Sweet & Salty Cake

Whisk in 1/4 cup sour cream and let the caramel cool.

Sweet & Salty Cake

For the Cake:
Preheat your oven to 325°F and butter three 8″ round cake pans.  Cut a circle out of parchment paper for the bottom of each one, butter it as well, and dust them all with flour.

Sweet & Salty Cake

You need two decent-sized bowls and the bowl of a mixer for this next part.  In one bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa, 1 1/4 cups hot water, and 2/3 cup sour cream.  Set that aside and let it cool while you do the other things.

Sweet & Salty Cake

In the other non-mixer bowl, sift together 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and set that aside.

Sweet & Salty Cake

Now, in the mixer bowl, beat together 3/4 cup softened butter and 1/2 cup vegetable shortening.  Beat them until they are smooth and kind of stringy when the paddle is spinning around, about 7 minutes.

Sweet & Salty Cake

Beat in 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar and 1 cup dark brown sugar until light and fluffy.

Sweet & Salty Cake

Add in 3 eggs, one at a time.

Sweet & Salty Cake

Add in 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and beat for a further 30 seconds or so.

Sweet & Salty Cake

Carefully add in a third of the flour mixture, then half your chocolate mixture, then a third of the flour, the rest of the chocolate, and the rest of the flour.

Sweet & Salty Cake

Divide the batter evenly between the three prepared pans and bake for 18-24 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre of each cake comes out clean.

Sweet & Salty Cake

Allow to cool completely before removing from the pans and peeling off the parchment paper.

Sweet & Salty Cake

For the Caramel Ganache:
First, finely chop 1lb dark chocolate.

Sweet & Salty Cake

Also, cut up 1lb butter into tablespoon-sized pieces.  Make sure they’re soft but still cool.

Sweet & Salty Cake

Now we’re going to make some more caramel, but this time without the salt or the sour cream.
So, in one pot, combine 1/4 cup water, 1 cup sugar, and 2 tablespoons light corn syrup and stir it around.  Bring it to a boil over high heat until a candy thermometer reads 350°F, which will take about ten minutes.  Remember to watch closely.

Sweet & Salty Cake

In the other pot bring 1 1/2 cups heavy cream to a boil, then remove from heat and set aside.
When the caramel has reached 350°F, remove it from the heat and allow it to rest for a minute.

Sweet & Salty Cake

Carefully add the hot cream to the caramel and stir to combine, then let it cool for 5 minutes.

Sweet & Salty Cake

Plop your chopped chocolate in the bowl of a mixer and pour the caramel over the chocolate.  Let that sit for a minute, then stir the chocolate to dissolve it.

Sweet & Salty Cake

Shove your bowl into your mixer with a paddle attachment and mix the chocolate goo on low until the outside of the bowl feels cool to the touch.

Sweet & Salty Cake

Dump in your cut-up butter bits and mix on medium-high until it’s all well-combined and smooth and a little bit whipped, another 2 minutes or so.

Sweet & Salty Cake

To Put It All Together:
Now I followed the instructions up to this point to the letter, and ended up with a slippy-slide-y cake that ended up looking a bit like a giant pile of poop.  When I put my cake layers together, they kept sliding off on the caramel and the weight of the cake pushed all the lovely caramel goo out of its insides and it was altogether rather a disaster.  So I recommend cooling your ganache and your caramel slightly before you do this, just so they’re slightly colder than room temperature and a little easier to handle.

Sweet & Salty Cake

Slice the tops off your cakes to make them level and place one on your cake plate.

Sweet & Salty Cake

If you are concerned about making a mess with your icing (though considering how goopy mine was it didn’t matter anyway) you can place four strips of parchment paper on your cake plate under the cake to catch the excess, and then pull them away later, leaving a nice clean plate.

Sweet & Salty Cake

Take about 1/4 cup of the caramel and spread a thin layer on the cake, allowing it to soak into the cake a bit (which will only happen if your cake or your caramel is warm, and will just make everything quite slippery).

Sweet & Salty Cake

Layer on top of that about 1 cup of the caramel ganache (also, at room temperature, incredibly slippery).

Sweet & Salty Cake

Add another layer of cake.  See what I mean about gravity really being annoying here?

Sweet & Salty Cake

Repeat your caramel and ganache steps and top with your final cake layer.  This is where I tried to remove some of the excess and failed.

Sweet & Salty Cake

Use the remaining ganache (easy to do if it’s cold, if it’s room temperature you’ll use wayyy less) to cover the surface of the cake.  At this point the whole thing started to slide slowly and rather unnervingly to one side.  It was like watching a mudslide in slow motion.  There was much yelling.

Sweet & Salty Cake

Sprinkle the top with fleur de sel and chill for an hour or so before serving, to set the ganache.

Sweet & Salty Cake
At least it tasted good.
Sweet & Salty Cake

Cool Blackberry Cheesecake

 

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY CAITY!

Now that I have a springform pan, I have taken it upon myself to perfect cheesecakes.  This cool no-cook cheese confection is a modified version of one by Gordon Ramsay and it’s dee-lish.

Because it’s a British recipe, I’m afraid that even with my modifications it’s all still in metric.  This is where having a kitchen scale comes in mighty handy.  Of course, because it’s a no-cook recipe, you needn’t fret if your conversions aren’t exactly accurate.

First, crush up about 150g cookies.  I used chocolate wafers, but graham crackers or digestive biscuits also work well.  You can even buy cookie crumbs pre-crushed in a box.

Mix those with about 50g melted butter.

With a glass or your fingers, flatten the crumbs into the bottom of a 20cm springform pan (mine was 25 cm so my cake is a little shorter and wider than yours might be).  Chuck that in the fridge to chill.

Now plop about 340g fresh blackberries (that was what was in the package for me) in a pot with a dash of sugar and a dash of water or juice.  Add the juice and zest from half a lemon to that as well.  Cook on medium-high heat, stirring often, until it’s all bubbly and saucy.  Scoop out a bit of the juice and make a slurry with a small amount of corn starch.  Add that back in and let it come to a boil.  Remove from the heat and let cool completely.  Chuck it in the fridge to make it extra cool and thick.

Whip up 500mL whipping cream in a chilled bowl.

In a separate bowl, cream together 500g soft cream cheese, a splash of vanilla extract, the zest and peel of half a lemon (nice use of a whole lemon there, waste-not), and 200g sour cream or crème fraîche.  The warmer your cream cheese is, the less lumpy it will be, but be careful not to let it melt if you put it in the microwave.

Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture.  Keep this stuff cool until you need it, but don’t chill it.

Spoon or pipe a layer of the cream cheese mixture over the crumb base.

Spoon on some of your blackberry sauce and use a skewer or flat knife to swirl it around.

Add another layer of cheese, and plop the remaining fruit sauce on top.  Swirly swirly swirly.  If your cake pan is smaller and your cake taller, you could probably try for three layers of cheese with swirlies in-between.

Refrigerate the cake for at least 5 hoursand keep it refrigerated when you’re not eating it.

Spring it from the springform!

We only had it in the fridge for probably 3 hours before we ate it, so you can see it was a little runny in the centre.

But still oh so good!  We all had seconds.