Thursday, August 23, 2012

Raspberry Cheesecake

Okay, so first of all:  I'm Sorry.  I know, I know.  These are the Worst Photos Ever.  But here's the thing.  I would like nothing better than to spend all my time making beautiful, photogenic desserts, and taking photos of them with various gorgeous props, from several angles, under ideal light conditions.  While sipping a glass of Dom Perignon, and laughing gaily at the incredibly witty remarks being made by the terribly efficient person who is cleaning my house.  For free.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, I actually put the finishing touches on this cheesecake five minutes before leaving the house to take it to a friend's house for dinner, after having spent all afternoon at my daughter's friend's sixth birthday party, after having spent all morning making a stuffed elephant for said daughter's friend's present.  Yeah....  Gorgeous, well-thought-out photography is not something I often get a chance to do, especially for what I like to call "right-now" desserts.  Cookies I can keep for a few days until I have a chance to take a few snaps of them.  Cheesecakes not so much.

So anyway.  When The Hungry Australian announced the theme of this month's Sweet Adventures Blog Hop - "Berry Nice To Meet You!" - I was thrilled.  I love berries, and I especially love  raspberries.  Plus I'd been wanting to make a cheesecake for ages.  There are an awful lot of raspberry cheesecake recipes about, but strangely enough, I find that most of them are actually plain cheesecake recipes with a raspberry puree swirl.  And there's nothing at all wrong with that, but it just wasn't what I had envisioned.  I wanted my cheesecake to have a dark chocolate base, a contrasting pretty pink filling, and a sweet raspberry tang all the way through.  And it did!

Raspberry Cheesecake

370g plain chocolate-flavoured biscuits (eg Chocolate Ripple)
120g butter, melted

2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
3 teaspoons powdered gelatine
60mL water
500g cream cheese
1/3 cup caster sugar
300mL cream

1 cup extra raspberries
1 tsp icing sugar
1 Tbsp water
1 tsp powdered gelatine

Modus Operandi

First, line a 20cm diameter springform cake tin with plastic wrap (this makes it easier to get out later).

To make the base:  Process the biscuits in a food processor until fine crumbs.  Add the melted butter and blitz again briefly until combined.  Press the mixture onto the base and sides of the prepared tin, and refrigerate one hour.

To make the filling:  Heat the 2 cups of raspberries in a saucepan until they boil, then press them through a sieve to remove all the seeds.  Set aside.  Mix the gelatine into the water in a heatproof cup or bowl.  Stir over a small saucepan over simmering water until the gelatine has dissolved.  Let it cool for a minute or two and then stir in 3/4 cup of the raspberry puree.
Beat the cream cheese and caster sugar in an electric mixer until soft and smooth.  Beat in the cream, then stir in the raspberry mixture.  Pour filling into the crumb base and refrigerate overnight.

To make the topping:  Pick over your raspberries, and set the best ones aside (about half of them).  Heat the remaining raspberries with the icing sugar, then sieve them to remove the seeds.  Mix the water and gelatine as was done for the filling.  When dissolved, cool slightly and mix into the raspberry puree (you will probably only get about 1/4 cup).  Pile the photogenic raspberries onto the top of your cheesecake, and pour the gelatine-y puree over the top.  This step may be done just before serving (in which case the puree will behave a bit like a sauce), or ahead of time (in which case you will pop the cheesecake back in the fridge and the raspberry puree will set into a jelly.  This also "glues" the pretty raspberries to the top, which is useful if you are transporting it to someone's house for dessert).

To serve:  Simply open the springform tin, peel the plastic away, and lift/slide the cheesecake off the base onto a serving plate.

Be sure to check out everyone else's Berry Nice Desserts, too - just check out the links below!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Muffin Tin Monday In Wonderland

It's Muffin Tin Monday - and it's Book Week!

The Muffin's school has a dress-up day for the Monday of Book Week, and The Muffin went as Alice.  So I thought it would be nice to do an Alice in Wonderland theme for her dinner Muffin Tin.

Top Row:  Bananas with coconut, lemon & yoghurt (with an "eat me" sign);  Chocolate chip cookie (which prompted a discussion as to whether or not the cookies in the White Rabbit's house actually were chocolate chip or not, the book being non-specific on this subject);  two Naan bread teapots.

Bottom Row:  Ham "rose" (use your imagination);  Green sauce in a red Heart cup;  White Rice Rabbit.

The "green sauce" is a sort of pureed raita:  yoghurt, cucumber, spinach leaves, lemon juice and salt.  The Muffin likes it on her rice.

Incidentally, what you're looking at here is a curry night.  Husband and I love hot food, and The Muffin can't tolerate it at all.  So when we fancy a curry, we have one - and I also make a selection of side dishes (either yellow rice or coconut rice, naan bread or paratha bread, green sauce, the banana/coconut mixture, etc).  The Muffin is quite happy to sit down to a meal of just the side dishes, and that way Husband and I still get to have our curry!  It works well for us.

The After Shot:

It kind of looks like she didn't touch the green sauce, but she did actually eat quite a bit of it (although maybe a little less than usual) - the picture is a bit deceiving.  She usually scoffs this coconut rice, too, but to make it rabbit-shaped I put in in a sushi rice mold, so I had to serve it cold.  She said it was fine cold, but really I think she likes it better warm.

To see what other mums did this week, check out The Muffin Tin Mom's blog.

But Wait - There's More!  Bonus Bento!

This is what Alice The Muffin took to school for lunch:

The "Eat Me" cupcakes are made of apple.  The brown heart-shaped thing is a pile of three pikelets, spread with Nutella (and sprinkled with red edible glitter).  The rest is pretty self-explanatory.

She also had a label on her drink bottle:

We love Book Week!  Does your school celebrate it?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Muffin Tin Monday - Small Potatoes!

Yesterday was Muffin Tin Monday, and this week The Muffin wanted a Small Potatoes tin.  Small Potatoes is a very cute three-minute TV show for little kids.  To be honest, I think it's intended audience is a little younger than The Muffin, but it's awfully cute, and she has fallen for it hook, line and sinker.  I like it because it's fun and cute, but also I like the messages that are put across - clearly this is a show that has been put together to help build kids' self-worth, and to help them learn about their feelings and their place in the world around them.  It also exposes kids to a wide variety of musical styles (each episode contains a song on a theme topic).  Worth checking out.  So here's the tin:

Top Row:  Olaf (bread and butter with sprinkle eyes and spinach... hair?);  Nate (sausage with sprinkle eyes.  He had a leaf too - not sure what happened to that);  Baby Potato (two white chocolate buttons pressed together back-to-back, with Gourmet Writer details)

Bottom Row:  Ruby (dried pear with sprinkle eyes and spinach leaf);  Chip (home-made apple sauce);  Potato salad.

The After Shot:

She was very pleased with this tin, aesthetically and taste-wise.   I knew she'd eat most things in this tin happily, but the dried pear was new for her (and she doesn't really like fresh pear) - but she loved it!  This is good as it's another option to go in her school lunchboxes - I like sending unsweetened dried fruit for snacks as The Muffin thinks they're delicious, they're not junk food, and they don't contain nuts (which aren't allowed).

To see what else was served up in a tin this week, check out The Muffin Tin Mom's blog.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Olympic Bento (No, It's Not A New Sport)

Today The Muffin is having an Olympic themed bento (have I mentioned The Muffin is really excited about the Olympics?  Have I, have I??)

She has a ham and cheese sandwich (on White Bread - very unusual in our house, she'll be Thrilled!), with rather sketchily hand-painted cheese Olympic Rings and Olympic Torch.  Next to the sandwich is a Leda "Baked Fruit-Filled Bar".  These do not contain any added sugar, and they're also gluten-free (if you're into that sort of thing.  We're pretty gluten-friendly around here).  She also has pineapple and banana (which are both Gold - yes they are, people), and a few sultanas in a silver mini cupcake paper (because winning silver is good too!).

Are your kids interested in the Olympics too?

Muffin Tin Monday - Olympic Edition

Have I mentioned yet how excited The Muffin is about the Olympics?  She is loving it - we've been taping little bits of sports she likes the sound of (gymnastics, equestrian dressage, diving), so that she can see them at a reasonable hour of the day, plus she's seen a few swimming races etc live, just before bedtime.  Every day she wants to check out the medal tally to see how all the countries are doing, and she's thrilled whenever Australia wins a medal (of any colour, which I'm pleased about).

So last week she had the following three weeks of Muffin Tin Monday all planned out.
Last week's theme was The Olympics:

Top Row(ish):  The Olympic Rings:  Blue (yoghurt with a little of it tinted blue and piped on in a ring shape);  Black (nori, surrounding the middle bit of cheese from the yellow ring);  Red (the cheek of an apple with the centre of the skin cut out);  Yellow (cheese);  Green (peas, supported by a buttered rice cake).

Bottom Row:  Gold Medal (see this post for how to make one);  Chicken & rice;  Olympic Torch (the torch is cheese, and the flame is made out of very thinly sliced carrot - this was The Muffin's idea).

The After Shot:

She didn't like the rice.  This was a flavoured rice that I bought in the hopes she would eat it because there was a very cute elephant on the front of the packet.  Well.  She tried it because there was a very cute elephant on the front of the packet, but apparently very cute packets do not sufficiently affect the flavour of the contents.  She did eat five peas (which was all I expected, really), and I knew in advance that she wouldn't touch the nori, I just couldn't think of anything else I could do in a hurry that was black.  So although there were a few leftovers, I do still consider this tin a success.

Now, on to This Week's Tin!  The theme The Muffin chose for this week is Countries.  I was a bit worried about this theme, because I was concerned I was going to end up having to cook six different meals in one night, in order to represent each country's cuisine.  In the end though, it wasn't too bad at all.  The dumplings steamed happily over the pasta water, and the chorizo was part of what Husband and I were having for dinner.  So the only thing I spent any time making especially for this was the (very quick and easy!) pasta sauce. 

To make the flags, I simply printed them out and stuck them onto toothpicks.  Here's what I came up with:

Top Row Bread & Vegemite, plus a few slices of Granny Smith apple (representing Australia - did you know the Granny Smith was first produced in NSW in Australia?  I didn't - see, MTM is educational!!;  Chorizo sausage (representing Spain);  Macaron (representing France).

Bottom Row:  Two steamed dumplings (representing China);  Ravioli with a tomato-based sauce and parmesan cheese (representing Italy);  Yoghurt with Maple syrup (representing Canada - I could have used a pikelet as the vehicle for the maple syrup I guess, but I thought there were already enough carbs in this meal, and no dairy.  So yoghurt won, despite not being particularly Canadian).

The After Shot:

'Nuff said.  She loved this meal.  The chorizo was a bit hot for her on its own though.

What did everyone else do for Muffin Tin Monday?  Find out over at The Muffin Tin Mom's blog!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Fish Cake

My dad had his 60th birthday over the weekend, so as he is a keen amateur fisherman, I decided to try my hand at making him a fish cake.

My model was this photo of a Western Australian Dhufish, from the Department of Fisheries website.  This large fish is only found off the coast of Western Australia, and is a very popular eating fish here.  The distinctive black stripe across its face made it a ideal model, as my dad recognised it straight away!  Hoorah!

As per usual, I was running late getting the cake finished, so my photos aren't brilliant.  As soon as it was finished I bolted outside with it to catch the last of the natural light (above).

But I've included a couple of night-time photos too (taken at the party), as I think they show the shadows and shiny highlights off better:

The fish was all cake, apart from the small bottom fin (near the head), which was solid RTR fondant.  The cake itself was lemon cake, filled with lemon curd and lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream.  It was covered in the same SMBC, and then in pale grey RTR fondant.  I then made the scale pattern using three different sizes of little cutters (two leaves and a cloud, if you're interested!).  Next came the colour & fishy pattern effect, which I achieved by covering my entire house in black food colouring painting the cake with dry silver lustre dust and powdered black food colouring.

The Muffin made the eye, and was very proud of herself!

I must say I was Very Extremely Happy with how this cake turned out - it's always nice when things go according to plan!  And Dad was thrilled, so that's the most important thing.

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