Cheesecake is one of our favorite desserts at home. My last couple of birthday cakes have been cheesecakes. That alone should tell you how much I love it. But do you know whats even better than a cheesecake? Little mini cheesecakes, of course. Jokes aside, these are the perfect option for a party or even for the family. You can make them a day ahead of the party and keep them refrigerated. They are easy to serve and could serve to help portion control too. And they are super delicious as well. Now that’s a dessert that ticks all the boxes for me.
Easy Mini Cheesecakes with a Strawberry Topping
Makes 8 mini cheesecakes
For the base –
120g Digestive biscuits
For the cheesecake –
250g cream cheese
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (or vanilla bean paste)
100g double cream
A tiny pinch of salt
For the topping –
1/2 cup strawberry jam
For the base –
Melt the butter and keep aside.
Blitz the biscuits in a food processor till you get a coarse crumb texture. Add the melted butter and blitz again to combine. This should now resemble wet sand.
For the filling –
Beat the cream cheese till its creamy.
Add the sugar and and mix till it is well combined.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Now add the lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla and salt and mix till combined.
Lastly, add the cream and mix till it has incorporated with the rest of the ingredients.
To assemble –
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Line a cupcake tray with paper cases.
Place about 1 tbsp. or so of the biscuit crumb in each case. Using the back of a spoon, pack it down and flatten it.
Top it with the cheesecake filling about 2/3 of the way.
Bake for 15-17 minutes or till the outside has set and the middle still has a little jiggle to it. (You may find some of them puff up a bit or develop a little crack. That is fine.)
Take it out of the oven and let it cool down completely.
Warm the jam over some medium heat, just to loosen it a bit. You don’t need to simmer or boil it. This took me about a minute.
Spoon a little jam over each of the mini cheesecakes.
Top with some fresh berries.
Refrigerate for 2-4 hours to set. You can leave it to set overnight as well.
How to make Custard from scratch … and a layered custard and jelly dessert
Once you make the custard, there are so many ways you can use it. Make a thinner version and pour it over your favorite dessert. You can serve this custard with some fresh fruit or use it to make a fresh fruit tart (I’ll share how I make mine very soon). Or you can do what I did, I made a layered dessert and serve it with some jelly. It was my first attempt at serving it up this way. If you don’t want to make individual servings, you can set your custard and jelly separately and let your guests help themselves to it.
Whichever way you decide to serve it up, you are going to love it.
4 egg yolks
3 cups milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp cornflour
A scant pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, salt and vanilla till it is light and creamy.
Add the cornflour and whisk it in.
Next add the milk and whisk it in till it is well incorporated and is a uniform mix.
Place on a medium heat and cook, whisking continuously for about 15-18 minutes.
Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate to set.
To make a layered dessert –
You’ll need to whip up one portion of Jelly and a fruit salad
For the fruit salad –
1 pack of Raspberry Jelly
Assortment of fresh fruit, chopped into little pieces (Do NOT use pineapple, kiwi or papaya / pawpaw as your jelly will not set.)
Pour the jelly granules in a bowl.
Add 250ml boiling hot water. Stir to dissolve the Jelly granules.
Add 200ml cold water and stir through.
When the jelly has reached room temperature, add some chopped fruit.
Please note, every Jelly brand may have to be prepared differently. So, please follow the instructions on your box of jelly to achieve the best results.
Layer the custard and jelly in your servingware and keep refrigerated till you’re ready to serve.
Quick and Easy Treat for Easter – Chocolate Nests
With that in mind I whipped up some Chocolate Nests. I love this recipe. It takes 3 ingredients and half and hour to make a batch. This is a very versatile recipe so you can make as big or small a batch, as you’d like. It is also a flexible recipe, so you can use the chocolate of your choice and mini eggs of your choosing too. So, if like me, you’ve left Easter prep for the last minute, try out this recipe. It is very popular with the little kids … and the big ones too.
Wish you and your loved ones a Happy and Holy Easter!
Makes 8 Nests
100 grams Chocolate (I used Dark chocolate)
100 grams ready to serve Noodles
Mini Speckled Eggs
Chop up the chocolate roughly and melt using a double boiler. If you haven’t worked with a double boiler, watch the video linked below to see how you can use a simple saucepan and bowl to make one. (You can also melt the chocolate in a micowave using a microwave safe bowl and in 30 second increments.)
Toss the noodles into the chocolate and mix gently to coat the noodles in the chocolate completely.
Using a spoon and either a spatula or a butter knife, scoop out portions of the noodles onto a tray lined with baking paper. Shape to form rough circular shapes and make a little dip in the center of each nest.
Place the mini eggs in the dents created.
Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
You can watch the video recipe here –
Christmas Broken Glass Jello
Leave to set in the refrigerator till firm. I left mine about 8 hours. You may be able to cut into this sooner, but make sure that the Jelly has set firm before you cut it up. This dish can be made ahead of time. So plan for about 8 hours to set at this stage.
Sometime in August, we were celebrating a couple of birthdays at work and I decided I was going to bring a batch of these to the celebration. I was a little skeptical of how they would be received, but I shouldn’t have been. They disappeared. Not everyone had an opportunity to grab one, but some clever ones managed to get seconds, maybe thirds 😉 Those that had a chance to try them out, absolutely loved them. So turns out I didn’t have to worry about these at all. I’ve had a few people ask me for the recipe more than once. So I’m actually doing another post for it.
This is one of the easier treats I’ve made and if you have to take something sweet to a potluck, may I recommend making these. They will be an instant hit. Be warned, they are really moreish. You wont be able to stop at one.
(Makes 1 dozen)
200g Oreo cookies (each packet is 137g, I just used 2 packets)
60g cream cheese
200g chocolate (I used 100g milk chocolate and 100g dark chocolate but you could use all milk or all dark or any ratio you prefer)
1/4 cup Candy melts (I used Yellow melts)
Blitz the cookies in a food processor till it reaches a fine crumb state. (If you don’t have a food processor, place the cookies in a ziplock bag and pound on them using a rolling pin.)
Stir in the cream cheese and mix thoroughly.
Roll them into balls. Refrigerate them for an hour so that the firm up.
Chop the chocolate into small pieces. Melt the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl for 30 seconds and stir. Then as needed microwave in 30 second increments stirring inbetween till the chocolate melts. The stirring helps the chocolate melt.
Line a cookie sheet tray with parchment paper.
Dip the cookie balls in the melted chocolate. Using a fork, let the excess chocolate drip off and leave them to set on the parchment lined tray. You can serve them up as they are or decorate them with sprinkles or chocolate then do that at this stage and leave it to set.
If you want to use sprinkles to decorate them, sprinkle them on the truffles just after you dip them in chocolate.
If you want to drizzle some chocolate or candy melts over, microwave them in a microwave safe bowl according to the package instructions. Pour it into an icing bag or a small ziplock bag, snip off the tip of the bag and drizzle the chocolate over the truffles. Leave to set.
The best Baked Cheesecake ever
Let’s go back to where it all began, shall we! My husband and I were sitting one evening and watching the latest season of Masterchef Australia (one of my favourite food shows) and it happened to be a Masterclass episode. I’m so stoked they brought back the Masterclass episodes this year. I felt quite cheated out of them last year. Anyway, Matt Preston was making a baked cheesecake. We love cheesecake in our house. So we were very keen to check this masterclass out. Long story short, we loved the way his cheesecake turned out and decided that we would try it sometime soon.
Now I didn’t know how soon “soon” would actually be. I figured it would be a while before I got a chance to make one of them. Turned out, my husband had other plans. The following Saturday while I was at work (yes, unfortunately I do work some weekends), he actually went to the shops and picked out all the ingredients for the cake and had it prepped by the time I got home from work. We popped it in to bake and then in the fridge to set. After dinner that day we were both anxious to see how it turned out. It was HEAVENLY. Soft, creamy, beautifully flavoured with a fantastic crust. We we both very, very pleased with the way this cheesecake turned out and I can happily say that this will now be my go-to recipe for a baked Cheesecake. Thank you Matt Preston! and thank you Masterchef Australia!
For the base –
1 packet of Granita biscuits (250g pack) (if you can’t find Granita biscuits, you can use Digestive biscuits instead)
75 g butter, melted
For the filling –
750g cream cheese, at room temperature
230g or 1 cup caster sugar
2 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract
A pinch of salt
300ml double cream
Preheat the oven to 175ºC.
Line a 23cm spring form cake tin with baking paper.
Double wrap the outside of the cake tin with extra wide aluminium foil. This is to make the tin water tight to ensure that water from the little water bath you will create for the cake, doesn’t seep into the cake.
For the base, blitz the biscuits in a food processor till you get crumbs. Add the sugar and blitz again for a couple of seconds till its mixes well. Add the unsalted butter and blitz again to combine.
At this stage, your base mix should resemble coarse wet sand.
Press the mix into the bottom of the prepared cake tin, spreading it out with the back of a large wooden spoon to even it out.
Bake for 10 minutes till lightly brown and set.
Remove the tin from the oven and set aside to cool. This base should be completely cooled before you add the filling.
For the filling, place the cream cheese in a stand mixer and using a padding attachment beat till smooth and creamy.
Add the sugar and beat till the sugar has completely dissolved.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating between each addition and make sure the egg is fully incorporated in the mix before adding the next one.
Add the lemon juice, vanilla extract and salt and mix until well combined.
Now add the cream and mix until well combined.
Pour the mix over the cooled base. Set the cake tin in the middle of a larger roasting tray or larger baking dish. You want to ensure your roasting tray / baking dish has high sides. Set this on the middle rack of the oven.
Carefully, fill the roasting tray with boiling water upto a 2 cm height and bake till the cake has set and the top is a little golden brown. This should take about 65 minutes.
Turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake inside the oven to cool with the oven door closed.
Then take the cheesecake and leave to cool completely.
Cover it and pop it into the fridge to cool a little and set further.
Serve with fresh berries if desired. But even by itself, the cake is so good you’ll be glad you baked it.
Mango Chia Pudding
Gulab Jamun … the easy way!
When I lived in Mumbai, I was fortunate enough to have 3 really good Indian sweet shops or Mithaiwalas in the vicinity. Thankfully they weren’t too close. I’d literally go nuts whenever I went there. There were so many options to choose from. And I don’t to well with too many options. I just cannot pick in those situations. Anyway, my indecisiveness aside, one of my favourite Indian sweets has to be Gulab Jamuns. Gulab Jamuns are beautiful little deep fried dumplings soaked in cardamom infused sugar syrup.
I have made Gulab Jamun at home a few times now. Traditionally, the dumplings are made with milk that is reduced to an almost solid state. This process takes atleast an hour. If you live in India, you should be able to go to the store and buy mava / khoya (the reduced milk solids). If you don’t want to spend as much time or money (mava / khoya can be pricey), but still want to sit back and enjoy some home made Gulab Jamun, you have come to the right place. I have found a recipe that will probably take you about half an hour (or thereabouts) to make from start to finish.
If you are someone who has just about started dabbling in Indian food and want to impress your family and friends with some home made Indian dessert, try your hand at this recipe. You will love it and you can count on being hailed a superstar if you bring these to a potluck or any party.
Now, on to the recipe. I cannot take credit for this genious idea. I was watching Better Homes and Gardens one Friday night and I saw Fast Ed make these and I knew then and there that I had to try them out myself. It was too good to be true and the skeptic in me, knew there’d be something different about these. Either the flavour or the texture wouldn’t be right. But I was wrong, so very wrong. These Gulab Jamun turned out just like I remember them. Beautiful luscious dumplings, soft and drenched in the infused sugar syrup. These are best enjoyed a little warm but they are pretty darn good served cold as well. Even in the traditional sweet shops in India the sizes of the dumpling vary. I make them a little smaller because they will expand after frying and soaking in the sugar syrup. I prefer them smaller because that way they cook through quickly and they look so dainty served in a little bowl. I have also seen them made oblong in shape. Either way they are like little bites of heaven.
You could dress them up by sprinkling some pistachio dust (grated/ finely chopped pistachio) over them. They don’t need it, but it looks prettier. I didn’t have any pistachio with me, so I skipped that step.
If you love Gulab Jamun as much as I do, and you’ve been known to pick up some of the tinned stuff you get in the Indian stores or probably even the ready mixes (like Gits etc.), ditch them. You don’t need any of that stuff. Try this recipe out and you’ll never go back to those tins and mixes again.
For the sugar syrup –
4 pods of cardamom
Open the cardamom pods and separate the seeds and the shells.
Place all the ingredients, including the cardamom seeds and shells in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
Lower the temperature after it comes to a boil and let it simmer for 5 minutes.
Take off the heat and set it aside.
** We usually crush the cardamom seeds to a powder and add that to the syrup. This results in a stronger infusion of flavour. If you haven’t tried cardamom before or aren’t sure how strong the flavour would be, start off by keeping the seeds whole. The favour infused will be subtle. When serving, make sure you discard the seeds and shells first.
** Start off by making the syrup first because it needs to cool a little before you can add the dumplings. The syrup needs to be warm, not scalding hot when the dumplings are put in.
** Do NOT stir the syrup once the sugar has dissolved. Stirring will crystallise the sugar.
For the dumplings –
220g milk powder
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp ghee / clarified butter
A little milk (approximately less than half a cup)
Oil, for deep frying
Heat the oil for deep frying.
Place the milk powder, all purpose flour, baking powder and ghee in a mixing bowl.
Gradually add the milk a little at a time and bind the ingredients to a dough. It is important to not add too much milk while making the dough. Use just enough to bind everything together.
Shape them into little balls. You want the balls to be smaller than what size you want the finished product because they will expand.
This recipe yield 20-22 massive dumplings or if you’re after little ones, you can get about 45. I got 47 in all. Make sure the dumplings are evenly sized so that they cook evenly.
Test if the oil is hot by placing a tiny pea sized ball in the oil. If it sizzles and rises to the top you’r oil is hot enough and you can proceed. If it just sits in the oil, you need to heat the oil a little more. If the ball just chars, you’re oil is too hot. Take it off the heat for a couple of minutes and then place it back on slightly lower heat and continue.
Have the oil on medium heat.
Carefully, drop the dumplings in the hot oil and fry till golden brown.
Your sugar syrup should have cooled down a little by now, but should still be fairly warm.
Using a slotted spoon, take the dumplings out of the oil and tap off any excess oil and put the dumplings in the sugar syrup straight away. Watch them expand as they soak in the syrup. Gently turn them around in the syrup after about a minute so that is soaks in the syrup on all sides.
Repeat with the rest of the batter. Once the dumpling have soaked in the sugar syrup and expanded a bit, you can carefully take them out into a shallow serving bowl or a baking dish like this one. Pour all the sugar syrup over.
At this stage, you can add the chopped pistachio over.
Sneak a peek at what it looks like on the inside. Soft, melt in your mouth goodness!
Serve warm or cold.
As the person who put made these lovely dumplings, even if you’re making this ahead of time, I urge you to sample some of these warm and you’ll know what I’m talking about. 🙂
Tiramisu … or the post that almost wasn’t
The recipe came together nice and easy. When I make this next, I will work on better presentation. This time around, I had a very eager husband buzzing around the kitchen with excitement. Halfway through my assembly, he decided he wanted to help me capture step by step pictures. So I have a few. I’m sure he will get better at them with a little practice. But you’ve gotta love a guy who is so eager to help 😉
Watch the video version of the recipe here –
Adapted from: Green Road to Bliss
500g mascarpone cheese
5 egg yolks and 1 egg white
300 ml espresso coffee (I used strong, instant coffee – don’t tell anyone)
1/2 cup water
400g Savoiardi biscuits (lady fingers), approx.
Unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting
30ml brandy (optional)
Prepare the coffee. Set aside 1 tsp of coffee and mix the rest with the water.
Mix the brandy into the cooled coffee, if using.
Beat the eggs with sugar till fluffy about 2 minutes. Start on a low speed and gradually increase.
Add the mascarpone cheese and the 1 tsp of (cold) coffee that was reserved.
Combine everything together until you are left with a soft and creamy mixture.
To assemble –
Spread a very thin layer of the mascarpone mix on the bottom of the pan.
Lightly dip the savoiardi into the coffee solution, but do not over soak them. Layer them over the mascarpone layer. Try to cover the base of the pan with the biscuits without leaving any gaps.
Spread half the mascarpone mix over evenly and dust with cocoa.
|Second layer starting up|
Repeat with another layer of savoiardi and mascarpone and a final dusting of cocoa.
|Second layer almost done|
|Take care to not overpour the mascarpone mix at the end|
Refrigerate for a couple of hours.
Serve and enjoy!
Baath / Badca – Traditional Goan Coconut Cake
200g dessicated coconut
2 cups water
2 cups semolina
2 cups sugar
6 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
1 tsp baking powder
A generous pinch cardamom seeds, crushed (Seeds from about 6 large pods)
In a heavy bottomed pan, bring the water to a boil.
Add the sugar to the pan and let it melt.
Once the sugar has melted, add the coconut and the ghee and let it come to a boil, stirring frequently.
Add the semolina and let it cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add the crushed cardamom seeds.
Take off the heat and cool.
|After the mix has cooled|
Preheat the oven to 180ºC and line and grease a baking dish / cake pan.
When the mix has cooled, add the baking powder.
Just before baking, add the beaten eggs. Mix well till the eggs have been incorporated well.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake till done. (Till a skewer pierced in the center of the cake comes out clean.)
If the top starts to brown too quickly, cover the top with some aluminium foil.
Cool down and enjoy!!!
NOTE – Add the eggs only just before you bake the cake and not in advance. Preheat the oven in time to bake the cake.