Black Bottomed Cheesecake Cupcakes

Also known as the ugliest cupcakes you will ever lay your eyes on.

That was intentional. They were never gonna be beautiful. Just like my feet were never going to be foot models (thanks Mum).

Sean said to claim them as being rustic. So I will.

I had a bit of a cruisey day today. I can only do lab work every four days at this stage so once I did all my prep I had the afternoon free to apply for a job, pay a power bill and twiddle my thumbs. I decided that I should probably pay a bit of attention to my wee blog. It has been a bit neglected really. I kind of went to Hawaii for 10 days, then I had a whole heap of stuff to do at uni and then I guess I have been in a bit of a baking rut, making the same things over and over again. I offered the chem honours kids that I would bring them in something so it was a perfect opportunity to try something new and to blog about it.

Now to be honest with you, these didn't go as expected. I made up the cheesecake mixture and it was such a failure. It was sloppy and not smooth and fluffy like it was supposed to be. It was somewhat lumpy also. Not ideal. I was also not prepared for the eggless sponge batter. It was the strangest recipe I have ever made. I put the first lot in with little faith in the outcome. But you know what? They didn't turn out half bad so we gobbled them all up and I gave them another go with the left over cheesecake mixture applying what I had learnt from the first lot. The cheesecake mixture was still a mess. Let me know if it works out alright for you.

Goodness, I made so many adjustments. I hope I can remember them in (slash guess how much extra I threw in). This was originally a Hummingbird Bakery recipe. This is the second cupcake recipe that has turned out a little suspicious. My trust in them is being compromised but I shall remain loyal.

The sponge of this cupcake is excellent and rich. It is also quite dense. For those of you who have ever made a mug brownie, this is basically the same thing.

Changes I made:
Add the yolk and only half the white to the cheesecake mixture
Add in about a quarter of a cup of icing sugar to the cheesecake mixture also
Add 3 tablespoons of oil instead of the three
Add 1/2 cup plus say 2 tablespoons of water to the sponge batter
Added chocolate chips to the sponge (hey why not?)
I made up a cream cheese icing then separated off a little and mixed in 5 squares of melted dark chocolate then marbled this through to create an even messier effect.
I also added small half teaspoon amounts of plain cream cheese to each cupcake case, just to break up the sweetness a little.

Black Bottomed Cheesecake Cupcakes
Adapted from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook
makes 11-12

For the sponge:
190g plain flour
120g castor sugar
40g cocoa
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar
3 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
pinch of salt

For the cheesecake filling:
140g full fat cream cheese
60g castor sugar
1/4 cup icing sugar
1 yolk + 1/2 egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream cheese icing:
50g butter, softened
60g cream cheese
3 cups icing sugar
5 squares dark chocolate
1 teaspoon vanilla

6 teaspoons cream cheese

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees on bake and line a muffin tray with paper cases.

In a mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese, vanilla, castor sugar and icing sugar. Slowly add in the egg and mix until smooth and creamy (hopefully). Set aside.

Mix together all the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa, chocolate chips and baking soda).

In a jug, mix together all the wet ingredients (oil, water, vinegar, vanilla).

In a free standing mixer, gradually add the liquid mix into the dry and mix until the batter is thick.

Spoon dessert spoonfuls of the batter into each cupcake case. Spoon half a teaspoon of cream cheese into the bottom of each case also. Next, spoon a tablespoon or two (as much as fits) of the cream cheese mixture into the cases. Try not to fill too high (leave 6mm space) or else the cheesecake mix overflows.

Bake for 20-22 minutes or until the cheesecake looks set and is no longer 'eggy' looking.

As you can see, these are pretty hideous looking.

Leave to cool before icing.

To make the icing, cream together the cream cheese, butter and icing sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Melt the chocolate using small bursts in the microwave. Stir this chocolate into a small bowl with about half a cup of the cream cheese icing. When spreading the cream cheese icing over the cupcake, dip the edge of your spatula in this chocolate icing and swirl it around to create a marbled effect.

Sprinkle over with chocolate chips if you wish.


Nutella Cheesecake

Before this cheesecake I was a cheesecake virgin.

Ok half a virgin (my previous attempt at age 15 had failed miserably so I refuse to acknowledge it).

I have always been scared of cheesecake.

It always seemed too fiddly, folding whipped cream or using gelatine. It just seemed to be a set up for failure.

I have also not been much of a cheesecake fan. My Mum doesn't like cheesecake so I guess out of the following in her footsteps and the constant seeking for approval complexes that I too do not like cheesecake (that much).

Anyway, back to the story of how this cheesecake came to be.

Remember my good friend Jamal? I made him this carrot cake last year for his 20th birthday. Exactly a year later (funny how birthdays are an annual thing) I am making him another cake. This year however I had promised him a cheesecake. He loves cheesecake.

So I prepared to get out of my comfort zone and overcome my fear of cheesecake for Jamal. Because he is worth it. I wasn't too sure what type to make, it wasn't allowed to contain gelatine so it either had to be baked or heavily cream cheese based.

I saw lots of links online to delicious looking masterpieces but I wanted something simple.

I consulted my hero. Nigella.

Trust Nigella to have a wickedly rich cheesecake recipe that was simple as to do. She is a legend.

I made a few adjustments based on my life rules:

1) You can never have too much nutella. So I added a wee bit more to the base.
2) You can never have too much dark chocolate. So I melted some in.
3) Hazelnuts are good. So I put in two packets rather than the 100g required.

The only problem with adding more nutella is that you then require more than one jar. Ok to be honest I used Pams hazelnut spread because I am too poor for the real deal but it still worked. The good thing about Pams is that they have a 400g jar (which is what you need for the filling) and a 220g jar which is a perfect wee top up for all the spoonfuls that accidentally make their way into your mouth over the course of making this. So I recommend buying both. The worst part is that you have left over spread in the cupboard  . . .

You will need to toast the hazelnuts. You do this buy baking the nuts for 10 minutes at 180 degrees on a piece of baking paper. You then transfer them to a clean tea towel and rub them between it to remove the skins. The skins are bitter and you don't want them in this magical dessert. The toasting also helps to enhance that wonderful hazelnutty aroma we all know and love. Just keep and eye on them and be careful not to burn them.

Also, the best thing about this is that you only need to leave it to set in the fridge.

The only problem with this is that you need to exert patience whilst waiting for it to set.

Nutella Cheesecake
Adapted from Nigella Lawson's recipe 

Makes 20cm cheesecake

250g (1 packet) digestive biscuits
75g butter, softened,
3 tablespoons nutella (from that small jar)
40g of toasted hazelnuts

400g nutella
100g 75% + cocoa solids dark chocolate, melted either in a double boiler or carefully in the microwave
500g cream cheese (2 tubs), at room temperature
75g icing sugar, sieved
100g toasted hazelnuts, chopped

In a food processor, grind up the hazelnuts. Then add the digestive biscuits and blast until a coarse crumb. Add in the butter and nutella and pulse until evenly distributed.

Line the base of a 20cm springform cake tin with baking paper (you trap a piece of baking paper in between the base and the outer ring). Grease the sides with butter.

Press the base mixture firmly into the base of the tin and place in the freezer to chill whilst you make the filling.

Cream together the cream cheese and icing sugar until aerated and light. Spoonful by spoonful add the nutella until it has all been added.

Very slowly add the melted chocolate whilst beating. If you add it all in at once you will melt the cream cheese.

Gently mix it together until a dark, smooth mixture lies in front of you.

Place about a half cup of this filling mixture on the base of the cheesecake. Sprinkle a small handful of the chopped hazelnuts over this. Then pour over the rest of the filling. Scatter over the rest of the hazelnuts. Cover with cling film then leave to set in the fridge overnight.

To release this from the tin, carefully pour hot water over the sides of the tin. This should melt the very outer surface slightly. Then release the spring form lever and slide the cheesecake off the base.