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.


Nigella's Totally Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Aka the best chocolate chocolate chip cookies you will EVER make.

The other day I was sitting in my room YouTubing Nigella videos when I came across one for some chocolate chip cookies I had found in one of her books a while back. After scrolling through her website again last night I found the recipe again. My concentration on work was waning. It found me at a time of weakness! I caved and I baked.

Holy mackeral!

My life is complete.

The ultimate cookie recipe is here before you.

As quickly as you bake them they disappear. That is if they even get to being baked.

Far out.

Sorry, just give me a moment to get over this mind blow.

Right. Focus Sophie. Focus on the cookie.  . . nom cookie.

This recipe is supposed to make 12 rather large cookies but I think I managed 16. Probably would have been more had I not eaten so much dough (omg worst food coma of my life).

Here are a few notes on things to do/things I did

  • If you choose not to use the ice cream scoop method, roll the dough into balls and then with a bit of force throw/slap them down onto the baking tray. This will flatten out the bottoms a wee bit.
  • I only used half the chocolate suggested in the recipe (200g v 400g). This is because I am too poor haha and wanted to save the rest of the chips for another day (probably today to make a second batch).
  • Pop 5g of extra butter in with the chocolate so that when you take it off the heat it doesn't solidify but instead remains fluid and scrapable.
  • You want to undercook these. Brown cookies are hard to bake. They are so easy to overcook and then they turn out dry. It is better to under bake them, that way they will definitely turn out fudgy. 
  • As crazy as it sounds, listen to your baking. When you take these out of the oven you still want to hear a bit of sizzling going on. If they cookies aren't singing, they are overdone.
  • The tops should still be a wee bit moist looking.
  • Don't eat your body weight in dough. It hurts.
  • While your food sci class will love you for it, don't give half of these away haha you will regret it when you are back home having just eaten the last one and wanting more.
  • On that note, do give them away. Sophie, stop being so chubs.

Right, shall we do this?

Yes. Yes we should.

Nigella's Totally Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from this glorious recipe here
makes 12-16ish

125g butter, softened
5g butter
125g dark chocolate (use at least 70% cocoa solids)
75g soft brown sugar
50g caster sugar
1 cold egg
150g plain flour
30g cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
200g (or 400g if you really want) dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees on bake.

In a double boiler, or a heatproof bowl over a saucepan with a small amount of simmering water in it, melt the dark chocolate and the 5g of butter. Remove from heat once fully melted together.

Meanwhile, cream together the butter and the sugars. 

Scrape in the melted chocolate and mix until combined. 

Add in the cold egg and vanilla and beat until beautiful and thick.

Sieve in the flour, cocoa and baking soda and mix until just combined (over mixing will make the cookies tough).

Stir in the chocolate chips.

Either use an ice cream or cookie scoop to scoop out mounds onto a baking tray lined with baking paper or roll the dough into balls and slap them onto the tray to flatten the bases out. Don't flatten them with a fork.

If you are making 12 large cookies, bake for 10-12 minutes (see my notes up top about listening to the cookies) but for smaller ones I feel like 8 minutes is the magic number. Again this will depend on your oven. I feel like the oven here at the flat can be a bit cray cray sometimes. 

When they come out of the oven, leave them on the tray for a few minutes, they are really delicate and can break really easily if you move them too soon.

Transfer onto a tea towel or cake rack to cool.

Devour, savour, demolish, destroy . . . share???

Basically, enjoy!!

Just an update since this afternoon when I posted this. After my friend Matt and I drank our cider and ate our wedges (it is a Tuesday tradition) we decided that cookies needed to be made. Which means I make cookies and he tells me hilarious stories about everything. So I decided to do a double batch and make 8 large cookies with the ice cream scoop. This is how they turned out.

So much great.

The rest I made small like the first batch I did. The kids he has to tutor over at Knox tonight are gonna love him!

Nunnite!! xx

Baby Lemon Bundt Cakes

I found the best ever score at Pak n Save yesterday. Mini bundt tins with a gorgeous pattern to them and at only $7.99 for a pack of three. I bought six. Best purchase ever. I don't know how I am going to get all my new tins and books back down to Dunedin. It is gonna be a heavy ride. Who needs shoes and a hair drier when you have cake tins and cookbooks? I swear half of my luggage allowance is dedicated to bakeware.

Anyway, my good friend Cara bought me Nigella's How to be a Domestic Goddess for Christmas. It was an essential book and I just had to have it! What I love about this book is the way she writes. It isn't a sterile cookbook. She puts the time and effort into explaining things and reassuring you that the products of your adventures in the kitchen don't always turn out perfect and that's ok. She even points out the flaws in the pictures features, like chunks of cake missing as they stuck to the tin. The introduction is highly amusing and well worth the read. It is probably the best written cookbook I have come across. Each recipe has its own well thought out blurb recalling where the recipe came from, misadventures she may have had when making it as well as a few useful tips.

You should get it.

I had seen the mini bundt tins a few weeks ago but I withheld the purchasing of them, convincing myself that I didn't need them. Whilst flicking through Nigella I found a recipe where she used the mini tins. I was sold! So off to Pak n Save I dashed and immediately purchased the tins!

It wasn't until I was scooping the batter into the tins this morning that I realised that one of the tins was missing and had been left behind on the shelf. Ooops! So while I only made five mini cakes today I recommend making six as they kind of overflowed a bit and were a bit larger than I had hoped. Luckily I went back this afternoon and explained what had happened and the lost tin was reunited with its brothers in my kitchen drawer.

I actually made these little cakes for my brother to take two of them on a romantic sunset picnic with his thing/girlfriend (I have no idea of their official status!) this evening. I am also making Jack some mini bacon and egg pies to also take.

He owes me one.

Anyway I went to go and weigh out the ingredients when I discovered that our electric kitchen scales were deciding to have another crazy day and refused to weigh anything properly (they don't sit on a final value). I tried banging them against the bench, taking out the batteries but alas! I was just going to wait this one out. They will sort themselves out eventually. It always happens when I plan on getting up early to bake something.

I ended up having to google the weight to cup conversion for all the ingredients. Luckily it was only the flour and sugar that needed converting (the butter was from a new pack for I could estimate using the guidelines).

I'll give you both values below just in case you don't have decent kitchen scales (which you should have!!).

This recipe is so easy to make. You don't need a beater, just a spoon. There is no creaming of the butter and sugar involved, just mixing.

So great.

If you don't have mini bundt tins you could try mini loaf tins and I guess muffin tins as a last resort. Try serving the muffin versions with the icing on the bottom side of the cake (as in turn the muffins upside down to serve). It makes them slightly more interesting to look at.

I also sprinkled a bit of sugar over the top of the batter just before they went in. This gave them a lovely crunchy base which I think is great.

Baby Lemon Bundts
Adapted from Nigella Lawson's How to be a Domestic Goddess
Makes six little cakes

125ml (1/2 cup) plain unsweetened yoghurt
75g butter, melted
2 large eggs
zest of one lemon
150g (1 1/4 cups) Plain flour
125g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt

For the icing:
1 1/2 cups icing sugar, sieved
juice of one lemon
1 teaspoon of butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees and grease and flour the baby bundt tins.

Sieve together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and lemon zest.

In a separate jug or bowl, whisk together the melted butter, eggs and yoghurt.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and gently mix until no more flour clumps can be seen. Try not to overmix as this will result in a dense and chewy cake.

Fill the tins until just below the top of the centre tube (the inverse of the bundt hole), sprinkle over a little white sugar and bake for 20-25 minutes until a skewer comes out clean or and cakes bounce back when touched.

Leave to cool a little before removing the cakes form their tins. Soft, freshly baked cake is delicate and if the cakes are too hot when they are removed they can fall apart. Also don't leave them to fully cool in the tins as this can result in them sticking to the tins.

leave to cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

To make the icing, use as much of the lemon juice as necessary to make a thick but still drippable mixture. If it is too runny the icing will just run off the cake and only the bench creating a very sticky mess to wipe up later.

Decorate the cakes with a few long strands of lemon zest if you wish (I would have done this but my lemons were ugly and speckled).

Nigella says you can vary this recipe by using limes or oranges instead of the lemons. I think I might have to give them a go. This would also work really well as a syrup cake recipe. Instead of making the icing, make up a lemon syrup with say half a cup of caster sugar, the juice of a lemon and a splash of water. Simmer in a saucepan until a syrupy consistency is reached then pour the hot syrup over the cold cakes.