Tag Archives: Baking

Bill’s Individual Cheesecakes

28 Jul

My mum is a baker.

Well, that’s not technically true, she is actually a nurse – but she is a recreational baker.

She often speaks about her desire to bake sweet treats and sell them in a specialty shop that also sells second hand books, flowers, coffee and has a facility to weigh babies (yes, weird I know, but that’s my mum!)

Last Friday night my mum and I made a big family dinner to celebrate the fact that all 6 of us were under one roof for a meal – something that rarely happens these days!

We baked these beautiful Bill Granger individual lime cheesecakes. They were lovely, plenty of lime tang, and just the right size. They were a hit with our four boys too!

Individual Cheesecakes

Ingredients
Base
  • 100g shortbread biscuits
  • 55g ground almonds
  • 50g unsalted butter
Filling
  • 400g cream cheese
  • 100mL sour cream
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1 medium egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lime zest
  • strawberries or raspberries to top
 Method
  • Preheat the oven to 160’C
  • Line a 12 hole, 125mL capacity muffin tim with patty pans
  • Crush the biscuits to fine crumbs, using a food processor or rolling pin
  • Put the biscuit crumbs, ground almonds and melted butter into a bowl and combine
  • Press 1 tablespoon of the mixture inot the base of each patty pan
  • Refridgerate while you make the filling
  • To make the filling, beat the cream cheese, sour cream and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  • Add the egg first, then the egg yolk, vanilla and lime zest, beating well after each addition.
  • Spoon mixture over the bases, then sprinkle the berries evenly on top
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until the cheesecakes are puffed and starting to colour.
  • Allow to cool, then refridgerate until ready to eat
  • Remove the cheesecakes from the patty pans
  • Top each one with fresh berries and dust with icing sugar to serve

 Being individual, these cheesecakes don’t need the overnight setting time a large one usually requires.

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The Diva of the Kitchen

13 Jun

Last night was a cold, wintery night here in Sydney, and after having our lovely friends Vanessa and Marcus over for lunch (see Vanessa’s fab blog here http://vanessajanephotography.wordpress.com) Mark and I found ourselves with a quiet night ahead! While Mark was happy playing PS3, I decided to tackle what I like to call the Diva of the Kitchen, the macaroon.

Now, to be honest, I didn’t find her to be too much of a prima-donna, but she definitely has that reputation, so I learned whilst pouring over the hundreds of recipes on the internet! There were basic recipes, variants on basic recipes, lists of what to do, lists of what NOT to do, discussions on how long to age egg whites, how long to let rest before baking, what special mats to bake them on – I got tired of reading – so I just decided to give it a go!

My friend Tamara came over and helped me with my mission (see Tamara’s pretty blog here http://tamarabell11.wordpress.com) When we returned from Woolworths with the ingredients, I realised that I had made the same mistake I always make – I had not read the recipe from start to finish before beginning to bake! I learned that I should have separated my egg whites and had them resting at room temperature DAYS AGO, and I needed to have at least 3 hours up my sleeve for resting time! I had not aged my egg whites, nor did I have hours up my sleeve – and they still worked! So don’t be scared, fellow bakers, just give them a go!

 

French Almond Macaroons

Ingredients
  • 225g icing sugar
  • 125g almond meal
  • 110g egg whites aged overnight or longer, at room temperature
  • 30g white sugar
  • Pinch of salt
Method
  • Use a pencil to draw golf-ball sized circles about 4cm apart onto a piece of baking paper. 

(Note: You only have to draw circles on the baking paper if you want absolutely even-sized macaroons. If you’re skilled with piping and don’t mind eyeballing the amount of batter per biscuit, skip this step).

  • Double sift almond meal and icing sugar. Mix the almond meal and icing sugar in a bowl and set aside.
  • In a large, clean, dry bowl whip egg whites with salt on medium speed until foamy. Increase the speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar. Continue to whip until stiff, firm and shiny peaks form.

(Note: If you choose to colour your macaroons, add food colouring at this stage. Take care not to over-beat eggs and lose the peaks in the process).

  • With a flexible spatula, gently fold in almond and icing sugar mixture into egg whites until completely incorporated. The mixture should be shiny and ‘flow like magma.’ When small peaks dissolve to a flat surface, stop mixing.
  • Using a piping bag, pipe the batter onto the baking sheets onto the previously drawn circles. Tap the underside of the baking sheet to remove any air bubbles. Let dry at room temperature for 1 or 2 hours to allow skins to form.

(Note: When making these myself, I baked half of the biscuits straight away, and let half of them rest for one hour. They both worked, and tasted fabulous, although the ones that I allowed to rest, definitely had better ‘feet’).

  • Bake in a 160’C fan forced oven for 10 to 11 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to keep the oven door slightly ajar, and rotate the baking sheet after 5 minutes for even baking.
  • Remove macaroons from oven and transfer on the baking paper to a cooling rack. When cool, slide a knife underneath the macaroon to carefully remove from paper.
  • Pair macaroons of similar size, and pipe your filling of choice onto one of the macarons. Sandwich macaroons, and refrigerate to allow flavors to blend together. Bring back to room temperature before serving.
A Few Tips
  •  Sift your dry ingredients at least twice – multiple times if necessary. You want your ground nuts to be powdery, no lumps. Almond meal and icing sugar mixture may be pulsed in a food processor to make finer.
  • Use old egg whites. Everywhere I read said to leave them out for three days at room temperature if you don’t mind waiting for that long. Using fresh egg whites is more likely to result in macaroons that are too fragile and flat.

(Note: My egg whites were fresh, and I bought them that night straight out of the fridge at Woolies. I brought them down in temperature by letting them sit in a bowl of tepid water for 10 minutes to remove the chill of the fridge).

  • The final macaron batter should have the consistency of magma. What’s the consistency of magma? Not too liquidy, nor too stiff. If you form a peak, it should slowly and completely sink back into the batter.
  • If the cookies form peaks on their tops after piping, flatten them with a wet fingertip.
  • Prevent your macarons from burning by using a double layered baking sheet (stack two sheets on top of each other) and by propping the oven door open with a wooden spoon for the entire baking period.

I ran out of time to make a proper ganache filling – I must admit that! I used Betty Crocker frosting – which was nice, but WAY too sweet for my liking. There are a million ganache filling recipes online that I am dying to try. The first one being white chocolate and raspberry! But that will come – another day, another blog post!

 Here are my pretty macaroons, photographed by my beautiful husband!