I’m trying to get rid of my bad freezer habits. In the past, the poor freezer has been a dumping ground for bits and bobs – leftovers, citrus rinds, unidentifiable meat, and other random items. But with some discipline, I’m slowly getting it under control. All new things that enter the freezer are now labelled (no more random meat!) and I’ve been clearing it out by using what’s in there.
baking – friands
Are you baking a difference this year? If you’re wondering what I’m talking about, CSR Bake a Difference is an event that encourages people to bake/make Christmas presents this year rather than buying. I do admit that I like giving gifts and I often spend a lot of time trying to think of the perfect present for friends/family. But I’ve come to realise what I like the most is not about spending a lot of money – it’s about being thoughtful and making an effort for someone I care about. So rather than purchasing something, why not make something instead?
Recently I discovered that two of my colleagues were having birthdays in the same weekend. I discretely questioned one of those colleagues, trying to figure out his cake preferences and discovered that he didn’t really like cake! Shock horror! How can someone not like cake?! But after some further sly questioning, I found out that he liked cheesecake, and specifically, baked cheesecake.
I immediately thought of the recipe below from Australian Table, which has been my go to recipe for baked cheesecake for many years. Unfortunately, I mislaid it for a while and only rediscovered it recently when I did a clear out of most of my food magazines.
I’m very fond of this cheesecake. It’s not too large and doesn’t use a kilo of cream cheese unlike other recipes I have tried. And it’s delicious, with just the right balance of sweetness and richness. The other bonus is the sour cream topping – it doesn’t matter if the top of the cheesecake cracks or bubbles in the oven, because it all gets covered up!
The only change to the original recipe I make is to double the amount of biscuits and butter as I prefer a thicker base. Sometimes I top the cheesecake with fruit, but this time (as you can see) I drizzled it with dark chocolate.
The cheesecake was a hit at work and slices were very enthusiastically gobbled down! I was happy to see that the base and filling held up well, and slices were even able to be hand-held.
Along with the cheesecake, I also made mini coconut and berry friands. I have made and blogged about these before, but I love them so much I thought I’d rave about them again.
This time I used a mini patty pan to make tiny bite side friands. They were a pain in the arse to get out of the pan. I ended up breaking several, but Alastair happily “taste tested” those ones for me. They were little but fabulous!
Baked vanilla cheesecake
From Australian Table – December 2005
250g Nice biscuits, crushed
120g unsalted butter, melted
500g cream cheese
2 large eggs, plus 1 yolk
3/4 cup (180ml) cream
1/4 cup (55g) caster sugar, plus 1 tablespoon extra
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1/2 cup (120g) sour cream
2 punnets raspberries (or other fruit of your choice)
icing sugar, to dust
Preheat oven to 190°C. Line and grease base and side of a springform (2cm) pan.
Combine biscuit crumbs and butter. Press firmly into base of prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes.
Place cream cheese, eggs and egg yolk, cream, 1/4 cup caster sugar and vanilla into a food processor. Process until smooth. Pour over biscuit base. Bake for 25 minutes, until firm, but still slightly wobbly in centre. Cool.
Whisk together sour cream and extra sugar. Spread over cheesecake. Top with fruit and dust with icing sugar.
These friands are SO good. Moist and coconutty, they get gobbled up in my house in no time. Not only are they delicious and very moreish, they also help use up the egg whites that always seem to be floating around in my freezer. 3 thumbs up!
Berry and Coconut Friands
From the May 2007 issue of Cuisine magazine.
125g unsalted butter
1/2 cup self-raising flour
1 & 2/3 cups icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking power
1/2 cup ground almonds
3/4 cup fine desiccated coconut
5 large egg whites
oil for greasing
icing sugar to serve
Preheat the oven to 175C.
Melt the butter and leave to cool until just warm.
Sift together the flour, icing sugar and baking powder, then stir in the ground almonds and coconut.
Whisk the egg whites until fluffy but not stiff.
Fold into the dry ingredients then fold in the melted butter and set the mixture aside for 10 minutes.
Spray or brush friand moulds with oil. Pour the mixture in, add a berry (or 2) and bake for 20 minutes.
Cool on a rack before tipping out on the moulds.
Dust with icing sugar.