Category Archives: Recipes – Cakes

Mini cookies and cream cheesecake with salted caramel cream


The beauty of this treat lies in the speed and output – minimal time and effort with a large number of serves. This is great for parties or any ‘bring-a-plate’ situations. Instead of bashing biscuits for the base, a single Oreo biscuit is used. The mixer does most of the job for you and it doesn’t take long to bake at all. Since I almost always have a jar of salted caramel in the fridge, it didn’t require any extra time to make. You can leave out the caramel and use whipped cream by itself if you wish.

The mini Oreo is the cherry on the top – you can leave it out if you feel the mini dessert is rich enough. However it does provide a crunchy element as the bottom Oreo would be soft to the bite as you eat it. Since it is already portioned as individual serves, there’s no fussing about with cutting or slicing. Sit back and enjoy!

Mini cookies and cream cheesecake with salted caramel cream
Makes 32 plus

Ingredients for the cheesecake:

  • 3 blocks of cream cheese (750g) softened at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup cream, lightly whipped
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
  • 2 eggs, size 8
  • 32 paper muffin cups
  • 40 standard size Oreo cookies (reserving 8 to be blitzed)
  • 32 mini Oreo Cookies

For the salted caramel cream

  • 1 cup cream
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp salted caramel

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 150 degrees Celsius.
  2. Prepare your 12 cup muffin tins with paper lining. Place a standard sized Oreo on the bottom of each one and set aside. I only have one of this pan, so to prepare I lined up the filled cases on a cookie tray to let them hold each other up. Prepare 32 of these.
  3. Lightly whip the cream.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix cream cheese and sugar together on low speed.
  5. Mix in sour cream, your whipped cream and vanilla paste until smooth.
  6. Mix eggs in, one at a time.
  7. Blitz the remaining 8 standard size Oreo cookies till it breaks up, but not powdery, and then add them to the cream cheese batter and mix to incorporate.
  8. Fill each case with the mixture. I find it easiest to use an ice cream scoop with a spring mechanism that pushes the mixture out. Fill each right up to the brim of the case.
  9. Bake for 23-25 minutes, aiming for a slightly wobbly center. Remove from the oven and let cool for 1 hour at room temperature. Then refrigerate for at least 4 hours, best overnight. (You can also do up to the piping of the salted caramel cream step below and then refrigerate.)

For the salted caramel cream

  1. Whip cream and icing sugar until it is combined.
  2. Add the salted caramel and whip till you have stiff peaks.
  3. Fill it in a piping bag fitted with a large star tip (I used the Wilton 2A tip) and pipe the cream onto the top of each cheesecake.
  4. Press a mini Oreo on top just before you serve (or else the cookie will go soggy.)

Little Molten Lava Chocolate Fondants


J didn’t believe me when I said “Come see gooey chocolate oozing out of these cakes”. Although only six years old, she’d seen a fair few chocolate cakes being cut into and was fairly certain that nothing normally oozes out. Not even from an ice cream cake.

I insisted and together we gathered around the little wobbly bobs of chocolate fondants, with a sharp knife and steady hands I sliced into the centre of the dainty little cakes.

“ooooOOOUUUUU” was the reaction I wanted, and got (phew!!) 🙂

“It’s coming out! Just like lava!” J looked at me, incredulously.

Yes dear, that’s why they are called Molten Lava Cakes!

I love how these turned out, the beautifully rustic looking cakes held its class. What is the secret, you may ask? Well when a chef shares his tip with you, listen up… Baked bean tins! Simon Gault shared his recipe and I’ve been collecting tins over the last few weeks in order to put this to the test…and so glad I did.

The following is my version with slight tweaks e.g. Oven temperature and time.  I also tested with a small 3″ Fat Daddio’s pan but that did not turn out as nice. If you have to make it right now and have not collected tins, you can use small ramekins or dariole moulds with the bottom lined with baking paper. Cooking time will need to be adjusted for a further 3 minutes. Now stop gawking and go make some!!

Makes 8

5 eggs
5 yolks
1/3 cup caster sugar
250g dark chocolate (at least 72% cocoa solids)
250g butter, plus extra for buttering the moulds
3 tbsp flour (or almond meal to make this dessert gluten free)
2 tbsp cocoa powder
icing sugar for dusting

Method

  1. Using an electric beater, whisk the eggs and yolks with the sugar until thick and pale.
  2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a double-boiler or in a stainless steel bowl over a saucepan of boiling water, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Fold the melted chocolate mixture into the egg mixture until combined and of an even consistency.
  3. Sift the flour over the mix and fold in until completely incorporated with no lumps. Transfer the mixture to a piping bag and place in the refrigerator until firm.
  4. Butter 8 baked bean cans, lightly dust with cocoa powder and place on a baking tray with a square of baking paper under each can. Once the mixture is firm, pipe into the moulds, then refrigerate until set. (Make sure you have cleared some fridge space beforehand to accomodate your baking tray).
  5. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Bake the chocolate puddings for 14 minutes (wooden skewer test will show it is wet). Remove from the oven and, very importantly, allow them to stand for 3 minutes before removing from tins, to avoid cracking. Turn out the puddings onto individual plates by using a sharp knife and go around the sides of the tin. Dust with icing sugar.

Salted caramel Tim Tams chocolate cheesecake


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How do you make Tim Tams last longer? Ask any fan and they will tell you how hard it is to stop at one, let alone make it last longer.

Especially when we are talking about a collaboration between Arnott’s and Adriano Zumbo to create salted caramel tim tams! It’s been a while since I last rushed to buy newly released confectionary and also that I don’t think I’m ever fast enough, I had resigned to defeat. Such was my mindset when I walked past the biscuit aisle at the supermarket to find stacks of them just staring at me. I could not believe my eyes. Trying to recover from the victory dance in my head, I grabbed a couple of packs and started imagining what I could do with them. (No, eating them straight from the packet was never an option).

I knew I had salted caramel in the fridge dying to be eaten and I wanted to prolong the enjoyment of the biscuits. Immediately I knew these are destined for a cheesecake. I also decided to use my small tart tins to make mini one-serving desserts. This recipe is enough to make 10 small desserts with cream cheese filling to spare.

FOR THE BASE:

  • 18 Salted Caramel Tim Tam biscuits,  2 packets
  • 80g dark chocolate, or 100g milk chocolate,
    roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Butter the tins lightly. I did this wearing a disposable glove, to make sure butter goes all the way into the groves.

Line the base with a disc of baking paper. 

Whiz the Salted Caramel Tim Tam biscuits in a food processor until they resemble fine crumbs.

Melt chocolate and add to biscuit crumbs with sea salt and mix until combined. Spoon into prepared tins and press into base firmly to even it out. Reserve 4-5 tablespoons for decoration.

Chill in the fridge while making the filling.

FOR THE CARAMEL:

  • 200g castor sugar
  • 125ml fresh cream 
  • 50g butter, cubed 
  • 5g good quality salt flakes 
  • A few drops of vanilla essence 

Instructions: Heat the sugar in a wide saucepan until it is melted. Be really careful and wait for it to turn amber/ golden and slightly smoke. Carefully add the cream in slowly, continuing to whisk but be aware of the resulting vigorous bubbling. Add the butter in gradually until it is melted and combined. Add in salt flakes and vanilla essence. Cool in the fridge for a few hours.

FOR THE FILLING:

  • 500g cream cheese, chopped into chunks, at room temperature
  • 1 tin caramel sweetened condensed milk 
  • 8g (2.5 sheets) silver strength gelatin 
  • 1⁄2 cup caramel (as above)
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt

Put gelatin sheets in a dish of cold water and soak to soften for five minutes.

While they are softening, heat caramel gently then squeeze extra water from gelatin and whisk into caramel until smooth. Set aside.

Put cream cheese in a mixer with caramel condensed milk and mix until smooth. 

Add caramel to cream cheese mixture with salt and mix until smooth. 

Pour into prepared base and smooth the top. Chill for six hours or overnight. Sprinkle with reserved Tim Tam crumbs.

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and the left over cream cheese? I made layered cheesecake desserts in cute mason jugs and decorated with a chocolate Easter egg.

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Disney Frozen themed birthday cake and party ideas


For her 6th birthday, J requested a Disney Frozen-themed party.

A search on the internet quickly gave me links to templates for invites: you can print them from here.

For the cake: I decided on a fondant covered cake for its ease in transport and also in decoration.  Theme colours were purple and teal, which I used as the fondant layers.  For the name, I used a darker shade of purple to make it pop.  Tiny white snowflakes were cut out from white fondant, as were trees and decorated around the cake.  A large white fondant snow flake was placed on the surface of the top tier.

I used my Chocolate Cake recipe for a perfectly moist cake.

A few tips from my friend who came over to help (thanks Bryony!):

*always ice your cake before you roll out the fondant – you don’t want your rolled fondant waiting for you;

*always use good quality baking pans to ensure even baking – you will waste less cake if there is less leveling to do;

*aim for a high/deep cake so that you have height in a single cake without needing to layer it up;

*if you do need to layer it up, it will inevitably have a gap on the side – use a thinly rolled piece of fondant and wrap it right round the cake to fill the gap (as seen below with the green-coloured fondant).

*only take the amount of fondant you require from the bag and keep the rest tightly wrapped away to prevent it from frying;

*mix a small amount of coloured fondant with the white to create the colour you want;

I reckon cake decorating is way more fun when your best friend’s around 🙂

Party favours:
J personalised white takeaway boxes by drawing snowflakes on the sides, which contained blue and white (blueberry and coconut flavoured) jelly beans, Disney Frozen tattoos and my famous macarons 🙂 in the theme colours.

We held the party at Snow Planet, Silverdale, Auckland. Perfect backdrop for our Frozen party, don’t you think? 🙂

I don’t know who was harder to get off the snow – the kid or the big kid…

Salted caramel chocolate cake with brandy ganache


Wow that was a mouthful, but trust me this is an easy cake, done in 2 hours. I don’t normally believe in ‘one-pan’ cakes but this turned out to be the most amazing cake I have done in a while (those who got to eat it loved it).

The cake is adapted from Annabell White’s Chocolate Buttermilk Cake.

The batter is baked separately in two identical pans – reason is being an extremely moist cake, I would have a hard time splitting it in half without it breaking up all over my hands.

It also helped when it comes to adding the salted caramel layer – I could easily spread it on while the cake is warm, without needing to over handle it.

A silky smooth and glossy chocolate ganache is then poured over with much abandon,  letting the ganache glide freely over the cake and sides.

Quite an indulgent experience especially when the cake’s left overnight so the cake, salted caramel and chocolate ganache got a chance to mix and mingle, producing one moist cake with a real depth of flavour.

Given how quick I got this done, it is definitely a weeknight cake too if you should ever have any cake emergency!

Cake recipe:
ingredients
115g butter
125 g dark chocolate
1 cup sugar
1 tsp Princess cake and cookie baking emulsion from Lorann oils
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
3 eggs
1 3/4 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder

salted caramel
See my recipe from the Salted Caramel Macaron post.

Ganache Recipe:

140g dark chocolate tabs
125ml fresh cream
20g unsalted butter
1 tablespoon whiskey or brandy (optional)

Cake directions
1. Heat oven to 180 deg C. Grease two 22cm tin and line with baking paper.
2. Heat butter and chocolate carefully in saucepan stirring on medium temperature. Do not over heat. Take off heat, add sugar and baking emulsion straight away while mix is hot.
3. Whisk in buttermilk and eggs with a whisk. Add dry ingredients, whisk gently till just smooth. Pour batter into tin.
4. Bake for 30 minutes or until skewer comes out clean. Turn out on wire rack to cool.
5. Spread 4 tbsps of salted caramel onto the top of one cake. Place the other cake on top.
6. Make chocolate icing. Put chocolate and butter into a bowl. Heat cream in a saucepan till just boiling and pour over chocolate. Let it sit for a minute before stiring. Add whiskey or any liqueur of your choice. Pour over cooled cake and using a palette knife, spread the icing around, allowing the ganache to dribble over the edge randomly.
7. Smooth tops. Let the cake sit overnight and it will taste even better the next day.