Raspberry Cheesecake Brownie

 

Someone once said that the best things in life come in threes like friends, dreams and memories. I would like to stick this cake at the end of that quote, because the three layers that make up this sweet sandwich will be a close memory I hope to never wake up from.

This cake has something for everyone: when I brought this cake into work Monday morning, the winning layer appeared to be the soufflé type raspberry cream topping. Others favoured the dense texture of the brownie and a small minority enjoyed the fluffy and  slight saltiness of the layer of cheesecake.

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My eyes are immediately drawn to the creamy top if I’m honest; I’m not one for things being symmetrical and in order, but I have to say I love how the contrasting textures hold together forming this perfectly layered square.  I was a little nervous baking the brownie and the cheesecake together,  fearing one would bleed into the other forming some kind of marble effect. But as long as you keep the cake in the fridge, the cream will keep on top of the cake and keep its shape for a good 6 hours.

 

Rasberry Cheesecake Brownie

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

For the Brownie 

200g Sainsbury’s Belgian dark chocolate chips

200g unsalted butter (softened)

250g icing sugar

3 eggs

110g plain flour

 

For the Cheesecake

400g cream cheese

150g icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs

 

For the Cream topping

300 ml whipping cream

100g icing sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

150g  fresh raspberries, plus extra to decorate

 

For the brownie:

Preheat the oven to 170°C (or Gas mark 5)

Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water (do not let the base of the bowl touch the water). Stir occasionally until the chocolate is  melted.

Put the butter and sugar in a bowl and with a spoon or electric whisk beat until you have a fluffy light cream.

Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well.

Gradually beat in the flour until you get a smooth mixture. Do this for about 2 minutes on high speed with an electric whisk.

Slowly pour in the melted chocolate and mix thoroughly. Pour into the prepared baking tray and smooth over with a palette knife.

 

For the cheesecake:

Put the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla extract in a bowl and mix until smooth and thick. Add one egg at a time, while still mixing. The mixture should be very smooth and creamy.

For a little lighter and fluffier mixture, beat the cream at high speed for 1 minute with an electric or manual whisk, but be careful not to over-mix, otherwise the cheese will split. Spoon on top of the brownie and smooth over with a palette knife.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30–40 minutes, or until the cheesecake is firm to the touch and light golden around the edges. The centre should still be pale. Leave to cool completely, then cover and refrigerate for 2 hours at least.

For the cream topping:

Put the cream, sugar and in a bowl and whisk or beat until firm but not stiff.

Mince up the raspberries with a fork (keeping 12 or so back for decoration) and stir into the cream.

Turn the brownie out onto a board and turn the right way up.

Spread the topping evenly over the brownie, cut into portions and decorate with more raspberries.

Adapted from the  Humming Bird Bakery Cookbook 

 

Guyanese: Pine Tarts

A friend of mine ‘returned home’ to get married in Guyana and a couple of our mutual friends joined her for the experience. For most of them, this was their first trip to Guyana; although of Caribbean descent themselves, I had to admit I was slightly nervous for them as Guyana is a very different experience to say Jamaica and Trinidad and so I was interested to hear their take on the country, especially as I hadn’t seen the country for over 10 years myself.

They all came back smiling I am pleased to say, not only for our friend whose wedding was beautiful and heart warming, but also for the love of the country. “Those Pine Tarts were so amazing!” recalled one of my friends, also the Chief Bridesmaid at the wedding. “And although I don’t eat a lot of meat, I really enjoyed the pepperpot stew”.

I was curious to hear how much Guyana had really developed since I last visited. When I was there, it felt very rural yet lively with friendly, approachable people and social events that brought out the whole community. But those Pine Tarts, yes I had to agree, are pretty good. My mother use to make these during the summer holidays once the school term was done and would sometimes pack them into our bags for summer play-scheme.

Pine tarts a very easy to make with either fresh or canned pineapple. The sweet pastry really holds the filling together and tastes just as good as the jam inside. So if you have time during the summer holidays, I would recommend setting aside an hour or two to make some of these tarts for the family. You won’t regret it.

Guyanese: Pine Tarts

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients: 

For the Pineapple Filling

425g Pineapple Chunks (or fresh pineapple chunks)

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 tsp cinnamon powder

1/4 tsp ginger powder

1/4 tsp grated nutmeg

1/2 tsp Vanilla essence

For the Pastry

1/2 cup salted butter (soft)

1/2 cup of vegetable shortening

2 3/4 cups plain flour

2 tsp sugar

pinch of salt

1 egg (egg wash)

3/4 cup ice cold water

Method

The filling

1. If you are using fresh pineapple, then peel and cut the pineapple into large chunks and transfer into a food blender, pulsate for a minute until you have small lumps. You want to then measure out 2 1/2 cups of pineapple from that to use in the filling.

2. If using pineapple from a can, take the fruit and half of the juice and pulsate in the blender until you have small lumps.

3. Place the fruit into a sauce pan with the remaining juice and the spices and sugar. Simmer slowly for 30 mins under a low to medium heat or until the mixture thickens to a jam like consistency. Keep stirring regularly to avoid it burning. When ready, remove from the heat and set aside to cool down completely.

The dough

4. Place the flour, butter, salt and sugar in a bowl and mix together until it forms a crumbly texture. Then little by little, add the cold water until you can form a dough. Knead the dough to a  smooth log (about a foot long), wrap in cling film and refrigerate for between 30 minutes and 4 hours before use. When you are ready to use it, leave the dough out the fridge for about 30 minutes to get to room temperature.

The assembly

5. Cut the log into 1 inch thick rounds, flour your work surface and roll the dough out into a 6″ circle (I used a plate).

6. Place 1 1/2 tablespoon of pineapple filling into the middle of the circle and brush the edges with egg wash.

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7. Fold the corners of the dough into the middle, to form a triangle. ensure the ends are sealed, you can use a fork to do this.

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8. Brush the top with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar (optional)

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9. Bake in the oven (Gas Mark 5) for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

10. Serve hot or cold.

Trini ‘Tambran’ (Tamarind) Sauce’

I remember being about 6 or 7 at the time (for some reason I put a lot of childhood events between this age range) when I tasted my first Tamarind Ball. It was dark in colour and resembled a golf ball that had been rolled in sugar. My brother told me it was (pepper) ‘hot’, so as neither of us could bear hot pepper at the time I avoided them as best I could.

But then a few weeks later, I thought I’d pluck the courage to go try one of these ‘sweets’ as my Dad called them. He had brought them back from a short trip he’d made to Trinidad to see my Grand – parents and extended family. I had watched on with envy as my Mum and Dad devoured them with child like pleasure all week and couldn’t understand the fascination with something that resembled liquorice but tasted like pepper.

The moment the Tambran was in my mouth, I was met by an unusually sweet sticky texture which I chewed on for a couple of seconds, before coming across the odd black seed (which I guessed had been missed). Then came the pepper of fire, which turned out to be more like a tickle rather than a punch in the mouth; it was over before I knew it. I loved them!

From then on I void never to follow my brother’s advice (in relation to food) ever again.

The recipe below is for Tambran sauce, I thought it would be better to share the sauce rather than the sweet/savoury balls with you because it’s a very versatile sauce which can be added to a number of sweet, savoury dishes or even drinks!

I’ve used this sauce in the Bara and Channa which is joining the blog soon, and hopefully I’ll share a drink with you too! Enjoy

Nutritional Value: 

Each 100 grams of tamarind contain 36% of the thiamin, 35% of the iron, 23% of magnesium and 16% of the phosphorus recommended for a day’s worth of nutrition. Other prominent nutrients include niacin, calcium, vitamin C, copper, and pyridoxine.

'Tambran' (Tamarind) Sauce

  • Servings: 10-20 servings
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

10 sweet tamarinds, shelled and de-seeded

2 to 3 cups water

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 pinch of salt

2 cloves of garlic – crushed

1/4 medium onion – grated finely

1/2 tsp scotch bonnet pepper – chopped finely (or more!)

Method

Once you have removed the shell from the tamarind, rinse the tamarind under running water (this is to make sure any bits of the shell still on the fruit are completely removed.

You will see a boney like membrane running along the fruit, remove that too if possible, otherwise, transfer the tamarind a saucepan. Pour into the saucepan, two cups of water and bring the pan to a fast boil, you will see the tamarind begin to dissolve, you can help the fruit separate from the seed by mashing it with a potato masher. If the liquid starts to thicken, add more water and lower the heat. This should take 5 -7 minutes.

Take the tamarind off the heat, pour the mixture through a sieve into a bowl, leaving behind the husk and the seed. You want to add the husk to the remaining sauce and discard the seed. Now return the tamarind sauce to the saucepan.

In the saucepan, add the remainder of the ingredients and bring it to a medium boil to help thicken the sauce. Once the sauce is at the consistency you want, allow it to cool and store in sterilised jars in the refrigerator.

Supermalt Banana Fritters

IMG_4493This is an original creation of mine which I am so excited to share with you! Don’t let the deep-frying put you off, this is an occasional irresistible, seriously addictive dessert which is best served hot and crispy with vanilla ice cream. I can’t say I am a huge fan of Supermalt, but I do get a thirst for it with certain meals. Fans of Supermalt, when you make this dish, tell me if you can taste the drink in the batter? Not being a malt novice, in my mind Supermalt gives the batter its colour and the crispy light texture. It also makes an incredible caramel sauce which detailed below. One thing to remember, make sure the bananas you use are not overly ripe, the firmer the better with no dark spots – they need to take some intense heat while frying!

Supermalt Banana Fritters

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: easy
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175g/6oz plain flour
1 cup / 250ml Supermalt
125g/41/2oz cornflour

1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Vegetable oil to fry
4 Bananas, peeled cut into thirds

The Sauce

30 ml Supermalt
50g light muscovado sugar (light brown)
40g  butter
30ml  cream
¼ tsp vanilla

Whisk the flour, Supermalt and salt together in a large bowl until smooth. Place in the fridge for 1 hour. Whisk the flour and cinnamon together in a shallow bowl. Remove the batter from the fridge and give it another good whisk. Slice the bananas into thirds.

Pour the vegetable oil into a large high sided pot. Don’t fill a pot full of oil.

Heat the vegetable oil until very hot, at least 350F if you have a thermometer. NOTE: if the oil isn’t hot enough the fritters will sink to the bottom and immediately stick to the bottom of the pan. Then, they will take too long to cook resulting in the banana turning to mush. When the oil is hot enough roll the bananas into the cinnamon flour then into the batter and then into the oil. The fritters will drop in and then almost immediately rise to the surface. I recommend using one fritter as an oil test first before cooking the rest.

Let them cook until golden brown then remove with a slotted spoon and drain in a paper towel lined bowl.

Mix all but the  cream in a small saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring all the while. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes without stirring. Remove from the heat and stir in the cream. Transfer to a bowl and leave to cool and thicken.

Copyright © Ranette Prime and Love Loretta’s Kitchen, 2014. All Rights Reserved.

Pistachio Baklava

IMG_2739I live in a culturally rich part of London where the streets are essentially a tapestry of Turkish and Greek restaurants and bakeries. The Baklava’s are usually quite deliberately perched in long trays and pans in these shop windows, which also happen to be located behind a bus stop of some kind, leaving me drooling…for the 29 bus. Most of us are familiar with this very sweet delicacy, and only the brave or those with dentures can manage more than one maybe two squares. There is no healthy alternative to this, you can’t skip or substitute any ingredients it is what it is: yummy! Now off for my 5k run.

Pistachio Baklava

  • Servings: 60 pieces
  • Difficulty: easy
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Filling

2 cinnamon sticks

6 whole cloves

40g walnuts

250g almonds (with skins on), chopped

150g shelled pistachios, chopped

1 lemon, finely grated zest

6 tbsp granulated sugar

16 sheets Filo Pastry

75g unsalted butter, melted

Syrup

450g granulated sugar

Pinch of sea salt flakes

1 lemon, juice and 3 strips zest,

1 cinnamon stick

1tsp almond essence

1 tsp minced ginger (optional)

Whole cloves (decoration)

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C, gas mark 6. Put the spices, in a pan and roast over a high heat until you start to smell the aromas. Allow to cool then with a mortar and pestle finely grind. Finely chop all nuts in a bowl and add the ground spice mixture with the lemon zest and 6 tbsp granulated sugar.

Open out the filo pastry, and cover with a damp tea-towel to prevent it from drying out. Brush a rectangular baking tray with vegetable oil. Brush a sheet of filo with butter and place in the baking tray. Repeat to make 8 layers. Trim to make sure it fits snuggly.

IMG_2740Add the nut mixture and spread evenly. Brush remaining pastry with butter and layer until all the pastry is used. Trim the top to a snug fit. Press down gently with the palm of your hand. Lightly score the pastry top but do not cut all the way through into the nuts. Criss-cross in diagonal lines to give a diamond pattern. Pin the whole cloves through the centre of each of the diamonds at this stage if you wish. Brush top with butter and bake for 25-30 minutes.

In the meantime make the syrup. Put the sugar in a pan with 300ml water, a pinch of sea salt flakes, the lemon juice and strips of zest, ginger and the cinnamon. Heat gently until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and boil for 5-8 minutes until the syrup is light and slightly thickened. Add the almond essence to taste. Cool quickly by placing the pan in a bowl of ice.

IMG_2747Remove baklava from oven once golden brown. Cut the pastry all the way through. Straining the syrup, gently spoon the syrup over the baklava.

(Adding cold syrup to hot pastry keeps the pastry crisp.) Cool completely.