NOTella Hazelnut Chocolate Cheesecake

I was reading something online the other day, the sentence started “I don’t like cheesecake…” and I don’t know what happened after that.  I don’t quite trust people who say they don’t like cheesecake…..it’s weird….what’s not to like?!?  Okay, so everyone can’t like the same things but, but cheesecake?  It’s like saying you don’t like puppies or being happy!  Anyway, if like me you ARE a cheesecake lover and would like to try making your own, here’s one recipe that will leave you a little bit more nuts for the stuff.  It was Nutella day last week, which totally came by surprise to me as I didn’t know there was such a day, most likely invented by Nutella.  Now, I do like Nutella but it’s not the healthiest thing on the planet and to be frank – it’s laden with sugar, very little percentage of nuts and more sugary chocolate.  Step up Keen.  They have made their version of Nutella using 83% hazelnuts and 17% decadent dark chocolate.  Now that’s what I call a nutty spread!  I took a recipe for Nutella cheesecake and replaced yes you guessed it, the Nutella with Keen and my word,  you are gonna love this….

Dark Choc Nutty Cheesecake Nutty choc cheesecake slice

Ingredients

250g digestive biscuits

75g butter or coconut oil (the firm stuff)

450g cream cheese (full fat)

350g Keen hazelnut and extremely dark choc

60g icing sugar

100g chopped toasted hazelnuts

 

Method

Blitz the digestives in a food processor.  Meanwhile heat the butter and 1 tbsp of nut butter over a medium heat.  Add the blitzed biscuits and a couple of spoonfuls of chopped nuts to the butter mixture.  Mix well until combined and then press into a loose bottomed 8inch tin.  Press the mixture down firmly and up the sides of the tin a little to create a lip and smooth the surface with a spoon.  In a big bowl soften the cream cheese.  I used full fat as it’s what I had at the time but I will try this with a lighter version or maybe Quark in future?  Add the icing sugar and beat together. The mixture should start to stiffen a little at this stage.  Add the rest of the nut butter and beat to combine well.  Give it a few folds with a large spoon to make sure you get everything all in there and then tip onto the base.  Top with the chopped nuts and let it set in the fridge for at least 4 hours, overnight preferably.  Loosen the sides by running a knife round if you need to, remove from tin and enjoy!  Try using half and half different nut butters (or use half Nutella for a little naughtiness) to create different flavours, use pecan nuts and try gingernuts, oreos or hobnobs for the base instead 🙂

 

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What to do with your Flesh at Halloween…mwahahahaha!

As an 80’s kid growing up, Halloween was all about cheap plastic face masks, a bowl of nuts in their shells that would take a jack hammer to crack the damn things open and my favourite memory of all?  Carving a turnip into something more gruesome than the turnip itself… ahh and sparklers out in the garden while dressed in a bin liner – great fire safety Mum and Dad! Only kidding, love you…

Anyway, nowadays Halloween has turned into something much bigger as we follow more and more trends from the USA – trick or treating, costumes and decorations have taken on a whole new level.  Food at Halloween seems to be ranking higher in importance in recent years (chucking monkey nuts in a bowl no longer cuts it), especially as the popularity of the pumpkin grows and grows with people turning their flesh (pumpkin, don’t freak) into many a marvellous thing!  I myself have jumped on the pumpkin bandwagon and managed to whip up three delicious dishes from one humble pumpkin so here are a few ideas to get you thinking when you start scooping!

Pumpkin and Apple Loaf

Pumpkin Loaf sliced

 

 

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Ginger Snap Crust

Pumpkin Cheescake Slice

 

Healthy Thai Pumpkin Soup (no pic, sorry)

 

Ingredients

300g roasted pumpkin flesh

1 onion, chopped

2 tbsp water or oil

350mls chicken or vegetable stock

1/2 chilli, chopped with seeds if you like a bit more heat

1/2 tsp each of chopped thyme, sage and rosemary (I used a bouquet garni from Sainsbury’s or Tesco)

Salt and pepper to taste

3/4 tin of reduced fat coconut milk

Sweat the onion on a medium heat for 10 minutes in water or oil (I used water to keep calories low) in a large saucepan, add more if the onion starts to catch.  Chop the roasted pumpkin roughly and add to the pot along with all other ingredients except the coconut milk.  Simmer for 20 minutes, take off the heat and blend until smooth (I used a stick blender but use whatever blending methods you have).  Stir in the coconut milk and bring back up to a simmer.  Serve with crusty bread, a spud (yes Mum used to chuck a spud into soup, 80’s kid remember) or just on it’s own in all its orangey gorgeousness! Soups are hard to fail on, these are just guidelines so feel free to throw in anything else you fancy that will enhance the flavour.  Go for more pumpkin, less stock if you like a thick soup or omit the chilli and add a tbsp of curry powder for a twist.  Experiment my friends!

 

Pumpkin and Apple Loaf

makes 2 loaves, because you will want to eat the first one all by yourself

 

Ingredients

425g pumpkin puree (I roasted the flesh at 220°C for 30-40 minutes and used a stick blender to puree)

4 eggs, beaten

450g of plain flour

2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

pinch of salt

2 tbsp of mixed spice

450g light soft brown sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

250mls vegetable oil

150ml of water

1 medium to small cooking apple, grated

 

Method

Preheat oven to 180°C and grease and line two 2lb loaf tins.  Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.  Grate the apple and toss into the dry mixture, coating the apple pieces.  Meanwhile, once you have roasted, pureed and cooled your flesh, let it drain over a fine sieve for 10 minutes to release any extra liquid, you don’t want the puree to be too watery but it will will retain a little water.  Place the puree in a bowl, add the beaten eggs, vanilla extract oil and water and combine well.  Fold this into the the dry mixture with a large metal spoon until there are no traces of flour.  Divide the mixture into the loaf tins, it will come up just over half way but the loaf rises quite well.  Place in the middle of the oven (make sure you turned it down after roasting your pumpkin) and bake for 60 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the loaf comes out clean.  If you feel the loaf is browning too quickly cover with tinfoil.  Cool in the tin for 10 minutes then remove and finish cooling on a wire rack.  It will slice better when cooled completely if you can contain yourself until then!  Feel free to invent a topping for the loaf, cream cheese whipped with some icing sugar and vanilla would go lovely, or heat some orange juice in a pan, stir in some sifted icing sugar to make a glaze and drizzle over the loaf while still slightly warm.  Yum yum!

 

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Ginger Snap Crust

 

Method

225g ginger biscuits

60g butter

juice and zest of 1 lemon

340g cooked pumpkin, blended to a puree

225g soft light brown sugar, (take out any lumps)

450g full fat cream cheese

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

4 eggs

Topping

 

90mls double cream

90mls natural plain yoghurt

 

Method

 

Preheat oven to 170°C.  Grease an 8inch loose bottomed cake tin.  Bash biscuits or process in a blender to a fine crumb.  Melt butter in a saucepan then add crushed biscuits and the lemon zest and combine well.  Press mixture into the cake tin, pushing it up the sides slightly and set to one side.  In a large bowl mix together the cream cheese, pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Beat the eggs and fold into the mixture.  It will be quite runny but this is right so don’t panic!  Pour into the cake tin on top of the biscuit base and bake for 90 minutes in the middle of the oven until the surface is set but underneath will still be a bit squidgy.  Take out of the oven and cool completely in the tin, do not be tempted to remove the cake until it’s totally cooled (I put mine in the fridge overnight as I was in no hurry for it).  Remove cake from tin onto a serving plate, wrap in clingfilm and chill until you are ready to top it and serve it.  For the topping beat the cream until thick, fold in the yoghurt and lemon juice and spread onto the cheesecake.  I sprinkled mine with a little cinnamon to finish but icing sugar or lemon zest would also work, be creative!  Some sugared pumpkins possibly???  Slice and tuck in!

 

Happy Halloween Everyone!