Tag Archives: Dessert

Tiramisu – Another Day Another Trifle

Tiramisu

A Mere Trifle

(c) J. Casper 2011

This is another take on  a trifle, of course, continuing in the spirit of eating well and using up what you have. This also appeared at the international Christmas dinner, but is great for any occasion.

The history of this dessert is uncertain, but it seems to be a lot younger than my family’s sherry trifle. However, purists would argue that my recipe is not a tiramisu, but at the time I served it, I didn’t think that “Coffee and Custard Layer Construction” had quite the same ring to it. Although now I see it written down, I am wavering…

The traditional tiramisu consists of layered sponge, soaked in coffee, and a  mascarpone and Marsala custard. But, I had some more spare panetone and I had made 2 l of custard, so I diverted from the original. I think that you can add a slug of Marsala, or even some Tia Maria if you want. I preferred a big smack from the coffee, and so didn’t want it mellowed in this instance. I certainly don’t think it suffered for it.

If you are an improvisational cook, like I am, you will enjoy getting the most out of what you have, so may well find other, equally good things in your cupboard, or fridge. It is good to know that you don’t have to stick rigidly to the old traditions, but that you can still produce great tasting food. You never know, if it is good enough, you could be starting a tradition for yourself!

Recipe: Tiramisu

Ingredients

180 g panetone

3 espresso coffees

6 egg yolks

100 g sugar

500 ml double cream

500 ml milk

½  vanilla pod

100 ml whipping cream

Cocoa powder to dust

Method

Make the custard, using the usual method, which is here, in case you need a reminder…

Leave to cool overnight in the fridge, if you can, but at least a few hours if you forgot that you are entertaining the next day, or have a pressing appointment.

Cut the panetone into strips of roughly the same size and thickness, and put in a dish, in a single layer if you can. I used a flat baking dish for this, not the final serving dish. Pour the coffee over it in as even a way as you can, you don’t want large portions of the sponge to remain untainted by the coffee.

Set the panetone aside to soak for about half an hour.

Once the panetone is thoroughly soaked, layer it into the serving dish (or individual glasses)  so that you have sponge, custard, sponge custard. I find that this is enough for two layers, but you may get more or fewer, depending on the width and depth of your serving dish.

Leave about 3-5 cm at the top, and refrigerate if you are not going to serve it straight away.

Just before serving, whip up the rest of the cream, and put it in a layer on the top of your trifle. Dust with cocoa powder, and serve it to guests who have already feasted on loads of food, but they won’t be able to resist just a small bit of this too.

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Sherry Trifle

Sherry Trifle

Sherry Trifle, for all Festive Occasions

(c) J. Casper 2011

In my family, a festive occasion is never complete without a sherry trifle – home-made, of course! We have a family recipe from my aunt’s mother-in-law, who was very particular about her recipe. She never, ever used fruit, and would frown upon versions that had superfluous ingredients. We have them for all manner of get-togethers, and a party wouldn’t be the same without one.

She passed her secret recipe onto my aunt. I have never asked her the exact recipe, but she has given me enough hints and tips that I have been able to come up with a good enough approximation. The exact recipe remains a closely guarded secret. Well, at least I imagine it that way, it seems nice to have a recipe that gets passed on to only a select few!

I have been meaning to post about the one that I made for our international dinner, but I had so much to post from Australia and since then, this is the first opportunity that I have had. I figure that this recipe is good for any party, and what better excuse than on your next snow day? Given the weather at the moment, I’m sure you won’t have to wait that long for the next one!

This version of sherry trifle has a few main differences to my normal one. Firstly, following our mince pie and mulled wine party, we had half a panetone left over that someone brought. I hate to waste things, so it seemed the perfect way to use this was to add it to the trifle instead of the usual sponge.

Secondly, I sent the Big Guy off to buy the sherry, and he came back with Pedro Ximinez. It does fit the brief of a sweet sherry, but it is much more interesting than the usual cream sherry, so beloved of elderly ladies, that is traditional in the family one.

Thirdly, the jam is usually strawberry or raspberry. I didn’t have any of those, and so I used some of the blueberry jam I had left from a trip to Sweden.

I am not sure that these amendments would have met the approval of the originator of the recipe, but it was certainly appreciated by my guests at our international christmas dinner!

Recipe: Sherry Trifle

Ingredients

6 egg yolks

100 g sugar

500 ml double cream

500 ml milk

½  vanilla pod

150 g panetone, cut into strips and spread with jam

100 ml sherry

200 ml whipping cream for the topping

Method

Firstly, you need to make a custard. It also need to be fairly thick, so I use half milk and cream. Normal custards can be made with just milk, but this one needs to hold up when you serve it, and not run everywhere, so the cream is necessary here.

You can make the custard using the step-by-step guide that I posted yesterday.

Set the custard aside to cool completely. If you can chill it overnight, so much the better.

Spread the jam on the panetone, and place it in the bottom of the serving dish. My traditional sherry trifle is served in a large bowl, from which everyone is served, but you can also arrange it into glasses for individual servings. Add the sherry to the sponge, and leave aside to soak in for 20 minutes.

Add the custard on top of the panetone. Spread it so it is as even as possible, but leave about 2-3 cm at the top of the bowl.If you are not going to serve this immediately, chill it again.

Just before serving, whip some cream to stiff peaks, and put it on top of the custard.

This is not a lightweight dessert, but it is a great treat. Especially for a celebration.

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Custard – a Step by Step Guide

You may have noticed by now that I am rather fond of dishes that involve custard. This is partly because I can only get Vla in the Netherlands, which is too sweet for use on desserts, and has been thickened with flour; but partly because homemade custard is much more tasty than it’s packet counterpart . It would, indeed, be possible to add Bird’s Custard to the list of Stuff Visitors Must Bring From the Motherland, but actually, making custard is relatively easy, so I don’t usually bother.

As it is so easy, and I have a couple of recipes coming up that require custard (and many more to follow, I’m sure) I thought that I would give a quick step-by-step guide, to save me typing out the method all the time.  The recipe calls for the use of vanilla bean. I know they are expensive, but they really are superior to using vanilla extract, so try to get them if you can. There is a good vanilla bean paste on the market too, that would be a better substitute if you really have to. Of course, I have managed to find a way to eke out the most value from a single vanilla bean, and nothing is wasted!

Most of the time, a recipe will call for you to split a vanilla pod in half, then add all of the seeds, and the pod to the warming milk/ milk replacement. I usually only ever scrape half of the bean, and add the seeds to the liquid. The exception to this is when making ice cream, or a LOT of custard, as these will require a whole pod.  I always add the split pod too, but when the milk has warmed through, I remove the pod, rinse, and dry the halves. When they are dry, I put them aside in an airtight container (a small jar with a lid). The next time that I need to make a custard, I still have seeds from half of the pod, and the old pod to add to the milk, so I get double the custard for the price of one.

Still not done, you can then dry the pods for a second time, and snip them into shorter lengths. Add these to an airtight jar filled with sugar. The remaining oils in the pod will infuse, leaving you with vanilla sugar. This is a much more acceptable substitute for vanilla pods in your next batch of custard, than using vanilla extract. There are many other recipes that you can use this in. I find stewing fruit with a little of this sugar is a really great addition. The vanilla pods will continue to be useful in this way for a few weeks. When they are dried up, they have imparted all their flavour to the sugar, and only then should you discard (or better yet, compost) them. That is a lot of value from one lowly bean, making it all a lot more worthwhile!

I have not given proportions here, as this will vary from recipe to recipe, whether you are using milk, cream, soya milk or even coconut milk (which is excellent in custard – I recommend that you give it a go). You can also make savoury custards but the methodology differs, so this is for sweet custards only.

STEP ONE – The Milk

Flavoured milk, just below boilng point

When the milk looks like this, remove from the heat

The milk (or replacement) has to carry the flavour. Usually, this will be vanilla, but could also be cocoa, ginger or fruit syrups. Whatever flavour you are adding needs to get heated with the milk. Some flavours, like the vanilla will infuse sufficiently having been brought up to the boiling point. Others will need to steep for a while before you heat the milk, to intensify their flavour.

Whichever way, you will need to gently bring the milk up to boiling point, but try not to let it boil. You will have reached this point when there are small bubbles at the sides of the pan. Take it off the heat at this point.

STEP TWO – The Eggs

While the milk is slowly coming to the boil, separate your eggs. I have assumed that a picture is not necessary for this part of step two. Be careful not to get yolk in your whites. I advise breaking each egg over a small, separate container before adding the whites and the yolks to the main batches. This way if any do break, you haven’t lost the lot. I have also taken a risk on scooping out some egg yolk when I managed to get a little bit (and I stress it was little) of yolk in my whites once when I didn’t follow my own advice, and it turned out OK, with no discernible effect on the yolks, but it was not great worrying about it.

Don’t throw away the egg whites. They make great meringues and macarons. They also freeze well, if you don’t have time to do something with them straight away. I would love to hear any other suggestions for using up egg whites, particularly in savoury dishes, if you have them. Although egg white omlets need not apply!

Egg yolks and sugar, whisked until pale

Egg yolks and sugar, whisked until pale

Once you have your egg yolks, you need to combine with the sugar, by whisking them together, until the mixture is pale.

A tip here is not to add the sugar to the egg yolks unless you are going to whisk them straight away. If sugar is left on the yolks, it will change them, and a skin will form, making the end result a little bit lumpy. This would be the time not to answer the phone if anyone rings!

It is the yolks that act as the thickening agent. I have heard that it is possible to make a sort of vegan custard, using soy flour as a thickener, and coconut milk, but I have never tried this method. Anyway, my point in telling you this is that you need the egg yolks – don’t be tempted to cut down on these, unless you also cut down on liquid too.

STEP THREE – Combining Eggs and Milk

Adding milk to eggs to make custard, slowly at first

Add a small amount of milk first

Some people will tell you that this is the hard part of the custard making process. As long as you don’t let it intimidate you, and you have a bit of patience, it need not be difficult. There is a risk that you could scramble the eggs, if you heat them up too quickly in one spot. This only happens if you apply direct heat to them, or if you try to add too much hot liquid at once.

An easy way to get around this is to only add a small amount of milk at first (really, only 20-30 ml), and make sure that you have whisked it in well before adding the next lot of milk.

You will need to put a damp cloth under your bowl, as I have done here, to stop it sliding around as you whisk, which leaves you with both hands for custard, not bowl-stabilisation.

Whisking in the first bit of milk

Thoroughly combine the first bit of milk before adding more

You can gradually increase the amount that you add each time. At some point, the egg will become quite liquid, at which point you have custard – congratulations! You  can add the remaining milk in a continuous stream, as long as you continue to whisk the custard all the time as you do so.

Adding Milk faster, continuing to whisk

You can start to add the milk faster, but continue whisking

I usually continue to whisk the custard for a little while, once all the milk has been added, more from habit than anything else, I think.

Whisking well to make sure the milk & eggs are thoroughly combined

Give the custard a whisk after all the milk is added, to ensure it is all combined well

STEP FOUR – Thickening the Custard

Custard, not yet thickened

When you return the custard to the pan, it will look like this

Next, the custard needs to be thickened. If you are making custard from scratch, you will need to stir it constantly. There is no getting away from this. I like to see it as spending time with the custard rather than getting impatient about it. Making custard can be relaxing, and fairly zen, if you let it.

Return the custard to the pan that you heated your milk in. Put it on a low heat and start to stir. You need to try to stir so that you are  moving the wooden spoon over all of the base of the pan, so that no custard can catch on the bottom, and cause lumps.

As it cooks, the custard will gradually start to thicken. When you draw a line on the back of the spoon, and the line stays there, and does not run, then your custard is done.

Thickened, Warm Custard

You know your custard is done when you get a line on your spoon

Never allow the custard to boil at this stage. If it boils, you will split it, and will end up with lumpy, scrambled custard, which will taste nice, but will look awful and the texture in your mouth will be horrible.

If this does happen, don’t despair too much. It can be salvaged to make it passable again, but it will have lost a little of the rich, silky texture that good custard is known for.

You can let the split custard cool a little, then put it into a food processor. Start it on a low setting, and gradually increase the speed and keep going until it is smooth again. I got this tip from the Accidental Hedonist a very long time ago, when I first started making custards, and one split on me (or rather, I split it, if we are going for full disclosure…). It really works, and the custard will be almost as good as new.

You can pour custard, hot, onto pies and puddings, baked fruits, or fresh ones. You can chill it for use in trifles or flans. Once chilled, you can cover  it with sugar that you burn under a blow torch, or a very hot grill for a créme brulée. You can bake it in the oven. You can even bathe in it to demonstrate how wacky you can be to raise money for charity, if you really must (not recommended, better use Bird’s for this purpose). Whatever you do with it, you will have a lovely homemade treat that will impress your friends, and that you can be very proud of.

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Charming Cherries

Cherry Clafoutis

Clafoutis

We are back from the lovely land of Australia. We had a fabulous time, and lots of great foodie experiences, leaving me with quite a few posts to catch up on, which will appear here in the next few days.

I have always wanted to have a go at making a clafoutis, and what better opportunity than when you can find large, plump and a deep, deep red cherries? Again, this is a summer dish at it’s best, and the riper you can get the cherries the better.

Clafoutis can also be made with any ripe fresh fruits, although apparently the proper name for those without cherries should be flaugnarde.

Whatever your fruit, and whatever you call it, this is a great way to use up a glut of fruit, as long as they are really ripe.

Traditionally, the clafoutis is served lukewarm, which makes sense when it is the height of summer, as you don’t want a hot pudding for a warm, sticky evening. However, if you want to use winter fruits, like apples or pears, I see no reason that you can’t serve this warm, possibly with a nice custard.

I made this for a friend who is lactose intolerant, so I used soy milk, but you can use whatever you like here.

I hope that you have a go at this dish, it really is so easy, but looks very impressive. Your friends and loved ones will appreciate you for it.

Recipe: Cherry Clafoutis

Ingredients

50 g plain flour

2 eggs

150 ml milk

Pinch of salt

Seeds of half a vanilla pod

Cherries – enough to cover an ovenproof dish or cake tin in a single layer

Method

Heat the oven to 220 °C.

Mix all of the ingredients, except the cherries, into a thinnish batter. Some recipes also call for a little sugar (in the region of a couple of tablespoons). You can add this too, if you want, but I thought that the cherries I was using were quite sweet enough for the whole dish, so I didn’t use any. Leave the batter aside to rest while you prepare the cherries.

The original Limousin dish left the stones in the cherries, which, it is said, impart an almond flavour. I didn’t try this way, because it is a little unseemly to be spitting out cherry pips when you are in company. Instead, I halved and stoned the cherries, then laid them out, flat side down in a baking dish, until the bottom was covered in one layer of cherries.

My friend only had a spring-form cake tin, which I lined with baking parchment as a precaution against spills, which was entirely unnecessary, as it turned out, so just use a cake tin, or any largish baking dish you have to hand.

Tip the batter in and around the cherries. At this stage, it should not cover the cherries over completely, but will almost do so. Don’t worry, they will rise to the top again as the dish cooks.

Put in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the batter looks cooked across the pudding. You want it light and airy, though, not crispy, although slightly crispy edges are almost inevitable.

Dust with a little icing sugar while still warm, and leave to cool before serving. The Big Guy and I had a little natural yoghurt with ours, but my friend eschewed the yoghurt, and ate it au naturel. It is very good either way.

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Making Meringues

I am sure that you may have noticed by now that I use a lot of egg yolks – in stuff like custards, mayonnaises, pasta, pastry and sauces. This leaves me with a lot of egg whites to use up.  Since I hate waste, I try always to use them, which invariably means making macaroons, and meringues. I need to expand this repertoire, so expect to see consommés and more stir fries appearing here soon. If you have other suggestions for using up egg whites (although not the egg-white omelette, please, some things are a step too far, even for me!) feel free to leave them in the comments.

I had originally intended to make advocaat, in keeping with the Anglo-Dutch theme for my party, but I ran out of time. However, this time, the advocaat was actually the by-product of the intention to make meringues, instead of the usual situation where I have a load of egg whites left over from something else. No one missed the advocaat, anyway!

Since I make them so much, I thought that I would share my technique here. I haven’t given a recipe, as it will depend on how many egg whites you have and to some extent how old they are.

Start by heating the oven to 110°C. Then measure out  45 g sugar for each egg white. I like to use raw cane sugar, but you can also use caster, granulated or icing sugar. I have also seen sugar solution, but that seems to be for Italian or Swiss style meringues, and I tend to stick with French. It is possible to use soft brown sugar, but be aware that this makes it very hard to get a crisp, dry meringue. I think this technique may be best left alone or, if you insist, only use it to top lemon meringue pie.

Put the egg whites in a very clean bowl. There must be no fat or detergent in it. If you are unsure, wipe it with the cut side of a lemon (or other citrus), which will act as a degreaser. If the bowl has any fat, it may affect the ability of the eggs to maintain the air that you are about to whip into them. The same goes if there are any traces of egg yolk, so be careful when separating the egg, too. Note that the fresher the egg, the less likely that the egg yolk is to break when you separate it.

Next, whip the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. This is when the egg whites look drier, the whisk or a spoon will create peaks when you remove it from the mixture, and if you are brave, you can upend the bowl and the egg white will not slide out. I would advise using an electric whisk if you don’t want it to take you hours.

Egg Whites at the Stiff Peak stage

The stiff peak - sadly lacking in many ski resorts this year

Then, a tablespoon at a time, add the sugar and whisk in thoroughly before you add the next spoonful. The egg white will stiffen further, as you add the sugar. At this stage, you are beating to incorporate the sugar, not to add any further air, so it won’t increase in volume.

Egg Whites plus half the required sugar

About half way through - stiffer and peakier, but not more voluminous

Keep adding the sugar, and whipping, a tablespoon at a time. Eventually, the mixture will become really stiff, to the point of being really hard to work,  and will look shiny. This is when you stop adding sugar. Because I use cane sugar, I find I need less than the stated 45 g per egg white. If you are using caster or icing sugar, you may find that you need to use all of it. This is also fine.

Finished Meringue mix

The final product - glossy, thick and much harder to beat

Don’t add more sugar than needed to get to this stiff consistency (or than the 45 g, whichever happens to come first), otherwise your meringues will leach sugar. This does not really affect the taste, but it does give them a rather unattractive look. A bit like a tree that is leaching sap.

Now your meringue is ready to be shaped. You need to line a baking sheet with some greaseproof paper. You can stick it down with oil or by dabbing a bit of the meringue in each corner and the centre of the paper and using this as glue to stick it to the baking sheet. Once the baking sheet is ready, you need to choose what shape and size you are going to have your meringue. You may wish to have it as a pavlova, in which case you need to shape one large disc, with slightly elevated sides, to hold the fruit in. I normally go for individual ones, because these are better for parties or for sharing. Most commonly, I will get two spoons and shape individual quenelles, which can then be stuck together with cream and fruit in a sandwich. However, I wanted to fill these with Chestnut Jam, so I decided that mini versions of the pavlova-style would be better suited to the task.

Some people would use a piping bag for that, but I lack the finesse, and the piping bags, so I made do with shaping them with two spoons. You can try either, I think both are just as good. I made them vaguely circular, like a nest.

Meringue nests

Not sure what I did here, but you get the meringue nest picture

Then it is ready to go in the oven. Bake the meringues for up to 1 ½ hours (but check after 1). If you have made one large pavlova style meringue, you will need longer – check after 1 ½, and leave in the oven up to 2 hours.

A Meringue nest

Meringue nest - a better view

The idea is not really that the meringue cooks, more that it dries out. You need to check that it is no longer soggy to the touch, and that it generates a hollow sound when tapped very gently on the base.It will have darkened a little, even if you use icing sugar. Mine are generally more golden than off-white, because the unrefined sugar I use is a light brown.

When you get the hollow sound, it is done. If it is at all possible, turn off the oven, but leave the meringue in there to continue to dry overnight. This will give the best result, but it will be OK if you leave it to cool outside the confines of the oven.

Once it is done, fill it with fruit, cream, fruit and cream, jam, or serve it with ice cream, mash it up with fruit and cream to make Eton Mess – whatever you like, really.

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Mareike’s Mayan Egg-Free Mousse

Some people should not eat raw eggs. I am sure if you are one of those people, then you know who you are, but for the record,those people are usually young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and those with certain allergies and medical conditions.

Bet it doesn’t stop you craving a nice chocolate mousse from time to time though does it?

My friend falls into one of the above categories. She had mentioned that she would love some chocolate mousse, but didn’t want to risk the eggs. We discussed using cream instead. As it was her birthday recently, I decided that I would make her some, and also write up the recipe for her, along with some variations she could try.

This is what I wrote for her. It will serve about 5 people.

Recipe: Egg-Free Chocolate Mousse

Ingredients

160 g Green & Black’s Mayan Gold chocolate

400 ml whipping cream

Grated zest of 1 orange

Candied orange peel to garnish

Method

In a saucepan, heat about 100 ml of the cream to just under boiling point. When bubbles appear at the sides of the pan, the cream is warm enough. Try not to boil the cream.

Chop the chocolate into small pieces (or you could use chocolate chips). Pour the warmed cream over the chocolate, and stir until it melts and there are no lumps in it.

Whip the rest of the cream to stiff peaks. fold in the melted chocolate and stir through the orange zest. At this point, you can divide into individual glasses, or just add to one serving bowl. Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours (or more if you need to make this in advance).

Before serving, garnish with the candied peel, or a couple of fresh twists of orange zest.

Variations

You can use different flavoured chocolate. I just used Mayan Gold here because I like it. Don’t use chocolate bars with nuts or other large lumps – these are better added later. I also know people who melt Mars Bars or Milky Ways (using the microwave and a splash of milk) instead of chocolate.

If you use the really high cocoa chocolate, your mousse may be bitter. You can balance this a little with some sugar (caster or icing) added into the cream for whipping.

You can spice the cream instead of using flavoured chocolate. Add the spices to the cream that you are going to heat up. Bring the cream to almost boiling point, set aside and allow to steep for 20 minutes, then bring it back up to boiling point again. Don’t forget to remove any whole spices before you pour the cream on the chocolate. Use whatever spices you like. Cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom all go well, but play around a little.

You can use coffee (or some teas might also work, depending on the type of chocolate) instead of the warmed cream to melt the chocolate.

You can add alcohol or flavoured syrups (like you can get to flavour coffee). Add these to the whipping cream and not the chocolate, though. Otherwise you risk setting the chocolate, so you won’t be able to mix it into the cream.

Fold through orange zest, nuts, candied peel, or fruit at the end, before you chill it, if you like.

This chocolate mousse is very good with chestnut jam. I am sorry that it didn’t last long enough for some photos!

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Happy Birthday, Big Guy!

Raspberry and Chocolate Chesecake

Alternative birthday cake

Yesterday was the Big Guy’s birthday. In his native Sweden, it is customary for the rest of the family to get up early, and prepare a pancake cake. Some members of his family also insist on having spaghetti with tomato ketchup for breakfast as well.

Since I am not going to sin against the Flying Spaghetti Monster and neither of us are morning people, these are not a traditions that I intend to uphold. Although you should probably try the pancake cake I linked to on Ted’s blog, they really are very good.

However, he does get to choose whatever he wants for his dinner, and then we usually go for drinks with friends.

This year he asked for a lasagne and a cheesecake.

I am not about to blog a recipe for lasagne. I know from experience that everyone thinks that they make the best one, and this way trouble lies. There are a million different ways to cook it, and most of them were based on lasagnes they had in childhood.

However, the BG did get a baked cheesecake, which is something that I do infrequently, I prefer the ease of the non-baked version, but I have recently stumbled on a formula that seems to work quite well, and is quite easy too.

This version requires little faffing, no fiddly water bath techniques, and looks as though you have gone to a lot of effort.

Recipe: Baked Raspberry and Chocolate Cheesecake

Ingredients

200 g digestive biscuits

80 – 100 g melted butter – I find that the digestives in the Netherlands are a bit more absorbent than the ones in the UK, and so require more butter to glue them together

250 g mascarpone cheese

200 g cream cheese – or make it easy on yourself a tub of each

2 eggs

120 g icing sugar

3 tbsp plain flour

1 tsp vanilla extract – please don’t use vanilla essence, it is horrible

Zest of a lemon (use unwaxed)

200 g raspberries, plus more to decorate

100 g chocolate. I used a really good milk chocolate, because I can’t stand white. You use whichever sort you like.

Method

Firstly, crush up the digestives. This is quickest done in a food processor, but you can also crush them in a bowl with a rolling pin, or wine bottle; or you can stick them in a plastic bag and crush them with the aforementioned wine bottle, or even with your hands. If you choose the latter method, you can do it in front of your favourite soap on the telly. Last Night of the Proms would also be suitable, I guess,  but that is only on once a year.

Once your biscuits are in a fine crumb, then you need to add the melted butter and mix well. The biscuits and butter should form a solid-looking base in the bottom of a spring-form cake tin, when pressed with the back of a spoon. If they don’t then add more butter and mix in again. Keep trying the tin, until you have the desired base. Remember that the butter will harden, so don’t make it rock solid at this stage – the crumbs just need to look as though they are sticking together nicely.

Bung the tin in the freezer to harden off the base while you make the cheesy bit.

In a bowl mix together the cheeses, the sugar and the lemon zest until thoroughly combined. Add the eggs, vanilla extract and the flour, and mix these in well. The mix should be fairly sloppy at this stage. If it isn’t add an egg yolk.

Gently crush the raspberries with the back of a spoon. The idea is that you want to get fewer large raspberry lumps, but not that you have crushed them so much they become a coulis.

Break up the chocolate into manageable sized lumps. I kept my chunks quite big – maybe half the size of the chunks that the chocolate bar comes divided into, but this will depend on the size of the chunks the manufacturer makes. You don’t want them too small or the chocolate will melt when you bake it. Too big, and you risk people getting stabbed in the roof of the mouth by a too-chunky chocolate corner.

Mix the raspberries and the chocolate into the cheese mixture, then pour the lot onto the biscuit base. Bake it in the oven at 180°C for about 40 minutes. You want the cheesecake to be set, but to have a slight wobble in the centre. Don’t bake too much or it will crack, although this is just an aesthetic consideration, because it will still taste just as good.

Leave it in the tin to cool, then decorate with some more raspberries. Great served with lemon cream. Or just a cup of tea.

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