Recipe | Baked Chocolate Cheesecake

chocolate cheesecakeClean eaters and lovers of grains avert your eyes: this is filthy. But oh so delicious.

You’ll Need 

For the base:
150g dark chocolate digestive biscuits
75g melted butter

For the topping:
200g dark chocolate
700g cream cheese
225g caster sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (the good stuff)

1   Preheat the oven to 160 and grease a 20cm loose bottomed tin whilst singing ‘loose bottomed tins you make the rockin world go round’ (optional).
chocolate cheesecake recipe2   Using a sandwich bag or bit of cling film for protection, bash the biscuits with a rolling pin until crumby.  Combine with the melted butter and press into the base of the tin.

DSC_0524^^ Shameless new kitchen teaser shot. Not sorry.

3   Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water and leave to cool.

DSC_05324   Meanwhile beat the cream cheese until soft and fluffy.

5   Add in the sugar and beat to combine. Followed by the vanilla essence and the eggs – one at a time and mix in fully.

6   Artfully dollop about half of the mixture onto the base in separate little mounds.

DSC_05537   Mix the chocolate into the remaining cream cheese mixture and equally artfully dollop into the gaps.

DSC_05568   Bake for 30 minutes – it should still have a jolly good wobble in the centre – before turning off the oven and leaving it to cool fully.

9   Refrigerate overnight, serve it up to your favourites and those you’d like to be friends with. Done.

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This is an adapted version of an already pretty brilliant Mary Berry recipe, I just dirtied it up a bit. 

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Homemade Dog Treats: The Cheddar Edition

Homemade Dog Treats with Turtle MatIt’s been a long week, fancy some pooch spam? Homemade dog treats too, pinterest eat your heart out. Team Cat avert your eyes.

I care very much about what goes into P & B’s little bellies so I quite like making their treats. I sleep better at night knowing exactly what they’re chowing down on (the dead bird head from the park this morning aside).

The good folk at Turtle Mat challenged me to create some tasty – figuratively speaking – treats so I mucked about with the peanut butter treats from last year to come up with a cheesy little number they seemed to love. A greater success than the human* scones I tried to make this week. The less said about those the better.

Homemade dog treats, you’ll need:

200g rice flour
handful grated cheddar
1 egg
150 ml water

Preheat the oven to 200C and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

Mix the egg and flour in a large bowl.

Add the water gradually to combine to a dough. You may not need all the water just judge it as you’re going along. The dough will be quite sticky, not unlike a scone dough. Aaah sweet irony.

When combined, stir in the cheese.

homemade dog treats with Turtle Mat

Tip the dough onto a heavily floured surface and roll to about 1cm thick.

homemade dog treats with Turtle Mat

Use a floured cutter in whatever jaunty design floats your boat to make the biscuits.

homemade dog treats with Turtle Mat

 

homemade dog treats with Turtle Mat

Bake for 10 to fifteen minutes until crisp and starting to colour.

Feel free to pass the time mucking about in the garden.

homemade dog treats with Turtle Mat

homemade dog treats with Turtle Mat

homemade dog treats with Turtle Mat

Make dogs perform tricks for treats. Everyone’s happy.

homemade dog treats with Turtle Mat

homemade dog treats with Turtle Mat

Along with their life saving dirt trapper mats, Turtle Mat launched some pretty sexy dog bowls last year too. They’re a bit of a work of art if you can say that about a dog bowl. I’m sad my new kitchen isn’t ready to show them off in: that may be the most obnoxious sentence I’ve ever written. Sadly it’s true. So instead we took our treats al fresco, high five for *almost* spring evenings.

homemade dog treats with Turtle Mat

DSC_0765Do you do homemade dog treats? Or is it too much faff? Does it depress you as much as it does me that I cannot bake for people? I expect not.

*scones for humans, not made from humans.

Turtle Mat kindly sent us the snazzy bowls for review. As always, if I didn’t love it I wouldn’t blog it…or I’d tell you the dog ate my homework. 

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Chelsea’s Chocolate Cinnamon Cupcake Recipe

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I wanted to share a little festive cheer and some of my favourite bloggers with you in the run up to Christmas and first up is the magnificent Chelsea. She’s an absolute hoot of a human whose blog I’ve read since I entered this strange little online world (this one time I also met her in the real world and can confirm she’s just as hooty there too). Love in Modern Life is my first stop when I’m looking for a ruddy good book recommendation or for someome to articulate exactly what I was thinking but better.

Turns out she bakes too – chocolate cinnamon cupcakes no less – and then balances them artfully on classic looking books like a pro.

Enjoy.


When Michelle offered the chance to write a quest post for her marvellous slice of the internet, I couldn’t believe my luck. Then, I was stumped. Michelle writes about so many amazing things so I didn’t really know what angle to come in on. I was eating some cake while deciding, and that got me to thinking – cake is awesome, I gotta write about cake. So here it is, my recipe for chocolate and cinnamon cupcakes.

Cupcakes
70g unsalted butter
170g plain flower
250g caster sugar
50g cocoa powder
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
210ml whole milk
2 large eggs

Frosting
330g icing sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp cinnamon
110g unsalted butter
40ml whole milk

Preheat the oven to 170c (Gas mark 3) and line the muffin tins with cases.

Mix together the butter, flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon and salt together until they form a crumb-like consistency.

In a jug, mix together the milk and eggs by hand. After turning the mix down to a slow speed, gradually pour half of the liquid into the crumb mixture until it’s all combined. Raise the speed to medium and mix until the batter is smooth and thick, with no lumps. Once any lumps are gone, turn the speed back down and gradually pour in the remaining liquid, continuing to mix until the batter is smooth and combined. This paragraph was not sponsored by the word ‘gradually’.

Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases and then bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the sponge bounces back when lightly touched. Leave them to cool slightly before removing from the tin and place on a wire rack to cool completely. They might look tasty and chocolatey, but don’t say I didn’t warn you about the molten hotness.

While the cakes are cooling, mix together the icing sugar, cinnamon and butter together on a slow speed until it’s all combined. Then, pour in the milk and once it is all incorporated, turn the mixture up to a high speed and beat the frosting until light and fluffy.

Once the cupcakes are cool, spoon generous amounts of the frosting onto each cupcake – then gently smooth over with a palette knife.

And there you have it, some glorious cupcakes with the perfect amount of cinnamon which is just perfect at this time of year. Or any time of the year, actually.

Come on over to Love in Modern Life if you’d like to see more cake – there’s also book reviews, lifestyle posts and things along those lines. I’m really selling it, right?

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The Joy of Roasting

DSC_0697I’ll give you just a minute with that title. All done? Goodo.

So, we don’t have an awful lot of family traditions: I’m the Mother of Spaniels and Step Mother of Teens, ain’t nobody got time for….anything at all really on a regular basis. I feel I should insert some comedy traditions in here for the lolz.

The one thing we all manage to do, without fail, in the heights of summer and the depths of winter, is sit down to a big, beastie, snooze inducing roast dinner.

It’s like late 1940s Britain threw up all over us.

We’ve spent a long time perfecting this Sunday tradition of ours from the ideal grub (beef and yorkshires, obvs), sexy veggies and granule-less gravy – I’ll show you how I make mine one day soon, I don’t want to brag but I’ve become the gravy queen of the South West. That’s trademarked, leave it alone.

By far and away the best bit of our Sunday tradition is having the time to sit around the table, stuffing ourselves silly and catching up on the week that was and the week that is about to come. It’s the one guaranteed couple of hours during which our busy little lives converge and we scoff like the apocalypse is coming.

I’m no family expert (because seriously, who is? Every family is beautifully unique in its dysfunction) but that little Sunday window has become a key part of knowing what our secretive teen contingent are up  to, of sharing all of our good news and laughing together, like real live humans. And those happy little moments together are what make the world go round really aren’t they? Amidst the busyness of real life.

We didn’t get to do this an awful lot when I was growing up, my mum worked a lot of weekend shifts (stick that in your pipe Jeremy Hunt) so I’m quasi religious about making the Sunday roast happen. Rules make it more fun for everyone right? Occasionally we open up the Sunday roast to others, friends, family, a passing troupe of trapeezing dachsunds. More often than not it’s just the four (six) of us enjoying each others’ company through mouthfuls of cauli cheese. And it’s blissful. My little family isn’t too shabby.

And I know what you’re thinking, the answer is of course the mutts get their own roast and the opportunity to share their hopes and dreams for the week ahead which invariably includes how many times they can use up the poop bag supply stuffed in my jeans pocket and nudge me into having that ever awkward conversation trying to blag one from another dog walker without looking like an irresponsible moron. Cheers guys.

These little Sunday interludes have become one of my favourite bits of the week. Do you roast?

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One Wheat Free Week in Devon

IMG_4748This is what my column should have been called instead of the shite working title that’s right there in print in the paper, next to that big picture of my face so there’s no mistaking that that slurry came from the annals of my brain. I’m blaming the lack of wheat for it. For all of it. For EVERYTHING.

*wildly gestures and flounces from the room*

Ok, I overreacted. Being wheat free has actually been a little bit brilliant. I know, I know, I’ve changed. I’m just a bowl of quinoa away from wearing kaftans to the supermarket, maybe dishing out a little reiki in the queue.

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The decision to ditch the wheat started with me but the husband mercilessly rejected the idea a long time ago and I just couldn’t spend any of my precious remaining days on earth cooking different meals for everyone so the wheat stayed. Some randomer later suggested that C might want to cut down his gluten intake to reduce heartburn and suddenly it was the best idea since a seeded, gluten free bloomer. I’m not bitter, I guess I won in the end.

Migraines have darkened my doorway for most of the last 20 years.  I’ve always professed that they’re stress based and that I have no food triggers but over the last couple of years they’ve worsened in intensity and frequency and, y’know, life’s just too fecking short to be in pain so often. Apparently I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed though, it took a doctor suggesting I might want to try beta blockers to control them before I even remotely considered trying to change my diet.  But I’m here now, ready to commit. Is this what growing up feels like? It might be.

So we did it: ditched the gluten. And we’ve survived a whole week-it might even be a bit longer now, we’ve so seamlessly adapted that it feels this has always been the way. We’ve both been prancing about in front of the mirror a lot ‘look how un-bloated I am/how un-dimply my arse is/how clear my avocado addicted face is.’

But I’m not here to brag about my peachy bottom (that might be the most British I’ve ever sounded) but to entice you into this weird little wheat free wonderland. Imagine, if you will, me looking menacing and beckoning you with weird looking spindly fingers. Like Rasputin or something.

I realise that’s not an enticing image so here are some perfunctory tips for getting through the first few weeks, after that it just sort of becomes part of your life.

  • You’ll want to empty your cupboards of everything. Don’t. There’s lots in there you can still use. Just ditch the wheat filled pasta and glorious ‘real’ jaffa cakes. You’ll miss those.
  • You’ll start eating a lot of salad. Then you’ll want to spend all of your money on books by clean eating gurus so that you can eat anything but salad. You might even read all the inspo whilst eating a crappy cobbled together salad that you accidentally threw some out of date croutons on because you forgot. I did this. Save your pennies for the extortionate wheat free bread – there’s enough inspiration on this thing called the web. It’s magical and free, start there. Perhaps with Deliciously Ella, Gluten is my Bitch, Helmsley and Helmsley – yeah, I bought ALL THE BOOKS too. It was unnecessary but it made me feel studious and legit – if you’re going to go for one I’d suggest Helmsley first. This week Rosie posted some delicious looking grain based recipes too, see? Internet. IMG_4740
  • Prepare to discuss your bowel movements with anyone who’ll listen. It happens.
  • Most of what you normally eat can be de-glutenified with a few small tweaks – the free from aisle of your local supermarket is like a magical mystery larder (don’t eat the biscuits though, they’re of the devil, make your own sweet treats).
  • Rice flour makes a much better, glossier gravy than its wheaty brother. Found this out by accident.
  • I got really carried away and made elaborate veggie filled extravaganzas which were so far removed from our usual meals that it was a bit of a leap too far for us and caused the husband to pull weird faces. His voice said ‘mmmm delicious’ but his face said ‘get this evil foodstuff out of my face.’ Actually, if we’re being honest, his mouth said ‘it tastes like cardboard’but I maintain that the brazilnut and avo pesto was DELICIOUS. This cautionary tale of domestic woe highlights that the real key to the whole thing, to making sure you really stick with it, is to take small steps in the right direction. Make a few sustainable changes here and there and you’re much more likely to keep going with it until you see a real change.
  • Oh and don’t beat yourself up if you fall off the wheaty wagon, you won’t combust.

It’s the biggest lifestyle change we’ve made in a while and so far it’s proving to be worth the marginal hassle of having to plan meals more efficiently. It turns out it’s much easier to eat gluten-freely now than it ever has been.

I still irrationally detest people who say they’re wheat free. No reason.  But I haven’t had a whiff of a migraine in about a fortnight so that bit of self-loathing can stay. Stay tuned for ramblings on such wonders as cauliflower rice (it’s just grated cauli, yes?) and courgetti which sounds weird but enticing. I made those three ingredient pancakes at the weekend too. Used the wrong pan so they look like scrambled eggs but it’s a start.

Any amazing wheat free recipes I should try? Are you thinking about doing it but can’t be arsed to leap yet? Do these questions make you feel like you’re under interrogation from a spindly fingered but not at all bloated weirdo?

Answers to all questions gratefully received.

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