Search Results for: Cheesecake

English Cheesecake Company Review


Way back in July I was contacted by the lovely folks over at the English Cheesecake Company, wanting to know if I’d be interested in trying out one of their cheesecakes. Um yeah!!!  How could I turn down cheesecake?  Is that even possible?  Especially considering I was 8 months pregnant at the time.  I had arranged for the cheesecake to be delivered to me in August so I could share it with my friends at my baby shower (I’ve still got to get those posts up btw!).


I couldn’t wait to try one of the cheesecakes from the English Cheesecake Company, as I’d heard a lot about them before over the past few years.  One of my blogging friends Gem, from Cupcake Crazy Gem even works there – how cool is that!!  They’ve got some pretty cool flavours with some pretty inventive names like Cookie Dough Collision, Choccy Woccy Doughnut Cheesecake (yes, it has doughnuts inside the cheesecake!) and Alphonso Mango Coconut Cabana, just to name a few.


Despite a bit of a hiccup with delivery (due to a fault by the courier, not the English Cheesecake Company) I received an absolutely delicious cheesecake just in time for my baby shower.

The cheesecake I was sent was called Honey I’m Comb Golden Nugget (HICGN), and as the name suggests it was loaded on top with chunks of honeycomb candy and even more chocolate covered honeycomb pieces.  The inside of the HICGN cheesecake is studded with pieces of chocolate covered honeycomb and has a delicious biscuit base that was much thicker than found on any cheesecake before.  The staff at the English Cheesecake Company were even nice enough to personalise my cheesecake with a chocolate disc that read “It’s a Boy” (something you can request to have done for birthdays, etc). 


So what did I think of my first cheesecake from the English Cheesecake Company (ECC)?

Well, lets start from the beginning with delivery.  Like I mentioned before, there was an issue with delivery.  Basically the courier failed to deliver my cheesecake on the day it was shipped (a Friday), but luckily my baby shower was on the Sunday so I still had another 2 days before I needed it.  I had been in contact with the ECC to let them know that the cheesecake hadn’t been delivered, so the next day they promptly sent out a new one for me which arrived a few hours later.  Talk about great customer service! A few hours later the original cheesecake also arrived, but it had been sitting in the couriers warehouse overnight and arrived smooshed and inedible. Thank goodness for that second one!

This was the first time I had ever had a frozen food item shipped to me, and I was really impressed by how well it was packaged.  The cheesecake was shipped in an insulated styrofoam box with a few packages of dry ice to keep it frozen.  My only gripe was that although there was a tall plastic sleeve around the outside of the cheesecake, there was nothing covering the top of it, so some of the honeycomb pieces on the top of the cake had shifted and some had been shaken off into the box, so I had to replace them as best I could when I unpacked it.


The instructions that came with the cheesecake said to keep it in the freezer, and then take it out of the box and thaw a few hours before serving, but I didn’t have enough space in my freezer to do that so I kept it in the fridge overnight.  Unfortunately because I did this, when I took it out of the box to display the next day condensation had built up in the box as well as on the chocolate disc which slightly discoloured it (you can see this in the photos).  I don’t think this would have been a problem if I didn’t have the chocolate disc on top, so if you plan on ordering a cheesecake without a disc then I really wouldn’t worry too much.

As for the actual flavour and texture of the cheesecake, I thought they were terrific.  One thing I didn’t really realise until a couple of years ago is that unlike the North American cheesecakes I’m used to, UK cheesecakes are not baked so they have a slightly different texture, and often aren’t as tall.  This cheesecake was light and fluffy, and I really loved the added crunch of the honeycomb pieces inside.  Normally I’m not a fan of really thick biscuit bases, but this one was really nice.  It wasn’t too crumbly, which meant I could easily get it onto my fork and into my mouth.  My guests also thought the cheesecake was delicious, and when my husband got home and had a slice he couldn’t stop raving about it.  


So would I order another cheesecake from the English Cheesecake Company?  Yes!  I would, as I thought it was really delicious and I honestly think that the delivery mix up was a one of.  The English Cheesecake Company has so many delicious flavours to choose from, that I’d have a hard time picking which one to get.  They’re also a good size, and would accurately serve the 12 people stated on the website.  


New flavours are constantly being developed and introduced, as well as seasonal flavours and ones special occasions.  With Valentines Day and Mothers Day quickly approaching, one of these cheesecakes would make the perfect dessert to serve. 

Red White and Blue Dessert Jars

Earlier I posted the recipe for my Diamond Jubilee Petit Fours, but I’ve got a few more street party / picnic treats to share with you as well! 
These two recipes are super easy to make – NO baking required!  So even if you think you’re too busy over the bank holiday weekend to start messing around in the kitchen making treats, I can assure you that you’ve got time to make these!
First up are my Red, White and Blue Dessert Jars – they’re dead easy.  Layers of fresh blueberries, no bake cheesecake and chopped strawberries make these cute little jars the perfect picnic or street party dessert.  They’re highly portable!
Red, White and Blue Dessert Jars
Makes 3 
Ingredients:
8oz (227g) Cream Cheese (don’t use light, as it won’t work the same)
2 Tbsp + 2 tsp (37g) Granulated / Castor Sugar
1/4 cup (60ml) Whipping Cream or Double Cream
1/4 tsp Vanilla Extract
Fresh Blueberries
Fresh Strawberries, chopped
3 Maison/Jam Jars
Instructions:
1. Wash and chop (chop strawberries only) your berries and set aside.  To make the cheesecake filling, mix the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla using an electric mixer in a medium bowl until nice and smooth.
2. Whip the cream, and then fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture so it’s fully combined.  Fold gently though – you don’t want to loose all the air in the cream!
3. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes to firm up.
4. Fill the bottom of each jar with a handful or two of blueberries, so the jar is 1/3 full.  Next spoon a few spoon fulls of the cheesecake filling on top of the blueberries so the jar is 2/3 full.  Lastly, add your strawberries on top of the cheesecake layer to fill the remaining 1/3 of the jar. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
See!  I told you these were easy!  I covered the tops of my jars with these pretty Jubilee Jar Covers from Lakeland that they sent me.  I also had a bag of Jubilee peanut M&M’s that I used to fill up an extra jar I had, which helped make my street party feast extra festive!


You may recall I made some baby blue coconut ice for my baby shower last summer, and the Diamond Jubilee was the perfect opportunity for me to make another special version of this retro British sweet.  I’ve kept the white layer, but changed the traditional pink top layer to half red and half blue.

Diamond Jubilee Coconut Ice
Ingredients:
3 1/2 cups (560g) Icing Sugar
2 1/2 cups (200g) Shredded (Desiccated) Coconut
395g Can Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
Red and Blue Food colouring
Instructions:
1. Line the base and sides of a deep (4cm+) 19cm square dish with plastic cling wrap
2. Sift the icing sugar into large bowl. Stir in the coconut, condensed milk and vanilla extract.
3. Press half of the mixture firmly into the base of the prepared pan.  Take the second half of the mixture and divide it into two.  Work the red food colouring into one half of the remaining mixture, and the blue colouring into the second half kneading well in order to distribute the colour evenly. Press the red mixture evenly over half of the white layer, and the blue mixture over the second half of the white layer.  You can use a spatula to help smooth the top out.
4. Refrigerate for 3 hours or until firm.  Remove the coconut ice from tray, peel away the cling wrap, and cut into squares.  The coconut ice will keep for a week if stored in an airtight container.
I served my coconut ice in some pretty Jubilee cupcake cases that Lakeland sent me.  They can be found here in case you’re interested. 


Hopefully my street party treats have inspired you all to make something red, white and blue to help celebrate the Diamond Jubilee in style!  Have a fabulous holiday everyone!


Mint Oreo Cupcakes


I can’t tell you how long I’ve wanted to bake these cupcakes.  It’s probably been close to two years, but I really can’t say for sure. The original recipe called for regular Oreo’s, but I had a package of mint Oreo cookies sitting on my baking shelf for over 6 months just screaming to be used.  I’d picked them up during a recent trip to the States, knowing that they were destined to become the “star ingredient” in one of my future baking creations. I’d struggled to decide what I should make with the mint Oreos – the possibilities were endless. Milk shakes, cheesecakes, brownies, Oreo truffles, cookies, etc., but in the end the cupcakes won.  It had been ages since I baked cupcakes, and ever since I saw these Oreo cupcakes online, I knew I just had to make them.  I also knew that the addition of mint would make them irresistible.  


These cupcakes required me to use the majority of my coveted package of mint Oreos (FYI: UK Oreo packages are a third of the size of the US package above!), something I was a little reluctant in doing. What if they didn’t turn out? I would have “wasted” my precious mint Oreos.

I’m going to be honest and say that I was actually quite hesitant about making this recipe because it said to whip the butter for a few minutes and then mix in the milk and vanilla.  This resulted in a cold liquidy and lumpy buttery mess.  Almost every other cupcake recipe I’ve made called for the butter to be creamed with the sugar.  I continued making them, and I’m glad I did because they turned out great!  The cake was a tiny bit denser than the other cupcakes I bake, but not in a bad way.  It was still nice and moist, and the Oreo’s were studded throughout the cupcake.  The only thing I wish I could change was that a lot of the whole Oreo’s that lined the bottom of the cupcakes stuck to the paper a little bit, which made them hard to remove from the liners.  If anyone has a tip to prevent this please let me know!  I was thinking that pouring a tablespoon of batter into the paper liners before placing the Oreo’s in may help?

I can’t wait to try this recipe with other Oreo flavours.  Unfortunately in the UK the only flavours available are regular and chocolate, but from what I remember mint, peanut butter, golden, and seasonal varieties are all available in the US. How unfair!



Mint Oreo Cupcakes
Slightly Adapted from Beantown Baker

Ingredients:
1/2 Cup (114g) Butter, at room temperature
1 Cup (250ml) Milk 
2 tsp Vanilla extract
2 1/4 Cups (280g) Flour, plus 2 Tbsp for the Oreo chunks
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt 
1 2/3 Cup (375g) Sugar
3 Large Egg Whites, at room temperature

1 pkg Mint Oreo Cookies (~45 cookies)


Instructions: 

1.  Preheat oven to 350F. Insert liners into a medium cupcake pan. 

2.  Twist apart 24 Oreos. Place the wafer with filling on it, filling side up, in the bottom of each paper liner. Cut other wafers in half. Save 24 halves to place in the frosting. Crush the other wafer halves, also for garnishing.
Cut the remaining Oreo cookies into quarters with a sharp knife. Toss with 2 Tbsp flour and set aside.
3.  In a large bowl cream the butter until fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add the milk and vanilla and mix to combine.
4.  In a separate bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
5.  Add the dry ingredients to butter mixture. Mix until integrated. Stir in sugar. With an electric mixer on low speed, beat for 30 seconds. Turn the mixer up to medium speed and beat for 2 minutes. Add the egg whites. Beat for 2 more minutes. Stir in the quartered cookies.
6.  Fill the cupcake lines three-quarters full. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of cupcakes comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in the pan.
Mint Buttercream Icing


Ingredients:

1 Cup + 2 Tbsp (250g) Butter, room temperature
5 1/2 Cups (700g) Icing Sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 – 1 tsp mint extract (depending on how strong you want it)
2 – 4 Tbsp Milk
Green food colouring (optional)


Instructions: 



1.  In a large mixing bowl cream the butter and a 1/2 cup (65g) of the icing sugar together until well combined. Continue to add the icing sugar to the butter mixture 1/2 a cup at a time. Once the buttercream mixture starts to get a bit stiff, add the vanilla and mint extracts, and 2 tablespoons of the milk,.  Repeat these steps until all of the icing sugar is incorporated into the butter mixture.  You may want to add in more milk 1 tablespoon at a time until you reach your desired consistency. 

Waitrose Christmas Dessert Reviews

I’ve been lucky enough to be able to review several Christmas desserts from Waitrose this year, two of which were created by UK celebrity chef Heston Blementhal.  For those of you living outside the UK, or are who are just not unfamiliar with Heston, he’s basically a real life Willy Wonka.  His creations are like little science experiments – many of which I find a little too out there, but his creations for Waitrose are suited more to the general public. 

Image source

If you live in the UK, you may remember the infamous Christmas pudding he created last year exclusively for Waitrose.  It had an entire candied orange hidden inside, which infused the pudding with a delicious citrus flavour.  When you cut into the pudding you also got a cross section of candied orange as well.  Heston’s Candied Orange Christmas Pudding sold out within days, and immediately began springing up on eBay for hundreds of pounds.  The same has happened this year, although the average price seems to be between £15 – £30.

Image source

This year Heston has created several new Christmas desserts including a Chocolate Popping Candy Tart, a Chocolate and Cherry Blackforest Buche, and Puff Pastry Mince Pies With Pine Sugar Dusting.  

I was fortunate enough to try out Heston’s Popping Candy Tart and his Pine Scented Mince Pies, as well as a Christmas Pudding Cheesecake by Waitrose’s own label.  


First up I tried the Waitrose Christmas Pudding Cheesecake.  I had wanted to try it ever since hearing about it at the Waitrose Christmas product launch way back in the summer.  Although it wasn’t available to sample on the day, I thought the concept was great.  The cheesecake comes in a neat dome shape, just like a real Christmas pudding.  It had a delicious graham cracker / digestive base, and the actual cheesecake bit was so light and fluffy in texture.  It was loosely studded with candied orange peel, raisins and pieces of Christmas pudding, but the flavour was not too strong or overwhelming, although the chocolate topping did taste a bit boozey.  My husband and I both really liked the cheesecake, partially because the Christmas pudding flavour was quite mild, making it a perfect alternative if you or your guests aren’t that fond of the traditional Christmas pudding.  The Waitrose Christmas Pudding Cheesecake sells for £6.99 and serves approximately 6 people.


Next I tried the popping candy tart which is described as “a tart that will literally dance on your tongue. First you will be seduced by the luxurious velvety dark chocolate that has been infused with an exotic passion fruit puree, a direct contrast to the crunchy hazelnut base.  As your mouth begins to water the real surprise element begins as the popping candy begins to crackle and tingle on your tongue.”


The description above is fairly accurate.  The chocolate is so rich and velvety smooth, with just a hint of passion fruit, making you want to savour every last bit in your mouth.  And that’s when the popping candy hits you! There’s just enough snap, crackle and pop to know it’s there, but not so much that it’s like you dumped an entire packet of the stuff into your mouth (like we all did when we were kids!).  I would definitely recommend Heston’s popping candy tart as a special Christmas treat.  I also think it would make an even better dessert option for New Years Eve, although I’m not sure if it will still be available in stores then, but it’s worth checking.  Personally, I think the only drawback to the popping candy tart would be the price.  Maybe it’s just me, but £16.99 for a 10 serving tart seems a little steep for a prepared supermarket dessert.  I guess it just depends on how much you like your friends and family :-) 


Lastly I tried Heston’s pine scented mince pies, which he describes as “delicious eaten warm from the oven, and then sprinkled with pine sugar for a Christmas tree aroma.”  Unlike a conventional mince pie, Heston’s version is incased in puff pastry rather than a normal tart shell.  The mince pies come with a generous sized packet of pine scented icing sugar that really does smell exactly like pine, so much so, that I initially found it a little off putting because it smelled like a household cleaner.  After dipping my finger into it and giving it a taste, I decided that I actually quite liked the pine sugar.  It had a nice subtle pine flavour, with a minty aftertaste.  I was really excited to give these mince pies a try, but in all honesty I found them a bit disappointing.  Perhaps it’s because I’ve never been a huge puff pasty fan, but I found the pastry a bit bland – I think the pies would have been better in a traditional tart shell. There was too much puff pastry, and not enough filling inside, but I really did like the pine sugar. I think next year Heston could have a real winner if he kept the novelty of the pine sugar, but used a regular tart shell.  At £3.29 for 6, they’re definitely more expensive than the average mince pies, but they won’t break the bank either if you’re looking to try a little something different.



At first I sprinkled the pine sugar on quite sparingly, but don’t be afraid of it.  Next time I’d cover the tops in the sugar!

So what are YOU having for Christmas dessert?