The Cult of Condensed Milk

First of all, let me apologise profusely for my absence. The Browed One and I have recently moved house, and with that came the month of no wi-fi. It was awful. So many cat videos went unwatched, so many Buzzfeed lists were unread. Tragic for all involved. More importantly, it also meant no blogging, because it is really hard to post from my tiny phone.

But here we are, together again. I missed you.

I convinced myself that I hated condensed milk as a child. I don’t know what I based that opinion on, given that everything about it is right up my alley. I can only imagine that I made up my mind without having tried it (as children do) and then stubbornly refused to change it (as children do).

And so The Cult of Condensed Milk eluded me. I had one friend in particular, knowing that we always kept a tube in the pantry, would make a beeline every time she came over, and would proceed to inhale the lot. Wade is some kind of CM bloodhound. We can’t keep it in the house, because he’ll find it, and consume it in a manner not unlike this. I’ve since discovered the error of my ways, and am now a card-carrying member of The Cult of Condensed Milk. Join us.

Last week saw us celebrating Wade’s birthday (happy birthday Wade!), and the best way of celebrating anything is with everything that you love – birthday law and all that. Wade’s big loves in life all come together is the form of cĂ  phĂȘ đá – Vietnamese Ice Coffee – and when he happened across a recipe for it in cheesecake form in my current favourite cookbook, his knees went a little weak. I’ve made a lot of cheesecakes in my time, and this is the most utterly perfect texture. Feeling pretty damn smug about the whole thing, to be honest.

The trick here is to use strong espresso. I visited Humblebee Coffee Roasters and got them to brew me up some magic (I’m terrified of our coffee machine at home – if I break it, Wade will kill me), and it was perfect. Should you wish, instant coffee is totally fine and if you’re not one for kahlua, just substitute extra coffee.

CĂ  phĂȘ đá Cheesecake

From Skinny Weeks and Weekend Feasts by Gizzi Erskine

85ml melted butter, plus extra for greasing
200g digestive biscuits, crushed into crumbs
1 tbsp brown sugar
3 x 300g cream cheese, at room temperature
395g tin of condensed milk
50g brown sugar
3 tbsp plain flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 tbsp extra strong espresso
3 tbsp Kahlua (or more espresso)
3 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk

Heat the oven to 160*c. Line a cake tin with baking paper, then grease the sides with butter.

Stir the melted butter into the crushed biscuits and 1 tbsp brown sugar until evenly combined. Evenly press the mixture into the bottom of the cake tin and place in the oven for 10 minutes. Cool in the fridge while you make the filling.

Increase the oven temperature to 200*c. Beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth, then add the coffee, Kahlua if you’re using it, sugar, flour, vanilla and condensed milk. Whisk in the eggs and extra yolk until thoroughly combined and airy.

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Pour the filling into the tin, and then place in the oven for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven to 100*c and bake for a further 25 minutes or until it jiggles just a little in the middle. Turn off the heat, crack the oven door just a tiny bit, and then walk away and leave to cool for 2 hours.

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Once cooled, cover with foil and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. To release from the tin, run a butter knife under hot water, then around the edge of the tin.

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Have you ever driven past some of the magnificent buildings around town and wondered what lay inside? Open House Perth is your opportunity to discover all their secrets, and I definitely recommend you check it out. From heritage to art deco, from corporate offices to people’s homes, nothing is off-limits.

Personally, I’m very keen to visit The Creative Arts House (#51, in case you want to come too) because not only do I love seeing creative brains come together, but Lifeline WA do incredibly vital work within our community. Studio Lifeline is definitely something I could get on board!

Double up

There are many great pairs in this world.

Mac and cheese. Romeo and Juliet. Ten and Rose. Peas and carrots. Siegfried and Roy. Peanut butter and jelly. Batman and Robin. Homer and Marge.

There are probably fewer great ‘threes’. All I could really think of was Eleven, Amy and Rory. Maybe Crosby, Stills and Nash. Destiny’s Child. Or Harry, Ron and Hermione.

But right along side them should be scones with jam and cream. Who doesn’t love them? I’m a sucker for a good Devonshire Tea, and decades of nanas, well, I’m not going to argue with them.

So when the email announcing the next Secret Cake Club meeting hit my inbox, I couldn’t resist. I love jam and cream, but knew that I wouldn’t be the only one thinking of them.

I love love love this recipe from Julia Taylor (you know, MasterChef 2012 dessert queen) for it’s simplicity, as well as its make-in-advance-ness. I had a busy few days in the lead up to Cake Club, and all the components of the tart could be made upfront, and then put together right before serving.

 

Strawberry Jam Tart with Ricotta Cream

By Julia Taylor via MasterChef Magazine

250ml thickened cream
50g icing sugar, sifted
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
1 orange, zested
400g firm ricotta
1 punnet strawberries, hulled, halved if large

Dough
200g plain flour
30g almond meal
55g icing sugar
100g unsalted butter, chopped
1 egg

Strawberry Jam
500g strawberries, hulled
300g caster sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 granny smith apple, peeled and grated

To make the dough, mix together the flour, almond mean, icing sugar and butter until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add an egg and combine until it just comes together. Shape the dough into a rectangle, then wrap in cling film and put in the fridge for 30 minutes.

To make the jam, over a medium low heat, combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan. Cook for 50 minutes or until at setting point. Tot test for setting point, spoon a teaspoon of jam onto a cold plate, then freeze for 5 minutes. When you run your finger through the jam, it should wrinkle and the line should still be there. Then eat the jam from your finger and marvel your handiwork, because it’s delicious. Set aside to cool.

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Heat the oven to 180*c. Roll the dough out thinly, then line a loose bottomed pie tin. Freeze for 15 minutes. Line the shell with baking paper, fill with baking weights and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the weights and paper, then bake again for 10 minutes or until lightly golden. Leave to cool.

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For the cream, whisk the thickened cream until soft peaks form. Whisk in the sifted icing sugar, orange zest and vanilla. In a separate bowl, beat the ricotta until smooth, then add the cream mix and beat until smooth and combined.

Spread the jam evenly over the tart shell. Spoon the cream over the jam, and then decorate with extra strawberries and any extra jam.  Serve immediately.

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But what do you do when you accidentally buy a kilo each of ricotta and strawberries, because you forgot to write down the amount you need on your shopping list? You make this, the most foolproof and forgiving cheesecake in the world.

See what I did there? Two recipes, using similar ingredients – but with completely different results. BOOYA.

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The Social (Food) Network.

I don’t really know what I thought was going to happen when I decided to take up food blogging.
It all just started out as a photo album on Facebook that I decided to call ‘Kate Moss doesn’t know shit’, where I posted photos of things that I was cooking, just for fun.
After some encouraging words, I turned to blogging. Somehow after that, I happened to meet Matt from Abstract Gourmet and Marcelita’s Empanadas. He wanted me to tweet him a photo I took, and when I explained I didn’t use Twitter, I was promptly informed that I should. Starting immediately.

So I did.

From there, I was graciously introduced to a food community beyond anything I could have imagined. In a small pond like Perth, you’d be forgiven for thinking that there’s no need for us all. You’d be wrong.
We share, of course, a healthy appetite and a love of food. But we all do it differently, and it all seems to work.
More importantly, I’ve never met a boring foodie. We are hilarious. Fact.

So. Today, I bring you the March Sweet Adventures Blog Hop, courtesy of the amazing Heather of The Capers of the Kitchen Crusader.

 

Heather told me all about her plans for baklava over breakfast at Toast in East Perth (recommend, by the way) last weekend, and I had to get involved. The theme was desserts in layers! We know how much I love layers and desserts!

When trying to piece together what I wanted to make, I was preparing for a picnic with Where the Wind Blows Her and Carolanne’s Kitchen and kind of wanted to impress them. I also owed a friend treats, and said friend is a fiend for all things Turkish Delight (bribing him with such things is how I convinced him to be friends with me in the first place). It was then I knew. And the Googling began.

Smooth, rose flavoured cheesecake, smothered in a rich chocolate mousse.  That’s what I needed here.

Turkish Delight Cheesecake

From pikeletandpie

crust:
180 g marie biscuits, crushed to crumbs
115g butter, melted
24 g sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
50g walnuts, finely chopped
1/2 tsp cardamom

cheesecake:
680g cream cheese,  room temperature
210 g sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. lime juice
2 tbsp. rose-water

Chocolate mousse – Adapted from Colpanna
300g dark chocolate
1C thickened cream
2 large egg whites
1T granulated sugar

1. Preheat an oven to 180C.
Mix all the ingredients for your crust in a bowl. Press into the base of a lined and greased cake tin. Refrigerate until ready.

2. Cream the sugar and cream cheese with a mixer until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, making sure they are completely combined. Add rose water, lime juice and cream. Mix until smooth and completely combined.

Pour the cream cheese mixture over the crust, and smooth with a spatula.

3.Prepare a water bath for the cheesecake by tightly wrapping the base in foil, placing the cheesecake in a roasting dish, then filling the roasting dish with an inch of water.

Bake for 45 – 55 minutes. It should still jiggle. Turn off the oven, and allow the cheesecake to sit for an hour to finish ‘cooking’.

4. While it does this, prepare the mousse.
Melt chocolate in a bowl over simmering water until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly (this is vital. I was impatient and tried to skip the cooling part. I made this 3 times.)

Using a cold mixing bowl, whip the thickened cream for about a minute, until stiff.
Whisk the eggs until soft peaks form. Then add the sugar, and mix for a further 2 minutes.

Carefully fold 1/4 of the egg whites into the chocolate. Then combine the chocolate mix into the rest of the eggs. Carefully combine the cream and chocolate mixture. Keep the mousse in the fridge until you are ready to use it.

5. After an hour, carefully remove the cake from the water bath, and then chill in the fridge.
Once it is completely cold, carefully spread with  mousse.
Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

P.S. You should check out the incredible Food Adventures of the Blue Apocalypse‘s contribution to the blog hop. I’m making this, stay tuned.

P.P.S. My picnic was lovely, thank you for asking.

If God was a Cheesecake…

I’m sure I’ve said it before. Baked treats are all kinds of delicious and amazing.
But this. This may just be my greatest work to date. No, seriously. It’s rich, decadent, glorious-ness in cheesecake form.

I think I found my heaven…

On the first day, God created Oreos (and a cricket stump to crush them with, as he couldn’t find his rolling-pin).
On the second day, God created butter. A LOT of butter.
On the third day, God created white chocolate, and said ‘let it be melted into cream cheese’. And it was so.
On the fourth day, God created dark chocolate, and felt that it could only be improved by double cream.
On the fifth day, God created raspberry coulis, because he felt guilty, and figured including fruit made it less ‘bad’.
On the sixth day, God baked, and saw that it was good.
On the seventh day, God rested. And ate. And was pleased. Then felt a little ill.
(I’m going to hell for that. I’m ok with this.)

I’ve been obsessing over this recipe for months. I just didn’t have an event worthy of such a magnificent cheesecake. But then, along came Christmas. And well, if you can’t make something at Christmas, when can you?
This is not something to make on the day. I made it over two, to allow proper setting time. Plus, cheesecake flavours enrich and develop over time, so its best to make it the day before. Also, don’t let the size of the recipe scare you, it’s detailed so you’re more likely to get it right.

It took 6 of us to get through half, and even then, it was a struggle.
This being said, the next day my two housemates ate the second half by themselves. Though, they did feel very sick after. I did not tell them I told you so (I totally said I told you so. There’s a dance that goes with it, it’s awesome).

If you’re sugar intolerant, a diabetic, on a diet… We can’t be friends. Seriously, you can leave.
No, I kid, just give this bad boy a wide berth, nothing about this can end well for you.

White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cheesecake

Adapted from SweetAnnas

Ingredients:

1 package frozen raspberries
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cornflour
1/2 cup water
25 Oreos, crushed (just shy of two packets)
1/4 cup melted butter
2 cups chopped white chocolate
1/2 cup thin cream
3 packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
150g chopped dark chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate

1. Make the raspberry sauce: Stir together the raspberries, sugar, cornflour and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and boil 5 minutes. Pour through a fine-mesh strainer into a small bowl and store in the fridge until you are ready to make the cheesecake. (This step can be done a few days in advance to save time)

2. Make the crust: Preheat the oven to 180Âșc. Stir together the finely crushed oreos and melted butter in a medium bowl until well mixed. Press into the bottom of a Springform pan and bake for 10-15 minutes, until the crust is set. Remove from the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 160Âșc and let the crust cool while you prepare the filling.

3. Make the filling: In a medium saucepan, heat the thin cream to almost simmering. Remove from the heat and stir in the white chocolate until melted and smooth. Set aside.

4. In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, making sure to blend completely after each one. Beat in the vanilla, salt and the melted white chocolate mixture.

6. Wrap the pan with the cooled crust in it tightly with foil. Place the foil-wrapped pan in a roasting pan, and put a pot of water on the stove to boil (you will be making a water-bath for the cheesecake to bake in).

7. Pour half of the filling over the crust. Sprinkle with the chopped dark chocolate. Drizzle 4-5 tablespoons of raspberry sauce over the filling and chocolate bits and swirl with the tip of a knife. Pour the rest of the filling on top of that, drizzle with another 4-5 tablespoons of the raspberry sauce and swirl again with the knife.

8. Place the roasting pan into the oven and pour water into the roasting pan to reach about halfway up the sides of the Springform pan. Bake the cheesecake at 160Âșc for 60-70 minutes, until the center is almost set (but still jiggles if you shake the pan).

9. Remove the roasting pan from the oven, let the cheesecake sit in the hot water for another 30 minutes or so, and then remove the Springform pan from the water onto a cooling rack to cool. Let the cheesecake cool to room temperature and then place in the fridge to chill at least 3 hours.

10. Make the ganache: In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream just to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate until smooth. Pour the ganache over the top of the cooled cheesecake, smoothing with a spoon and allowing some of the ganache to drip over the sides of the cheesecake. Return to the fridge to chill an additional 3 hours or until the ganache is shiny and set.

I don’t have a nicer picture for the finished product for you, I’m sorry. We were so keen to get into it that I kind of forgot… Oopsies. But it is pretty, promise!

Christmas time calls for elves to make kitchen magic happen. Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to Nic, my taste tester, BFF extraordinaire and guinea pig. Don’t worry, she’s only friends with me because I feed her.

I’m a reformed people pleaser. If that’s ok with you.

My name is Bri, and I don’t know how to say no to people.

If you’re my friends, this is a great gig.
Sure, I’ll pick you and your mates up at 4am and spend 2 hours driving them all home.
Sure, I’ll set all the tables at your wedding.
Sure, I’ll  work all weekend.
If you’re me, well, you don’t get a lot of sleep. But that’s ok, because I’m making people happy.

So, when the request for me to make someone something comes out, I’m hardly going to turn down the challenge, am I?
Luckily, in this instance, the request came from my gorgeous, talented friend Sam Perry.
In which case, you trying say no.
“Bri, I never get any of the stuff you make, make something for me.”
Uhhhh… Ok.

The good thing about the times when people ask me to make things off the cuff, is they generally aren’t too picky about what I present them with. A culinary free for all. Winning.

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars

Adapted from Zoom Yummy

Base

1 1/2 cups crushed lattice biscuit crumbs
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Filling
500g cream cheese, softened
1/2 cups caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs

Apple filling
2 large apples
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Crumble
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup plain flour

Topping
3/4 cup caramel sauce

1. Preheat the oven to 175 °C.

2. Mix the melted butter and Lattice cracker crumbs until thoroughly combined. Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 6 minutes. Remove pan to a cooling rack.

3. In the meantime, in a larger bowl, beat the cream cheese with 1/2 cup sugar until smooth (about 1 minute). Add the eggs, 1 at a time (beat about 20 seconds after each addition). Next add the vanilla and mix until combined.
Make sure not to over-beat the cheesecake batter as this will lead to excess air being incorporated in and may cause cracking later on.
Pour the cream cheese batter over the warm crust.

4. Peel the apples and chop them into small bits. Mix the apple bits with the cinnamon and sugars. Spread the apple evenly over the cream cheese mixture.

5. In a smaller bowl, combine the flour, oats, and brown sugar for a crumb topping. Cube the butter and using a fork, create a crumbly mixture. Crumble over the cream cheese mixture.

6. Bake 30 minutes, or until the filling has set. Reduce the temperature to 150 °C for the last 5 minutes.

7. Cut into bars and drizzle with the caramel topping.

I used these to bribe several of my friends, and they were declared “The best thing you’ve ever made”.

I very rarely eat my own cooking, but I ate 4 on Sunday afternoon while watching Letters to Juliet.
Judge away, it’s fine, I deserve it. I have these to console me.

P.S. Blair, ask and you shall receive

Giving Thanks, with Cookie

According to the interwebs, it’s Thanksgiving in the US of A at present.
So I’m band-wagoning, and giving thanks. That’s how this thing works, right?

It has to be said, I’m extraordinarily lucky.
I’ve been doing this whole food blog thing for a month now. That’s a month of:

  • being up all hours pouring over books or finishing posts
  •  ripping recipes from magazines
  •  slapping friends who make the mistake of thinking they can eat what they’ve ordered before I’ve had the chance to take pictures of it (who do they think they are?!)
  •  dragging people to places they didn’t want to go (sorry Blair) just because it’s somewhere I read about, and that’s my prerogative
  • bizarre food cravings or recipe  obsessions
  • my poor housemates coming home to a hurricane-ravaged kitchen, with a mad-scientist Bri demanding to know why you just won’t set/bake/thicken/reduce/do my bidding?

All of my friends just smile indulgently and let me have my moment of crazy. I guess they don’t mind so much, so long as I keep up my end of the bargain, and just keep the treats a’comin.
Said friends have also been incredibly supportive, saying all kinds of lovely things, proof reading posts at stupid hours.
For this, I am beyond appreciative.

So, I’m holding up my end of the bargain.
The best damn cookies.
I took them to my day job (I enjoy calling it my day job. It implies I have a night job. Like Batman. I could totally be Batman.), where they were devoured. Someone even declared them ‘ohmygodthesearethebestcookiesI’veeverhad’. At least, that’s what I think she said. She had a mouthful.

The personal pleasure I get from sharing the cookie love with others, is in the recipe prep. Crushed up Oreos.
For this, the easiest way it to put them in a ziploc bag, squeeze out all the air, and then go to town on them with a rolling-pin. I maintain it’s cheaper than therapy, and infinitely more effective. It must be said, that the air-squishing part is VERY important. Otherwise, you have what happened to me. The bag explodes, turning your kitchen into a chocolaty snow dome.
It’s also very important that you keep your fingers out of the way. Otherwise, you have what happened to me. All that beautiful therapy becomes quickly undone if you bash your fingers.

Just sayin’.

Oreo Cheesecake Cookies
Recipe from thisistolove

Yield: About 1 dozen cookies
œ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
85 grams cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup plain flour
œ cup mini chocolate chips
1 cup Oreo cookie crumbs1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with baking paper  and set aside.2. In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until smooth and well-combined.
3. Add the sugar and vanilla extract and mix until the ingredients are well-combined. Add the flour and mix on low until the flour is incorporated. Stir in the mini chocolate chips with a rubber spatula.
4. Place the Oreo cookie crumbs in a small bowl. Scoop the cookies into about 1Âœ to 2″ balls (the dough will be soft, don’t worry if it doesn’t scoop into a well-formed ball, the crumbs will help hold it together)and then roll in the cookie crumbs. Place the cookie balls on the baking sheet, do not squish flat. Leave plenty of space between them, they will spread. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the edges are golden and the tops are slightly puffed.
5. Cool on the pan for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Now, if only I could get out of clean-up duty… This is getting ridiculous.