My Favourite Recipe: Lemon CHEESEcakes

Where does one start when it comes to cheese? With countless options for preparing and serving the extensive types of cheese offered at varying levels in maturity and style, it’s almost impossible to pinpoint my absolute favourite! Rather than fry my brain trying to make a decision, I thought I was best to go with the easy option – cheesecake.

A few years ago I picked up this great little book called Nibbles, which contains recipes for sweet and savoury ‘finger foods’ that are ideal for serving at parties and other special occasions. To this day, I don’t think I’ve tried any other recipe apart from the one I’m about to share with you, but I have already gotten my money’s worth on this one alone. It’s a keeper, for sure!

Not only are these mini cheesecakes delicious (and the perfect size for entertaining a small crowd), they are extremely easy to prepare. Also, unlike full-size cheesecakes, you only need one packet of cream cheese…bonus!

Lemon Cheesecakes

(from Nibbles: 100 sweet and savoury finger foods by Hardie Grant Books.)

Note: I’ve omitted the blueberry sauce portion of the recipe you’ll find in the book – I believe the cheesecakes work just as well without it.

Ingredients:
  • 90g gingersnap biscuits*
  • 40g unsalted butter, melted
  • 250g cream cheese at room temperature
  • ½ C caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1½ TBS plain (all purpose) flour
  • 1 TBS lemon juice
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 150g (1 Cup) fresh blueberries**

* I use Butternut Snap biscuits – not sure if that’s a fair substitute, but it works for me

** Frozen is fine if – like me – you freeze punnets of fresh berries as soon as you buy them (they’re never on special when you need them!) I can’t vouch for the success (or otherwise) of pre-packed frozen berries, though.

Method:

I’ve made these little gems enough times to feel confident enough to try slight variations on the recipe, including:

  1. adding passionfruit syrup to the mixture and omitting the blueberries; or
  2. adding crushed strawberries to the mix, replacing the blueberries with fresh strawberries and drizzling white chocolate over the cooled cheesecakes.

Thanks again to B.TX for setting up this challenge! Please join in and support this wonderful weekly event! I look forward to seeing your cheese-a-licious recipes!

Freshly baked: Not-so Never Fail Muffins

Just quietly, I am devastated. Not to the point of inconsolable, but quite dismayed to say the least. I’m currently enjoying a day off of work (pre-booked time off in lieu – I’m not ‘chucking a sickie,’* in case you were wondering), and I decided to bake some muffins for the following reasons…

  1. Because I can
  2. So I can say I accomplished something today…even if I end up spending the rest of the day on my laptop or the couch
  3. I thought ‘Freshly Baked’ sounded like a great idea for a new recurring theme for my blog
  4. Seriously, who doesn’t like to start their day with a delicious freshly-baked muffin, still warm from the oven?

I have a number of go-to muffin recipes (one of my most-used recipe books is the Muffin Bible which I picked up for the bargain price of six dollars); however, my pantry, fridge and freezer are a little light on at the moment, so I was having trouble finding a recipe for which I had all of the ingredients on hand…until I found one for ‘Never Fail Muffins’ in my latest purchase from Donna Hay (my hero): The New Easy.

What could possibly go wrong?

Everything was going swimmingly; by the time I took them out of the oven, my kitchen smelled awesome, they had turned a beautiful golden brown, the skewer came out clean…check, check, check!

So far, so good…I managed to get one muffin out of the pan with nary a crumb staying behind, but my (false) sense of security quickly diminished once I started trying to remove its neighbours. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve had many a muffin baking session where one or two tops may come off a little earlier than the rest than the muffin (kind of an “oops…I mean, woo hoo!” situation), but this time I was having no luck freeing them from the pan.

Each of them acted like a two year old child clinging to their mother, begging to not be left at the day care centre; or a dog refusing to jump in the car because it just knows this is one ride that ends at the veterinary surgery, not the beach or park…Every. Single. One.

What could possibly go wrong?

Oh, the carnage! I’m not sure what my biggest crime was – adding a tiny bit of desiccated coconut to the recipe (I thought it would enhance the deliciousness), or using a light spray of cooking oil instead of paper cups, as directed (I didn’t have enough, and it was all or nothing as far as I was concerned)…maybe next time I’ll learn to Stick To The Recipe.

Still, I’m not one to judge a book by its cover (or waste food); despite their wretched appearance, the Muffin Crumbles taste absolutely delicious – even if I do say so myself!

Muffin fail

One out of twelve ain’t bad…right?

I have since done a bit of online research to see if anyone has come up with a genius idea for dealing with muffins mishaps. One post in particular – The Muffin Disaster, by The Brooklyn Farm Girl – caught my attention; the author’s experience was almost identical to mine and her solution was simply inspired…I think I’m going to give it a try!

Can you help?

Unlike Pamela, I’m not terribly innovative in the kitchen – the only reason I can cook is because I can read a recipe (above example notwithstanding). As a result, I’d love to get your suggestions for un-failing my failed muffins. Please also feel free to share the ways you may have dealt with your own baking flops – what worked, what didn’t?

I look forward to the possibility of compiling some of the best (and most disastrous) stories for a future post – confess away!

* ‘Chucking a sickie’ – Aussie slang for calling into work sick when you’re not really ill – I have way too much of a guilty conscience to pull it off, myself!