Hello, and welcome to the very first post in the ‘Kitchen Adventures’ series!
I really love being in the kitchen – baking, cooking, eating…the only thing I’m not the biggest fan of is the washing up. I’m not very adventurous (yet) but I like finding and following yummy recipes for dishes I know I’ll enjoy making, and family and friends will enjoy eating!
Two things inspired this post; number one being that The Great British Bake Off is back! I can barely contain my excitement each Wednesday when I can laugh, cry and drool over all the offerings from the comfort of my sofa (and usually with a fruit tart and a tea next to me).
The second thing that gave me the idea me to write this and have a play in the kitchen is the rise of excellent cook books being released by celebrities that I admire – Flavour by Ruby Tandoh, Nadiya’s Kitchen by Nadiya Hussain and of course Tanya Bakes by Tanya Burr where this gorgeous recipe originated from.
After much consideration I picked the salted caramel cheesecake and oh boy, I do not regret it one bit. The ingredients came in at just under a fiver as I found the majority sat in the cupboards at home, but I’d imagine it would be double that if you don’t have sea salt or some good vanilla extract to hand. I will say that when it came to picking basics such as butter and cream cheese, I didn’t splurge on the pricier brands either – ASDA’s own brand baking butter and cream cheese were cheaper than other brands and my official taste tester (the lovely wife) has zero complaints.
The recipe is publicly available here, if you’d like to give it a try yourself. I will confess that I had to make a small adjustment after eating two of the biscuits that I needed to use, but fixed it using a little granola and all is still well!
So, for the first step – breaking up the biscuits into a bowl. Easy right? No! Despite all common sense telling me to throw them into a bag and give them a good bashing with a wine bottle (because who owns a rolling-pin) I decided to crumble them all by hand instead and ouch. In case you didn’t know, hobnobs are really bloody sharp!
When I’d done inflicting biscuit torture on my palms, I melted the butter and stirred in and this is when I realised that I probably wasn’t going to have enough to cover the base of the entire tin. The two biscuits I snaffled away the previous night were gone, and I only had a 24cm cake tin instead of the 21cm one required. I had a quick, desperate search through the cupboards and ended up with the only thing I could think that would help – some honey baked granola. I added about a handful to a pestle and mortar so I could really grind it up, and then added this to the buttery crumbs. If I was to make it again, I’d use more hobnobs because the base is still quite thin, but it’s still very tasty regardless.
The base (buttery, buttery biscuit base) was then baked for ten minutes while I combined the rest of the ingredients needed for the cheesecake mix. I worried it’d be a pain without an electric mixer on hand, but a wooden spoon and some wicked arm action from the wife soon had it mixed. We couldn’t add sea salt flakes as I don’t have them and didn’t want to fork out for any, so instead we added ground pink Himalayan salt.
The base is ready after ten minutes so out it came and then we poured the mixture all over it. It was a lot more runny than I expected but seemed alright – most of my concerns revolved around that fact that I’ve never baked a cheesecake before, so I didn’t really know what to expect.
I used the forty minutes it took to bake to tidy up in the kitchen and then sit and watch impatiently with a brew. The recipe states to ‘Leave to cool in the oven completely – this will help to prevent cracks appearing as the cake cools.’…I can tell you now that leaving it in the oven to cool did not stop cracks appearing on top. An hour after turning the oven off I peeked in and it had two glorious valleys running over the top, at which point I decided to take it out and let it cook on the side instead as the damage (if you want to call it that, I prefer added features!) had already been done.
The plan was to leave it until it was cold and then glaze it but the impatient, salted caramel loving wife had other plans and after declaring she was hungry and hungry for cheesecake only, convinced me to finish it so that she could have a cheeky slice.
The glaze/sauce seemed pretty easy to make – caramel and double cream in a pan to heat, and then pour it all over. I heated mine until it was hot enough to burn the fingerprint off my forefinger when I dipped it in, but was miffed to see lumps of caramel floating around in the mixture. I don’t own a cake-stand, and worried that the sauce would drip all over the sides and on to the counter/fridge/etc until it had set, so decided to cool the mix down by partly submerging the pan in a bowl of cold water whilst stirring like a madwoman. It took me about ten minutes to get it to cool down to a point it was half runny, half set and as a bonus the lumps greatly decreased in size and the entire sauce seemed a lot smoother – result!
Still panicking about mess I laid out some kitchen foil to rest the cake board on top of, and then once satisfied emptied the entire pan of sauce over the cheesecake. As it dips in the middle when cooling (and no doubt due to at least a quarter of it sinking into the cracks across the top) it took some smoothing out with a spatula to get it to run over the edges a little. I do think it looks a bit messy this way, but each to their own – I’d definitely try to keep it all on top next time!
I broke the news to the wife that it needed at least four hours in the fridge for the sauce to set, but her puppy dog eyes won and she stood and squealed in excitement as I cut her a slice. Cooling the sauce meant that it didn’t completely run down into the void the slice left and flood the base which I’m extremely happy about!
It tastes great! I’m not the greatest cheesecake fan but the cheese part of it is really soft and creamy, and the sauce compliments it really well – it’s not too overpowering either. The base isn’t that great but I’m putting that down the fact I didn’t use enough biscuits. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the oatiness of the hobnobs either, I’d like to give it a try with chocolate digestives instead and see what that tastes like.
Overall it is a really lovely dessert that actually tastes like salted caramel and it looks quite impressive too. The recipe itself was easy to follow and since I used one bowl for all the mixing, it meant minimal cleanup and more time to sit and tuck in to the result.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the first of hopefully many kitchen adventures, and if you decide to give this a go do get in touch and let me know! I’d love to know how it turns out for you!