A twist to our regular banana cake with the substitution of half the salf raising flour with Almond flour. My banana cakes are very light as they are low in sugar and I only use canola oil. With this change, a slightly rich and moisture rich banana cake ensued. Try it to believe it!!
Ingredients (yields two 7 x 2 inch high cakes or one 7 x 4inch high cake )
4 over ripe bananas, mashed
3 eggs, at room temperature, beaten
130ml canola oil
125gm self raising flour
125gm almond flour
1 and 1/2 tsp baking soda
150gm caster sugar
25gm almond slivers and extra for the top
Imagine cheecakes in bite size? The idea for this came from a request from my daughter Riya who requested for an Oreo Cheesecake (after watching videos on Youtube) and I had a tea gathering to attend yesterday (4 Apr) at a friend's place and I wanted to bring something bite-sized.
I had a fabulous hilarious time catching up with this fun group of ladies. We met eons ago through our parent volunteer group while our kids were in Temasek Primary School - an elementary school in the east of Singapore. Our kids have long graduated and have gone on different ways but our friendship is still growing. Some of us haven't met up with others for a while but we didn't take long to warm up to each other again.
Like what Saras, our host, quipped 'If one treasures a relationship, no matter what, it cannot break. All it takes is a hug and coffee'. Well said dear.
So, coming back to the recipe, this is a rather simple cheesecake recipe involving baking. I like the base which has crushed Oreo biscuits and Pretzels. Why Pretzels? The filling has condensed milk which can be very sweet for some. The addition of the Pretzels gave a nice balance to the overall taste - it turned out salty sweet chocolatey and creamy. If you find the base rather dry add a bit more butter to the recipe below (10gm more). Cheesecakes can sometimes be quite big a slice and over filling to the point of one gasping for breath and going 'Enough! There isn't any space left in my tummy!' However, the size of these cheesecakes, being mini, is ideal for tea parties and post dinner desserts when you have had just too much to devour and you just want something sweet to complete your meal!
I have used a mixture of Ricotta and Cream Cheese in the filling. Ricotta is not technically a cheese as it is actually from whey, a by product of cheese making. It has a solid texture compared to cream cheese and must be beaten well to ensure all the lumps are smoothened out well to use in the cheesecake recipe. I have used Ricotta in baked pasta dishes but this is the first time I have used it in a dessert. I loved the mix - in fact I was spooning and gulping down the remaining batter mix!! Yum.
Ingredients (for 24 mini chesecakes)
For the biscuit pretzel base
100gm Oreo biscuits (18 biscuits) (Split and filling removed. Keep the filling)
50 gm Pretzels
70 gm unsalted butter, melted
For the filling
1 cup ricotta cheese
250gm cream cheese
1 cup condensed milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips, extra for decorating
24 hole Mini Muffin Non Stick Pan
1)Start preparing the mini muffin pan by greasing it with a brush of butter. This ensures that the cheesecakes do not stick to the muffin pan base.
2) Process the Oreo biscuits and Pretzels in a food pocessor or a blender. It will be time consuming if you try to crush them using a rolling pin and you will not get a fine texture that is required. Mix in the melted butter.
3) Press the crumb base mixture into the 24 holes of the mini muffin pan. Use the end of a rolling pin - it works out really well then using a spoon. Leave the pan aside while you prepare the filling.
4) Preheat the oven to 170 deg C or 325 deg F. Whisk the Ricotta and cream cheese well, then add in the orea filling, condensed milk, beaten eggs and vanilla bean paste. Whisk until smooth and until there are no more lumps.
5) Add in the choc chips in the end.
6) Spoon the prepared batter mix into the greased holes of the mini muffin pan. The cheesecakes expand a little so don't over pour. You may have some remaining mix. (Go on take a spoon and taste it. Your knees would buckle, I promise!)
7) Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 mins max. The sides will be set and the middle will be slightly wobbly. Remove from oven and quickly top a few choc chips so that they melt in the warm cheesecakes. Leave them to cool. Once cool, scoop them out from muffin pans and chill in the refrigerator for 3 hours before serving.
8) Enjoy a little bite of sweet chocolate cheese heaven!
Cheesecakes are a favourite dessert for a lot of people, including me. I like them plainly classic or with blueberries. My first introduction to cheesecake was around 15 years ago when my then neighbour Malar ( and always a close friend) had requested her husband, Nathan, to get the famous New York Cheesecake for me. It was creamy, light and so heavenly. I was hooked. Then, I remember years ago we had a small birthday celebration for a friend ( for those who hv read my earlier blog posts - it was for Supermom actually) who had just turned 40 at a Cheesecake Cafe near our house in the East of Singapore. It was a beautifully decorated cafe - very Victorian with fountains and statues. And of course, the cheesecakes were to die for!! When I returned from America 2 years ago, I found out, with much dismay, that it had closed down. Now, where would I get my cheesecake fix?
I came across some fun facts about our fav dessert... Did you know that the first cheesecakes may have been created in the Greek island of Samos? There were considered to be a good source of energy and were served to athletes in the first Olympic Games in 776 BC. Instead of all the complicated recipes of today - they just used flour, wheat, honey and cheese! Then, the Romans conquered Greece and modified the recipe to include eggs, cooked it over a hot brick and served it warm. They brought this modified Cheesecake recipe to Europe. The version we see today was not created till the 18th Century and adding cream cheese was an American addition to the cake.
Enough history. Having a no bake simple cheesecake recipe on hand will always prove useful. Using very few ingredients and inolving no baking, you can come up with this dessert in no time. This particular version is rather unique in that the base has a crunchy bite because of the addition of demerara sugar and the whole cheesecake comes together quite tastefully. On the other hand, if you prefer a sugarless base (I understand, there is enough sugar in the cheesecake filling), do it without the demerara. I have used a flat 10 inch pie pan which gave me rather thin slices but if you prefer a higher thicker cheesecake, do use a pie pan or a sprinform pan with a smaller diameter (8 inches). I promise - this is a keeper! :)
Ingredients (for 8 thin slices)
100gm Digestive biscuits, crushed to fine crumbs
50gm demerara sugar (optional)
50gm butter, melted
150gm icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
500gm Philadelphia cream cheese (2 blocks)
200ml Creme Fraiche (or double cream)
1) First, line your pie pan or springform pan with baking paper. This helps to lift the cheesecake from the sides easily.
2) Get the melted butter and crushed digestive biscuits ready and place them in a mixing bowl. If you are using demerara sugar, add now. Mix everything well.
3) Then, spread it out onto the prepared pie pan and flatten it out using the back of a metal spoon or a palette knife. Refrigerate in the freezer section for an hour.
4) Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Get the ingredients ready. From the top, block cream cheese, creme fraiche, vanilla essence and icing sugar.
5) Do note that the actual filling prepration should only be done half an hour before the time to take out the chilled base from the freezer. Whisk the icing sugar, vanilla essence and cream cheese first. Then whip the cream fraiche/double cream seperately and add it to the icing sugar mix. Fold it in using a wooden spoon, mixing well.
6) After an hour, take the chilled base from the freezer and spread the cream cheese filling onto it and even it out. Make sure there are no air bubbles. Chill for another hour in the freezer and its ready to be served.
7) Cut into desired number of slices and enjoy! If you are serving this in a party, keep bowls of blueberries or raspberries in sauce nearby so your guests can have it plain or with fruit on top.
Brownies are on everybody's list of favourite snacks, favourite desserts etc. I have a family recipe which I have been using for years involving a whole load of butter and eggs, which I am not too fond of. I remembered Michelle Obama advocating applesauce instead of butter in her bid to reduce obesity in America. Surfing through the internet for a healthier brownie recipe but which doesn't alter its taste too much, I came across a few using applesauce and even sour cream (instead of butter)!... interest piqued, I tried them out but wasn't too happy with some of the ingredients. What follows is a modified combined version of a few recipes :
Ingredients (yields 16 -20 squares)
2. Get all the ingredients ready.
3. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, salt, baking soda and set aside.
4. In another mixing bowl, whisk together apple sauce, brown sugar, sour cream, melted chocolate, eggs and oil until well combined.
5. Add the flour mixture and stir until just lightly mixed.
6. Spread batter into the pan and sprinkle the chopped almonds and chocolate chunks. Bake until a wooden skewer comes out with a few moist crumbs - around 30-35 minutes. Its your call here, use your own judgement.
7. Let the brownie cool completely in the pan, Lift brownie using the paper overhang. Discard the paper and cut into squares. Enjoy guilt-free brownie squares on their own or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.
I don't often make fruit cakes. Somehow something always goes wrong - either the mixed fruit just sinks to the bottom or the cake crumbles easily. My husband, Anand, had requested me to make a fruit cake while he was in Beijing last week. It is often a challenge to make fruit cakes (or any cake) for him as he isn't fond of butter and whole egge.
Just the other day, he was commenting on how he had lost the taste for egg yolks after coming to Singapore. He finds the eggs here in Singapore have a very strong egg smell. It can be overpowering for someone who is very conscious of the smell. Even I who is someone who has grown up in Singapore find certain eggs very eggy. Fortunately, I have discovered a certain brand which doesn't seem to have that strong a smell.
Anyway, back to the matter at hand, I used to find it difficult to make eggs rise without any eggs and butter. Recently, Anand seemed to have bend the rules regarding eggs! So after a very long time, I baked a cake for Anand with eggs and butter in it. Anand found the butter flavor a tad too strong - my next try - to mix half the butter with sunflower oil. Let's see how that goes. But overall, I found the cake quite nice - not too sweet and light fruit cake flavor. Best part- it is so easy to put together. No soaking of the fruits overnight, no beating of butter and sugar...boil and mix everything, that's it!
Ingredients (makes one 20 cm square cake)