Hello decor8 readers! Jillian with a new recipe for you this month… Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake! I was in Europe a couple of summers back and I was blown away by the abundance of ripe, red strawberries in the markets. You know the kind you can smell before you can see? Each day I would buy a kilo or so and munch my way through them.
Inspired by the memory of those beautiful strawberries, I’ve come up with a strawberry flavoured treat for you. I decided to make a strawberry swirl cheesecake. I grew up eating baked European style cheesecakes with a filling made from dry cottage cheese, lightened with cream and beaten egg whites encased in a pastry shell then topped with a pastry lattice. As you can imagine, making one of those cheesecakes is a labour of love so over the years I’ve been trying to simplify the recipe.
Instead of a pastry shell I make a shortbread biscuit base and usually leave the top unadorned. I often use a combination of dry cottage and cream cheese in the filling but sometimes dry cottage cheese can be hard to track down so I’ve just used cream cheese in this recipe.
If you can’t be bothered separating the eggs and beating the egg whites, you don’t have to but then you won’t know what you’re missing out on. The cheesecake texture is so light and a little soufflé like because of the beaten egg whites but there is a downside to all that airiness. The top of the cheesecake will crack as it bakes but as you’ll be covering the cake with cream and strawberries no-one will know. I think the cracking is part of the character of this style of cheesecake anyway. The strawberry flavoured swirl is something new I tried out because who can resist strawberries and cream? If you’ve got a few berries leftover you could make a strawberry sauce to serve with the cheesecake.
I’ve not tried making this recipe with any other berries but I’m sure raspberries, blackberries, blueberries or a mixture of all of them would work just as well. If you try out any other flavour combinations, I’d love to hear them.
Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake
100 g (3 1/2 oz) unsalted butter
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 cup plain flour
½ teaspoon vanilla
750 g (1 1/4 lb) cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla
175 mls (3/4 cup) cream
1 (20 ml) tablespoon flour
4 large eggs, separated
2 additional tablespoons caster sugar
200 g (7 oz) quartered hulled strawberries
1 (20 ml) tablespoon caster sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
One 250 g (8 oz) punnet strawberries, washed
Whipped or double cream to serve
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.
Grease a 23 cm (9 inch) springform tin. I line mine with baking paper but that’s optional.
In a food processor, combine all the base ingredients and whiz until a shortbread mixture forms around the blades.
Remove the biscuit mixture from the food processor and press over the base and slightly up the sides of the prepared tin.
Place the tin in the oven and bake for 10 – 15 minutes or until the base is lightly golden. Remove the tin from the oven and allow to cool completely.
Using a potato masher or a stick blender, mix together strawberries, sugar and lemon juice to form a coarse puree. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F.
In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, the sugar, the flour and vanilla until smooth. Beat in the egg yolks and the cream.
Remove 2/3 cup of the mixture and fold into the strawberry mixture. Set to one side.
In a separate clean and dry bowl, beat the egg whites until firm peaks form. Beat in the additional sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Fold the egg whites into the cheesecake mixture.
Spoon about half the cheesecake mixture over the shortbread base, then alternately with the strawberry mixture. Using a skewer or a chopstick, gently swirl the colours together to create a marble effect.
Bake at 160°C/325°F for 1 hour or until the cheesecake is just cooked but still jiggles in the middle. Let the cheesecake cool in the turned off oven for a further hour.
Transfer the cheesecake to a rack and allow it to cool completely. Cover the cheesecake and refrigerate it for a few hours.
Because of the egg whites, this cheesecake rises a bit like a soufflé then sinks in the middle. The top always cracks so don’t despair.
To serve, fill the centre of the cake with whipped or double cream, sprinkle the edges of the cake with icing sugar and top with strawberries.
If you like, you can make a simple strawberry sauce with any remaining berries by following the strawberry swirl instructions and sweeten to taste.
For next months Delicious Bites column, I was wondering if there was anything in particular you’d like me to bake. So far we’ve made cake, cookies, meringues, tarts and cheesecakes so I can’t wait to see what you come up with.
I’m really looking forward to your suggestions! See you all again next month – Jillian.
(images/text/recipe: Jillian Leiboff)
Hi everyone, it’s Jillian here with this month’s Delicious Bites column. A few weeks ago a friend invited me over for a family dinner. We have a standing agreement — she provides the main course while I bring along the dessert. One of the family members has loads of likes and dislikes when it comes to food, which means dessert has to be either lemon flavoured or made from apples, or it won’t be eaten. I don’t like bringing the same dessert twice and as I’ve already brought along a classic lemon tart, a lemon drizzle cake and lemon squares, so I needed to come up with something new.
I looked through my fridge and saw the pot of lemon curd leftover from last month’s brown sugar meringues. I don’t like wasting food so I started thinking of ways to use the leftover curd and decided to make lemon meringue tarts. I made 4 lemon meringue tarts with the leftover curd and they were such a hit, even with the children, that the other dessert I brought along was completely ignored. It’s a bit involved but I thought you might like the recipe.
The tarts themselves aren’t complicated to make, it’s just lemon curd spooned into tart shells topped with a cloud of meringue but the whole process is a bit time consuming. There’s lots of cooling involved so I would make the tart shells and lemon curd the day before you plan to make the tarts and you could always cheat a bit by buying ready made tart shells.
I’m not a fan of uncooked meringue so I baked the lemon meringue tarts in a hot oven for about 10 minutes. n the first batch I made, the high temperature melted the regular lemon curd so I’ve added a little cornflour to the lemon curd filling to stop that happening. If you brulee the meringue with a blow torch instead of baking it, you could leave out the cornflour (cornstarch). I’ve also dialled back the sugar content in the curd as there is plenty of sugar in the meringue topping. The crumb layer idea came from an old Dione Lucas lemon meringue pie recipe I found in one of my cookbooks. You can’t taste the cardamom but it seems to add a depth of flavour.
Here’s my recipe for you.
Lemon Meringue Tarts (makes twelve 8 cm tarts)
2 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Put to one side.
110 gm (4 oz) cold unsalted butter, diced
1/4 cup icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind
1/4 cup almond meal
1 1/4 cups plain flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
To make the pastry, combine all the dry ingredients and the lemon rind in a food processor and whiz for a few seconds until well combined and free of lumps. Add the cold butter and whiz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg and sufficient cold water and whiz until a soft dough just starts to form around the blade. Remove the dough from the food processor and gather the pastry into a ball; flatten slightly before wrapping in plastic and placing in the fridge. Refrigerate the pastry for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F. Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface (I use a large sheet of greaseproof paper) and roll out thinly with a rolling pin. Grease twelve 8 cm tartlet tins. Cut out circles of pastry large enough to fit the tart shells. Line the tins with the pastry and trim the edges of the tart tins with a sharp knife. Lightly prick the pastry surface with the tines of a fork and return to the fridge for another 30 minutes. Line the tart shells with muffin liners and fill with pastry weights or uncooked rice. Bake for 10 minutes and then remove paper and weights. Bake for a further 5 to 10 minutes or until the tart shells are golden.Take the tart shells out of the oven and sprinkle about ½ teaspoon of the breadcrumb mixture over the base of each of the warm tart shells. Place the tart shells on a wire rack to cool. If you want, you can make the tart shells a day ahead and store them in an airtight container.
Lemon curd filling
4 large egg yolks
Finely grated rind of 2 lemons
150 ml (2/3 cup) strained lemon juice
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 teaspoons cornflour (cornstarch), optional
120 gm (4 oz) unsalted butter
Place the egg yolks, the lemon rind, juice, cornflour (if using) and sugar into a small bowl and place over a pan of simmering water. Whisk the mixture until smooth. Keep whisking for 10 minutes until thickened. Remove from the heat and add the butter in small batches until well combined. Set aside to cool. When completely cool cover the bowl and place the curd in the fridge and allow it to set. The curd will keep for a few weeks in the fridge in a sealed sterilized jar.
4 large egg whites
Pinch cream of tartar
1 cup caster sugar
Additional caster sugar
Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F. Fill each tart shell about 2/3 full with the lemon curd. In a large clean dry bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until thick and gradually add the sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time. Beat until the sugar dissolves. Using a spoon, decoratively swirl the meringue over the filled tart shells or you can pipe the meringue over the top, sealing the tarts completely with the meringue. Place the tart shells on a baking sheet and lightly sprinkle a little extra caster sugar over the meringue topping.
Bake the tarts in the preheated oven (190°C/375°F) for 10 minutes or until the meringue is golden brown. If you prefer, you can use a brulee torch to colour the meringue. Take the tarts out of the oven and cool the tarts on a wire rack.
Once the tarts have cooled, return them to the fridge for a few hours to allow the filling to firm before serving.
I hope you enjoy the lemon meringue tarts. I’ll be back in June with a summery Delicious Bites treat for you. See you all then – Jillian - and have a lovely Saturday!
(images: jillian lieboff for decor8)
Hi, it’s Jillian here with April’s Delicious Bites recipe. I was visiting my brother in the country a few weeks ago and I started thinking about the change of season. I know for most of you, spring is just around the corner, whilst here in Sydney we’re about to head into autumn. For some reason the move into autumn is a little more obvious in the country than in the city. The tomatoes and figs are just coming to an end while the pumpkins are sprouting like mad.
When I’m in the country I love visiting the chickens. We have a bit of a chat and I give them a bowl of kitchen scraps before collecting the day’s eggs. With all those lovely fresh eggs at my disposal I decided to make meringues. Meringues were one of the first things I learned to bake and I remember packing a few of them into my school lunch box. I changed up my old recipe a little by adding some brown sugar to the mix. The brown sugar adds a slightly different taste to the finished product and the meringues are a little chewier than regular meringues.
Meringues are pretty simple to make as long as you follow a few basic rules:
- When you separate the eggs make sure there is no yolk in the mixture or else the egg whites won’t whip.
- I don’t have a copper bowl so I use a glass or metal bowl which I wash and dry just before making the meringue mixture. Any lingering grease or water will stop the egg whites from whipping nicely.
- Meringues need to be cooked at a fairly low temperature. I’ve given 120°C/250°F as a suggestion ‘cos my old gas oven can’t go any lower than that.
- You can use the leftover yolks to make ice cream, custard or some homemade lemon curd to serve with the meringues.
Okay, here’s how to make ‘em. Ready?
Brown Sugar Meringues
You will need:
2 egg whites (from 60 gm eggs)
1/2 cup (100g) caster sugar minus 1 tablespoon
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 120°C/250°F
Lightly grease an oven tray and dust with cornflour (corn starch) or line with baking paper.
In a small bowl combine both of your sugars.
In a medium size bowl using an electric whisk, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
Add the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time until the sugar dissolves and the meringue turns very glossy. Gently stir in the vanilla.
Using a large spoon, drop dollops of meringue onto the prepared baking sheet. You should get 8 – 10 medium size meringues from this mixture.
Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes for Pavlova like meringues or 1 1/4 hours for crisp meringues. You can leave the meringues to cool in the switched off oven.
Carefully remove the meringues from the baking tray and place on a wire rack. When completely cold, store the meringues in an airtight container until ready to serve. You can eat them as they are or serve them like mini Pavlovas topped with lemon curd, cream and berries, fresh from the garden.
If you’d like the recipe for the homemade lemon curd, let me know and I’ll post it in the comments section.
I hope you enjoyed this month’s Delicious Bites recipe. I’ll be back again next month with another recipe for you. – Jillian
(photos: jillian lieboff)
Hi, it’s Jillian here with this month’s Delicious Bites column. You know, even though I like to eat chocolate and I bake with chocolate all the time for others, I rarely eat chocolate desserts. However caramel is a completely different story. I just love it! So today I’m bringing you a recipe for walnut cookies sandwiched with caramel.
These cookies were supposed to be pecan dulce de leche sandwich cookies. When I checked my cupboard, the bag of pecans I thought were there were in fact walnuts left over from last month’s Plum Crumble Cake. The weather in Sydney last weekend was just awful and I couldn’t face walking back to the shops in the wind and rain just to get pecans, so I used what I had. I think toasted almonds or macadamias would also work really well in this recipe if that’s what you have lurking in your pantry.
The cookie dough is quick to make but it’s really soft so don’t be tempted to skip the fridge time as it will make slicing the cookie dough impossible. If you don’t feel like making sandwich cookies, you can roll the still warm cookies in icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar) soon after they come out of the oven to make Mexican wedding cakes.
Dulce de leche is hard to find in Sydney so I made some myself at home using a tin of sweetened condensed milk. Dulce de leche is really easy to make so I’ve included the instructions for you. I’m warning you it’s really delicious and a bit addictive. I think I ate more licking the spoon than made its way into the jar.
Here are the recipes for you.
Walnut Dulce de Leche Sandwich Cookies
Makes about 40 filled cookies
250 g (8 oz) unsalted butter
1/3 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
300 g (2 cups) plain flour, sifted
125 g (4 oz) finely chopped toasted walnuts
Additional ¼ cup finely chopped toasted walnuts
1/2 cup dulce de leche
In large bowl, beat together the butter, caster sugar, brown sugar and vanilla until fluffy. In separate bowl, stir together flour, the 125 gm of finely chopped walnuts and stir into butter mixture to make a smooth dough. Divide the dough in half; form each into 1½ inch (4 cm) wide log. Roll each log in the additional finely chopped walnuts, pressing so they stick to the cookie dough. Wrap each log in kitchen paper and refrigerate for 1 hour or you can freeze the logs at this stage to use later.
Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F). Line 2 trays with baking paper. Cut the logs into ¼ inch (5 mm) thick slices and arrange 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart on the prepared baking trays. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.
Transfer the cookies to a wire rack; let cool completely before storing in an airtight container. Just before serving, spread the bases of half the cookies with about 1/2 tsp of dulce de leche for each cookie. I used a piping bag but a knife or teaspoon will do fine. Top with remaining cookies to make sandwiches.
Homemade Dulce de Leche
1 x 395 gm tin condensed milk
Preheat the oven to 220° C (425° F).
Pour the tin of sweetened condensed milk into a shallow baking dish. Set the baking dish into a larger pan, and add hot water until it reaches halfway up the side of the baking dish. Tightly cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 1 1/2 hours. Add more water to the roasting pan as necessary. Once the condensed milk is nicely browned, remove the dish from the oven and let cool. Once cool, whisk the caramel until smooth before spooning into a sterilized jar. Store the dulce de leche in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
I hope you like the cookies. I’ll be back again next month with another recipe for you, so see you all then – Jillian
(text/images: jillian leiboff)
Welcome to my first ever Delicious Bites column, this is Jillian Leiboff and I’m excited to be writing for decor8 again this year. At the end of 2012, Holly asked if I’d like to switch things up a bit and write a food column instead of my usual shop girl visits column to encourage more of what she loves: cooking up easy, simple meals and desserts, nurturing relationships around the table and really enjoying your time at home with family and friends. Sounds good to me, what do you think?
For those of you who know me as a shop photographer, this may come as something of a surprise but food is also one of my first loves. I’ve been baking since I was 12 and photographing food since my student photography days. While other students were bringing watches and vases to photograph there was me with sushi, coffee cups and chocolate brownies! Not much has changed since.
I decided to kick off Delicious Bites this month with my recipe for Plum Crumble Cake. I’ve been making this simple plum cake for ages – it’s a basic butter cake layered with sugared plums yet it’s so versatile — you can use almost any kind of fruit. I’ve made the cake topped with sliced apricots, peaches, raspberries, blueberries and mulberries and all were delicious so see what variation you can try on this recipe.
In addition to the fruit tip, I also tweak the recipe every now and then. Sometimes I’ll use cinnamon to flavour the cake and I’ve even tried lemon rind. This time, I decided to add a crumble topping. You can never have too much of a good thing, can you? NOPE..
Walnuts and cinnamon go really well with plums so the cake is topped with a cinnamon-spiced walnut crumble. It’s a very moist cake, so don’t be alarmed when some of some of the plums disappear. They’ll sink to the bottom for sure but please note that this helps to keep the cake nice and moist so it’s not a bad thing.
The crumble recipe makes way more than you’ll need to top the cake so I store leftovers in the freezer. You can use the crumble next time you make the cake or you can use it to make a delicious fruit crumble. If you don’t feel like making the crumble, the cake is delicious just as it is. A light dusting of icing sugar is all it needs but if you feel like adding a dollop of cream, that’s good too. I’m also not opposed to ice cream!
Ok! Are you ready to bake this delicious cake? Good, because here’s the recipe!
¼ cup (55 gm) brown sugar
¼ cup (35 gm) plain flour
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup (70 gm) walnuts
30 grams (1 oz) cold unsalted butter cut into small chunks
5 small plums
1 tablespoon caster sugar
125 grams (4 oz) unsalted butter
100 grams (½ cup) caster sugar
1 cup self raising flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon
60 mls (¼ cup) milk
Optional – icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
To make the crumble, combine the flour, brown sugar and cinnamon in a food processor. Add the walnuts and butter and pulse until just combined. Place the crumble topping in a small bowl and refrigerate while making the cake. This makes more crumble than required so I store any leftover crumble in the freezer.
* Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F.
* Grease and flour a 18 cm springform tin and line the base with baking paper.
* Cut the plums in half and remove the pits.
* Slice each plum into quarters, put into a small bowl and sprinkle over the tablespoon of caster sugar. * Set aside.
* To make the cake, cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until light and fluffy.
* Add the egg and mix until combined well.
* Sift the flour and the cinnamon.
* Add the flour alternately with the milk to make a soft batter. You may not need to use all the milk.
* Spoon half the batter into the greased and lined tin.
* Layer a few of the plum slices over the top of the batter.
* Gently spoon the remaining batter over the fruit.
* Sprinkle the top of the cake with the crumble and arrange the remaining plum slices onto the crumble layer.
* Bake the cake for 60-75 minutes or until the cake tests cooked when a skewer is inserted into it. Some of the plums will sink to the bottom of the tin while cooking.
* Cool the cake in the tin for about 15 minutes before turning out to cool on a wire rack.
* If desired, dust the top of the cake with icing sugar.
I hope you enjoy the cake – if you make it please let me know how it came out! See you all again next month with another recipe from my kitchen. – Jillian
(photos/recipe ©2013 Jillian Leiboff)