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Little Ginger Caramel Cheesecakes


31CFED5D-F980-41F1-9953-28FE10746308Cheesecake! A big favourite, but an indulgence I enjoy in moderation, as it’s SO moreish I can eat too much…

So mini cheesecakes are the perfect sweet treat to end a meal or a as little pick me-up at afternoon tea time.

The recipe is my go-to recipe for baked cheesecake, blogged here many times. I substituted mascarpone for cream cheese, for no other reason than I had some in the fridge and thought it would go well in cheesecake!

I added crystallized ginger to my little cheesecakes as well as ginger caramel, but plain caramel would be fine too.

To serve, I put some chunks of fresh pineapple on the top of each little cheesecake. This complemented the ginger flavour beautifully!


Crumb Crust
230g sweet biscuits (half plain, half ginger nut)
1/2 level teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 level teaspoon cinnamon
85g butter

Mascarpone Filling
500g mascarpone
2/3 cup sugar
1 tbls ginger or plain caramel or dulche de leche (jar or tin is fine, don’t bother making it)
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 free-range eggs
6 pieces crystallized ginger (a small handful), chopped finely  + extra for decorating

Pineapple chunks to decorate


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C or 170 degrees fan-forced.

Butter individual molds with a removable base, see photo. If you don’t have these molds, you could use ordinary muffin or cupcake  molds. You would just need to be careful easing them out of the molds.

I filled 8 of my removable bottom molds. You would fill at least 8 or even 10 ordinary muffin molds.

Crush biscuits very finely in a food processor and add the nutmeg and cinnamon. Melt butter in a saucepan, remove from heat and quickly stir in the biscuit crumbs.

Press firmly into greased molds, covering the bases with a good layer of biscuit crumb.

Put mascarpone, sugar and caramel in the food processor and mix well. Add eggs one at a time, whizzing after each addition.  Stir in the crystallized ginger pieces.

Pour mixture into the individual molds on top of the biscuit crumb bases.  Fill each mold to about 3/4 full.  Place in the oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes until the cheesecake is just set. Remove from oven and leave to cool completely.

Carefully remove each cheesecake from its mold. Store in refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight to completely firm up.

Serve cold, with chunks of pineapple on top of each cheesecake, and extra slivers of crystallized ginger. You could drizzle a little warmed caramel over the top too, for a truly caramel experience!



Rocky Road for Adults!



Everyone loves rocky road. Super sweet, with chocolate, peanuts, marshmallow and maybe cherries or jelly pieces, it’s a nice mix of taste and textures.

It’s pretty easy to make, and I often fling a few ingredients together to make rocky road for friends or family.

This is the version that I make that’s “Adults Only”! It’s got lots of stuff in it that adults will like – dark chocolate and ginger for instance. But it’s still got good old marshmallow. You can’t have rocky road without marshmallow.

So here’s the recipe – or rather, the procedure, since there’ s no cooking involved, and quantities are really a matter of personal preference.


200g good quality dark chocolate

a handful of nuts –  macadamias, hazelnuts and almonds are really good

several pieces of crystallized ginger

a handful of glace cherries and/or any other glace fruit (pineapple and apricot are nice)

several pink and white marshmallows

and anything else you think might go well in the rocky road

50g white chocolate for decorating


Line a rectangular or square baking tin with baking paper. Roughly chop the larger pieces of  glace fruit. It really doesn’t matter that much what size the pieces are, as the rocky road eventually gets broken up.  Scatter the pieces any old how over the baking paper.

Carefully melt the chocolate in a bowl placed over a saucepan of boiling water on the stove, making sure that the bowl doesn’t touch the water.

Once the chocolate has melted, pour it into the baking tin, so that it covers the “rubble” of ingredients that will make the rocky road.

Leave to set for a few hours, or stick in the fridge for a faster set or if it’s a hot day.

You can decorate the rocky road if you like. Melt the white chocolate in a bowl over simmering water as you did for the dark chocolate. Drizzle over the set chocolate slab, using a skewer or the end of a knife. When the white chocolate is quite set, break up the large chocolate slab into rough pieces or cut with a knife into even or rough pieces. Great to serve with coffee or wrap up as gifts at Christmas.








Plum and Cranberry Soda Bread Muffins




I wasn’t quite sure what to call these muffins! They are inspired by the recipe for Irish soda bread but, like all good muffins, are fruit filled and quite moist.

They came about when I was researching soda bread and found this great recipe from Jack Monroe for Rhubarb and Ginger Soda Bread from her blog Cooking on a Bootstrap. I was very impressed with her helpful suggestion about how to make a buttermilk substitute, by adding lemon juice to ordinary milk. I also liked that she added rhubarb to the traditional soda bread recipe.

So I decided to make muffins, using the main ingredients for soda bread – flour, bi-carb and lemon juice soured milk as the buttermilk substitute. I added an egg, as muffin recipes really need that enrichment.

My recipe has both fresh fruit and dried fruit. I think both are good – I suggest you go with whatever is seasonal for the fresh fruit, and any fried fruit would work well.

These muffins have no butter or oil, so are quite healthy. You could cut right down on the sugar if you really wanted a super-good-for-you muffin.

The result was moist, full of gorgeous spices and delicious on its own. A little yoghurt with the muffin would be nice, or even butter…!


200mls semi-skimmed milk
Juice of half a lemon
250g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 free-range egg lightly beaten
3 plums (chopped) or any other stone fruit or other fruit such as apples or pears
2 tbls dried cranberries or other dried fruit
100gms brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Demerara sugar for sprinkling.


Preheat oven to 170 degrees C or 160 degrees C fan forced. Line 6 silicon muffin moulds with muffin papers. If you don’t have these moulds, use an ordinary 6 hole muffin tin. Or you can use a smaller 12 cup muffin tin for daintier muffins.
Pour the milk into a jug or a cup and squeeze in the lemon juice. Leave to stand for a minute or two to allow the milk to curdle. Add the beaten egg.
In a large bowl, combine the flour and bicarb and briefly mix through. Add the chopped plums, with the dried cranberries. Stir in the sugar and spices.
Make a well in the centre of the flour/fruit ingredients and pour in the curdled milk, lemon and egg mixture.
Stir together, remembering not to overmix as muffins definitely need only rough mixing.
Spoon the mixture into muffin cases in your moulds or tin. Just before putting into the oven, sprinkle the tops of the muffins with demerara sugar for added crunch.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the muffin comes out clean.
Serve warm on their own or with yogurt or butter.



Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Candied Carrots

I found this recipe in a fabulous cook book of mine, the Silver Palate Cookbook. This book, plus the follow up The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook, are treasure troves of stunning recipes; some hearty, some fancy, some healthy, some decadent!
The carrot cake recipe is unusual is that it contains cooked carrots. These give the cake a deep, slightly caramelized, flavour.
I have added ground ginger as well as cinnamon, as ginger works well with carrot. You can omit the walnuts, as I did in the pictured cake, for your nut free friends.
The candied baby carrots were my addition, and they looked really pretty and tasted great!
Carrot Cake

3 cups plain flour
3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tbl bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp each ground cinnamon and ground ginger
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
4 large free range eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbl vanilla extract
1 1/2 walnuts, chopped
1 1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 1/3 cup pureed cooked carrots
3/4cup drained crushed pineapple

Cream Cheese Frosting

250gms cream cheese, at room temperature
100gms reduced salt butter, at room temperature
3 cups icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla pate
Juice of 1/2 lemon (optional)


Preheat oven to 170 degrees C. Grease two 23 cm springform tins.

Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl. Add the oil, eggs and vanilla. Beat well. Fold in the walnuts, coconut, carrots and pineapple.

Pour the batter into the prepared tins. Place on the centre rack of the oven and bake until the edges have pulled away from the sides and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean, about  50 minutes.

Cool on a cake rack for 3 hours. Fill and frost the cake with the cream cheese frosting.

Cream together cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl. Slowly sift in the icing sugar and continue beating until fully incorporated. Mixture should be free of lumps. Stir in vanilla, and lemon juice if desired.

Decorate with candied carrots and sifted icing sugar.

Candied Carrots

Take 6 baby carrots, trim, leaving some green tops.
Keep smaller carrots whole and slice larger carrots in halves or quarters through the length of carrot.

In a small saucepan, combine 2 cups of sugar and 1 cup of water. Place over high heat, and bring to a boil, brushing the sides of the saucepan with cold water to prevent the sugar from crystallizing. Add carrots, and reduce the heat to medium. Cook until carrots are translucent, about 25 minutes.

In another small saucepan, combine 1.5 cups of sugar with .5 cup water. Place over high heat, and bring to a boil, brushing the sides of the saucepan with cold water to prevent the sugar from crystallizing. When the sugar has completely dissolved, remove from heat. Use a slotted spoon to transfer candied carrots from the syrup in which they boiled to this new sugar syrup. Let stand until completely cooled; discard the old syrup.

Transfer carrots to some baking paper, gently pat dry with kitchen towel. The carrots can be used to decorate the cake or stored for a couple of days in an airtight container.



Christmas Spruce Cake


This beautiful cake owes it all to the mould! I have sung the praises of the fabulous Nordic ware in a previous blog:

This Nordic ware mould called Holiday Tree Bundt Pan is like a Christmas spruce tree.

photo (8)

I found this recipe in Nigella Christmas, a cook book full of exciting Christmas treats! It’s also on Nigella’s website:

It’s a simple vanilla butter cake, which can be spiced up with Christmas flavours of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.

But beware – you must grease the mould really carefully as the cake is very tricky to remove from the tin!

225 gms soft butter (plus more for greasing)
300 gms caster sugar
6 large eggs
350 gms plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
250 gms plain fat-free yoghurt
4 tsps vanilla extract and/or
1 tsp each cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg
2 tbls icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C fan forced or 170 degrees C non fan forced and put a baking sheet in at the same time.
Butter or oil the Nordic ware spruce tree mould very thoroughly. Alternatively, you could use a large 2.5 litre capacity tin.
Put all the ingredients except the icing sugar into a food processor and blitz together. Pour and spoon the mixture into the greased tin and spread evenly.
Place the tin on the preheated baking sheet in the oven and cook for 45–60 minutes until well risen and golden.
After 45 minutes, insert a skewer into the centre of the cake. If it comes out clean, the cake is cooked. Rest the cake out of the oven for 15 minutes.
Gently pull away the edges of the cake from the tin with your fingers, then turn out the cake.
Once cool, dust with the icing sugar pushed through a small sieve.


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