Chocolate Chilli Cheesecake

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! I know I did, spent the morning with Gof, watching The Hogfather and drinking my traditional Bailey’s coffee… or 3.  We had Christmas dinner with our awesome friends; Chris, Maggie and lil bit Heather, Mac and Maggie’s brother George. It was very much a collaborative effort – Gof made pea soup, Chris and Mac made black pudding, scallops and crispy chorizo with apple sause (I died and went to heaven) and all 3 guys (mostly Chris and Mac, to be fair!) created the ultimate turkey dinner, with goose fat roasties I could marry and have a short but delicious relationship with.

Of course, I immediately volunteered to do dessert when we discussed it months ago. As time grew closer I was at my wit’s end trying to figure out what would suit everyone. We had a 4 year old, 2 people who don’t eat wheat, and I came to the natural conclusion it shouldn’t be too heavy after the amount we’d be eating. This lead to the idea of cheesecake. People could control their own portions and it could keep for a few days. But what kind? Baked or fridge? Chocolate, orange, berry, banana? It was decided for me when I found THE MOST AMAZING CHILLI CHOCOLATE EVER. Christmas market find, of course. I knew it was risky. I hadn’t tried the recipe, Heather might not like it, and holy bejesus that’s a lot of cream cheese and chocolate in a dessert that’s supposed to be light. Still, I trucked on, convinced it was the right move. I did make orange mousse cups though, just in case. SPOILER ALERT – I needn’t have worried.

Below is the recipe I used, the only difference was I used wheat free biscuits (sorta Hob Nob-like), and I saved the MACCE (as the chocolate will henceforth be known) for the ganache. It set beautifully, and instead of whole chillies, I used red edible glitter for decoration (it was for Christmas after all!) It was a complete hit, and this will definitely be going into my keepers folder. Because more is more at Christmas, I doubled the recipe, made 2 cheesecakes and took  the second to the Boxing Day buffet hosted by my in-laws. Again, it was a great success, with kids and adults alike going back for more. I still have some MACCE left, and am on the hunt for another kickass recipe to use, so if you have one let me know! It’s a dark, but very soft chocolate although it hardens nicely in the fridge. If you don’t want to use plain dark chocolate for the ganache, I suggest using Green and Black’s Chilli Chocolate, since it’s tres tasty too.

In whatever case, make this immediately if not sooner! Make it for Hogmanay! Make it for breakfast! I won’t judge you!

Excuse the highly professional iPhone picture - I had to get in quick before it was demolished!

Excuse the highly professional iPhone picture – I had to get in quick before it was demolished!

200g Plain chocolate biscuits
80g Butter, softened
1 tsp Fine chilli powder
3 tsp Sweet paprika
1/3 cup Cold tap water
5 tsp Gelatin
500g Cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup Icing sugar
1/2 cup Milk
300g Good quality dark chocolate
1 1/2 cups Thickened cream, whipped
100ml Cream (for ganache)
200g Good quality dark chocolate (for ganache)
2 tsp Butter (for ganache)

Grease and line a 24cm (base) springform pan.
Process biscuits in a food processor to fine crumbs, and then transfer to a bowl.
Melt butter and add biscuit crumbs. Stir until well combined. Use your fingertips to press into the base of the prepared pan. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Place water in a heatproof bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over the water and stand for 1 minute.
Microwave, uncovered, on high, for 30 seconds so that gelatin is dissolved. Set aside for 15 minutes.

Using an electric beater, beat cream cheese, sugar, chilli powder, paprika and milk until smooth. Stir in gelatin.

Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water (don’t let the bowl touch the water). Stir until melted. Cool slightly. Add to cream cheese mixture. Fold whipped cream through the chocolate mixture. Then pour the mixture over the biscuit base and refrigerate.

To make the ganache – heat the cream in a saucepan until just beginning to boil. Pour over the chocolate and stir until melted and smooth. Add the butter and stir till combined. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. The mixture should still be liquid enough to pour.

Pour ganache over cooled cheesecake. Cover and refrigerate for 6-7 hours, or overnight.

Release sides of the pan. Place cheesecake on a serving platter and top with small red chillies. Use a warm knife to cut into Slices. Serve with cream.


Christmas Traditions

I’ve been thinking about Christmas traditions lately. When I was growing up, we kids got ‘fresh’ pyjamas for Christmas Eve and we always had a stocking with satsumas and chocolate coins. For a long while I drifted between family and friends Christmases and seen their own traditions, like having a cocktail evening on Boxing Day or going for a long walk after dinner. One of my favourites was opening a small present on Christmas Eve!

Right now, I have a few traditions of my own, borne of having Christmas morning to myself since Gof usually worked on Christmas Day (so he didn’t have to on Hogmanay which is more important to a Scottish person!). This included getting up with Gof for a wee Baileys coffee, then lighting my Christmas candles and settling on the sofa with a Christmas movie (last year was Trading Places which is so a Christmas movie!), spiced sugar porridge and yes, more Baileys coffee! I’ve also kept up my childhood tradition of fresh pyjamas for Christmas Eve. Of course, I always make the spiced sugar. For the 3rd year in a row, I’ll also be making whisky glazed carrots for a side dish to take to my friend’s house, where we’ll be spending the day.

What are your traditions? Let me know!

Spiced sugar recipe

Around this time of year I start preparing for Christmas, and one of the first things I do is mix this year’s batch of spiced sugar. The recipe is Jamie Oliver’s, and has been a tradition of mine for a few years now. In his recipe, it’s for popcorn, but I’ve used it for cupcakes, scones, syrup, and my personal favourite – over the top of porridge on Christmas Morning! I’m usually a splash of milk and salt kinda gal, but for Christmas spiced sugar is the only way to have it!

The recipe is actually less of a recipe and more, throw it together and let flavour the sugar. It’s not difficult at all but I always get compliments on it. I’ve included the sugar in small presents, like a mason jar of spiced sugar brownies or layering porridge oats and spiced sugar and it’s always gone down a treat! I’ve found my favourite way of using it for popcorn is to heat oil and butter, pour in some sugar, then add the kernels. It makes it more caramelised than the original version, and keeps well packaged up as a gift.

I think everyone should make this, I go through loads over the festive season and still have enough to last a few month!

Anyway, onwards! You’ll need;

3 fresh bay leaves
finely grated zest of 2 oranges
finely grated zest of 2 lemons
6 whole cloves
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
10 gratings whole nutmeg
1 vanilla pod, halved lengthways
1 kg unrefined caster sugar

Put the bay leaves, orange and lemon zest and all of the spices into a food processor and whiz it up. Once well blended, turn to a low whiz and slowly pour the sugar in until combined. The sugar will be damp, so spread it out evenly on a large baking tray (covering it loosely with clingfilm) then leave it to dry for a few hours.

Once the sugar is dry, pass it through a sieve to catch any larger pieces of spices, and chuck those away. Put your sieved sugar into an airtight container, where it will keep for a good few months (if it lasts that long!)

Let me know how you do, and what you’re using your spiced sugar on!