Mini Chilean Blueberry Cheesecakes

Make these easy, no-cook cheesecakes the night before and leave in the fridge.  If you have room, there are some spare for second helpings or just freeze the extras with a little pot of blueberries for another time.

Makes 8
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 4-5 minutes
Chilling time: 5 hours or overnight

Ingredients

Biscuit base

  • 75g (3oz) digestive biscuits
  • 25g (1oz) butter
  • 2 teaspoons golden syrup

Cheesecake

  • 300g (11oz) full fat cream cheese
  • 65g (21/2oz) caster sugar
  • 1 lemon, grated rind and juice
  • 200ml (7fl oz) double cream

Topping

  • 1 teaspoon cornflour
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 40g (11/2oz) caster sugar
  • 200g (7oz) Chilean blueberries

Method

  1. Add the biscuits to a small plastic bag, seal the top then crush the biscuits with a rolling pin. Heat the butter and golden syrup in a small saucepan until melted, stir in the biscuit crumbs and mix together.  Divide between 8, 75ml (3fl oz) heart shaped sections in a flexible silicone cake mould. Press the biscuits into a thin layer with the back of a teaspoon. Chill while making the filling.
  2. Add the cream cheese, caster sugar and lemon rind to a bowl and whisk together briefly until just mixed. Gradually whisk in the lemon juice and the cream until smooth and thick.
  3. Spoon the cheesecake mixture into crumb lined moulds then spread into an even layer and swirl the tops with the back of a spoon. Chill for 5 hours or overnight.
  4. To make the blueberry topping, add the cornflour to a small saucepan, stir in the lemon juice and mix until smooth then add the water, sugar and blueberries. Cook over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring until the blueberries are just beginning to soften and the sauce has thickened to become a rich blueberry colour.  Leave to cool, cover and chill until ready to serve.
  5. To serve, loosen the edges of the heart moulds and press up from the base, removing the cheesecakes with a small spatula. Transfer to serving plates and spoon the blueberries on top.

Cook’s tip
If you find the cheesecakes a little tricky to remove from the moulds or haven’t had much time to chill them, freeze for 30 minutes to firm up then try again.

Champagne & Raspberry Possets

Ingredients

  • 140g frozen raspberries, defrosted
  • 2 tbsp champagne (buy a mini bottle and treat yourself to a glass while you prepare dinner!
  • 200ml double cream
  • 4 tbsp golden caster sugar
  • 2 tsp freeze-dried raspberry pieces
  • shortbread biscuits, to serve

Method

  1. Put the raspberries and Champagne in a mini food processor or blender (or use a jug and a hand blender). Whizz until the purée is as smooth as you can get it, then use a wooden spoon or spatula to push as much of it through a sieve as you can. Discard the seeds left behind.
  2. Put the cream and sugar in a saucepan and warm gently until the sugar melts. Increase the heat until just boiling, then boil vigorously for 2 1/2 mins, stirring constantly. Turn off the heat and stir in the raspberry-Champagne purée. Cool for 15 mins before dividing between 2 small pots or glasses. Chill for 30 mins, then sprinkle over the freeze-dried raspberry pieces and chill for at least 2 hrs more until set (or overnight if you’re making ahead).
  3. To serve, remove the possets from the fridge and add some shortbread biscuits.

Valentine’s Day Meringue Dessert

Ingredients

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 oz white chocolate baking bar, melted
  • 1 can (21 oz) raspberry pie filling
  • 1 pint (2 cups) fresh strawberries, halved
  • Fresh mint sprigs, if desired

Method

  1. Heat oven to 275°F. Line cookie sheet with cooking parchment paper. In large bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar with electric mixer on medium speed until foamy. On high speed, beat in 1 tablespoon of the granulated sugar at a time until stiff glossy peaks form and sugar is almost dissolved, about 6 minutes. Spread meringue to form 10×10-inch heart shape on cookie sheet, building up edges with back of spoon.
  2. Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until firm and dry to the touch. Turn oven off; let meringue shell stand in closed oven 1 hour. Slide meringue shell and parchment paper from cookie sheet onto wire rack. Cool completely, about 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in medium bowl, beat whipping cream with electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. In large bowl, beat cream cheese and powdered sugar with mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Gradually beat in melted baking bar until smooth and creamy. Gently fold in whipped cream.
  4. Carefully remove meringue shell from parchment paper; place shell on serving plate. Spread cream mixture evenly in shell. Cover; refrigerate at least 2 hours.
  5. In medium bowl, gently mix pie filling and strawberries. Spoon 1 1/2 cups fruit mixture over top of dessert. Garnish with mint sprigs. Serve remaining fruit mixture to be spooned over individual servings.

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Smoked Salt Chocolate Fondant

Ingredients:

  • 100g (3 1/2oz) dark chocolate
  • 15g (1/2oz) unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 1/2 tsp cocoa powder
  • 50g (2oz) caster sugar, plus extra 1/2 tsp
  • 1 egg and 1 egg yolk
  • 15g (1/2oz) plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp smoked salt

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to gas 6, 200°C, fan 180°C. Melt the chocolate in a small bowl over a pan of simmering water. Set aside while you prepare the pudding moulds.
  • Grease 2 pudding moulds. Combine the cocoa powder with the extra 1/2 tsp caster sugar and use to dust the inside of each pudding mould. Put 2 discs of nonstick baking paper into the base of each mould, then put in the fridge until ready to fill.
  • Cream the butter and the sugar together. Beat in the egg and yolk, then add the flour and smoked salt. Beat in the chocolate until completely smooth.
  • Divide the mixture between the moulds and bake for 10 minutes. Turn out onto plates and serve immediately with crème fraîche or raspberry ripple ice cream, if you like.
  • Tip: You can make this pudding ahead – make up to the point where you fill the moulds, then cover and keep in the fridge for up to a day in advance. Cook for an extra 2 minutes from chilled.

ChocFondant

Vodka, Strawberry and Basil Sorbet

Ingredients:

  • 750g (1 1/2Ib) strawberries, hulled
  • 150g (5oz) golden granulated sugar
  • 1 lemon, juice only
  • 1 tbsp vodka (optional)
  • handful fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

Method:

  • Put the strawberries, sugar, lemon juice and vodka (if using) in a blender or food processor and whizz until smooth. Stir through the basil.
  • Pour the mixture into the chilled bowl of an ice-cream maker and churn until the blade stops. Spoon into a pre-chilled ice-cream container, cover and freeze for 4 hours, or overnight, until solid. If you don’t have an ice-cream maker, pour the strawberry mixture into a shallow container and freeze, uncovered, for 2 hours, or until the mixture is beginning to frm up.
  • Whisk with a balloon whisk to add a little air and break up any ice crystals that are forming; return to the freezer. Repeat, whisking once an hour for the next 3 hours, then cover with a lid or clingflm and freeze for 4 hours, or overnight, until solid.
  • About 10 minutes before you are ready to serve, put the sorbet in the fridge to soften a little. Serve in scoops.

sorbet

Red Velvet Brownies

Ingredients:

  • 200g (7 oz) dark chocolate
  • 135g (4 1/2oz) milk chocolate
  • 185g (6 1/2 oz) slightly salted butter, diced
  • 275g (9oz) soft light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • about 2 tsp red food colouring (amount will depend on the brand you use)
  • 85g (3oz) plain flour
  • 40g (1 1/2oz) cocoa powder

For the frosting:

  • Heat an oven to gas 4, 180°C, fan 160°C and line a square brownie tray or baking tin with non-stick parchment.
  • Roughly chop the dark and milk chocolate and set aside 150g (5 oz) for the topping. Put the rest in a small pan with the butter and sugar then heat until melted, stirring occasionally.
  • Once the chocolate is melted, remove to a mixing bowl and cool slightly. Clean out the pan and use it to melt the rest of the chocolate then set aside.
  • Stir the eggs, one by one, into the melted chocolate in the mixing bowl then add the red food colouring until the mixture is a deep red colour.
  • Sieve over the flour and cocoa powder, fold to combine and pour into the prepared tin.
  • Pour the melted chocolate from the pan onto the surface of the brownie in four evenly spaced lines and use a toothpick to create a ripple effect.
  • Bake on the middle shelf for 25 mins, adding a few minutes more if you prefer firmer brownies. Cool in the tin for about 10 mins then remove and cool on a wire rack.
  • Beat the soft cheese, vanilla, icing sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Once the brownies are cool, trim off the edges and cut into nine even squares. Spread with the icing using a palette knife, keep chilled once iced.
  • Tip: To make these extra special, use a heart cutter to stamp out hearts from pink or red royal icing and stick one in the middle of each iced brownie.

RedVelvetBrownies

Valentine Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 250g butter, softened
  • 320g sieved plain flour
  • 125g sieved icing sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 170 C / Gas mark 3.
  • Mix butter in a mixer until light, add remaining ingredients.
  • Knead until velvety. Roll one-half of the dough at a time to about 6mm thickness using the smallest amount of flour possible.
  • Cut out and bake on a lightly greased baking tray for 12 minutes. Cookies will be almost white when cooked.

valentines-cookies

For the red Victoria sponge

  • 125g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
  • 125g white caster sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • large eggs, beaten
  • 125g self-raising flour
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tbsp red food colouring
  • tbsp apricot glaze

For the Victoria sponge

  • 125g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
  • 125g white caster sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • large eggs, beaten
  • 125g self-raising flour
  • ¼ tsp baking powder

For the biscuits

  • 50g unsalted butter, softened
  • 50g white caster sugar
  • medium egg, lightly beaten
  • 100g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

For the white chocolate buttercream

  • 125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 50g white chocolate, melted

For the decoration

  • 500g ready mix royal icing
  • tsp red food colouring
  • tsp pink food colouring
  • tsp icing sugar, plus extra if required
  • 3 packets mini blossom cake decorations
  • 80g milk chocolate hearts

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Grease and line a non-stick 20cm square cake tin with baking parchment.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric hand whisk to cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla extract until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, adding a little flour with each egg to stop the mixture splitting. Sift over the remaining flour, baking powder and red food colouring, then gently fold together using a wooden spoon until the mixture is smooth and evenly coloured. Spoon the mixture into the tin and bake for 30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Turn the cake out on to a wire rack and allow to cool.
  3. Once cooled, place the pink square sponge cake on a surface and cut out 9 hearts with a 5cm heart cutter. Brush the hearts on one side with the apricot glaze and stick together to make a long heart-shaped cake. Measure the length of your loaf tin and cut the heart-shaped cake to size. Transfer to the freezer and chill for 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, make the second Victoria sponge cake mixture. Use the same method as in step 2, but without the food colouring. Once made, spoon 2-3 tbsp of the Victoria sponge mixture into the bottom of the loaf tin and spread it out in an even layer. Place the heart cake on top, pointed end upwards. Gently spoon the remaining sponge mixture around and over the heart cake, covering it fully. Don’t worry if the heart looks as though it is sticking out slightly – the plain Victoria sponge mixture will rise during baking to come up the sides and cover it completely.
  5. Bake for 45-50 minutes until cooked through, or until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool with the loaf tin set upside down on a wire rack so the cake begins to come away from the sides of the tin. You may need to run a knife around the edge of the cake to help it slide out.
  6. Meanwhile, make the biscuit dough. Turn the oven up to 190°C/gas mark 5. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric whisk to cream the butter with the sugar until well mixed and just creamy in texture. Do not overwork, or the biscuit will spread during baking.
  7. Beat the egg again until well combined, and add 1 tbsp to the creamed butter and sugar. Discard the remaining egg. Add the flour and beat on low until a dough forms. Gather into a ball, wrap in clingfilm and chill for at least 1 hour. Roll out the biscuit dough to 4mm thick and cut out a 12cm heart using the cookie cutter. Place on a non-stick baking tray and bake in the preheated oven for 12 minutes until beginning to turn golden around the edges. Set aside to cool on a wire rack.
  8. Next, make the white chocolate buttercream. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric hand whisk to beat together the butter and vanilla extract for 2-3 minutes, until pale and soft. Add half the icing sugar and beat on a low setting at first, so the icing sugar doesn’t puff up and out of your bowl. Beat on a higher setting until smooth, then repeat with the rest of the icing sugar. Continue to beat for 1-2 minutes, until pale and fluffy.
  9. Place a pan of water over a low heat. Bring to a gentle simmer and place a heatproof bowl over the top, making sure it doesn’t touch the water. Break up the white chocolate, add to the bowl and let it slowly melt. Stir gently once or twice. When nearly all the chocolate has melted, remove from the heat and stir constantly until completely melted. Leave to cool slightly, then add to the buttercream and mix until combined and smooth. Turn the cooled loaf cake out of its tin, and cover the top and sides of the still-upturned loaf cake with the white chocolate buttercream. Transfer to the fridge to chill for 15 minutes.
  10. Meanwhile, combine the ready mix royal icing with 80ml cold water in a deep bowl. Using an electric mixer or electric hand whisk, starting slowly and gradually increasing the speed, beat for about 5 minutes until standing in soft peaks. If the icing is too soft, beat in a little icing sugar, 1 tsp at a time. Add a few drops of water if it is too stiff. Set aside 2 tbsp royal icing, and evenly divide the remainder between 3 bowls. Colour one bowl of icing with 1 tsp red food colouring, another with the remaining 1 tsp red colouring and the third bowl with the pink colouring. Mix in 2 tsp icing sugar each to 1 bowl of red and the pink icing. This should thicken the icing and make it possible to pipe stripes on to the cake. If it isn’t thick enough, continue to add icing sugar until you have the consistency you want. Spoon the thickened red and pink icings into separate disposable piping bags, each fitted with a small round writing piping nozzle.
  11. Pipe a heart outline on to the cooled heart biscuit using the thickened red icing. Spoon the slightly looser red royal icing into the middle, then leave to set.
  12. Meanwhile, pipe alternate red- and pink-coloured stripes on to the sides of the cake, starting from the top of the cake and finishing at the base. Finish with a little squeeze to create a small blob at the bottom of each stripe. Brush the undersides of the mini blossom decorations with a little water and stick around the top edge of the cake, covering the start point of each of the piped stripes and overlapping slightly.
  13. When the icing has set on the heart biscuit, pipe on a Valentine’s message using the 2 tbsp of set aside white royal icing. Arrange the iced biscuit heart on the cake. Decorate the top of the cake with the chocolate hearts and serve in slices so you can see the heart in the middle.

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