Saturday, 14 March 2015

Rum and Raisin Cheesecake

Finally, a post which is sweet, but not a cake. I am challenging myself this year, to at the very least, not bake a cake so often and explore other sweet bakes. This is the first of a non-cake sweet bake: Rum and Raisin Cheesecake. If my memory is correct, this cheesecake was made by Jo Wheatley from Season 2 of The Great British Bake Off. I loved the combination of rum and raisins in-cooperated in a luxurious, rich and delicious cheesecake. This recipe has been on my bake list for 3 years (I know its such a long time), so one lazy Saturday, I had a sudden change of heart and instead of making my usual chocolate cake, I decided on making this cheesecake. 
I feel as though I have slightly robbed myself as making a cheesecake was incredibly easy and for relative simpleness, the results are beautiful. I loved the slight ferociousness that the rum brought to this cheesecake, alongside the sweet and plump raisins, made this a wonderful dessert. I had to tear my way from the cheesecake after the third slice .......
Here is how my Rum and Raisin Cheesecake turned out:
Rum and Raisin Cheesecake.

Rum and Raisin Cheesecake.

Rum and Raisin Cheesecake.

Rum and Raisin Cheesecake in the making. 

Rum and Raisin Cheesecake baked.
Recipe for Rum and Raisin Cheesecake.

Serves 6 -8
10 digestive biscuits
50g unsalted butter,  melted
600g full fat cream cheese
2 tbsp plain flour
175g caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract 
2 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk
285ml soured cream
40g large raisins,  soaked overnight in 2tbsp rum,  then drained.

1 x 20.5cm spring clip tin,  greased;  a baking sheet.

Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/gas 3. Crush the biscuits in a food processor,  then mix with the butter.  Press onto the base and halfway up the sides of the prepared tin. Bake for 5 minutes,  then cool.
Using an electric mixer on low speed,  beat the cream cheese with the flour,  sugar,  vanilla,  eggs,  egg yolk and half the soured cream until thoroughly combined.  Don't let the mixture becomes frothy as this will spoil the creamy, even texture of the cheesecake. Stir in the raisins reserving a few for decoration,  if you like. 
Pour the mixture into the tin on top of the biscuit base. Set the tin on the baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes. Stir the remaining soured cream,  then carefully pour it over the top of the cheesecake. The top will still be fragile so if you need to spread the soured cream,  do this gently.  Bake for a further 15 minute or until the cheesecake is set but still slightly wobbly in the centre.
Remove from the oven and run a round bladed knife around the inside of the tin to loosen the cheesecake. Leave to cool in the tin,  then cover and chill overnight before unmoulding for serving and scattering with the reserved raisins. 

I am sharing this recipe to a couple of blogging challenges, the first from Ness at JibberJabber this months theme is It's In The Book  and I was very inspired by the Great British Bake Off Book. 

I'm also sharing this with Jac from Tinned Tomatoes who hosts a monthly challenge Bookmarked Recipes , this months these is vegetarian and vegan bookmarked recipes. 

Dom from Belleau Kitchen  who is hosting a new monthly challenge called Simply Eggcellent, this month's theme is just to use a recipe that contains free-range eggs, which my cheesecake does, so qualifies.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Coffee and Triple Rum Cake

I really am not doing well with extending my baking repertoire beyond a cake. I have been meaning to diversify my sweet bakes this year and make more puddings, pies and crumbles, unfortunately this has not gone to plan as I expected. This, in part because I am regularly reminded and think off all the cakes I adore, the flavour combinations, the layers, the textures, the topping and the list goes on. I have not made a coffee cake for some time, nor have I made a rum cake for some time, so I when I saw this recipe from Levi Roots, last summer, for a Coffee and Rum cake, I promptly put this on my to bake list. I have tweaked this recipe slightly to add more rum (that can't be a bad thing really?), a tbsp of dark rum in the mixture and rum to make my rum butter cream, instead of the suggested whipped cream, taking the original coffee and rum cake to a Coffee and Triple Rum Cake. 
This cake was incredibly easy to make, there were no fancy layers, just a rum soaked sponge topped gloriously with rum butter cream. The cake was moist and the rum certainly cake through to give it a pleasant ferocious sensation with every bite. Warning: This cake is not suitable for munchkins :-) x 

Here is how my Coffee and Triple Rum Cake turned out:
Coffee and Triple Rum Cake.

Coffee and Triple Rum Cake.

Coffee and Triple Rum Cake. 

Coffee and Triple Rum Cake - slice.

Coffee and Triple Rum Cake in the making. 

Coffee and Triple Rum Cake in the making. 

Recipe for Coffee and Triple Rum Cake.
Serves 8
175g butter, softened, plus extra for the tin.
175g soft brown sugar.
3 eggs, lightly beaten.
175g self-raising flour, sifted.
Pinch of salt.
5 tbsp caster sugar.
80ml rum.
1 tbsp dark rum (I used Havana Club) 
300ml whipped cream
425ml very strong hot coffee.

Recipe for rum butter cream can be found when you click here.

1) Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/gas mark 5
2) Beat the butter and brown sugar, using an electric mixer or by hand, until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs a little at a time, beating well after each addition, then fold in the flour, salt and add the 1tbsp rum. Put in a greased (20cm) 8in cake tin, and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Turn out on to a wire rack and leave to cool.
3) Add the caster sugar and rum to the coffee and taste - you may want more sugar or rum to taste.  Put the cake back in its tin and pierce it all over with a skewer, then pour the coffee slowly through the holes, soaking the sponge, and leave overnight.
4) Whip the cream into soft peaks. Turn out the cake and decorate with the cream and pecans. Alternatively, follow my recipe for rum butter cream.

I am sharing my Coffee and Triple Rum Cake to a  revered blogger Jacqueline from Tinned Tomatoes, monthly bookmarked recipes challenge. This month's theme is vegetarian bookmarked recipes, as I bookmarked this recipe from last summer, it qualifies for this challenge. 


Monday, 22 December 2014

Carib Grill

As a lover of Caribbean food and restaurants, I was estatic when a deal became available on Groupon which featured Carib Grill restaurant. Carib Grill is located in the leafy cosmopolitan area of Moesley in Birmingham. The deal that really caught my eye was: 1/2 jerk chicken, rice and peas & rum punch for two people for the barginous £16. I knew that there would be no way I would be able to stick to that budget, not least because having viewed the menu online, the starters and desserts looked tantalising. Birmingham is no stranger to a large selection of Caribbean restaurants and I have covered a couple here on the blog. But every restaurant is different, different presentation of food, flavours and atmosphere, so I promptly decided to visit this restaurant. I was initially impressed with the bold exterior, this must be the first restaurant I have visited which is covered in red and green; it certainly stood out on the high street. The colourful exterior was matched by the colourful interior, there were flags from the more well-known Caribbean islands. There was also softly played reggae and calypso music played in the restaurant and reminded me of a restaurant that I visited in St Maarten. 

Our table was booked for 8pm one rainy Friday, but for one reason or another (poor time planning on my part), my amigo and I arrived at 20:40. Fortunately the waiter greeted us with a beaming smile and ushered us to our seats. Once we were seated and gave the Groupon voucher, we were quickly served our rum punch. I love rum punch, but I was not expecting it to contain soooooooo much rum. It was a good job I was not driving as I would not be able to finish of my tropical rum punch, which was served with nutmeg for that additional flavour, due to the high alcohol content.  I was impressed with the presentation of the rum punch, especially the umbrella, it was, as they say in Jamaica, it was "irie".
Rum punch
Next up, was the main event 1/2 jerk chicken with rice and peas (£10.50) , oh and a side order of fried plantain (£3.50) . I could smell the jerk chicken whilst I was chatting to my amigo, the infection barbecue smell swept through the restaurant, so when it was served I was anticipating great things. The jerk chicken was beautifully presented and tasted pretty awesome. The distinctive jerk flavour was there; the chicken skin was crispy and well seasoned, the chicken meat tender, moist and juicy. In fact, although the portion size was huge, I wanted more, yes more jerk chicken because this was the BEST  jerk chicken I have tasted outside of Jamaica. The rice and peas was filling and tasted delicious too, the peas was gungo peas (my favourite) and presumably cooked in coconut milk, due to the rich creamy taste. With every jerk chicken that I order, I have to have an accompanying side dish of fried plantain: my favourite side dish, sweet, addictive and divine. My only criticism of the fried plantain is it was slightly dry, I like my fried plantain to be fried in oil, lots of it, I suspect that there was restraint with the oil used.

Jerk Chicken

Fried Plantain
I almost always have two courses when eating out, either a starter and main or a main or dessert, I decided with the latter. Having recently returned from my annual Caribbean break, I sampled the most amazing Tortuga cake from the Cayman islands and greatly anticipated to try this cake again, as this was on the menu. I was very disappointed, almost distraught that the Tortuga cake was sold out because apparently, this is brought in batches from the restaurants owners trips to the Caribbean. After some consolation, I ordered the chocolate fudge cake with vanilla ice-cream. This was a wonderful second choice, the slice of cake came straight out of the land of the giants. Most importantly was the taste, chocolatey, rich, gory, delicious, moreish and moist, this was the perfect slice of cake for me.

I would definitely visit again, the restaurant had a friendly relaxed Caribbean vibe and more importantly the food represented true Caribbean cuisine and superb value for money. In fact, it was a "home from home".

Positives: Excellent food, excellent service, great atmosphere.
Negatives: A dish that I wanted to order was not available.

This restaurant gets a 4 star rating by Food Glorious Food.

Food Glorious Food Restaurant rating index.
5 Star - Excellent: loved the food, loved the restaurant, loved the service, Already booked my next visit.
4 Star - Overall good: food was delicious will visit soon.
3 Star - Average: food was nice, but improvements can be made. No rush to return.
2 Star - Below average: nothing special, in no rush to visit again.
1 Star - Inadequate: Do not go, you have been warned.

Disclaimer: I reviewed this restaurant because I love eating out, as always, all opinions are my own.

Carib Grill on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 23 November 2014

MSC Divina and Caribbean islands

I love reminiscing about holidays and all the memories that I have, good and bad. I recently went on a cruise, this was my second cruise but my first big cruise. Back in 2012 I went on a mini P & O cruise to Belgium and Guernsey. But this cruise,  by MSC, for those who want to know stands for (Mediterranean Shipping Country) I visited numerous Caribbean islands. I said adios to the West Midlands and Ola to the East and West Caribbean islands: Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Cozumel, Mexico, Bahamas, Miami, St Marten, Puerto Rico and Grand Turk. 
What I did not realise at the time of booking is that MSC cruises is an Italian cruise line, so there was lots of Italian food, which during week 1 is fabulous, not so great for week 2. There are seated allocation for the two main restaurants on board MSC Divina: The Black Crab and Le Muse. There were several other speciality restaurants including Eataly steakhouse and Ristourante Italia. These speciality restaurants came at a cost, the same as a normal a la carte restaurant so, in my opinion did not represent value for money.
As time is of the essence, I was in two minds on what to review on my blog, should I review every island and my experience there and bypass my experience on the cruise. Or should I share my experience on MSC cruise and limit the time given to the beautiful Caribbean islands. I've come up with a wonderful solution to this, which is share the food on the cruise ship, alongside food whilst visiting the islands. With the occasional beach snap just for good measure.
Here are some of my favourite dishes served on MSC Divina. These include: waffles, scrambled eggs and bacon for breakfast, spaghetti cabonara, chicken and ribs, smoked salmon and bagels.

Food MSC Divina

Food MSC Divina

Food MSC Divina

Of course, the whole idea of cruises is to visit different places during one holiday and on this cruise, wake up in a different place every day. I had to go traditional when in Jamaica and when I visited the popular fast food chain Island Grill ordered jerk chicken, rice and peas, fried festival and salad. A trip to the Grand Cayman, I decided to continue with somewhat of a traditional theme ordering jerk chicken wraps instead of the burgers that were on offer. 
Jerk chicken

Chicken wraps

Cayman coconuts
I've held a strong view of what Mexican food is like and what better way of trying traditional Mexican fare by ordering a Mexican platter in Mexico. My Mexican platter consisted of steak, chicken, fish, tortillas, guacamole and a spicy habernero sauce on the side.
Mexican platter

The Bahamas, Great Stirup Cay was a private island and the food served on this island was provided by the catering staff on the cruise ship. I do wish there was an opportunity to sample traditional Bahamian food, but unfortunately it was not to be.
The following day, I had a culinary delight in Miami. Visited a restaurant in Little Havana to have some cappuccino to keep up my strength, followed by a trip to Buba Gump shrimp company. Anyone who has watched Forest Grump will know the history of the link between Buba Gump shrimp company and the film.

Fried chicken, mash potato and corn on the cob.

Next up St Marteen the half French and half Dutch island. I visited Big Woodside Grill, beachfront restaurant. The restaurant menu consisted lots of lobster specials which as much as I love, felt was a bit too indulgent for lunch so I chose the more familiar BBQ chicken with rice and salad.

BBQ chicken with rice
The penultimate island stop was Puerto Rico. Due to a delay in the excursion times, there was insufficient time to visit a restaurant for lunch. I did manage to quickly buy the most amazing chicken empanada for 2 dollars.

Grand Turk Coconut

Grand Turk

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Rocky Road cake

Am very pleased to share that my Rocky Road Cake was voted third in a chocolate competition by Gourmadize. Here is the link As it is one of my favourite cakes, thought i'd re-post the blog for you all to enjoy :-)

It was recently my birthday and I am another year older. I'm all for celebrating birthdays, especially my own with a delicious, over the top chocolate cake. I decided on making a three layered rocky road chocolate cake and each layer to be topped with chocolate ganache and the cake to be decorated by various chocolate and sweets. I  was in an extravagant mood so decided to add dessicated coconuts for extra texture and flavour, although this did not come through as the chocolate flavour took over.
Here is how my birthday cake turned out:
Inside my Rocky Road cake

I topped the cake with mini eggs, marshmellows, coconut and Jamaican rum truffles, the perfect chocoholic treat.

My cake complete

Slice of my cake.
The marshmellows expanded and melted during the bake which left a lovely brown coloured tint within each layer.
Cake with coconut topping.

Ingredients for cake

Mixture for Rocky Road cake
Mixture for Rocky Road cake stirred

For the Cake

240g butter
240g sugar
240g self raising flour
5 eggs
110 mascaporne
55g coco
1tsp baking powder
85g digestive biscuits
75g chocolate honeycomb balls
2 bounty bars
75g marshmellows

For the decoration
30g marshmellows
a packet of mini chocolate eggs
a packet of rum truffles
3 packets of chocolate fingers


Preheat the oven to 180c, Gas Mark 4. Oil the base of the tins with a little oil and line with grease proof paper or baking parchment.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until pale and fluffy. Add the mascarpone and stir through a little, then add half the flour and beat well for a couple of minutes until well combined. Fold in the marshmallows, maltesers, crushed biscuits and chocolate chips. If the mixture looks a little stiff, add the milk or water and mix together.

Divide the cake mixture between the tins and bake in the oven for about 25-30 minutes, or until the cakes are cooked and spongy to the touch when pressed lightly with a finger.

Meanwhile, make the icing. Put the butter in a large bowl and beat very well, then add the icing sugar and milk and mix well. Gradually add the melted chocolate, stirring all the time, then fold in the creme fraiche until well combined. Set aside.

Once the cakes are ready, take the tins out the oven and leave to cool. When completely cool, take them out of the tins. Put a blob of the icing onto a serving plate and place the cake on top of the icing. Now spread some icing over the cake and place the other sponge on top. Spread the rest of the icing over the whole cake to cover. Scatter the extra marshmallows, malted chocolate balls and chocolate chips over the top and sides of the cake and serve.

I am sharing this fabulous cake to a number of challenges in April 2015. The first is Tea Time Treats hosted by Karen from Lavendar and Lovage and Janie from The Hedge Combers. This months theme is chocolate and as you can see my cake certainly qualifies.

Dom from Belleau Kitchen is hosting a new blogging challenge Simply Eggcellent, this is the second month of the challenge and this months theme is chocolate. My rocky road cake is a chocolicious treat for anyone.

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