Chocolate and ginger cheesecake

We had some friends for a few days and it was G's birthday, so I wanted to make a nice dessert instead of a cake. He loves ginger, and I had a large jar of ginger confit bought on our last French trip. This could give the cheesecake a good ginger flavour, and be the decoration on the top. I read somewhere recently that ricotta makes a good cheesecake, so decided to use half ricotta and half my usual Philly. I used digestive biscuits, but could have used something with chocolate in them.

180g biscuits
250g ricotta
250g Philadelphia cheese
200g dark chocolate
2 eggs and 1 yolk
80g caster sugar
80g candied ginger and 50g for the decoration
60g butter
Icing sugar for top

Preheat oven 150C/gas2
You need a 23cm springform tin.

Blitz the biscuits in a food processor or bash them with a rolling pin.
Melt the butter and mix with the biscuits crumbs.
Use your fingers to press it into the base of the tin, then put in the fridge.
Melt the broken up chocolate in a microwave or over simmering water.
In a bowl beat together the ricotta, Philly, sugar, eggs and yolk. Add the melted chocolate and the chopped candied ginger and stir together.
Pour into the tin and bake for about an hour.
Let the cheesecake cool, then put it in the fridge overnight or for 12 hours.
Sprinkle some icing sugar over the top then decorate with the rest of the ginger, left in pieces this time and not chopped.

It had a really good ginger flavour, and I liked the mixture of the ricotta and Philly. Maybe another time I'll try half ricotta and half fromage frais.  The cheesecake had a nice smooth texture, and then the bit of crunchy ginger. I'll make the cheesecake recipe again without the ginger, and maybe use something else which is slightly crunchy, as I really liked the added texture to the smooth filling.


Apple, pecan and apricot loaf cake

We love tea breads and loaf cakes, or anything with fruit in really. I found this recipe in my cuttings folder, and I think it originally came from 'Woman's Weekly' magazine a few years ago. I adapted it to suit our tastes, as the original recipe used prunes, apple and pecans. It also used wholemeal flour, but I'd run out, so used white. I added some cinnamon, which is always good with apples, imho, and I didn't toast the pecans, as suggested.
So here's my adapted recipe:

1 apple [about 175g - I used a granny Smith with its skin on]
175g dried apricots
175g pecans
11/2 tspns baking powder
220g plain flour
110g butter or margarine
175g light demerara sugar
2 beaten eggs
3 tbspn milk

Preheat oven 180C/gas4

Grease and bottom line a 900g loaf tin.

Add the baking powder and cinnamon to the flour and sieve into a bowl. Then add the other ingredients, except the fruit and nuts, and beat together with an electric hand mixer. If the mixture seems to thick and doesn't drop off the beaters, add a bit more milk.

Spoon into the tin and bake for about 1 hr and 15mins. I had to cover the top towards the end, as the top was browning and the middle wasn't cooked. Leave to cool in the tin.

                      This is the mixture before being stirred together - rather a lot of fruit and nuts!

It's a very moist cake, and breaks easily. I think there's too much fruit, so would use less if I made it again. It does, however, have a great flavour. The original recipe said to leave the apricots whole, but this seemed a silly idea, so I chopped them in quarters, and even then they were fairly big chunks.


Marzipan cookies

These came about because I had a sort out in my baking cupboard and found some marzipan that needed using up.
 I remembered eating some biscuits in France that had a layer of marzipan in the middle, and they were delicious, so thought I'd have a try and make something similar. I used my usual cookie recipe, rolled out the dough and added a chunk of marzipan to the circles I'd cut out. To give an extra flavour I added a few bits of broken dark chocolate before putting another circle on top and sealing them together. I piped some white chocolate over when they were cold.

I made 12 complete cookies.

150g butter
150g light brown sugar
1 egg
250g flour
100g marzipan
100g dark chocolate, broken in small pieces
100g white chocolate

Preheat oven 190C/gas5
Line a baking sheet with some parchment paper.

Beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer, then beat in the egg. Fold in the
Roll the dough out on a floured surface to 1/2 cm thick, then using a 8 cm cutter, cut out 24 circles.
Put 12 circles on the baking sheet and add a chunk of marzipan and a few pieces of dark chocolate, then cover with another circle. Press the edges together so that the filling doesn't leak out. Bake for about 12 mins, then cool on a wire rack.
Melt the white chocolate carefully and spoon into an icing bag. Pipe lines on the cold cookies.

I loved them - loved the texture and the flavours of the marzipan and chocolate. The white chocolate decoration added a bit more glamour.
A question - are they cookies or biscuits - I don't really know what the difference is?

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