Bavarian Apple Cake

It was the big family get together for my in laws on Saturday. As there are now too many for my sil's house, she hired her church halls. We ate fish and chips as there was a chippie round the corner, and each branch of the family made a dessert or two.

I bought rather a lot of apples last week, so decided to make a recipe which my lovely German dil had given me, for a Bavarian apple cake. It's nice to have a new recipe using apples, and this one is really delicious and easy to make. The cake is in layers - a cakey layer, then jam, then a cheesecake type layer, then apples and finally almonds. It does use a fair amount of sugar, 200g, so I used Bramley apples, but any tart apples would do.

Preheat oven 220C/gas8

Grease the sides of a  20cm springform cake tin, but line the bottom with foil to prevent any mixture seeping out. Dil advised this as she's had a problem with a leaking cake!

Cream 125g butter with 75g caster sugar and 1/2 tspn vanilla extract. Add 150g plain flour and mix together -it's a crumbly mixture. Press this into the bottom of your tin, using a spoon to press it down firmly. Spread this with 3 tbspn seedless raspberry jam.

In another bowl mix 225g cream cheese [like Philly] with 50g of caster sugar, an egg and 1/2 tspn vanilla extract. Pour this batter over the jam layer.

Peel. core and slice 4 medium apples, then toss with 75g caster sugar and a good tspn of cinnamon. Make sure they're well coated, then sprinkle them over the cheese layer.

Sprinkle a handful of flaked almonds over the top then put the cake tin on a baking sheet and bake for 10mins,then reduce the temperature to 200C/gas6 and bake for 35-45 mins till the cake is golden and the cheese layer has set.

An unusual apple cake; I liked the different textures of the layers and the crunchy almonds on top. Keep and eye on the cake towards the end of cooking time, and cover it with foil if it's getting too brown.


Peppermint Bark Cookies

This is something for visiting children over Christmas. but I'm sure adults would like them too!

I've made peppermint bark for several years, but recently, looking on Pinterest, I saw that you could make cookies with a bark topping. I had to try these, as I wanted to take something for my grandchildren when we visited them yesterday.

I decided to make a shortbread type dough.

Preheat oven 180C/gas4 and grease a Swiss roll tin and line with a strip of parchment paper down the middle, leaving the ends overhanging to get the cookie out of the tin.

Beat 220g butter till creamy and white, then gradually beat in 200g of caster sugar. Keep beating till it's nice and fluffy. Add 1 tspn vanilla extract and a large egg yolk and beat in. Add 240g plain flour plus a pinch of salt and slowly add to the batter till blended.

I found it easier to drop spoonfuls of this into the tin as it's a stiff mixture, then using my fingertips I pressed the dough into the tin to make a layer. Prick all over with a fork.
Bake till light golden, about 30 mins.

While base is warm and still in the tin, spread over 175g of melted dark chocolate, then top with 6 - 8 chopped up candy canes. Cool.

Melt 60g white chocolate carefully and drizzle this over the chopped candy. Chill for 30 mins till the chocolate is set.

Use the parchment paper to get the cookie out of the tin, then cut into pieces.

Not a very clear photo - sorry. Only had the one on my phone to use.

My grandchildren loved them and I put them in cellophane bags with a pretty ribbon, so they looked very festive.
They are of course, sweet, but I like the biscuit layer underneath as a contrast to the sweet topping. Will certainly make them again next year.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


Choccamocca Cheesecake

Couldn't think of a good name for this cheesecake, but as it has chocolate and coffee in it I thought this name would do. It's my normal cheesecake, but with an added something. It's a rich cheesecake, just right for an occasion, so am going to make another for Boxing Day.
 It's for those who love dark chocolate and coffee.
You need a 23cm springform tin. Preheat oven to oven 160C/gas3

Make sure that the cream cheese and eggs are at room temperature.

Put 200g of chocolate digestive biscuits in a bag and crush with a rolling pin [or use a food processor].
Add 125g plus 2 tbspns of melted butter and 1/2 tspn almond essence and mix together. Press this firmly into the bottom of the tin. Put in the fridge to set.

In a bowl mix together 140g granulated sugar and 1 tspn of espresso or any other strong coffee granules [more if you want a strong coffee flavour].

Melt 250g of 70% dark chocolate and 125g of 50% dark chocolate [or milk if you prefer] in the microwave or over simmering water.

In a mixer, or using a hand mixer, beat 4 x 250g packs of cream cheese [such as Philly] together till smooth. Carefully and slowly add the melted chocolate keeping the mixer on a low speed. Pour in the sugar mixture slowly and then 3 tbspn of double cream and mix till well blended.

Again at a low speed, add 3 large eggs, one at a time and 1 tspn vanilla extract.

Pour this batter over the crumb base in the tin and bake in the oven for about 40-50 mins.Take it out when the surface of the cheesecake looks dry, but it still has a bit of a wobble. Don't overbake it.

Leave it to cool in a warmish place and leave it there for about an hour before moving to somewhere cooler to cool completely.
When it's cool, leave it overnight in the fridge to set. Before you remove it from the tin, it's a good idea to run a thin spatula around the inside to loosen it.

You can decorate the top with some chocolate curls made using a potato peeler. I used some milk chocolate - about 100g.

As I said earlier, this is a rich cheesecake, so it will feed quite a lot of people. I like the base made with chocolate digestives instead of plain ones - it doesn't really add much more chocolate flavour, but looks quite good.


Coconut Lemon Traybake

I needed a simple recipe to use up some lemons I bought, and found many versions of this uncooked tray bake [I suppose it's not really a tray bake as it's not baked, but it's made in my Delia tray bake tin!]. I played around with several recipes till I made exactly what I wanted - a good lemony flavoured  slice with a decent amount of coconut and a lemon icing. It was perfect to make with my grandsons over the w/e.

You put 125ml of condensed milk in a pan with 125g butter and stir till the butter has melted. In a food processor or using a plastic bag and a rolling pin, break a 250g packet of Nice biscuits into crumbs and put into a bowl with 1 tspn of grated lemon zest, 1 tspn lemon extract and 85g dessicated coconut. Add the butter mixture and stir together till well mixed.
Line a baking tin 28x18cm with parchment paper and press the mixture in. Put in the fridge for about an hour.
Make the icing - 250g icing sugar, 3 tbspn lemon juice and 15g butter - beat together to make a smooth icing. When the slice is firm and cool, pour icing on top, spread evenly then sprinkle 2 tbspn dessicated coconut on top. Cut into squares when the icing has set.
Keep in fridge.

A nice treat - some crunch from the biscuits and a lovely soft filling with a good lemon flavour. Then a contrast with the sweet icing and coconut. 

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