Black Cherry Cheesecake

Black Cherry Cheesecake Topped with Kirsch Soaked Black Cherries

Black Cherry Cheesecake

There are some desserts that I just cannot resist and cheesecake is one of them. Maybe it’s because it’s something I’ve grown up eating or maybe it’s just because cheesecake is the best dessert ever.

Not only is cheesecake the best dessert ever, this cheesecake is the best black cherry cheesecake ever.   The secret is all down to some natural flavoured black cherry icing sugar from Sugar and Crumbs.

sugar and crumbs black cherryI tasted a little before mixing it into the cheesecake mixture and it had a lovely intense black cherry flavour – I could have eaten it in spoonfuls out of the pack!  Even when mixed with the cream cheese and cream there was still a very definite black cherry flavour.  It would have been hard to find black cherry flavouring so using flavoured icing sugar was a perfect way to get the taste I wanted.

The finished black cherry cheesecake was delicious, not too rich and perfect as an adult dessert, although you can omit the kirsch soaked black cherries and the extra juice if you want.

This icing sugar would be perfect to make a black cherry flavoured buttercream icing too and so I may use the rest to decorate some little cupcakes.  There’s a recipe on the pack if you’re not used to making buttercream.  The icing sugar is white but if you wanted it to look more like how it tastes, you could easily add a little food colour.  If you have a look on the Sugar and Crumbs website there are so many delicious flavours – pineapple, peach melba and pistachio are just some of the ones I am tempted by at the moment.

Sugar and Crumbs flavoured icing sugar comes in 250g or 500g resealable bags and costs from £2.99.

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Ingredients – Serves 10

8 digestive biscuits (120g approx)

75g butter

300g cream cheese

60g black cherry flavoured icing sugar

250ml double cream

Jar of black cherries in Kirsch or something similar (optional)

How to Make Black Cherry Cheesecake

  1. Crumble the digestive biscuits between your fingers to make crumbs.  Alternatively blitz them in a food processor or put them in a food bag and bang them with a rolling pin.

  2. Melt the butter in the microwave or a small saucepan.   Pour it over the biscuit crumbs and stir till them are all coated in the butter and the mixture is clumping together.

  3. Put the crumbs into the bottom of a 20cm springform or loose bottomed cake tin.  Press them down with a spoon.

  4. In a food mixer, beat the cream cheese until light and creamy.   Beat in the icing sugar.

  5. In another bowl, whisk the cream until it stands in soft peaks.   Fold the cream into the cream cheese mixture then spoon it on top of the cheesecake base.

  6. Smooth the top and put it in the fridge to set for at least 3 hours.

  7. To serve, remove the cheesecake carefully from the tin and top with some of the cherries.   When you serve, drizzle with some of the liquid from the jar of cherries.

Disclosure: I was sent some sample packs of Sugar and Crumbs Flavoured Icing Sugar but the views here are my own.

cantaloupe frozen yoghurt 3

Cantaloupe Melon Frozen Yoghurt

cantaloupe frozen yoghurt 3

Not long ago I hadn’t used my ice cream maker in about a year.   Now I’ve made two frozen yoghurts within a month and am already planning more.   While the blackcurrant frozen yoghurt was a strong in-your-face flavour, this cantaloupe melon frozen yoghurt is a little more delicate, both in looks and taste.   Don’t let that put you off though.   Although it’s more subtle, it’s still delicious, refreshing and incredibly easy to make.   It’s also much healthier than a typical ice cream.

As melon can be quite a gentle flavour, it’s best to use a really ripe sweet melon so it has as much taste as possible.  I used cantaloupe but you could use any melon.  This recipe would also work really well with fruit like peaches and nectarines, which is another flavour I almost made instead and am wanting to try in the next few weeks.

I ate some of this as soon as it had stopped churning and put the rest in the freezer.   It freezes quite hard but if you leave it out of the freezer for a few minutes before serving, it is easy enough to scoop out.


300g melon (half a melon)

40g runny honey

250ml yoghurt (I used low fat)

How to Make Cantaloupe Melon Frozen Yoghurt

1. Blend the melon in a food processor or with a stick blender.   Mix in the yoghurt and then the honey.   You may need a little more or less depending on how sweet you want the frozen yoghurt to be.   Keep tasting and add more or less if necessary.

2. Pour into an ice cream maker and leave to churn.   Alternatively, look at the method here if you don’t have an ice cream maker.

I am linking this to The Vegetable Palette, hosted by Allotment 2 Kitchen.  This month the colour is mellow yellows and (orange).

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Banana and Chocolate Chip Bars

Just when I’m getting more tired would like to rest more before the next baby comes along, Little Miss Spice has decided that afternoon naps are no longer her thing.   She’s also become quite bossy, ‘Mummy sit down’, pointing at the floor next to her, ”Mummy read book’ and if she sees me with my apron on, she knows it means I won’t be giving her my full attention and starts pulling at it, demanding that I, ‘Take it off’.    Unless of course it means we are making biscuits together.   She’s very picky but she does love star-shaped biscuits and cereal bars.  Usually we make the biscuits together but we buy the cereal bars, I decided it was time to try and make some bars together, not quite as healthy as the ones she usually has, but I thought it would be a nice treat for her and for me.

I based the recipe on a recipe I found in Mary Berry’s Baking Bible in the Baking for Children chapter, but used different quantities of ingredients and different types of sugar and flour.   I thought they were lovely and sweet and gooey in the middle from the banana, and the few chocolate chips on the top went really well.   I would definitely make them again and make double the quantity.   If only…   If only Little Miss Spice had liked them. Well, the nearest she has got so far to trying them is licking one, although she did enjoy playing with the mixture and helping to make them.   Never mind.   I shouldn’t complain that she doesn’t want to eat something with sugar and chocolate in it.   I’m sure in a couple of years time I’ll be wishing she didn’t like sweet things like this.  Although hopefully by then she will agree to eat a few vegetables too.

I am linking these to Treat Petite, hosted by Cakeyboi and also The Baking Explorer.   The theme is baking for loved ones.  I am also linking to Family Foodies, hosted by Eat Your Veg and Bangers & Mash.   The theme is love and although my daughter didn’t really take to these, she had fun helping to make them.   Finally I am linking to Teatime Treats, hosted by Lavender and Lovage and The Hedgecombers  The theme is chocolate.

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Ingredients – Makes about 12 small bars

75g white self-raising flour

20g wholemeal flour

75g porridge oats

75g golden caster sugar

110g room-temperature butter, cubed

1 ripe banana

30g chocolate chips

How to Make Banana and Chocolate Chip Bars

  1. Put the flour, oats and sugar in a bowl and mix together.   Add the butter and rub together with your fingers until it resembles breadcrumbs.

  2. Grease and line the bottom of a loose-bottomed square baking tin (18cm).  Add about 2/3 of the mixture and press it down with your fingers.

  3. Slice the bananas and lay them on the oat mixture.   Top with the rest of the mixture and press down again.   Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top.

  4. Bake in the oven at 180C for about 25 minutes. Let them cool in the tin but run the knife through to slice them into squares while they are still warm.



Tea Time Treats

Banana Pancakes

I can’t believe it’s 3 months since I last took part in the Secret Recipe Club.  I may have missed one of my favourite activities, but the good thing is, I have a lovely house to live in now with a big kitchen, which has definitely become my favourite room in the house.   I just wish I had more time for cooking in it.

Well, this month I was paired with Judee from Gluten Free A-Z Blog.  I don’t have much experience of gluten-free cooking but I soon decided to make her delicious-looking banana pancakes.   I’ve never made pancakes without milk and flour before and I was intrigued to see what they would be like, made with just 2 ingredients, as well as being completely drawn in by the picture.  They were served with raspberries and blueberries and looked so healthy as well as delicious and I also felt they would be perfect for my picky little daughter to eat.  Unfortunately she decided they were better to play with than eat!

The pancakes were very quick to put together and cook so you could make these in about 5 minutes if you were pushed for time.   They tasted lovely and you could definitely taste the banana in the batter.   The only issue I had was that they were a bit more watery tasting and had a wetter texture than normal pancakes.   I didn’t this time, but I think that if I made them again I might serve them with chocolate rather than berries, as I somehow feel that would be the perfect combination for these little pancakes.

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Ingredients – Serves 2

1 ripe banana

2 eggs

How to Make Banana Pancakes

  1. Put the banana and eggs into a food processor and blitz until smooth.

  2. Heat a little oil in a frying pan.   Drop the mixture in a tablespoon at a time.  Cook for about 1 minute and then turn them over and cook for another minute.  Repeat until all the mixture has been used up.

  3. Serve with berries, cream, chocolate or whatever you normally like to eat with pancakes.

To see what other Secret Recipe Club participants have made, click on the link below.

Banana Bread

This month for the Secret Recipe Club I felt like making something sweet, well not too sweet, something that would be good for a snack but not too unhealthy.  After all, it is the new year and a time for making at least some effort towards a heathy lifestyle.  Banana bread of course has bananas in and so can’t be bad.  Also, it’s called bread, not cake, and so although some people (not me) might think bread is not the healthiest thing to eat, I’m sure most would agree that it is healthier than cake.  Never mind that banana bread is in fact cake and should really be called cake. That’s an argument for another day.

Anyway, this month for the Secret Recipe Club I was paired with Shelley from C Mom Cook. Shelley is a stay at home mum and loves cooking with and for her two children.  She added blueberries to this banana bread, which I’m sure were delicious.  I planned to add some chocolate chips but then decided to leave it plain and it was still very tasty.  I don’t have a very sweet tooth and I thought it was perfect.  My husband would have prefered it to be a bit sweeter. I’m sure adding the chocolate chips would have made it perfect for him.

I am also linking to Sweets for a Saturday and Sugar and Slice Sunday.

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60g butter, at room temperature

100g sugar

1 egg

1/2 tsp vanilla essence

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

130g flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp Greek yoghurt

1 banana, mashed with a fork

How to Make Banana Bread

1. Put the butter and sugar in a bowl and cream together with a wooden spoon.   Then add the egg, vanilla and yoghurt and stir until you get a smooth batter.

2. Sift the flour, salt, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into another bowl.

3. Add about a third of the flour and a third of the banana to the butter and sugar mixture.  Mix until just combined.  Then add another third and finally the last third.

4. Line a loaf tin (9″ x 5″) or cake tin with baking parchment.   Pour in the cake batter and bake in the oven for 25 minutes or longer if necessary at 180C.  My cake tin was larger than it should have been, which is why my banana bread is a bit flatter than yours will probably be.

5. Cool on a wire rack.

White Chocolate and Raspberry Tart with Cinnamon Crust

I may have mentioned before that I sometimes like to borrow recipe books from the library, especially books that I don’t actually plan to buy, but am quite interested in.  I’ve also mentioned my love of Masterchef on many many occasions.  Well, last week in the library I walked past a display stand of recipe books and having been engrossed in the current Masterchef the professionals series, I couldn’t resist picking up, Greg’s Favourite Puddings.  As I’m sure you know, Greg Wallace loves a good pudding.  As far as savoury dishes go, I think I’d probably agree with Michel Roux, but puddings, well, I’d trust Greg on those.

I did change the recipe a little.   The original called for cherries, rather than raspberries.   I also didn’t dust the top of the tart with cinnamon, but served the cinnamon alongside so if anyone wasn’t so keen on it, they wouldn’t have to have too much of it.   There is still cinnamon in the pastry,  which gives just a hint of cinnamon.  It was definitely a success as all my guests asked for seconds so I never got to find out what it would have been like cold.

I am submitting this to We Should Cocoa, an event run by Chocolate Teapot and Chocolate Log. This month it is hosted by Choclette at Chocolate Log Blog and the special ingredient is cinnamon.

I am also linking to Sweets for a Saturday and Sugar and Slice Link Party.

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Ingredients for the Pastry

175g plain flour

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

125g unsalted butter, diced

25g caster sugar

Ingredients for the Filling

2 eggs

40g caster sugar

150g white chocolate, chopped

300ml double cream

Punnet of raspberries

Ground cinnamon (optional)

How to Make White Chocolate Raspberry Tart

1. First prepare the pastry.   Sift the flour and cinnamon into a large bowl.   Add the diced butter and rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips. When the mixture is like breadcrumbs, add the sugar and then a tbsp water and bring the mixture together to form a dough.

2. Dust the work surface with flour and knead the dough briefly.   Wrap in clingfilm and put in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes.

3. Lightly oil a 23cm tart case.   Flour the work surface and roll the dough out as thinly as possible.  Put it in the tart case.   Prick the pastry with a fork, line with parchment or foil and add baking beans or something similar.   Bake in the oven for 10 minutes at 200C.   Take the baking beans out and continue baking for 5 minutes.

4. To make the filling beat the eggs and sugar together until light and a bit fluffy.   Put the cream in a saucepan and heat until it almost gets to the boil.   Put the chocolate in a large bowl and pour the cream over the top.   Stir until the chocolate has melted.   Then slowly stir in the egg and sugar mixture.

5. Put the raspberries in the pastry case and pour the chocolate mixture over the top.

6. Bake for 45 minutes at 200C.   Serve warm with cinnamon on the side to dust over the top.

Inspired by Masterchef: Marshmallows with Strawberries

When last week’s Masterchef focused on afternoon tea and pastries, I knew I was going to have to have a sweet week.   This may sound a little odd, but I’m not especially keen on marshmallows.  I don’t dislike them, but I can take them or leave them.   I don’t quite understand why some people love them in hot chocolate with lots of cream.   Yes, they look good, but they don’t really add anything that chocolate isn’t delicious enough to provide by itself.  Anyway, there was something about the marshmallows Andrew made that really made me want to try them.  They looked lovely and soft and pillowy, but had a raspberry hidden inside.   I would have used raspberries with these but the local shop didn’t have any, and strawberries were the closest I could get.   I also gave up on the idea of enclosing the strawberries inside the marshmallow as they looked so pretty  on top and would have been absolutely huge if I’d added another spoonful of marshmallow.    Well, to be honest,  the mixture left in the bowl was beginning to set anyway and would probably have just looked a mess if I’d tried to use it to hide the strawberries.

I have to say, I was pretty impressed with how these turned out.   I hadn’t realised that marshmallow was so easy to make.  But, they were very sweet and I don’t have a very sweet tooth.   As marshmallow is sweet, and mainly sugar, I’m not sure if anything could be done to make them less sweet.   I suppose just don’t eat too many at once.    Invite lots of people to your home to share them with, because unfortunately they are not at their best for long.  Many of the recipes on the internet said they could be stored for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container (if you don’t add fruit), but I found they were going a little soggy around the edges beyond a couple of days and the sooner they were eaten the better.

I read quite a few recipes when deciding how to make these but the finished result is mainly adapted from a James Martin recipe.

I would like to link these to Alpha Bakes, started by  The More than Occasional Baker and Caroline Makes.  This month  the letter is M and it is hosted by Caroline.  I am also linking to Sweets for a Saturday.


230g sugar

1 tbsp golden syrup

9 sheets of gelatine

2 egg whites

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp icing sugar

2 tbsp cornflour

Strawberries (optional)

How to make Marshmallows

1. Mix the icing sugar and cornflour together.   Lightly oil a couple of small muffin tins.    Sift some of the icing sugar and cornflour over the trays.

2. Put the gelatine sheets in a small bowl and cover with 140ml of cold water.

3. Put the sugar, golden syrup and approx 100ml of water in a small saucepan with a sugar thermometer leaning against the side. Bring to the boil and leave until it reaches 127C, and then add the water and gelatine.   It will fizz up so stir it gently till the gelatine has dissolved into the sugar mixture.

4. Whisk the egg white and when it forms peaks, gradually pour in the sugar mixture.   Also add the vanilla extract. Continue to whisk for up to 10 minutes or until the mixture has thickened and holds its shape.

5. As the mixture begins to set very quickly once you finish whisking, immediately spoon the mixture into the muffin tins.  Top each mound of marshmallow with a strawberry.   Leave to set.   If you are planning to only eat some of these straightaway, don’t add strawberries to the ones you want to keep for more than a couple of days.

6. When you take the marshmallows out of the muffin tins, put them on a plate on in a tin, lined with icing sugar and cornflour.


Inspired by Masterchef: Chocolate Ravioli with Cherry Sauce

I considered whether to call these Nutella ravioli or chocolate ravioli, but as they are Inspired by Masterchef I felt chocolate fitted the title better.   After all, if I’d had a little more time I could have made a ganache first, like for my truffles, and used that instead of resorting to a bought chocolate spread.   But hey, who doesn’t like Nutella, and as there is no sugar in the dough, the sweetness of the Nutella is enough to make the whole ravioli taste sweet.   If I’d made a ganache I might have made it a little sweeter than usual.   I’d never made pasta before.   Well, I’ve made gnocchi but I don’t consider that the same as pasta, and let me tell you, making pasta by hand is hard work.   The dough is not very soft so it is hard work to knead it, and then when you roll it out, it is also quite hard work.  I wanted to make a really thin dough but I was getting fed up of rolling out the dough and so stopped when it was probably a little too thick.    And that is my only regret about this dish. The cherry sauce was delicious and went so well with the Nutella ravioli.    I was worried the ravioli might split in the water but they held together well.   Unfortunately, the pasta was a little thick and I felt they could have done with another minute in the water to make sure all the dough was cooked through.   If only I’d had stronger arms, more patience or a pasta machine, because this would definitely have let me down if I had been on Masterchef.  Despite this, I was pleased to have tried something new and really enjoyed them.   Next time, I’ll have a bit more experience and hopefully will manage to make ravioli I could imagine serving on Masterchef.

I am linking this to Spice n Sugar Tales for Cakes, Cookies and Desserts and to Sweet as Sugar Cookies for Sweets for a Saturday.

Ingredients – Makes 6

100g strong white flour

1 egg

6 tsp (or possibly more) Nutella or other chocolate spread

2 handfuls of cherries

1 tbsp icing sugar

How to make Chocolate Ravioli with Cherry Sauce

  1. Make the pasta dough.   Put the egg and flour in a food processor and blend until it forms a breadcrumb consistency.

  2. Turn this mixture out onto a clean work surface.   Use your hands to bring the mixture together into a dough and then knead until it becomes smooth and no longer floury.

  3. Wrap the dough in cling film and put in the fridge to rest for about half an hour.

  4. Take the dough out of the fridge.   Ideally use a pasta maker to roll the dough thin.   However, I don’t have one and had to use a rolling pin.   The dough is quite firm so it is hard work.   Roll it as thin as possible.

  5. Using a round pastry cutter or glass, cut the dough into circles about 5-6cm across.

  6. Put a tsp of nutella on half of the circles.  Using another circle, press the dough together all the way around so that the nutella is well sealed in the middle.

  7. Gently put the ravioli into boiling water.  They will sink to the bottom.  After they rise, continue to cook for another 2 minutes.

  8. To make the sauce, cut the cherries in half and remove the stones.   Add a little water and most of the icing sugar.   Heat gently and stir.   The cherries will go a little soft and release some juice so a syrup forms with the sugar, water and cherry juice.   If it is too dry add a little extra water.

  9. Serve the ravioli on top of the cherries and drizzle the sauce over the top.   Sprinkle with a little icing sugar too.

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Raspberry and White Chocolate Ice Cream

Since getting my new ice cream maker last week I’d been looking forward to testing it out.   All week different flavours have been running through my mind and also conflicting opinions between me and my husband.    My husband loves chocolate, toffee and caramel type flavours.  I prefer fruit flavours.   He prefers real ice cream but I like sorbets and frozen yoghurts.   In the end, I came up with a compromise of raspberry ice cream with white chocolate chips.

It was less sweet than shop-bought ice cream so you might want to add more sugar than I did.   Maybe up to twice as much depending on taste.  To save time you could also leave some whole raspberries in the mix or even not bother with getting rid of the seeds and just mash the raspberries a little before adding to the cream.  Anyway, it makes a lovely summer dessert served with a few extra raspberries.

Ingredients – Serves 4

200g raspberries

300ml single cream

1 tbsp icing sugar

1tsp vanilla essence

100g white chocolate

How to Make Raspberry and White Chocolate Ice Cream

  1. Put the raspberries in a blender and blend till smooth.

  2. Cut the chocolate up to make small chocolate chips.

  3. Put a sieve above a bowl and push the raspberry mixture through the sieve till only the seeds are left in the sieve.

  4. Add the sugar, cream and chocolate to the bowl and stir to combine.

  5. Put into an ice cream maker, following the instructions given for your machine.

Baked Figs with Brazil nuts

Recently I have picked up the fruit-baking bug – mainly apples and figs.   I’ve been happy to try any way of baking them that doesn’t take much longer to prepare than washing them.   I also have to say that cinnamon seems to go really well with any baked fruit and I have got a bit of an addition to it at the moment.  I’ve used various dried fruits, nuts and sweetners but I almost always end up with a sprinkling of cinnamon too.


Ingredients – serves 2

4 figs

2 tbsp chopped brazil nuts

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp sugar

How to make Baked Figs

1. Mix the cinnamon and sugar together.

2. Cut a cross in the top of each fig.  Pull apart a little.  Put in a baking dish.

3. Sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon mix into the middle of each fig.  Then top with chopped brazil nuts.

4. Pour a little water into the bottom of the dish so it is about 1/2 cm deep.

5. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes.  Serve with natural yoghurt or vanilla ice-cream with the juice from the dish spooned over the top.