Salted caramel white chocolate cheesecake

On a recent trip to Sydney, I was lucky enough to eat a salted caramel white chocolate cheesecake with hokey pokey on the top of it. Oh. My. Gosh. I was pretty sure I could recreate the experience by combining a couple of recipes I use often, and I have had some success! The cheesecake is based on Chelsea Winter’s excellent White Chocolate and Berry Cheesecake. I’ve tried to take lots of pictures as I go for a change!!

Ingredients

For the base

  • 350g biscuits*
  • 75g melted butter

For the cheesecake

  • 250g cream cheese
  • 1 cup cream, whipped
  • 250g white chocolate
  • 1/3 cup cream
  • 100g white chocolate, chopped into small pieces

For the salted caramel

  • 40ml water
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

Method

Base

  • Either process the biscuits in a food processor until they resemble crumbs or put the biscuits in a double plastic bag and bash them with something heavy – I use a rolling pin.
  • Mix in the butter until all is well combined.
  • Press down firmly into a greased and lined springform tin. If I am using a bigger tin, I normally do the base just over the base of the tin, but if I am making a higher cheesecake in a smaller tin, I go up the sides with the base.
  • Put into the fridge to chill while you make the topping.

Cheesecake

  • Using an electric beater, beat the cream cheese in a large bowl until it is light and fluffy.
  • In a separate bowl, whip the cream.
  • In a third smaller bowl, combine the larger measure of chocolate and the smaller measure of cream. Met either over hot water in a pot or in the microwave. I find that in the microwave, it is best to use half power for about a minute. Take the chocolate out and stir until it is all combined and the chocolate is melted.20160325_113831
  • In small portions, add the melted chocolate to the cream cheese beating thoroughly between each batch. Doing it this way means that the chocolate doesn’t set when it hits the cold cream cheese so combines better.
  • Once all the melted chocolate has been combined, fold the whipped cream and chopped white chocolate through the cream cheese mixture.
  • Pour into the prepared base and smooth the top. Return to the fridge and chill for at least 2 hours.

Salted caramel

  • Combine sugar and water into a medium sized saucepan. Place over a medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved and the mix begins to bubble.
  • From this point, do not stir the sugar and water mix. If it looks like it needs to be mixed, then swirl the mix in the pot.
  • Allow the mix to simmer away fr about 8-10 minutes (keep an eye on it!). Eventually, it will begin turning a honey colour, then caramel.
  • At the point it is caramel in colour, add the cream to the pan. It will bubble up, and the sugar and water will set somewhat. Keep stirring over heat until the sugar and water have combined with the cream and there are no lumps. Turn off the heat and add the salt. Allow to cool.
  • Just before serving, carefully remove the cheesecake from the tin and place onto a platter. Pour the salted caramel over the top of the cheesecake, serve and eat.

Notes:

  • the biscuits I use for this cheesecake are the Leda gluten-free chocolate chip biscuits. If I am making the berry version, I also add 1/4 cup of cocoa to the base, but for the salted caramel version,  I think it is nicer without the extra chocolate.

Gluten-free scones – an updated recipe

Lemonade scones 1.jpgThe quest for the perfect gluten-free scone is a long and arduous one, involving many failed attempts, chewy, rock-like, “shiny on my teeth texture”, very average recipes and general disappointment. Dear readers, I have endured these sacrifices for you. Well, actually, I’ve selfishly endured them for me really, because I love scones 🙂 I’ve been making lemonade scones for a while now as my standard family scones (that is to say, they are not gluten-free) and have had a couple of goes at converting this recipe to make them gluten-free, and think I have finally cracked it!

Longtime readers will know that I prefer to use flour blends appropriate to what I am making, but to be honest, I don’t do very much gluten-free baking any more. Primarily because I am the only one in my household that eats it, and one of two things happens – I throw away half or I eat it all and the ever-expanding waistline really does not need the assistance! I recently ran across the Edmonds Gluten-free self-raising flour and decided to keep a packet of that on hand for when I need just a little flour. So it was time for the experiment!

Ingredients

  • 3 cups gluten-free flour
  • 3 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder (or use self-raising flour)
  • 1 cup lemonade
  • 1 cup cream

Method

  • Preheat oven to 200 degrees C.
  • Combine flour and baking powder (or use just self-raising flour).
  • Add cream, then lemonade and mix quickly with a bread and butter knife until combined.
  • Knead very briefly to collect up any loose flour. Note that the mixture is very sticky, and this is how it should be.
  • Press or roll out onto a floured board to about 2cm thick and cut into pieces. I often use a glass to get more even shapes. Makes about a dozen good-sized scones.
  • Cook for about 15-20 minutes until scones are golden. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool a little before serving.
  • Serve with jam and cream for a nice Devonshire tea, or cheese and chutney, or just eat with butter.

Some things to note:

  • I’ve made these very successfully using soda water if I wanted them to be savoury. I also normally use diet lemonade.
  • These are extremely nice with sultanas. If I’m doing sultana scones, I normally add 1 tsp of vanilla essence and 1 tsp of cinnamon.
  • I have made them into pinwheel type scones, but the mix does not roll up very well, so tend to just add lots of cinnamon to the mix for a nice cinnamon scone.
  • The recipe halves well – 1.5 cups of flour, .5 cup of cream, .5 cup lemonade – but sometimes is extra wet and sticky so you may need a little more flour.
  • I tried making mini scones for an afternoon tea, but this recipe really doesn’t lend itself to bite-sized scones.
Lemonade scones

Apparently I had used up all my cream making the scones themselves. Top – butter and jam. Bottom – cheese and chutney.

Go forth and enjoy! The scones are best eaten the day they’re made (but that’s true of the gluten-containing lemonade scones as well) but are OK the next day if warmed up.

The gluten-free conversion process

One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about being gluten-free is converting recipes. It’s good fun! Healthy Food Guide give me a recipe each quarter to convert, and I thought it might be of interest to you all to know how I go about doing that!

Step 1

The first thing I do is make the original recipe. My kids love that part! The reason I do that is so I can get a feel for the texture of the mix – the liquidity and the feel of it as I combine the ingredients. Then I bake them to get an idea of how they should look cooked.  I’m lucky enough that because I am only gluten intolerant, I can then have a bite or two to check the cooked texture and taste. I think if you cannot have any gluten at all, perhaps you could ask a  friend or family member to be your guinea pig.

To the left, the original recipe. To the right, the forst version of the gluten-free bikkies. Ignore the chocolate chip cookies as they weren't gluten-free at all, the kids just wanted to bake as well!

To the left, the original recipe. To the right, the first version of the gluten-free bikkies. Ignore the chocolate chip cookies as they weren’t gluten-free at all, the kids just wanted to bake as well!

Step 2

Look at the recipe and decide what substitutions I can make. Obviously flour for flour is the first thing. The type of flour I choose depends on the type of recipe I am making. If I am trying out bread or scones, I might use a flour better for bread; if I am baking cupcakes or a cake, I may use a lighter blend. I have used store bought gluten-free flour mixes  with some success when I am converting recipes, but I find if I can pick the correct flour type, the recipes convert more easily. Brown rice flour seems to bind better than any other single type of flour, but does have a distinctive smell and taste.

There are some tricks I always add – I use xanthan or guar gum as a binder. I often add psyllium to give more sponginess and a more aerated texture.

Oats are a tricky one, because in other countries they are not considered to contain enough gluten to be bad for those of us who can’t tolerate it. So you can use an imported oats like Bob’s Red Mill, or just take the risk and use oats. Good substitutes for oats are quinoa flakes – these have the right texture and good taste, and are very high in fibre and calcium. However, they are also very expensive and sometimes hard to find (our local New World had them, and you can find them at various of the online and organics shops). Another option here is rice flakes, but these have a different texture, and unless you soak them in a little milk or water, are crunchy.

I often consider adding more flavouring. If you are using a good flour mix, this won’t be necessary, but some of the flour mixes have a strong taste to them and a spice is a great way to overcome this. Vanilla and cinnamon often go very well in baking.

Because I am egg yolk intolerant, I will often make the recipe gluten-free first with eggs, then try it again with an egg substitute to see if I can get the texture, taste, lightness or otherwise correct, or I just try using an egg white, which sometimes gives the best results.

For rising, I will normally use a mix of baking powder and baking soda. I find that the gluten-free flours are heavier and this does a good job of lightening the mix a little.

So I jot down all these notes on the recipe and then…

Step 3

Have a go!I’ve had some utter disasters, but what normally happens is that the first conversion isn’t quite right. So I adjust and try again. Sometimes, it works fine, but I decide I want to try and inject some more fibre by using chia seeds as an egg replacer, rather than the commercial egg replacer or egg white. Or I think more spice is required, or more flavour. Or the texture isn’t quite there.

Sometimes it will take two, three or more goes to get it right, but I’ve managed to convert almost everything I’ve tried. The next step is then to adapt and change, which lead to the ANZAC biscuit recipe becoming an ANZAC slice. Which I must say, we all ate too much of!Anzac slice

ANZAC slice pieces

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup rice flakes OR 1 cup quinoa flakes
  • 1 cup gluten-free flour (brown rice flour works well, or a gluten-free flour mix)
  • 1 cup coconut
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • 4 tbsp golden syrup
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp LSA (optional)
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds  or 1 egg or equivalent 1 egg replacer
  • ¼ cup milk (cow, rice, soy or almond) or water
  • 1/2 cup currants or cranberries

 

Method

  • Turn oven to 160 degrees C. Grease a sponge roll tin and line with greaseproof paper.
  • Mix the chia seeds and milk in a small bowl and set aside for about 15 minutes stirring occasionally.
  • Place all the dry ingredients, EXCEPT the baking soda into a bowl and mix well.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the chia seeds mix, golden syrup, oil and baking soda. Whisk well until thoroughly combined and the mix has a thick and caramel-like consistency.
  • Add to the dry ingredients and mix well.
  • Press into the tin to the edges.
  • Bake until golden coloured all over. Allow to cool in the tin, and ice with lemon icing

Note the difference between using the rice flakes or the quinoa flakes is that the rice flakes make for a crunchier biscuit. The quinoa flakes have a similar consistency to a normal ANZAC biscuit.

You may need to use a little extra flour if the mixture appears too wet, or if you are using rice flakes, which don’t soak up the oil like the quinoa flakes do. No more than half a cup of additional flour should be required.

Soft fish tacos

I have a new favourite summer dinner which is quick and easy and extraordinarily tasty! And it’s all due to two new products I’ve found. The first, I sampled at the Gluten-free Food and Allergy Show this year and it was the Sealord Gluten-free Crumbed Fish Fillets. At the time, couldn’t think of any way I would use them. Then I came across Gerry’s Go No Gluten Wraps at a reasonable price, and EUREKA! A yummy new dinner, and what’s more, it’s one the whole family can enjoy, although for them, they just eat the regular fish and wraps.

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Ingredients

  • Sealord Gluten-free Crumbed Fish Fillets (1 for each wrap)
  • Gerry’s Go No Gluten Wraps
  • Lettuce
  • Guacamole or avocado
  • Sour cream
  • Sweet chilli sauce
  • Salsa cruda (recipe below)
  • Grated cheese (optional)
  • Chopped tomato (optional)

Method

  • Prepare the salsa and guacamole a little before you are ready to serve the dinner.
  • Cook the fish according to the directions – about 25 minutes in a hot oven.
  • Heat the wraps in a cast iron frypan just before serving.
  • Either assemble the tacos before serving, or let everyone assemble their own with the ingredients that they want.

And this is the result:

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The fish is tasty and the crumb is light. The wraps are very nice, and I found that they stayed nice and fresh in the fridge for a week or so after opening the packet. They are best warmed through, either in a cast iron frypan or microwave or oven. Best of all, they’re readily available at my local Pak n Save!

Salsa Cruda

Ingredients

  • Half a red capsicum, finely chopped
  • Half a green or yellow capsicum, finely chopped
  • Half a red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • Half a tomato, finely chopped
  • Half a cup of fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Combine all in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until it is time to serve. Excellent in tacos, fajitas, with salad and even with eggs as a huevos rancheros.

Falafels – gluten-free

We were recently invited to a Middle Eastern themed dinner party and I decided to take falafels. I wandered into the supermarket looking for the wet mix you can often find in the fridges which makes up to a nice mix. However, there were none that were gluten-free! Insanely, I decided I could just make it up! Luckily, they turned out beautifully, and I have made them since for the family. Here’s my no-fail recipe!

Ingredients

  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 can lentils, yellow peas or mixed beans
  • 1/2 bunch fresh coriander (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 egg white
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • A little oil
  • Liquid from chick pea can
  • More oil for frying

1/2 cup gluten-free flour

Method

Drain the chickpeas and lentils, reserving the liquids from the chickpeas.
Combine chickpeas, lentils, coriander, parsley and spices in a blender and process until mushed using a little of the reserved liquid.
In a bowl, combine the chickpea mix with the remainder of the ingredients.  Mix up until you have a stiff mix which can be shaped into balls.
Flatten dessertspoon sized balls into small patties, and shallow fry until golden brown on each side.

Serve with yoghurt and sweet chilli sauce for a starter or snack. For a full meal, serve either with rice and salad, sweet chilli sauce and yoghurt, or with salad and wraps.

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The chickpea batter. The more coriander and parsley you put in, the greener it will be!

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I meant to take photos of the platter of falafels. Unfortunately we ate them all too quickly. This is the last remaining one which I managed to photograph just before it, too was eaten!

If it LOOKS like a pie and TASTES like a pie, is it a pie?

What do you think? Check out our dinner from the other night!!

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That’s gluten-free pastry people, and it tasted pretty darn fine! I made the pastry using this recipe that I blogged about a while ago. I didn’t put any cumin into the pastry, just kept it plain as it was a mince pie. Yum. I’m having it re-heated for lunch today.

I admit, my decorative ability is sadly lacking, but you get the idea!