Hazelnut Cherry Cheesecake

This is not healthy in the slightest really BUT it is deceptively easy to make! To ease up on the calories (because every little bit counts), I use fat-reduced cream cheese and ricotta, and I don’t add any more sugar. It does produce a slightly more tart cheesecake though, so if you’re after something sweet, add 1/2 cup of caster sugar to the filling.

Ingredients 

  • 250g block of cream cheese
  • 125g smooth ricotta
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp flour (can use gluten free plain flour if required)
  • 1/2 cup hazelnut spread
  • 200g chocolate biscuits (I used chocolate ripple, but substitute for whatever suits your diet)
  • 70g butter, melted
  • To decorate – cherries, chocolate lindt balls (+/- 200g chocolate with 2 tbsp cream for ganache).

Method 

  1. Preheat the oven to 180*C. To create the layered look, I used three different sized cake tins but in reality, a single 24cm springform tin will suffice! Line the base and sides of the tins with baking paper.
  2. Crush the biscuits until fine crumbs, and mix with the butter until starting to form clumps. Spread onto the base of the lined tin/s and bake until starting to firm (about 10 minutes).
  3. Use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese, ricotta, eggs, hazelnut spread and flour until well combined. Pour into the lined cake tins and bake until firm (about 20 minutes but keep and eye on them!). Return to the fridge to cool as the mixture will reduce down and become much more firm.
  4. If using ganache as part of the decoration, melt the 200g chocolate and cream in a pot over a saucepan of boiling water until melted. Allow to cool slightly. Once the cake is firm, assemble the layers with toothpicks if you’ve used different tins. Then pipe or drizzle the ganache around the edges, then decorate with cherries and lindt balls (again, use tooth picks to hold them on!).

Choc Peanut Banana Swiss Roll

I make no apologies, this is a completely indulgent, over the top version of a recipe I found in a Gourmet Traveler magazine. There is nothing remotely healthy about it, aside from the fact it does wonders for the soul!

Swiss roll cake

  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 80g cocoa powder
  • 2tbsp plain flour
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp almond milk
  • 50g dark chocolate
  • 50ml cream

Creme patissiere

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp cornflour
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Filling

  • 1 large overripe banana, mashed
  • 1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup cacao nibs

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180*C.
  2. Beat 4 egg yolks and sugar until pale and creamy, then stir in flour and cocoa.
  3. Melt the chocolate, mix with the cream and almond milk, then fold into the egg yolk mixture.
  4. Whisk 4 egg whites until soft peaks form, then slowly fold into chocolate egg yolk mixture.
  5. Spread onto baking tray and smooth the edges, and bake for 12 minutes. Once baked through, wrap the cake around a rolling pin and place in the freezer to cool for 15 minutes.
  6. To make the creme patissiere, mix the 4 egg yolks with cornflour, sugar and vanilla until combined. Heat the milk until just bubbling in a saucepan over medium heat, then add to the egg yolk mixture and whisk quickly. Return the entire mixture to the stove and continue to whisk quickly until mixture thickens, then immediately remove from heat and place in the fridge to cool.
  7. Unroll the cake. Spread with PB and banana, topped with cacao nibs and creme patissiere, then roll back into a log shape. Top with extra cocoa powder before serving.

Pimp My Platter: Easy DYI Platters to Impress

For some people, hearing the words, “oh yes, everyone can just bring a plate!” when referring to a family gathering or BBQ with friends is enough to make their palms sweaty. If you’re not a foodie fiend, it can be hard to think of what to bring in the first instance, let alone how to make it look good among the other dishes.

I usually think “challenge accepted” in these situations, which is often followed by people saying, “oh and Kat, don’t be extra this time okay?”. I never used to be good as assembling platters, but after a little practice, I believe I’ve found a way to make them effortless!

The secret? It’s about variety. Obvious, I know.

While I’m sure many of us would like to sit down and eat 1kg of watermelon or a massive wheel of brie, the idea of a platter is small amounts of everything – so keep this in mind when buying your ingredients.

To assemble the platter, start with the large ingredients on the bottom and work around the edges of you plate or tray until you have a ‘frame’ so to speak. Then add the ingredients in descending size order until you’ve covered most of the blank space. Leave the smallest stuff until last so you can plug any gaps that are left.

Fruit Platter 

For fruit platters, shop for whatever is in season and go for a mixture of fruit that is big and small. There is no shame in buying only one orange, one passion fruit etc for the sake of a fruit platter! I also like to throw on some mixed nuts for texture so long as no one has a nut allergy. Anaphylaxis at a family reunion is never a good look.

Cheese Platter

In my humble opinion, the cheese platter is the king of platters. Again, remember the variety – both in crackers, condiments and cheese. Go for small lumps of something firm (mature cheddar), something soft (gouda, Jarlsberg etc), something creamy (creameux, brie, camembert, d’afanois) and something blue (go for mild rather than pungent). If you have the space, a pate and a goat cheese help to spice things up a little.

Place the cheese down first with enough space separating them, followed by your condiments (nothing beats a good quince paste!). I then frame the cheese with a mixture of water crackers and rice crackers depending on dietary requirements, add some fruit (passionfruit, figs, anything that’s easy to pick up) and throw on a handful of nuts to finish.

Dessert Platter 

What to bring when you have literally no idea – also makes for a great present idea!

Avoid anything with the potential to go soggy. For mine I’ve used homemade pastries (puff pastry triangles baked with a piece of chocolate inside is stupidly easy and effective!), a variety of berries, nougat pieces and nut bars, as well as chocolate coated nuts. You could easily use firm brownies and add some melted chocolate pots to dip things into – but remember to use different sized dessert tidbits with different textures for maximum effect.

So there you have it, some perfectly pimped platters to impress with the best!

Banana Coconut Flan with Miso Caramel

This cake is a healthier take on the divine Impossible Pie developed by Donna Hay, a truly wonderful flan with a custard slash cake style consistency that’s made by throwing the ingredients in the blender, then dumping them in a flan tin and baking. So simple!

While my version is still not ‘perfectly healthy’ by dietitian standards, it does have the added benefits of less refined sugar than the original recipe, and of being dairy free for those who are lactose intolerant. It can also be made gluten free by omitting the miso paste, or by using a miso based on rice, quinoa or amaranth. I could potentially make it vegan if someone can figure out an appropriate substitute for the egg!

Ingredients 

  • 2 large overripe bananas
  • 3/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 50g coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup rice malt syrup
  • 1 & 1/2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 & 1/2 tbsp white miso paste
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup

Method 

  1. Preheat the oven to 160*C. Grease / line a flan tin.
  2. Chop 1 of the bananas and place in the freezer to firm. Place the rest of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
  3. Pour the mixture into the flan tin, top with the frozen banana pieces and bake until set (about 40-45 minutes). Drizzle with maple syrup and serve with coconut yogurt.