Berries and Cream Cake

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Fair warning: Ode to friendship ahead. Things are about to get mushy. Maybe even teary. There’s no sayin’. You have been warned.

Bombs away.

This little cake here was born last week, to celebrate the birthday of one very special person. 25 years of shared summer adventures, cups of tea, hikes into unsuspectedly nudist corners of the countryside, vicious games of Clue and Hotel, fried eggs, French fries, mosquitoes, sunburns, swimming pools, and cheese (in no particular order).

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but my first memory is all of 20 years old, of wee Annie on her bike with little side wheels and a helmet, all curls and freckles. The nineties were a glorious riot of adventures, imagination, sleepovers and berry picking.

The latter was probably among the best things summer had to offer. After two months of running endlessly wild and free in the forest and continuously soaking up sun and water and laughter in the pool, September brought a bounty of blackberries, tumbling into our purple-stained little hands like so many little jewels.

It was utterly pure, unconfined bliss.

Those golden days shaped a friendship that has withstood the harshest tests of time. The blackberry brambles have dwindled, the unexplored paths in the woods left for the next generation of adventurers to discover – but to me, we remain unchanged. Eternally eight years old, conquering the world together. Some things never fade. Some memories are forever young. An inspiration, then and now, an unerring, unfaltering source of courage and solace.

There are no words. Years upon years of endless conversation, deep into the night, and now there are no words that will suffice.

Let’s leave it at thank you.

To summer, and friendship. They’re all your really need in life.

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Berries & Cream Cake

Servings: well, I could eat it alone, but let’s say 8

Prep time: 25 minutes, plus overnight cooling

You will need:

  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup berry preserves
  • 2 1/2 cup blackberries, when in season, or raspberries or blueberries, when not
  • 230 gr, or 8oz, Neufchâtel cheese
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup cream
  • slices of pound cake, enough to cover the base of your cake pan twice over

Berries & Cream Cake 1

Combine the 1/3 cup of water, honey and lemon zest in a small sauce pan. Heat while stirring to dissolve honey, then set aside to cool. Add lemon juice.

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Combine the 1/4 cup of water, preserves and berries in another sauce pan. Cook over medium low heat until it begins to thicken. Set aside to cool.

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Beat the cheese and sugar together.

Berries & Cream Cake 2

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Beat the cream until until stiff peak form, the gently fold into the cheese mixture.

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Cover the bottom of your cake pan with a single layer of pound cake, cutting up piece where necessary. Sprinkle half the lemon-honey mixture onto the cake. Top with half the berry mixture, then cover with half the cream mixture. Repeat.

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Refrigerate over night (cover with plastic wrap to avoid cracks… I didn’t 😦 ).

Top with fresh berries to serve.

Enjoy 🙂

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A cheese-laden birthday feast!

Happy birthday to us!

We’ve been cheesing it for a year now, and we have been celebrating.

With cheese.

Of course.

So today we bring to you not one, not two, not three, but four recipes to put together an entire scrumptious meal orbiting around cheese.

We begin with an appetiser, featuring Feta cheese and ground walnuts, which technically make these little taste-bomb healthy. Almost. Be that as it may, these were absolutely, totally, like, awesome.

Our first course starred creamy pasta with Ricotta, paired with the freshness of lemon. The sheer simplicity of this dish belies the wonderful taste, which manages to transport you straight back into summer.

We chose chicken for our main course, and of course Parmesan, which simply had to make the cut. Dried tomatoes and basil rounded up this lovely, comforting one-skillet dish. We do, however, apologise for the pictures, but this was so good we literally forgot to take any more… You’ll just have to trust us on this one. Have we ever led you astray? 🙂

And last, but indeed not least, you cannot have a birthday without a cake. A cheesecake, of course. Scroll down and find out more about this little crowning jewel of today’s feast…

How can you say no?

Walnut Feta Cookies

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Servings: about 40 cookies

Prep time: 20 minutes

You will need:

  • 40 g ground or chopped walnuts
  • 120 g, or 1/2 cup flour
  • 120 g butter
  • 120 g feta cheese
  • salt and pepper

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Let’s start out with the walnut. If you couldn’t find them ground, you can use a pestle and mortar to do the job. (We did 🙂 )

Walnut Feta Cookies 1

In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients until you obtain a homogeneous dough, then roll it out to a thickness of roughly 1,5 cm.

Walnut Feta Cookies 2

Cut them out in any desired shape. We used a round cutter, but any shape will do, really.

Walnut Feta Cookies 3

Place on a greased or lined cookie sheet. Leave a little space between them, but not much is needed, since they really don’t grow at all. You can brush them them with a slightly beaten egg, or even milk, at this point, but this really isn’t necessary.

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Place in a low oven and bake for about 10 minutes, or until light golden.

Raspberry White Chocolate Cheesecake 5

Lemon Ricotta Pasta

Lemon Ricotta Pasta 5

Servings: 4

Prep time: 10 minutes (seriously)

You will need:

  • 350gr short pasta
  • 200gr fresh Ricotta cheese
  • the zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons dried, or 10 leaves fresh basil
  • grated Parmesan cheese, to garnish

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Cook the pasta as per package instructions.

Lemon Ricotta Pasta

Reserve two cups of pasta water before draining.

Meanwhile, beat together the cheese, lemon zest and basil until thoroughly combined.

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Thin out with pasta water until fairly liquid, but still creamy. Return the drained pasta to the pot and mix in the Ricotta mixture.

Serve garnished with Parmesan and a few basil leaves.

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Creamy Parmesan Basil Chicken

Creamy Parmesan Basil Chicken 2

Servings: 4

Prep time: 30 mintues

You will need:

  • 4 large chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 bread crumbs
  • olive oil to cook the chicken
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1/3 cup minced dried tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, or 2 teaspoons dried
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat a large skillet on low heat with the olive oil. Salt and pepper both side of the chicken breasts. Dip in the milk, then coat with bread crumbs and place in the pan. Cook for about 5 to 8 minutes on each side, or until cooked through (times may vary here depending on the thickness of the breast).

Creamy Basil Parmesan Chicken 1

Remove from the pan, and add the broth to the same pan. When it boils, stir in cream and tomatoes and give it a good stir. Add the remaining ingredients and give it a few minutes to cook through.

Return the chicken to the pan.

Eat up. 🙂

Raspberry White Chocolate Cheesecake

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Servings: 8

Prep time: 30 minutes, plus 50 minutes baking time, plus 2 hours chilling

You will need:

For the cheesecake:

  • 1 cup shortbread cookies, crumbled
  • 3 tablespoons ground almonds
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 4 tablespoons cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate, cut into squares and melted
  • 2/3 cup sugar (optional; I didn’t think it was necessary)
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 3 eggs

For the raspberry sauce:

  • 1 1/4 cup raspberry jam
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries

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Combine the crushed cookies with the ground almonds.

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Mix in the melted butter until it forms a crumbly paste. Press into the bottom of a greased pan.

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Combine the cream cheese with the melted chocolate.

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Add the sour cream, sugar and eggs. Pour on top of the cookie crust.

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Bake on medium high for 30 to 45 minutes or until golden brown and centre is still slightly wobbly, but set. It will firm up as it cools.

Raspberry White Chocolate Cheesecake 1

Place in the fridge to cool for at least 2 hours, ideally overnight.

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Meanwhile, place the raspberry jam in a small sauce pan over medium heat until it melts down. Add the raspberries and bring to a simmer. Cover and chill until serving time.

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Spoon the raspberry sauce over the cheesecake slices as you serve.

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Enjoy! 🙂

Cheesecake Chocolate Mousse

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It’s hot outside. And about time, too. This summer has put quite a few autumns to shame. I was counting on a tan, darn you. Instead, I’m still glowing in the dark. That, and I’m writing this post to the melodious, incessant, ever so slightly strident meowing of five baby kittens whom I plucked from the rain a week ago.

You can now proceed to call me momma cat. Like, of the year.

Allow me to illustrate:

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Don’t look at me that way. It was raining, it was cold, they were three weeks old and were giving me some serious puppy eyes. Or kitty eyes, as it were. And the real momma cat was not doing a very good job of it.

And it was raining.

But now it’s hot.

And they know it.

And they complain.

Profusely.

Ceaselessly.

That is how this recipe happened. I have one free hand only, as the other one is occupied keeping tiny, mischievous little fur balls out of trouble. Also, sweltering heat, and thus no appetite for anything cake-y or muffin-y or suchlike.

So mousse it is.

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One-handed Cheesecake Chocolate Mousse

Servings: 4

Prep time: 10 minutes, plus 4 hours chilling time

You will need:

For the chocolate mousse layer:

  • 5oz, or 140 gr semi-sweet chocolate
  • 2 2/1 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee
  • 1/2 cup, or 125ml, whipping cream

For the cheesecake layer:

  • 200 gr cream cheese, softened
  • about 1/4 cup, or 70 ml, sweetened condensed milk

Let’s start with the chocolate mousse layer. Roughly chop up the chocolate and place it in a microwave-safe bowl.

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Simply dollop the butter and sprinkle the coffee on top. Microwave on high in 30 second intervals, stirring in between. Repeat as often as needed until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth.

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Once the chocolate has cooled to room temperature, beat the cream until stiff peaks form.

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Gently fold it into the chocolate.

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Spoon into your cups or glasses of choice.

If you want to achieve the fancy-schmanzy tilted effect I attempted but failed at, due to kitty interferences, incline your glasses at the desired angle before spooning in the mousse, then find a place in the fridge where they will stay that way.

Chill for about 2 hours.

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Meanwhile, prepare the cheesecake layer. Place the cream cheese in a bowl and beat until fluffy. Continue beating while you add the sweetened condensed milk; or, if holding a winding kitty in the other hand, just pour it all in at once and whip until well incorporated.

Pour on top of the chocolate mousse and chill for another 2 hours.

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When in a pinch, you can also set the mousse in the freezer, although the texture will be a bit different. The mousse will have set to a firm consistency after 15 minutes, while the cheesecake layer will resist setting in a hurry and remain quite liquid, sauce-like, even. You can sell it as Chocolate Mousse with Cheesecake Sauce and call it a day. My folks bought it 😉

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Enjoy!

Clara

Chocolate Raspberry Mascarpone Pie

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Please believe me when I say I was not going to make this pie. Especially after the Cheesecake Bite Overload Going Straight To Hell Debacle I posted two weeks ago. If the cheesecake bites guaranteed you VIP treatment in the underworld, this here is the shortcut. Actually, this will probably guarantee you VIP treatment most anywhere you take it.

I really shouldn’t have made this.

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But I honestly couldn’t help it. I had a rebellion on my hands. All my sweet recipes so far have starred cream cheese as the leading part (see Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake BitesCream Cheese Pancakes, Carrot Cake, and of course, the infamous Bites). Annie branched out with her Cottage Cheese and Strawberry Creation, but alas, I did not.

Anger was brewing in the cheese drawer in my fridge. There was talk of mutiny. They were getting organized. I swear I heard one of them yell, “Charge!”

So you see, I could not allow my cheeses to start attacking one another. I need happy cheeses that will pliantly meld into my kitchen experiments. I need them to feel safe and content and buoyant. That, and Lady Cream Cheese was getting cocky. That kind of fame would go to anyone’s head.

So today I present to you a new player on this blog. No, not the cream cheese understudy. This is a whole new rising star on the horizon of my shopping list, which already includes a ridiculous amount of cheeses. She has an Italian temperament, yet oozes a smooth grace and a suave demeanor few other cheeses can put forth.

Without further ado, I give you: Mascarpone.

She is very pleased to meet you. Yes, indeed, she is sitting right next to me, nodding encouragingly and smiling diplomatically, in a distinctly let-them-eat-cake kind of attitude.

I really need to stop talking to my cheeses.

Let us eat cake.

Or, what’s more: Let us eat pie.

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Chocolate Raspberry Macarpone Pie

 Adapted from the lovely blog Pass the Sushi

Serves: 8 to 12, depending on the size of your sweet tooth

Prep time: about 1 hour, plus at least 3 hours refrigerating time

You will need:

  • 1 recipe for my all-purpose lazy-girl Pie Crust (check it out in the Quiche I used it for last)
  • 175gr, or 6 oz bittersweet chocolate, plus a bit more to grate
  • 500gr, or 18oz Mascarpone cheese
  • 125gr, or 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 250gr, or 1 cup whipping cream
  • 500gr, or 2 cups fresh raspberries
  • 80 gr, or 1/3 cup raspberry jam
  • optional: 30ml, or 2 tablespoons raspberry liqueur

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Let’s get the show on the road.

Chocolate Raspberry Mascarpone Pie 1

Preheat your oven to high. Prepare the crust and place it into a pie plate. Remember to prick the crust with a fork, or you’ll end up with a crust-balloon, which is certainly a conversation piece, but no really what we are going for here.

Chocolate Raspberry Mascarpone Pie 2

Cover with a double layer of aluminium foil and bake for about 8 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 8 minutes, until Mr. Golden Brown arrives.

Chocolate Raspberry Mascarpone Pie 3

Roughly chop up your chocolate and place it in a large saucepan along with the mascarpone and the powdered sugar. (Trust me when I say large. The first time around making this pie I thought, yeah, whatever, small will work to. It didn’t.) Cook over medium heat, stirring steadily, until nicely melted and smooth.

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Turn off the heat and stir in the raspberry liqueur, if you are using any. I don’t, because I never feel like buying a whole bottle of raspberry liqueur for just the 2 tablespoon-fulls. It will taste just grand either way.

Now comes the hard part. You need to allow this to cool to room temperature. You need to put that spoon away and stop “tasting” every other minute. You know it still tastes good.

Self-control is such a hard-acquired ability. I never really got the hang of it.

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Once your mascarpone-chocolate batter is nice and cool, beat the cream until soft peaks form. Carefully fold half the whipped cream into the batter, then add the remaining cream and fold in gently until completely incorporated.

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Cover the pie dish and refrigerate for at least 3 hours until set.

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Finally, place the jam in a medium saucepan over low heat until melted.

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Remove from heat, cool for a bit, then stir in the fresh raspberries so they are nicely coated.

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Cover the top of the pie with the raspberries, then top with some grated chocolate to give it the finishing touch.

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Now, enjoy!

Clara

Cottage cheese, strawberries and spring

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Ara que ha arribat l’abril ja podem dir oficialment que som a la primavera. Sí, ja ho sé, tècnicament la primavera arriba al març, però sempre he pensat que quan realment tens una plena sensació de primavera, és a l’abril.

És un mes fantàstic! Hi ha Setmana Santa, que després d’un segon trimestre sense gaires festius és molt benvinguda, i també hi ha Sant Jordi, que és el dia màgic, romàntic i primaveral per excel·lència. Em direu que el maig també és primavera, sí, però quan arribes al maig ja comences a tenir més acumulació de feina, perquè llavors el curs s’està acabant i ja pots ensumar de ben a prop els exàmens que vindran amb el juny, així que podríem dir que el maig forma part d’aquella part de la primavera que et passes patint per la feinada que tens abans que s’acabin les classes. Del juny ja ni en parlem, i  llavors quan acabes els exàmens normalment ja ets a l’estiu, que això ja forma part d’una altra història. Per tant, si comptem que el març és encara un mes molt hivernal, que el maig és estressant i que el juny ens el passem tancats a casa estudiant, arribem a la conclusió que l’únic mes on realment podem gaudir de la primavera és a l’abril. O sigui ara.

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I què ens ve al cap quan pensem en primavera? Indiscutiblement: maduixes. I si la Clara ja ens feia un primer avanç del menú primaveral a finals de febrer amb la seva amanida de Brie, maduixes i ametlles, jo avui us porto les postres. Per a fer-les necessitareu bàsicament dos ingredients: maduixes, evidentment, i mató. Sembla molt senzill, però si ho voleu fer bé, heu de seguir dos passos: en primer lloc, aneu al mercat i compreu unes maduixes del Maresme. El plat es pot fer amb qualsevol maduixa o maduixot de supermercat, però el resultat només serà perfecte si les maduixes són perfectes. Després, poseu-vos les botes i aprofiteu el magnífic dia assolellat i primaveral que farà per pujar d’excursió a Montserrat a comprar un bon mató. (de fet també s’hi pot pujar amb cotxe, però el mató és infinitament més bo quan el vas a comprar a peu) (de passada, quan aneu a Montserrat compreu coca, és potser la millor coca de la història) (i sí, també és molt més bona si hi aneu caminant). Quan arribeu a casa, uns quants minuts a la cuina i us podreu menjar la primavera a cullerades!

strawberry-cottage cheese

Strawberry Cottage Cheese Cups

Servings: 4

Prep time: 20 min

You will need:

  • 350g cottage cheese
  • 350g strawberries
  • about 4 tsp honey
  • 4 tsp walnuts, chopped

Blend the cottage cheese and the honey in a bowl using a fork, until you have a homogeneous mixture. Now taste it before going ahead: some cottage cheeses are more acid than others, and it might not be sweet enough with only 4 tsp of honey. I’d say just add honey to taste, until the desired sweeteness.

Wash and crush the strawberries until you have a nice red purée. Some sugar or honey can be added if the strawberries are too acid. Once again, it’s a matter of taste (I personally like the combination of the sweeteness of the cheese with the acidity of the strawberries, but it’s your choice).

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With the strawberry sauce and the cheese-honey mixture all done and ready, it’s time to assemble the cup. Place some walnuts at the bottom of a cup, or, in fact, any kind of artsy glass you may happen to have. Layer the cottage cheese over the walnuts, and last but not least pour some strawberry sauce on top. If you feel springish-ly (is that even a word?) creative today, go ahead and decorate it with some beautifuly fresh strawberries or a leaf of mint. Or go crazy and do both.

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Enjoy!

Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Bites, and happy St. Valentine’s!

It’s St. Valentine’s Day! And we from May the Cheese Be With You are celebrating! With chocolate. And cheese.

Duh.

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Let me tell you about my love-hate relationship with chocolate. Chocolate and I, we go way back, and our relationship is worthy of study. Freud would be dancing a little jig (please take a second to picture this in your mind). He’d be fascinated. Probably even confused. Possibly flummoxed. To me, chocolate is like that friend whom you get along with just swell, and who will then stab you – nay, hit you with a pickaxe – in the back for no apparent reason whatsoever. You’ll be having a jolly ol’ time, and then suddenly they’ll turn into a man-eating, raging koala. (Don’t ask me why I said koala just now – my mind works in mysterious ways.)

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So, chocolate. I love chocolate. I adore chocolate. Chocolate has all the knowledge. I will form a cult around chocolate, shave my head and keep a small chocolate altar with fresh flowers. But chocolate is a vengeful deity.  Short of human sacrifice, which is frowned upon in most modern societies, there really is nothing I can do to appease it. The wrath of chocolate expresses itself through knee-buckling migraines that will knock me out for hours at a time. But here is the snag: This only happens every so often. So my eating chocolate is basically like poking a sleeping dragon in the eye. A chocolate dragon, of course. Rash, stupid, and exhilarating – for who would not wish to see a dragon dancing its anger on the wind of morning?

Damn you, chocolate, you sexy beast! Damn you to hell.

To showcase the confounding, contradictory beauty that is chocolate, I give you: The Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Bites. And I’m throwing in my raspberry curd recipe for free.

You know you love me.

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Chocolate Cheesecake Bites with Raspberry Curd

The cheesecake is originally from Love and Olive Oil, who makes the most awesome of recipes.

Servings: 24 cheesecake bites

Prep time: about 1 1/2 – 2 hours, plus 6 hours refrigerating

You will need:

For the cheesecake

  • 1 1/2 cups (aprox. 350gr) vanilla wafers, crumbled
  • 6 tablespoons (90gr) + 1/4 cup (aprox. 60gr) butter, melted
  • 6 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 6 tablespoons + 1/2 cup (125gr) unsweetened cocoa powder (separated)
  • 8oz, or 250gr cream cheese
  • 14 oz, or 400gr sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 500gr semi sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup (250ml) whipping cream

For the curd

  • 1 1/2 cups (300gr) fresh raspberries
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 egg yolks

To begin with, preheat your oven to medium-high, and paper-line a muffin tin.

Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Bites

Combine the vanilla wafer crumbs with the powdered sugar and the first 6 tablespoons of cocoa powder. Now add the 6 tablespoons melted butter, and mash it up. Press about 1 1/2 teaspoons of this into each cup, making sure it covers the bottom well.

Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Bites 3 Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Bites 4

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Now turn to the left over 1/2 cup cocoa powder and 1/4 melted butter, and mix those. Beat in the cream cheese until fully combined, then add the sweetened condensed milk. Add in the eggs, one at a time.

If sugar-overdose had a face, this is what it would look like. Sheer beauty.

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Spoon the (very liquid!) batter into the muffin cups and bake for about 20 minutes, or until nice and set. The tops will be all puffy, but they will collapse as it cools.

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Meanwhile, place your chocolate in a bowl and pour the cream over it. Heat in the microwave on high for 30 seconds, remove, stir well, heat another 30 seconds, remove, stir. You get the picture. Repeat until you get the smooth consistency which can only be described as chocolatey. I could spoon this stuff straight out of the bowl.

OK, I did spoon this straight out of the bowl.

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Spread over cooled cheesecake and allow to harden while you turn your attention elsewhere.

Namely, here:

Raspberry Curd

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Press your lovely, precious raspberries through a fine mesh strainer until they look like this:

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They should yield about 1 cup of juice. Beat together the butter and sugar until creamy, then pour in the egg yolks. Add the juice last. Cook on low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, or until thickened. It will thicken more as it cools. Stir permanently, or the heat will not spread evenly and you will end up with cooked blobs of egg floating around in your curd. Which, in case you were wondering, is not what we are going for.

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Allow to cool completely.

Spoon 1 or 2 teaspoons of this glorious stuff on your cheesecakes, and place them in the fridge for at least 6 hours, or ideally over night.

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Now devour.