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

Berries and Cream Cake 3-side

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

Berries and Cream Cake 8

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.

Berries and Cream Cake 9-side

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

Top with fresh berries to serve.

Enjoy 🙂

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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:

Raspberry Curd 6-horz

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.

Raspberry Curd 5

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.