Lemon Marzipan Cheesecake Slices

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IMG_20151228_230803[1] 28/12/2015

Oh wow! What a surprise these were. I made these for a festive alternative to Christmas pudding for the pud haters that unfortunately walk among us but unlike many alternatives, these slices turned out to be ridiculously tasty, zingy and rich with soft marzipan layers running through the creamy lemon filling for a Christmas vibe. You could make these at any time of year and I plan to… many times a year!

Ingredients:

  • 125g (4oz) shortcrust pastry (your favourite recipe)
  • 250g (8oz) readymade golden marzipan
  • 90g (3oz) full fat cream cheese
  • 2 medium eggs, separated
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 small lemon
  • 60g (2oz) caster sugar
  • 1 level tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • Icing sugar, for dusting

Method:

  1. Set the oven to 160°C. Roll out the pastry thinly to a square and use to line a 19cm (7½in) square shallow tin base and up the sides. Divide the marzipan in half and roll out each piece to an 18cm (7in) square.
  2. Put one piece of marzipan on the pastry in the tin. Soften the cream cheese in a bowl, beat in the egg yolks, lemon rind and juice, sugar, flour and milk.
  3. Whisk egg whites until stiff then carefully fold them into cheese mixture. Spoon half mixture over marzipan base, put other piece of marzipan on top then spoon rest of cake mixture on top. Bake for 1 hour.
  4. Cool then dust with icing sugar before cutting into slices to serve.

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These keep really well in an airtight container. You can even freeze them… or just eat them!

Peanut Butter Coconut Macaroons

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IMG_20151217_192335[1] 17/12/2015

I love coconut and I love peanut butter so why not smoosh them together into an awesome creation of tasty, sweet, chewy, nutty, rich goodness? There is no reasoning. It needs to be done.

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup plain flour
  • 5 1/2 cups sweetened desiccated coconut
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 1 (14-oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla (or 1 tsp vanilla and 1 tsp almond)
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 180C and line cookie sheets with parchment paper. This is a must!
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, coconut and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the peanut butter, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. Pour mixture over coconut and use your hands to combine.
  3. Spoon balls onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about golf ball size.
  4. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until the coconut is toasted.
  5. For the drizzle, chop the dark chocolate into a small microwave safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second increments until melted, stirring in between. Using a fork, drizzle the macaroons with the chocolate. Let chocolate set or speed it up by placing in the fridge for a couple of minutes.

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I love these served at room temperature. They are the perfect pick me up with a cup of coffee.

Frangipane Mince Pies

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image 08/12/2015

It’s Christmas time! That means mince pies and not just any mince pies…frangipane topped mince pies! I know.

I visited my best mate at the weekend and, entering into the Christmas spirit, we decided to bake a batch of these. Turns out we didn’t have a cupcake tin and no shops in Norwich sell them either so after roaming the streets and scouring all the shops for said tins we conceded and piled all the ingredients into a large cake tin and made a tart which we consumed in two nights! It was lovely and gooey from the oven and once cooled, was even better the next day. The flavours of the almond and spice really coe through when cool and the ground almonds and luxery fruit filling keep everything moist in the crisp pastry shell.

I returned home to my family the next day raving about how tasty the tart was and my mum had me baking another batch for her within minutes.

I have included the instructions for making both individual tarts and a large tart so make your decision and get baking!

Makes 18 or 1 large tart.

Ingredients:

PASTRY:

  • 175g plain flour
  • 75g butter, cut into cubes
  • 25g icing sugar
  • 1 large egg, beaten

FRANGIPANE:

  • 100g butter, softened
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 1 level tbsp plain flour
  • 1⁄2 tsp almond extract, or to taste

FILLING AND TOPPING:

  • jar of shop bought or homemade mincemeat flavoured with about 2 tbsp brandy (you won’t need it all)
  • a few flaked almonds
Method:
  1. To make the pastry, measure the flour, butter and icing sugar into a mixing bowl, then cut with a metal knife until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Pour in the beaten egg and incorporate until the dough starts to form a ball. Knead lightly, wrap and chill for about 30 minutes if the pastry is not quite firm enough to roll out. Preheat the oven to 200C/fan 180C.
  2. To make the frangipane, put the butter and sugar into the unwashed processor and blend until soft and creamy. Scrape down the sides, add the eggs and continue to process. Don’t worry if the mixture looks curdled at this stage. Add the ground almonds, flour and almond extract, and mix briefly.
  3. Roll the pastry out thinly (handling as little as possible) on a lightly floured work surface and cut into 18 circles. Use to line the tins. Spoon a teaspoon of mincemeat into each tartlet and top with the frangipane mixture. There is no need to spread the mixture flat as it will level out in the oven (but do not overfill the tins). Sprinkle a few flaked almonds on top.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-17 minutes, watching carefully. Remove from the tins and allow to cool on a wire rack.

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VARIATION: If you want to make a large tart, you can use the exact quantity above to fill a 20-23cm lcake tin, which will take about 25-30 minutes in the preheated oven.

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If you have any leftover pastry, enrol the help of your friends and family and shape them into figures. Here you will see a beautiful grumpy cat, penguin with a santa hat, a lego block and a broccoli that looks like ‘somthing else’! Roll out the scraps, shape and bake for 12-15 minutes 😉

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