Happy 1st birthday Cooking Chook!
With my dreams of doing med next year all but gone for the time being, and feeling a little sorry for myself, I totally forgot that The Cooking Chook turned one last week! I can’t believe that I’ve been blogging for over a year now! When I started this blog, it was all about a promise I made to myself to try new things and this blog was my way of documenting that – kinda like a personal diary. Did I manage to keep that promise to myself? Well, there have been 91 posts (including this one) with 50 of them being about new recipes that I’ve tried for the first time. I’ve attempted making things like French macarons, croissants, the croquembouche, sweet braided bread, gnocchi, just to name a few things that I never would have thought I’d ever make with my own hands. So, I think I had a decent go at keeping that promise to myself. But I can’t just let this special milestone pass without a little bit of a celebration, right? What could I make to mark this special occasion? Now, I’m a strong believer of using seasonal ingredients (mainly because it’s kinder to the Uni-bum hip pocket) and right now, strawberries are in season. I absolutely love strawberries, so I thought I’d combine strawberries with something else I love – cheesecake! I used the same recipe as for the Toblerone cheesecake I made back in January, except I made a couple of amendments. This cheesecake should be able to serve 8-10 people.
Birthday strawberry cheesecake
200g digestive biscuits
100g unsalted butter
180g white cooking chocolate
2 titanium-strength gelatine leaves
300ml thickened cream
750g cream cheese, at room temperature
½ cup (80g) icing sugar, sifted
Strawberry compote topping
250g punnet of strawberries, hulled and halved
2-2½ tbs icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
Grease and line the base of a 24cm springform cake pan. Place biscuits into a food processor and process the biscuits to a fine crumb. Or, if you don’t have a food processor to whiz the biscuits, you can put the biscuits into a zip lock bag and bash them using a rolling pin, or my implement of choice, a meat mallet.
Chop up the butter and pop into a microwave safe bowl. Heat in bursts of about 20 seconds until melted. Don’t heat the butter for any longer than that, or you may end up with exploding butter! Stir the melted butter into the biscuit crumbs. Press the biscuit mixture into the base of the cake tin and chuck it in the fridge to chill while you prepare the filling.
Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, place 100ml of the cream in a small saucepan and bring to just below boiling point over medium-high heat. Remove the cream from heat. Squeeze as much of the water as you can from the gelatine, then stir the gelatine into the hot cream until it all dissolves. Set aside to cool slightly.
Break the white chocolate into pieces and place into a heat proof bowl over a pan of simmering water, ensuring that the base of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Stir until completely melted. Make sure you keep an eye on the white chocolate and don’t have the heat up too high, because the chocolate can split.
In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth. In another bowl, beat the remaining 200ml of cream with the icing sugar until soft peaks form. Add the cream to the cream cheese and beat until combined and smooth. Add the melted white chocolate and cooled cream mixture and stir to combine.
Chuck the strawberries, icing sugar and balsamic vinegar into a saucepan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes or until pulpy and thick. Have a taste of the compote to check the sweetness. If it doesn’t taste sweet enough, add a little more icing sugar. Set aside to cool slightly.
Spread the cheesecake mixture on top of the chilled biscuit base. Drizzle with strawberry compote over the top, then use a skewer to swirl it through. Chill for at least 6 hours or overnight to set.
It really has been an amazing year, and I think I’ve achieved a lot. I can’t wait to see what the next year brings! I’ve also been in touch with so many wonderful people through The Cooking Chook blog (namely you guys out there in the blogosphere), who have been very supportive and inspiring. It’s those of you out there that make this part of my life very special and you all mean a lot to me 😀
Note: The recipe I used as a base for the cheesecake filling can be seen here. For the strawberry compote, I used this recipe. To make it easier to release the cheesecake from the cake tin, run a knife that has been heated with warm water around the edge of the cheesecake before popping it out of the tin.