Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Recipe for No-Bake Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake

In my previous post, I told you that I would be making a Nutella cheesecake for our Valentine's day dessert.  I received several requests for the recipe since then, and because the cheesecake turned out so lovely, I thought I'd share the recipe with you today.  

I was compelled to make this recipe while flipping through the pages of Nigella Lawson's latest cookbook,  Nigellissima.  I borrowed the cookbook from our local library a few weeks ago, and have since ordered a copy for myself.  The recipe is very easy to make, requires few ingredients and doesn't need to be baked.  Preparing the raw hazelnuts (boiling, peeling and toasting) was actually the most time-consuming element.  If you can find ready-peeled and toasted hazelnuts, that will really save you some time.



Below is the recipe, exactly as found on page 175 of Nigellissima...

Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake

Ingredients 

10 oz graham crackers (about 16 sheets or 2 1/2 cups crumbs)
5 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
1 13 oz jar Nutella or chocolate hazelnut spread, at room temperature 
3/4 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts
1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature 
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted 

* one 9-inch springform cake pan


Directions

Break the crackers into the bowl of a food processor, then add the butter and 1 tablespoon of Nutella and blitz until the mixture starts to clump.  Add 3 tablespoons of the toasted hazelnuts, and continue to pulse until you have a damp, sandy mixture.

Tip this into your springform pan and press it into the base, using either your hands or the back of a spoon.  Place in the refrigerator to chill while you get on with the filling.

Beat together the cream cheese and confectioners' sugar until smooth and soft, then patiently scrape the rest of the Nutella out of its jar and into the cream cheese mixture and continue beating until combined.  

Take the springform pan out of the refrigerator.  Carefully scrape and smooth the Nutella mixture over the cracker crumb base and scatter the remaining chopped hazelnuts on top to cover.  Place the pan in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.  I recommend refrigerating the cheesecake overnight before serving. 

Serve straight from the refrigerator for best results, unspringing the cake from the pan, still on its base, just before you eat.  To cut it, dip a sharp knife in cold water, wiping it and dipping again between each cut. I didn't find this step necessary.  And don't worry; it may look disappointingly flat when whole, but when sliced, its dark depths are revealed.  I certainly wasn't disappointed! 


The cheesecake turned out absolutely perfect.  The crust was delicious, the filling rich (but not too sweet), and the roasted hazelnut topping complemented it so well!  It even sliced like a dream!  The flavor reminds me of  Ferrero Rocher chocolates.  


I want to share a little tip with you in case you aren't able to find ready-peeled hazelnuts or maybe you would rather peel and roast the hazelnuts yourself.  After doing some online research, I found that boiling the hazelnuts in a water/baking soda solution is the best and easiest method to remove the stubborn peel from raw hazelnuts.  Here is the link to the website I used for step-by-step directions...  How to Peel Hazelnuts


My boiled, peeled, and roasted hazelnuts shaped into a heart



That is all for today, my friends.  I hope that your Valentine's day was special and that you are enjoying the last of winter's days.  It is presently snowing here.  I see snowflakes lightly falling outside my kitchen window.  The too-tall snowbanks keep getting higher and higher. It seems there is no end in sight to this long, cold winter.  I yearn for warmer weather, the return of the robins, tulips and daffodils, as I count down only 30 more days till spring!  xoxo



Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Valentine Greetings!

Especially for You!


"Oh, I know something I won't tell
Someone loves you awfully well,
If you will be my Valentine,
All my secrets shall be thine.
I'll share my pennies all with you,
Give you half my ice cream, too, 
Give all the world if it were mine, 
If you would be my Valentine." 
author unknown



Quickly popping in to wish you all a Happy St.Valentine's day!  Whether you are young, old, single, married, in a relationship or not, this day is for you!  It's a day to celebrate love, all kinds of love; between mothers and daughters, sisters, lovers, friends, etc.  I hope you are able to share this Valentine's day with someone you love!  

I will be celebrating with my three Valentines, my husband and my girls. I'll be cooking up something special for dinner - a creamy lobster pasta and a Nutella cheesecake for dessert.  Do you have any special plans for the weekend?  I would love to hear about it! 



Hugs and Kisses! xoxo





Monday, January 20, 2014

My Recipe for Homemade Lemon Curd



Two years ago, I made my first ever batch of lemon curd.  I instantly fell in love with its lemony tart, yet sweet taste, and its creamy texture.  My husband and my eldest daughter are big fans and once in a while request that I make it.   Lemon curd is delicious served as a spread on crumpets and scones, or used as a filling between the layers of a simple sponge cake.  

Last Friday, I made a double batch of lemon curd and took pictures along the way, so I could show you step-by-step how to make it.

The recipe is for one batch, which will yield approximately 1 1/2 cups of lemon curd.  I doubled the recipe when I made it on Friday.  You can, too, if you plan on sharing!

Ingredients

1 tbsp lemon zest
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted


Directions

Before you begin, allow lemons and eggs to come to room temperature.


First, grate the rind of one lemon to yield one tablespoon of lemon zest.  Set aside.


Squeeze 2-3 lemons until you have 1/3 cup of lemon juice.  Using a small strainer, strain the juice to remove any pulp or seeds.  Set aside. 


In a small pot, whisk eggs (3) and sugar (3/4 cup) till blended.  


Place small pot inside a larger pot containing one inch of simmering water and continue to whisk over medium low heat.  Add the lemon juice, zest and melted butter, whisking all the while, for 10-15 minutes until the mixture thickens.


Remove thickened lemon curd from heat and pour into mason jar(s).  Allow to cool completely, seal and refrigerate for up to seven days (if it lasts that long!).


I doubled the recipe and was able to fill three mason jars (1 cup each).  I decorated the jars with baker's twine and a homemade label to make them look pretty.  I brought one for my parents to try.  It was their first time eating lemon curd and they really enjoyed it.  If you're a fan of lemon, I am sure you will love this too!  
It's so easy to make and just delicious!  






Friday, January 10, 2014

Happy New Year and Happy New Jar!

Antunes family  - December 29 2013

Happy New Year friends and followers of my blog!  I hope that you have all enjoyed a wonderful Christmas and that 2014 finds you well and in good spirits!  Life here is returning to normal after all the fun and festivities of the holiday season.  Christmas vacation, spent at home with my girls and my husband, has to be my favorite time of the year.  The snow can fall...and fall...and fall, and it's okay because we have nowhere to go and nowhere to be.  "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!"  We enjoyed sleeping in, sharing late breakfasts together, lazying around the house, watching movies, snuggling by the fire, afternoon naps, holiday baking, spending time with family and friends, the list goes on and on.  I was even fortunate enough to celebrate my birthday at Niagara-on-the-Lake again this year (one of my favorite places on earth). Suffice to say, the holidays were lovely and magical, and I am so grateful!  

For those of you who are regular followers of my blog, you may remember my post from last February, My Happy Jar and Gratitude Journal.  I spoke of starting a Happy Jar for 2013 and filling it with things (handwritten notes, receipts, stubs, small tokens) that made me happy during the year.



 Well, here it is!  It became something like a memory jar, filled with happy recollections. I encouraged my hubby and girls to add to the jar as well.  We added many things during the course of the year.  The fun thing about the happy jar is that you can't read the notes and additions until the end of the year. Only then do you crack open the jar  together to read/share/remember all the happy things that happened that year.  Isn't it a wonderful idea?  I just love it! 



Here are some of the contents of our happy jar!  It's a great way to remember all the blessings of this past year. It has been a challenging year for our family. With the joys, came too, sadness, fears, struggles, and difficulties to overcome.  This jar of happy memories serves as a reminder that even in the midst of tough times, joy can be found always, everywhere, and in the simplest of things, if we only allow ourselves to feel it.

The happy days, the good times, and the fond memories of 2013 are what I choose to take with me into this new year.  My jar is once again empty and waiting to be filled with fabulous, happy things to come in 2014!

I encourage you to create your own happy jar so you can fill it to the brim with your own happy memories!
Thank you for stopping to visit!  I really appreciate your time here and all of your comments.  May this new year fill your homes and hearts with love and laughter!  Let's make this the best year ever!!  

  

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Easy Recipe for Low-Carb, Diabetic-Friendly Coconut Clusters



Yesterday evening, I found myself baking a diabetic-friendly dessert for the very first time in my life.  In the past couple of years, I've learned of several family members and friends who have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and others who are trying to control their blood sugar levels for various reasons.  The incidence of diabetes is increasing and society as a whole is becoming more and more aware of the dangers of sugar to our bodies.  

Those of you who know me, know that I love to cook and bake.  I enjoy making dessert to take to dinner parties and such, but increasingly, I have found that not everyone has the luxury to indulge in these sweets. Yesterday, I was invited to my in-laws' house for dinner. I wanted to bring a dessert that could gratify everyone.  It always breaks my heart when I see one or two people unable to enjoy a treat.

I found a wonderful low-carb, diabetic friendly recipe that truly surprised my taste buds.  The recipe is from one of my cookbooks, "The Low-Carb Gourmet", written by Karen Barnaby.  The ingredients are things I usually have around the house and the recipe is so easy, anyone can make it.  The best part is that the coconut clusters were enjoyed by all, not just those watching their blood sugar.  Oh, and the aroma they leave in the house is heavenly.  

Some of my friends have requested the recipe, so I am sharing it with you, precisely as written on page 162 of Karen Barnaby's book...


Cream Cheese, Coconut,  and Lemon Mounds


Makes 20 mounds


90 g (3 oz) unsweetened desiccated coconut
2 tbsp Splenda
120 ml (4 fl oz) whipping cream
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
60 g (2 oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 large egg
1/2 tsp finely grated lemon rind

In a medium bowl, mix the coconut, sweetener, cream and vanilla.  Let stand for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/ 350 degrees F / gas 4.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Stir the cream cheese into the coconut mixture until blended.  Add the egg and mix well.  Stir in the lemon rind.

Drop by level tablespoons (making macaroon-shaped mounds), 5 cm (2 in) apart, on the prepared baking sheet.  Bake for about 15 minutes, until the tops are lightly speckled with brown.


Per mound.  Carbohydrates: 0.7 g;  Protein: 0.8 g;  Fat: 5.4 g;  Calories/kJ: 54/226




And voila!  The coconut clusters are melt-in-your-mouth delicious!  I promise!  The best way I can describe their taste and texture is a cross between a macaroon and cheesecake.  Keep in mind that they do need to be refrigerated or frozen overnight to prevent spoiling (because of the cream cheese).  That is if they last that long!  Hope you enjoy!