Friday, 30 December 2011

CHEESUS CHRIST

Wild mushroom, three cheese truffle mac n' cheese

Rachel says:

Is it possible to die from overindulgence? This mac n' cheese recipe has left me reeling - I feel like so many personal boundaries have been crossed that I don't even really know what's right anymore.

Whilst in Brooklyn over the summer, I came across a "truffle mac n cheese" dish that unfortunately I didn't have the opportunity to try (an elaborate way of saying I'd already eaten 2 dinners that day) but the idea of which has stayed floating around in the back of my head ever since. My fantasy became reality when I adapted the recipe from this website. With the inclusion of red wine-soaked porcini mushrooms, truffle oil and three different cheeses, this was easily the richest meal I've ever eaten.

Serves 8
25g dried porcini mushrooms
3 spring onions, sliced finely
a glug of red wine
1 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp white wine vinegar
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
700ml milk
4 oz Roquefort cheese, crumbled
4 oz cheddar, grated
4 oz grated parmigiano reggiano, separated in 2 2oz piles
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
2 tsp fresh chopped rosemary
1 tsp fresh chopped sage
3 tbsp white truffle oil
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
A few handfuls panko breadcrumbs
10 oz macaroni
salt and pepper

1) Mix red wine in a measuring jug with 250ml hot water and leave porcini mushrooms to soak for about 10 minutes. Strain and roughly chop the mushrooms.

2) Preheat oven to 400F/gas mark 6. Heat the olive oil in a pan, then add mushrooms and onions and sautee gently (stirring occasionally) for about 10 minutes, until caramelised.

3) Season with salt and pepper, then add the white wine vinegar. Turn the heat up and let the vinegar evaporate, then take off the heat and leave aside.

4) Now, the cheese sauce! Melt the butter in a saucepan and then add the flour, stirring continuously for about 30 seconds. Add the herbs and chili flakes, and stir for a further 30 seconds.

5) Slowly pour the milk into the saucepan, whisking so there are no lumps. Bring the sauce to a simmer so it can thicken, stirring occasionally.

6) Whilst waiting for the sauce to thicken, cook the macaroni (for 2 minutes less than it says on the packet).

7) When the sauce starts to simmer, add the cheeses and and truffle oil, stirring until the cheese has melted. Take off the heat and season with black pepper.

8) Mix together the macaroni, cheese sauce and mushrooms, then tip it all into a big glass or ceramic dish and scatter the panko and remaining parmesan cheese over the top. Bake for 20 minutes, until golden and crispy on top. Serve with spicy cornbread!

Now, make this:


Thursday, 29 December 2011

RACHEL'S RECIPE OF 2011!

Gingerbread & mince pie frozen yoghurt.

Rachel says:

Two extraordinary things happened this week.
Firstly, I was given an ice-cream maker for Christmas.
Shortly after that, I invented the greatest ice-cream of all time.

250ml natural yoghurt
20ml milk
50g molasses sugar
25g caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1 inch piece fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch ground nutmeg
pinch ground cloves
3 mince pies, bashed up

1) Add the sugar and spices to the milk in a saucepan and gently melt over a low heat.

2) Stir the melted sugar mixture into the yoghurt, and add the vanilla.

3) Add to ice-cream maker and follow instructions until it forms the desired consistency (about 30 mins). Halfway through the process, sprinkle in 2/3 of crushed mince pies.

4) Once frozen, stir through the remaining mince pies.

FIGGING OUT


Rachel says:

This blue cheese & fig pie was the main act at my 'alternative vegetarian Christmas dinner' (supported by rosemary roast potatoes, cranberry & pecan stuffing, marmalade glazed carrots, parsnip, swede & parmesan bake, chestnutty sprouts and porcini mushroom gravy) and was so good that everyone forgot to complain about the lack of turkey. It was hugged by a crumbly walnut pastry (which admittedly, was quite difficult to work with - but what's Christmas without a little swearing and spatula-throwing?) and was a fantastic centre piece!

For the pastry:
200g plain flour, plus extra for rolling
100g plain wholemeal flour
150g cold butter
100g walnuts, roughly chopped (I used a food processor)
2 egg yolks


For the filling:
25g butter
3 eggs
400g shallots, sliced
1tbsp thyme leaves, plus extra to decorate
200ml crème fraiche
200ml double cream
140g blue cheese (I used Roquefort)
4 figs, halved

1) First make the pastry. Tip the flours into a food processor with ½ tsp salt and the cubed butter. Pulse until there aren’t any lumps, then tip in the walnuts.

2)
Mix the egg yolks with 3 tbsp cold water, then tip this into the machine while you pulse again until the pastry comes together.

3)
Tip the pastry out onto a floured surface, bring it together into a ball, then roll out and line a pie or tart tin (make sure you leave an overhang of pastry, because it will shrink in the oven). As the pastry was very crumbly, I actually found it was easier to transfer it piece by piece and sort of squish it back together in the tin. Chill for 1 hour.

4) To make the filling, melt the remaining butter in a large pan, then add the shallots and soften for 10-15 mins, until golden and squishy. Stir in the thyme for 1 min, then remove from the heat.


5) Beat the eggs in a jug with the crème fraîche and cream. Crumble in the cheese and season with pepper and a pinch of salt.


6) Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Put a piece of parchment/baking paper over your pastry and add “baking beans” – I used chick peas. Blind bake the pastry for 20 mins, remove the baking beans and paper, then bake for a further 15-20 mins until golden.

7)
Reduce the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Add the cooled onions to the cream mixture and pour into the case.

8)
Sit the fig halves on top, cut side up, and brush with olive oil. Sprinkle the top of the pie with thyme and bake on the middle shelf for 1 hr-1hr 10 mins until the tart is browning and has a slight wobble - the cheese middle will firm as it cools. I recommend serving cold!

Served with cranberry & pecan stuffing.

OLA, G-R-A-N-O-L-A, OLA


Rachel says:

Granola is a great way to kick your day into gear but there's a direct correlation between the price of a box and the amount of sugar inside. Custom making your own is cheap, easy and healthy!

Serves 5 -6
100g chopped nuts (I used walnuts)
50g rolled oats
25g flaked almonds
40g desiccated coconut
150g dried fruit (I used raisins, cranberries & apricots)
2 tbsp golden (or maple) syrup

1) Preheat oven to 200C/Gasm mark 6. Blend half the nuts and oats in a food processor.

2) Put in a big bowl with the remaining oats, nuts, coconut and almonds. Stir together.

3) Spread the mixture out on a large baking tray and bake for 5-10 minutes, until golden.

4) Remove the tray from the oven and drizzle the syrup over the granola. Mix it all up so it's coated, then whack back in the oven for a further 5 minutes, until crisp.

5) Allow to cool slightly and toss with the dried fruit. Store in an airtight container.

Monday, 19 December 2011

TWISTMAS TIME

















Rachel says:

When an episode of The Great British Bake Off left me with fizzy fingers and a rumbly tumbly, a recipe for Christmassy iced buns was the first thing that sprang to mind. As you may know, Christmas isn’t celebrated widely in Japan so it’s fairly easy to misplace all the excitement leading up to the Big Day. But with an added splash of rum and zest of an orange, my apartment soon started to smell like the inside of a mince pie and got the Jesus juices flowing! I recommend eating this warm, with a cup of tea and The Muppet’s Christmas Carol on TV.

Makes approx. 8 buns (but you can choose how to assemble)

For the dough
250g plain flour
20g butter
150ml milk
½ 7g sachet yeast
pinch salt
½ egg, beaten

For the filling
1 tbsp butter, room temperature
1 tbsp brown sugar
¼ mikan peel, finely chopped

For the topping
icing sugar
splash of rum
kinako (roast soybean powder), for dusting

1)     Put the flour and salt into a mixing bowl, and make a well in the centre. Put the yeast in the well.
2)     In a saucepan, gently melt the butter into the milk until it has disappeared and the milk is a tepid temperature. Don’t let the milk get too hot or it will kill the yeast.
3)     Add the milk to the flour, and also the beaten egg. Fold until it starts to come together as dough.
4)     Remove from the bowl and knead 5 times on a well-floured surface. Put the ball of dough into a clean well-oiled bowl and cover with cling film. Leave in a warm place for one hour.

5)     After this time, the dough should have doubled in size. PUNCH IT DOWN! YEAH!

6)     Remove to floured surface and knead for 1 minute. Roll the dough out into a large rectangle, with a thickness of about ½ inch.

7)     Spread the dough right to the edges with the butter, and sprinkle with brown sugar.

8)     Repeat this process with the mincemeat and orange zest. Don’t go overboard with the mincemeat - it’s a very rich flavour and you don’t need loads.

9)     Roll the dough up like a sausage roll, starting from one of the shorter sides of the triangle. From here, you can simply slice the dough-sausage into buns, or try something a little twisted…. (follow from step 9)

10)  Cover the dough with a tea-towel and leave for another 30 mins. This allows the dough to rise even further. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 190oC/170F/Gas mark 5.

11)  Bake for 20 – 25 mins, until golden brown. Leave to cool.

12)  Mix together powdered sugar and water to make a simple white icing, and add a drop of rum if you like. Zig-zag this across the cooled pastry (if you try to do it whilst it’s too hot, the icing will just melt and disappear) and sprinkle with kinako powder, to decorate.


Friday, 16 December 2011

ROLLERCOASTER OF LOVE



Pizza Rolls!

Laura says:

Last weekend I was at a friend's party (not that this is pertinent, really, but it was a Scottish dancing party, how cool is that!). It was at a restaurant with some catered light finger foods and what not when suddenly the restaurant folk brought out this huge tray of spring rolls. Except... they were actually PIZZA rolls. Of course, these magical rolls appeared only after I had already stuffed myself with a lotttt of other food, but I could seriously not hold back, and so I ate at least five pizza rolls as my eyes filled with tears of joy and I thought to myself, "why am I not making these ALL THE TIME?!"

Truth. They are so easy! Tonight I made ten rolls and it took me about half an hour from start to finish. I fried three and put the rest in the freezer. You can just freeze them, uncooked, and you don't even need to defrost them before cooking them when you want to. Just throw them straight into the hot oil! This is a great way to make a few days worth of lunch/dinner/snacks/ect. They'd also be a great thing to bring to a party to impress your friends and make them say "wow, why didn't I think of that?"

You'll need*:

1 package of 10 spring roll wrappers
1 cup cheese
1/2 cup pizza sauce (plus more for dipping if you're into that)
1/2 cup cooked frozen spinach, drained well**
1/2 cup tofu, drained well and cut into small squares**

*Lots of other things would be delicious, I'm sure! Get creative with your own combinations.

**It's important to drain the spinach and the tofu because otherwise it will soak through the skin and tear holes in it.

rolled up and ready for the frying pan

To assemble:

This website explains the rolling process quite well, including step by step pictures.

I found that doing the sauce first was easiest. I smoothed out a spoonful of pizza sauce, then a few cubes of tofu, a bit of spinach and then cheese on top. When you roll, it really does make a difference if you tuck the corners well. And don't try to put too much inside!

I cooked three at a time in about an inch of hot oil. Make sure the oil is hot enough before you begin frying- it should be 350F, or hot enough to fry a small piece of bread in 10 seconds.

Monday, 12 December 2011

MINCE PIE-FECTION


Rachel says:

“Mince pies” are such a staple of a British Christmas that I was gobsmacked and inevitably hungry to learn that they’re not eaten in the US. They’re not actually made with meat at all, but dried fruit and a sweet gloop (so, the binary opposite of beef) and as far as I’m aware they are largely what makes up Santa’s diet, seeing as that’s what we leave outside the house for him on Christmas Eve. Traditional mince pies are made with a simple sweet shortcrust pastry and can be dusted with icing sugar, but I chose to go nuts (ho ho ho) with the addition of toasted almonds and orange rind.

Makes 6

70g cold butter, chopped into squares
110g plain flour
25g toasted almonds, ground
25g brown sugar
½ orange, zest only
pinch salt
1 egg yolk (reserve the white for glazing)
1 tsp cold water
jar mincemeat
icing sugar, for dusting

1.      Preheat oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Butter up a muffin/cupcake baking tray.
2.      Rub the butter into the flour and add the almonds, caster sugar, orange rind and salt until the mixture is crumbly.
3.      Add the egg yolk and 1 tsp water until it forms soft dough, then wrap in clingfilm and chill for 20 minutes.
4.      Roll out the pastry until it’s about 2-3mm thick and cut out 6 with a medium sized pastry cutter. You can use the top of a glass if you don’t have a cutter.
5.      Shape one circle of pastry into each tin space and spoon 1tsp of mincemeat inside.
6.      Re-roll the leftover pastry and cut out round lids, making them smaller than the base circle.
7.      Lightly brush the pastry edges with the beaten egg and fit the lids on top of each pie, making sure to gently press down the edges (otherwise your filling will bubble out).
8.      Brush the pie lids with egg white and bake in the oven for 12 - 15 minutes until golden brown.

9. Leave to cool for a few minutes before sliding them out of the tin and dust with icing sugar. Perfect with pouring cream and mulled wine.

STUFFINS

Rachel says:

I love turning desserts into cupcakes, so when I saw this recipe for cheesecake-stuffed apple streusel muffins on Closet Cooking I couldn’t wait to give them a try. The original recipe calls for a finale of caramel sauce, but as I was making these for breakfast I thought I’d keep them on the semi-healthy side... The streusel topping gives them a lovely brunch feel and apple & cinnamon are perfect autumn flavours.


Makes 6 muffins

For the apple sauce:
1 apple, peeled cored & chopped into cubes
2 cups water

For the muffins:
¼ cup brown sugar
1/3 cup plain yoghurt
¼ cup apple sauce
2 tbsp oil
½ egg, beaten (reserve other half for cheesecake)
1½ cups self-raising flour
1/3 cup oatmeal
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch nutmeg
pinch salt
1 cup apples, peeled cored & chopped into cubes

For the cheesecake:
1 tbsp icing sugar
100g cream cheese
½ egg
drop vanilla essence

For the streusel topping:
1½ tbsp butter
¼ cup flour
¼ cup brown sugar
pinch cinnamon
2 tbsp oatmeal

1)     Cheesecake. In a bowl, beat the sugar into the cream cheese until smooth, then add the vanilla and egg. Beat to combine.

2) Streusel. Cut the butter into cubes, into a bowl that contains the flour/sugar/cinnamon/oatmeal mixture. Rub the butter into the mixture until combined and crumbly.

3)     Muffins. To make the apple sauce, simmer the chopped apples in water with a squeeze of honey for around 10 minutes or until the water has reduced and you can easily mash the fruit into a pulp. Leave to cool.

4)     Mix the sugar, yoghurt, apple sauce, oil and egg in a large bowl.

5)     Mix the flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in another bowl.

6)     Combine the dry and wet ingredients. Spoon half the mixture into your muffin cases.

7)     Blob a teaspoon of the cream cheese mixture into each muffin case, then top with the remaining muffin mixture.

8)     Sprinkle the top of each one with the streusel.

9)     Bake at 375F/180C/gas mark 4 for 15-20 minutes, until you can insert a knife into the middle and it comes out clean. Leave to cool.

And now, if you’re feeling indulgent, follow Laura’s decadently decent recipe for salty caramel and pour over, for a muffin with a wild side.

GET RICH QUICK



Rachel says:

…With Billionaire shortbread! This is easy to make, it’s only the waiting around for each layer to cool that clocks up and makes this more of a special-occasion biscuit. Make sure not to stick your finger in the caramel when it’s in the pan (like I did, twice) because it will be burnt off.

Makes 1 tray

For the shortbread:
170g butter, at room temperature
60g sugar
½ tsp vanilla essence
200g flour
pinch salt

For the topping
1 x 400ml can condensed milk
100g dark chocolate
100g white chocolate
5 tbsp brown sugar
4 tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp cracked sea salt 

1) First, make the shortbread. Preheat the oven to 375F/180C/gas mark 4 and butter up a baking tray.  

2) Beat butter and sugar together. An electric mixer is ideal because the fluffier the batter, the lighter your shortbread will taste – but it’s completely do-able by hand. Add the vanilla extract.

3) Add the flour and salt and beat until the dough just comes together. Press it into the bottom of your baking tray and flatten it out. Prick a few times with a fork, and bake for 18-20 minutes (or until golden). Leave to cool.

2) While your shortbread is cooling, pour the condensed milk into a pan with the butter, golden syrup and remaining sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil and then turn down the heat. Simmer gently for 5 minutes until thickened, stirring continuously or the mixture will stick and burn. You’ll know it’s ready when it starts to come away from the sides of the pan.

Even I hesitated at the idea of adding more sugar and syrup to a 1200+ calorie can of condensed milk, but this is what makes your caramel dark and chewy. You can omit these ingredients but you will lose the lovely texture of toffee wrapping itself around your fillings – I recommend just going with it.


3) Pour the caramel over the shortbread. Wait until it has cooled enough, and then pop it in the fridge for 30 mins. Initially the colour will be pale but it will darken as it cools.

4) After 30 mins, put a glass bowl into a saucepan of boiling water. Melt the dark chocolate by breaking it into the glass bowl – be sure to keep an eye on it and get it out of there as soon as it has become smooth and glossy. If you leave it in for too long it’ll start to harden and will be unusable.

5) Pour over the cold layer of caramel, smoothing out with the back of a spoon to get a nice even layer. Sprinkle the sea salt over the chocolate. Leave to cool and refrigerate, about 1 hour.

6) Repeat the melting and pouring process with the white chocolate. The dark chocolate must be completely cold otherwise it will melt and mix with the white chocolate when you pour it on (which is, admittedly, what happened in the above picture). If done correctly, you should be able to get a great layered effect with the dark and white chocolate.

7) Leave to cool slightly, and cut into squares. If you wait until the white chocolate has hardened, it will be difficult to cut and will crack easily. Store in the fridge and don’t eat all at once or terrible things will happen.


NICE RICE PUDDING (BROWN EDITION)

















Rachel says:

Eating rice pudding is like getting a hug from the Chrimbo polar bear. It’s so wonderfully comforting and when done right a million miles away from the stodgy, tepid blocks that we’ve come to associate with school dinners. Using brown rice lends it a chewier texture which means it’s less likely to turn into mush, whilst retaining the crucial creaminess. You can eat this warm or cold, and as the rice cools it will become slightly denser.

Serves 2 – 3

2 cups water
½ cup brown rice
pinch salt 
1tsp butter
2 cups soy milk
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp honey
½ vanilla stick, split open (or ½ tsp vanilla essence)
½ cinnamon stick, split open (or ½ tsp cinnamon)
pinch nutmeg, cloves
¼ cup raisins (or any dried fruit)

1)     Wash rice. Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan, and stir in rice and salt. Turn down the heat and simmer for 30 mins, stirring occasionally.
2)     Drain rice and let it rest in the strainer for 10 seconds. Return it to the pan (not on the heat) and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Leave for 10 mins. (This will steam the rice, so it can continue cooking without danger of becoming too soft).
3)      In another pan, add the milk, sugar, honey, cinnamon stick, spices and vanilla bean to the pan. Bring to a low boil, stirring so the milk doesn’t burn. Add the cooked rice, butter and raisins to the hot milk. Stir. Simmer until the milk cooks down and the rice is creamy, which should take about 30 minutes. Don’t forget to stir it often or the rice will burn. Put into bowls to cool slightly and serve warm with spicy winter marmalade.

JAMMIN`

Spicy winter marmalade

Rachel says:
I recently swam a 12-hour relay with my taiko group, and as a reward for our efforts we were presented with more mikans than it was humanely possible to eat. And as a result, marmalade! This was a complete stab in the jam-dark as it was my first batch and I wasn’t really expecting greatness. But, the result was jam-tastic! Initially the marmalade had a bit of a bitter kick to it (which I believe is alterable with the amount of orange/lemon rind and sugar you include) but I’ve noticed over the last two weeks that the marmalade has actually become a lot sweeter, which I suppose is part of the preserving process. So, if you have some extra fruit lying around, 2 hours to spare and a desire for a Christmas-smelling kitchen, let’s jam!


Makes 1 small jar* 

2 mikans (clementines/satsumas etc.)
½ lemon
1 cup brown sugar
cinnamon stick
vanilla essence
cloves, nutmeg

1)     Chop the mikan and lemon peel as finely as you can. If you are a ‘no-bits’ person, please turn away now. Roughly chop the segments of the mikans and put into a medium-sized saucepan with the rind.

2)     Add to the pan with a good squeeze of lemon (don’t use the whole thing). Fill half the saucepan with water.

3)     Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add the spices and vanilla. Leave to simmer, uncovered for 1 – 1½ hours.

4)     After this amount of time, the rind will become very soft and the mixture should have reduced by half. Stir in the sugar until it dissolves.

5)     Crank up the heat and boil the jam for about 10 minutes, skimming off any froth that rises to the surface.

6)     Take off the heat, let it cool slightly and then pour into your jam jar. Enjoy on toast, rice pudding, in cupcakes or on the end of your finger.

*I actually forgot the buy a jam-jar, so I popped down to my local conbini and picked up a “one cup” glass bottle of sake. I poured the sake away and ‘sterilised’ the jar by filling it a few times with boiling water – I don’t know how effective this method is but I thought the initial alcohol in the jar would have acted as a bit of a sterilising agent anyway. I sealed the top with clingfilm and kitchen paper before putting the lid back on and it’s been jam-tastic so far.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

YOU CAN ALWAYS GO, BROWNTOWN

Laura says:
















I stumbled upon this brownie recipe recently and it looked amazing and, lo and behold, it WAS amazing. They are the best brownies I've ever had- totally moist and chewy and dense and perfect, but still with the crinkly top. This recipe is originally from the Baked cookbook, which I hear is quite good and based on this recipe alone I might just go buy it. 


I halved it and made cupcakes instead of a sheet of brownies. It made 6 large cupcakes (so probably 8 or so medium ones?) and to spice them up, I filled them with peanut butter and strawberry jam. 


1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder
11 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
5 eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract



Stir the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate, espresso powder and butter. Turn off the heat, and then add the sugar. Let this mixture cool to room temp and add the eggs and vanilla, but don't stir too much after you add them or else the brownies will be cakey, and who wants that. Transfer to a large bowl, and then fold in the dry ingredients. Cook for 20 minutes at 350F/170C. 

Thursday, 1 December 2011

PUMP UP THE JAMZ

Laura says:

I do NOT mess around when it comes to Thanksgiving. This pumpkin cheesecake combines two adapted recipes. I was inspired by Pioneer Woman's brilliant idea to layer the crust with CARAMEL, only instead of canned caramel I made my own. For the cake itself, I went with a recipe from Smitten Kitchen, though I didn't have bourbon so I subbed that with maple syrup. The crust also required a substitution- we don't have gingersnaps/ginger biscuits in Japan, so I used regular biscuit cookies and added spices and freshly grated ginger, which I think I might always do from now on because it was incredible tasting. I finished it off with a layer of maple whipped cream, which made the cake just about perfect. If you're doing this all in one afternoon and making the caramel from scratch (which I REALLY recommend) start with the caramel first so it can cool down before you put it in the cake.


Pumpkin Caramel Cheesecake


For the caramel:
1 cup sugar (I used brown)
3 oz (6 tbsp) salted butter
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp heavy cream (at room temperature- important)

Melt the sugar in a medium-large pot. Mix it constantly over medium-high heat so that it doesn't stick or burn to the bottom of the pan. Cook it until it melts and turns a dark, deep brown (but don't cook it so long that it burns- be careful!) Add the butter all at once and continue to stir, and then turn the heat off. Quickly pour the heavy cream and whisk the mixture vigorously (but carefully, because it bubbles up and steams a bit, and it's super hot so don't splash it on yourself). Whisk until there are no lumps, and then transfer to a container. It will be sauce-like, but will thicken as it cools.

For the crust:
1 cup crushed plain biscuits
1/2 cup crushed walnuts
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp ground cloves

Directions: mix dry ingredients together and then add the melted butter. Line a pan (preferably a springform pan) with baking paper and press the crust onto the pan evenly along the bottom and halfway up the sides. Put the pan in the freezer to set while you make the filling.


For the filling:
3 8oz packages of cream cheese, softened
1 cup pumpkin puree
3 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp heavy cream
1 tablespoon cornstarch*
1 tbsp maple syrup (OR bourbon, I think that sounds like a better idea)
1 tbsp cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp fresh grated ginger
2 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp allspice
2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt

Directions: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until it becomes light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, mix everything else together. Then slowly fold the everything-else-mixture into the cream cheese. *I didn't have cornstarch so I skipped it and found the cake was still fine, but I can understand why it would be helpful to thicken the batter up a bit.


For the whipped cream:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla

Directions: Mix with a hand mixer (recommended) or by hand until the cream forms stiff peaks. Voila!


To make the cheesecake: 
Preheat your oven to 350F/175C.

Pour half of the caramel sauce over the chilled crust. Spread it evenly. Put back in the freezer for another minute to set. Pour the filling into the crust and bake for 40-60 minutes. You can tell a cheesecake is done if you move it and only the middle part wiggles. It's okay to have a little wiggle in the middle. Yup! Let it cool at room temperature.

Once cooled, spread the other half of the caramel on top. You may need to microwave it for a second so that it becomes spreadable.

Then spread the top with whipped cream, garnish and decorate to make it look better than some average whipped cream covered thing (wish I'd done this) and chill it in the refrigerator for SEVERAL hours. That part is important, no matter how hungry you are! It also freezes well (which I recommend if you are traveling with it- this cake survived a 3 hour boat and train ride perfectly!)