Cheesecake Tutorial

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I’ve written the recipe for our favourite cheesecake on this blog 4 or 5 times now (ok, actually just here and here). Rather than write it for a third time, I thought I’d add a photo tutorial, because it really is the easiest fancy pudding ever. No, really… EVER!

So, this is what we did this morning while waiting for the fog to clear. Instructions in bold refer to photographs in the slideshow above (I can make cheesecake; I can’t sort out the stupid photos). I do have to apologise for the mess in the photo backgrounds, but hey-ho, it’s usually far, far worse to be honest. And at least the minxes look vaguely happy in the photos, rather than the reality of this morning which was mostly feral and uncontrollable: bashing each other on the head and throwing kitchen utensils at legs. I discarded those pics…

OK, enough. Here we go! You need to allow a few hours to make this. It only takes around 10 mins to make up, but a couple of hours to chill and firm up.

Ingredients to amass beforehand:

  • Packet of digestive biscuits. You need 200g for the biscuit base, and the rest to munch on / keep your own minxes at bay
  • 70g butter. Unsalted would be grand because the biscuits are usually salty, but it doesn’t matter.
  • A lemon
  • Big pot of full-fat cream-cheese, like Philadelphia. Yes, it has to be 300g. Don’t even think about using half-fat, or your cheesecake will be runny as well as flavourless and insipid.
  • Tin of condensed milk. The 397g size. Also full-fat.
  • Fruit to decorate.

How to construct:

  1. Line a cake tin with either greaseproof paper or one of those massive cupcake liners. I bake a lot of cakes so have these. They certainly save your cake tins from being scratched and gouged as you try to knife out the last crumb of cheesecake…
  2. Put your biscuits in a plastic bag and bash till they are crumbs. Use a tin, rolling pin, etc.
  3. Melt the butter. I nuke mine for 45 seconds on high in the microwave, but do as you prefer.
  4. Stir the biscuit crumbs into the melted butter very well.
  5. Press into the cake tin base. If you just smooth it, it won’t form a nice hard base – you have to press it down firmly.
  6. Chill this while you’re making up the cheese bit.
  7. Squeeze the juice from the lemon
  8. Mix the condensed milk and lemon juice in your food mixer or use a hand whisk.
  9. Add the cream cheese
  10. Whisk until it’s thick. About 4 minutes or so with a food mixer; hours and hours with a hand-whisk (about 10 mins)
  11. Dollop it onto the base and smooth. Chill for at least an hour; 4 is just perfect. Gives you plenty time to lick the bowl. And spoons. And whisk. And lemon juicer (?!)
  12. Decorate! Fresh raspberries or strawberries are lovely with this, or tinned summer fruits. Maybe sliced peaches and a shake of Amaretto? Tinned pears and a light grating of ginger? Whatever you fancy. Mr Trout went to the trouble of liquidising a punnet of raspberries then pressing the puree through a little sieve to make into a raspberry coulis – delicious!
  13. Devour happily and enjoy that full-fat feeling in your mouth and your tum. It feels better, tastes better, fills you up faster (so arguably you eat fewer calories than if you’d made it with the plastic half-fat stuff), has far less gunk and junk than the plastic stuff, helps you store your B vitamins better, makes your nose wet and your hair shine 😉

Slowly Back Into a Routine

After my last post about Maxi and Midi Minx suffering from chicken pox, a very lovely GP friend messaged me to give me some top tips* to help Midi wee without screaming, and incredibly subtly and caringly gave me a nudge to get her to the GP’s. So we did, straight away that morning. And I’m glad.

*In case anyone else has a littlie with stingy bits, either get them to wee in the bath, or pour some warm water from a big pot over their genitals while they wee. It helps a lot. And don’t dry with toilet roll or a towel – use a hairdryer on low.

In Scotland you can’t just go wandering into a walk-in centre at the weekend. Unless it’s a blazing emergency you have to phone NHS24; one of their nurse practitioners phones you back within 3 hrs to triage you; they then contact the out-of-hours doctor, who will also call you back within 3 hrs with an appointment. So there’s a lot of hanging around trying to keep the phone line clear for call-backs… Still, Midi eventually got to see a really sympathetic doctor who diagnosed infected spots and possibly a UTI. He really sympathised with how painful it must be for her.

So Midi’s been on antibiotics since Saturday, too. In the fridge, her medicine has her name in enormous, sleep-deprived-parent-proof big letters (she’s allergic to her sister’s antibiotics). However, today (Weds) she’s entirely back to herself again, albeit still with lots of pox scabs. Brilliant! What a relief. She’s maybe not *quite* so energetic and tires a bit more easily, but otherwise I have my boisterous little Midi back again. And so does the nursery. Bet they’re glad… If she could just stop coming into my bed every morning around 3 and/or stop thrashing around I’d be even happier. And far less grumpy in the mornings.

Maxi still has a terrible cough, but she’s been improving every day. She went back to school yesterday, but needed to sit in the big double buggy to get home – she’s still very pale, but the whole day at school and walking up the hill just wiped her out, and she turned a bluey-white. I wasn’t too impressed that she’d only eaten a single bite out of her cheese sandwich for lunch, so have been quietly concentrating on cooking up tasty, calorie-laden meals: pork carry (like a curry but not spicy or hot) last night with loads of butter, coconut milk and double cream; fudge cheesecake tonight (easy-peasy instructions below); chocolate biscuit alongside her fruit for her play-piece today. Poor little mite.

I think she looked even more pathetic yesterday than normal – she stood shivering in her new black pinafore (her legs have taken a stretch and the only pinafores/skirts I can get that come down to her knees are ones a few sizes too big), with her white skin, dull eyes and big brown under-eye circles and a wan little smile. And her little wrists poked out the bottom of the school cardigan I’d not noticed that she’d drastically grown out of. Doh! Guess what purchase I made this morning?!

While Maxi was off school, she fretted about missing out. As she seems to be able to read anything I can give her, I wasn’t concerned about her missing 3 whole days. But to keep her happy, I got her to read a few books to me, then played ‘shops’. Unusually for me, I had a stack of change, probably left over from my last craft fair. So she set up shop and I faffed about on the laptop till she was ready. “OK Mummy, you can come and buy now! Cakes or a healthy option!”

I turned round to find that she’d cleared the floor and set up 2 little chairs either corner of a little table. On it, she’d displayed a wooden cake stand and cakes. On the sofa she’d displayed all the toy vegetables and fruit she could find quite artfully in a big basket, and on the other sofa seat she’d laid out all Mini’s wooden toy sandwich-making kit. She was wearing an apron, had tied her Rapunzel-hair back and had made a suitable ambience by playing the sole soothing song from Midi’s toy keyboard. I was genuinely open-mouthed as my wee 5 year old deftly made up a ham sandwich to order, made up prices for that and the cherry cake, and totalled them. She even tactfully turned around so she could do some counting privately on her fingers!

So we had a lot of fun me buying up all the cakes, her pricing them, taking my money from me and either demanding more or giving me my correct change. I’d discussed with her that we weren’t just playing: we were practising adding, subtracting and coin recognition, so it was bona-fide schoolwork (hehehehe, any excuse for a wee play!) I have to say I don’t know who had more fun: her or me. I was seriously impressed with how well she could manipulate the numbers in her head, and how quickly she cottoned-on to maybe more complex adding (I showed her how subtracting 20 from 70 was similar to subtracting 2 from 7). I’m sure I couldn’t do all this at 5. And I definitely didn’t sit in a doctor’s surgery reading all the signs aloud and talking about what the tricky words must mean (eg ‘accompanied’ and ‘medical practice’). I can’t praise her teachers enough, really!

Mini has cut 2 more teeth this week (lower outer incisors) and with them grown a few notches in tantrums. She can now say ‘keys’, tell me when she’s pooed (huge wail of Pooooooooooo!!), and as well as loving her little toddler books about colours, can now point to my head and say, ‘blue!’ (booooooo). Aye, I now have blue hair. I’ll do a wee post with pics when I next get a chance 😉 She’s also now 2 stone in weight*, so I guess I finally need to turn her baby car seat around so she’s facing forwards, as it’s a 13kg weight limit for rear-facing. Bah! She’s growing up to be a big girl far too fast! (Yeah, I know – she is a big girl. She’s the exact age Maxi was when Midi was born, and that seemed so grown-up at the time).

*I should have guessed; since she was born our combined weight has remained static, give or take 2lb. I’ve slowly lost as she’s slowly gained.

Me – I’m just enjoying getting back into a bit of a daily routine and getting out the house 3 times a day. I hate sitting indoors and really missed 6 brisk 15 minute walks a day. But I guess I’ll be moaning about it again soon enough!

Fudge Cheesecake

It’s instructions rather than a recipe, because it’s just too simple!

homemade fudge cheesecake

3 slices gone before I even got to take a photo!

200g chocolate digestives
70g butter
300g soft cheese, like Philadelphia. None of the low fat rubbish, go for the fully-leaded, full fat
397g tin of condensed milk (ditto – got to be full fat or it’ll go thin and insipid)
packet of fudge chunks. Or chop up some fudge. 

Bash the chocolate biscuits in a bowl with the end of a rolling pin till they’re all crumbs. Melt the butter and stir into the biscuit crumbs. Press into the bottom of a lined 20cm cake tin. Whisk up the condensed milk and soft cheese till it’s very thick and creamy. Stir in the fudge chunks. Spoon into the cake tin. Chill for a few hours. Eat. (double cream sloshed over the top entirely mandatory optional)

Cheesecake, Visits and Puppy Love

It’s 2025hrs on Thursday night. Mini Minx passed out in my arms, full of mummy milk*, breathing her delicious sweet smell at me from those plump red lips. When I carried her to her bed I could see Midi was still sitting up. “I making a lovely present for (Maxi). Cos I love her very much!” she said solemnly, as she stuck bits of paper onto a model flower. “Nooooo, she said she was going to cut me up and throw me in the rubbish lorry!” wailed her big sister. Sheesh.

*After a week of being ill and on all kinds of drugs that said ‘You must not breastfeed while taking x’, I’m back to feeding my wee baby (! she’s nearly 17 months! But she is very wee) for the last feed at night only.

I got seriously grumpy this morning: my new Health Visitor had invited herself over for a home visit this morning, so I booked a shopping delivery over the same time period. I explained to poor Midi that we couldn’t play at the swings after dropping Maxi off at school because we had to get back. You can maybe imagine how cross I got when neither showed…

I let both little girls go mental with Play Do to make up for being stuck indoors. Midi happily cut long dough sausages up into tiny pieces while Mini merrily bashed it flat then stabbed hell out of it with a plastic knife. I don’t even want to know what a child psychologist would make of their destructive antics. I just let them get on with it and tried to play along without feeling like a wannabe axe murderer. 

Maxi had quite a Day 3 at school: at lunchtime she hugged her new friend James and declared, “I love you so very much!” to the amazement and consternation of me and his mother. I’ve no idea how the wee boy felt about it, because he was muffled up in Maxi’s bear hug.

The girls’ grandma sent Maxi a surprise present of a bookbag in the school colours, which she was over the moon with. Other good news: The Boss can get a long lunch tomorrow to go with Maxi to the Parent/Child School Dinner.

To celebrate surviving (and really enjoying) this tough week, I made the ultimate cheesecake for greedy gut sweet-tooths. I’m sure it’s not an original recipe, but I just did it on the spot without reading a recipe, so will quite happily share it here with you.

Grumpy Old Trout’s Cheesecake Reward

Ingredients:
 
200g digestive biscuits
70g unsalted butter
300g pack of full-fat Philadelphia cream cheese
397g tin of Carnation caramel Dulce du Leche
as much or as little home-made fudge as you like, cut into chunks
 
Method:
 
Bash the biscuits in a bowl with the end of a rolling-pin till they’re crumbs. Melt the butter. Mix it into the crumbs then press into a tin (about 20cm diameter tin is about right). Put it in the fridge. Whisk the cream cheese and the caramel together till they’re thick. Fold the fudge chunks in. Pour it in the tin, smooth, and chill for an hour or 2 (overnight is best, if you can wait that long). Add some sliced banana if you must, or just attack as it is.
 
Delicious!

It’s All About Maxi

Maxi and Midi look both ways whilst crossing the road

Today seemed to be all about my eldest.

 
We all went down into the village to buy some odds and sods and get some “Fresh Air”.  As Maxi will be starting Primary 1 at the local school in the summer and Midi will be starting the pre-school, I keep talking about the place and the things we’ll need to do, eg buy school uniforms <gulp> and practice crossing the road.
 
I don’t trust Midi to cross the road unless I have her in a headlock.  Maxi, however, has been slowly, slowly let off the leash and can now be trusted to cross the road herself (so long as I’m close enough to dive out and drag her back if she messes up her judgement).
 
They’re both pretty good about stopping, looking all around and listening, but when they cross they just shake their heads to and fro (a la Dr Who End of Time human changeover shaking head thing) rather than properly look for other cars.
 
Today’s lesson was all about crossing little roads and watching out for cars turning off the main road.  I really have to watch what I say, because it all gets parroted: a car indicated very late before turning in front of Maxi, who tutted and declared that the driver was “obviously very old and very, very stupid.  Hmph!”
 
Speaking of which, there I was walking down the road – I was wearing a bright red coat, with a 5 year old alongside me dressed in neon pink, a double buggy in apple green, 2 kids inside dressed in purple and bright yellow.  I guess you could say that we embrace colour in our household.  Anyway, I watched a woman reverse her car across a junction, nearly mount the pavement beside me, all so she could get close enough to the fag and chocolate shop without walking too far.  She opened her car door and nearly smacked it into Midi’s face.  Luckily I was alert to the possibility that she might do this, based on her erratic driving, so stopped dead as the door lurched open.  “Oh sorry, I didn’t see you there!” she said as she lumbered into the shop.  I’d love to tell you that I replied, “If your need for chocolate blinds you to the sight of us colourful lot, then you should be off the road and at a decent optician, you careless bint!”  Of course I didn’t.  I glared in that very English way I learned from 17 years in the country and said icily, “That’s OK”.  My God, I bet she was cut to the quick.  Not.  Or maybe I should have just kicked her in the shins?  Silly cow.
 
And breathe.
 
I made summer fruit cheesecake for dinner because I’m greedy we needed a cheer up.  Maxi licked her lips and sighed, “Ooooh Mummy, I love your cheesecake all the way to the end of the Universe and back!”  I smiled.  “But I only love you to the Moon and back.  But that’s still an awful lot!” she reassured me as my smile became a tad fixed.
 
I asked the little minx to tidy up her PlayDough so I could get dinner on the table.  After 10 minutes, I asked her to hurry up.  “I’ve only got 2 hands, Mummy,” she said calmly and reasonably like Captain Logic: “One to hold the packet and one to put the bits in.  I can’t go any faster”.  How could I not laugh?
 
Tonight was Parents Evening at nursery.  I left with a tear in my eye, because I spent half an hour reading Maxi’s and Midi’s files.  On one of Midi’s evidence boxes, a teacher had noted, ‘L was quietly drawing. I asked her what it was. “I drawing Mummy!” she said’.  So she thinks of me even when I’m not there?!  Swoon!  All those pictures that she draws at nursery and I ask her what they are, she always replies, “You, Mummy!”  I assumed she says that to everyone.  Now I’m thinking it may be true.  Awwwwww.
 
Maxi, meanwhile, “talked of the recycling done at home”, had “excellent knowledge of planets and space”, “plants” and “had an opportunity to try new foods as part of our learning about other cultures – P had already tried them all”.  That’s my girl!  With that, and her learning to spot ‘mature CBs’, we’ll get her labelled precocious, yet.  Though (a) she can say ‘cumulonimbus’ no problem at all, but obviously thinks CBs is funny, and (b) wish I’d been watching for them today, then I might not have got 4 washing loads absolutely drenched in the sudden (but predictable) downpour.
 
In other news:
 
Mini has cut her 4th tooth definitely (her upper right incisor) and by golly it’s a big beast.  And Maxi learned to knit.  I’m so proud!  But I need to do that as a separate post.