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Tag Archives: deb Perelman

Eat Your Strawberry Cheesecake, Fool

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Cheesecake. It’s bloody great isn’t it? As sweet foods go, it’s up there with chocolate, ice cream and brownies. The best of the best. I’ve made it my mission to eat cheesecake as frequently as possible, trying new flavours and textures, selflessly sacrificing those size 10 jeans in order to find the perfect one, one that could go head to head with the – so far- triumphant banana cream cheesecake currently residing at The Cheesecake Factory. Kate Moss once said that nothing tastes as good as skinny feels. Clearly she’s never had cheesecake. What a sorry existence.

Loving cheesecake as I do, my excitement levels for our trip to New York is at fever pitch. Sure, sure, New York has super high skyscrapers, a fascinating history, amazing museums, excellent nightlife and the best shopping in the world. Blah blah blah. But it also created the perfection that is the New York Cheesecake. I’m not saying that the biggest draw for this trip is the food I’ll be eating, but lets face it, there’s surely nowhere else in the world where you can eat as well as in New York. Chinatown, salt beef and brisket sandwiches, bagels, Michelin starred restaurants, street food carts, BBQ joints, Italian-American food, endless food cultures, coffee obsessions, innovative bakeries, cupcakes galore and of course, cheesecake. I’m going to get fat and I’m going to freaking love it.

Knowing this about me, you can imagine my delight upon finding a recipe in Smitten Kitchen for Strawberry Cheesecake Fool. A new interpretation on two classics – the New York Cheesecake and the English Fool – with a hint of Eton Mess about it, how could I not give it a whirl? As a fellow cheesecake lover this also got the seal of approval from The Boyfriend, never one to turn down a dessert containing strawberries, cream cheese and a buttery biscuit base. It’s a fairly uncomplicated recipe to follow but has a few stages, one involves cooking the strawberries which appalled me until I got a taste of the super juicy strawberries that emerged from the saucepan. The point of cooking them is that you are left with sticky strawberries and a luscious sauce which you then swirl through half the sweetened vanilla cream cheese mixture so you have a beautiful pink mousse which tastes just like a strawberry cheesecake. A very, very good cheesecake. Layer all the different elements (strawberries, vanilla cream cheese, sugary biscuit crumbs and strawberry cream cheese) in whatever glasses you have lying around, top with a fresh strawberry and voila, you have a stunning dessert which tastes amazing. Like all the best cheesecakes, the cheese was light, fluffy and super smooth and actually tasting of the fruit rather than some synthetic version of a strawberry. The sugary biscuit crumbs gave the dessert some texture and crunch, and the strawberries just tasted delicious. A total success on a variation of cheesecake and a great way to use up all those strawberries on the supermarket shelves. And for an English fool heading to New York to eat cheesecake, it was pretty apt.

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Posted by on August 3, 2013 in American, Cooking, Food, Puddings

 

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Never Judge A Cake By Its Cover

So my Smitten Kitchen cookbook came in the post at the weekend, and as predicted, I want to cook absolutely everything in it. It is gorgeous, easily the prettiest cookbook I own, and everything looks delicious. I may never use another cookbook again, it’s that awesome. It tells you a great deal about my state of mind that I was genuinely fretting over what to cook first, undecided between all the tastiness. The author of this book, Deb Perelman, has been blogging for years about her quest for food perfection and cooking in her tiny New York kitchen. She leaves no stone unturned in her quest to perfect a recipe, takes beautiful photos of her creations and is a wonderful writer. I hate her. Of course, I don’t really hate her, in fact I’m bordering on wanting to move in with her after cooking the (much deliberated over) recipe I chose to break in this beauty of a book. I’m sure her husband and child won’t mind.

So what did I go for? Soured cream and peach pancakes? No (but boy I can’t wait for Sunday morning). Balsamic and beer braised beef ribs with parsnip puree? Not yet (but these are a definite must try very soon). Tiny but intense chocolate cake? No (still trying to work out why not). My heart fluttered a little when I came across Deb’s Gooey Cinnamon Squares and her description of them as something cross between toasted marshmallow, cinnamon French toast and crème brulee. Has there ever been a more tempting description of a cake? That’s when I knew. To the kitchen!

Deb states that these are a combination of two classic American baked goods: the snickerdoodle (a soft cinnamon cookie) and a St Louis gooey butter cake which I have never heard of but presume must be big in St Louis. You make two cake mixtures, one a plain vanilla and the other flavoured with golden syrup, cream and vanilla extract . Spread over the plain mixture in a baking tray, then on top of this spread the syrup mixture and scatter over copious amounts of ground cinnamon and sugar. Bake for 30 minutes and voila, you have an extremely plain looking cake that will excite no one upon looking at it. Do not be fooled by its appearance and do not underestimate it. This is an epic cake, and lurking behind its plain looks is sheer heaven. The base of the cake is very much just a vanilla cake, but through some sort of devilry and witchcraft the golden syrup flavoured layer has turned into a gooey, soft, oozing delight whose texture and taste is very reminiscent of a thoroughly toasted marshmallow. The sugary cinnamon topping has given the top of the cake a bronzed, crackled appearance and on biting into the cake you find that the topping has a similar crunch to a crème brulee. It’s perfect and there is just the right amount of cinnamon in there to whisk you off to wherever cinnamon reminds you of (for me, that would be holidays in Florida) and envelop you in a spicy hug. I’m in love. It’s unlikely you would have had anything like this before (I know I certainly haven’t and I’ve eaten a hell of a lot of cake. I mean, a lot of cake) and I can’t recommend baking this enough. It’s ridiculously good. I took some into my new office yesterday to avoid the otherwise inevitable fate of me having a bit every time I went into my kitchen (you know, to make a cup of coffee, cook dinner, wash up, shove more cake in my mouth, that kind of thing) but no one was there so I’m yet to learn if other people are as delighted by them as I am. No matter, Smitten Kitchen informs me that these last 7 days at room temperature so I’ll find out soon enough.

I really wanted to share the recipe for Gooey Cinnamon Squares with you but being a stickler for copyright rules and it not being one of the recipes on the Smitten Kitchen blog, I had no option but to heavily endorse the book to you. But wait! Pastry chef, blogger and buddy to Smitten Kitchen has kindly reproduced the recipe on his website Living The Sweet Life In Paris and I forcibly encourage you to try it yourself. This cake may look like the Taylor Swift of the cake world (you know, all safe, sweet and nice but you always know what you’re getting), when in actual fact it’s the Beyoncé – utterly fabulous.

Recipe for Gooey Cinnamon Squares can be found here: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2012/11/smitten-kitchen-gooey-cinnamon-cake-recipe/

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2013 in American, Baking, Books, Cooking, Food

 

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