Congratulations with the start of the holiday season! I am sooooooo happy. I know Christmas is enlarged commercially, but I forgive all the marketers. I think it my happiness from getting presents for people, hearing the Christmas songs everywhere, being a part of that cosy warm atmosphere outweighs the troubles of spending a few pennies over the gift budget. Also, my birthday is in December, so I get double the fun and one extra party! :]]
This year suddenly became special as it is my 21st birthday, which, in my home country, doesn't mean a lot, but in the UK - it means SO MUCH!! And on the day I usually get something small for myself, a scented body cream or a nice shirt, but this year I decided to go for something different and bake myself my own idea of a perfect cake. I think it is perfectly normal to give yourself a gift of spinning in the kitchen for hours, the joy of mixing lovely things (and trying them too, obviously), noticing how the colours and flavours enhance with every ingredient!..
But first, a little bit about my birthday. I was woken up by the most amazing surprise by my boyfriend, I had breakfast in bed. You'll never guess what it was... pancakes!!!! haha! They were SO good, small, dense and full of flavour. He also made me a cheesecake, so I had two by then! I received so many presents and every single one of them was so thoughtful, so lovely and caring.. When I received this photo that I have given up on ever finding.. I cried! And this is not the first time he gets my tears of joy in return for presents, so THANK YOU SO MUCH for making my morning absolutely amazing. But that was not the end!! I had delicious skilfully cooked tuna steaks for dinner, with another gift that took him so long to prepare and organise.. He is really amazing. So THANK YOU for an amazing day, I am so happy I got to spend it with you!
My big celebration was a dinner party where I invited all my closest friends and we had a big Christmas dinner. 3 roast chickens and LOADS of side dishes. We all had our little part to do: someone did the roast potatoes, someone else - broccoli and cauliflower, someone else - deserts and drinks.. It was very precisely planned. I was really stressed and I am so sorry if it showed.. At the end I was really happy with everything, everyone timed everything so well, everything was so delicious! Thank you everyone!! My fingers have still got blisters from cutting vegetables haha!...
So about this cake: it's a New York cheesecake with a few alterations in terms of decorations.
The recipe of the cake is from here (I did half the amount), the decorations are adapted from here and here.
250g digestive biscuits
65g melted butter
1kg cream cheese (I usually use Philadelphia)
2 tbsp milk
350 g icing sugar
35 g plain flour
zest of 1 orange
zest of 1 lemon
2 egg yolks
1 vanilla pod or 1 tsp vanilla paste
Heat the oven to 180C. Line a round tin with baking paper, finely crush the biscuits, mix with butter and carefully line the bottom of the tin. A potato masher comes in handy for evening it out. Bake for 12 minutes, until it hardens. Leave aside to set.
Increase the heat to 220C. Mix the cheese, milk, sugar, flour and zests until smooth. Then beat in the eggs one by one mixing in between, putting the extra yolks last. Add the vanilla and pour over the biscuit base, decorate, and bake for 12 minutes. Decrease the temperature to 100C and bake for another hour. Turn the oven off, slightly open it and leave the cake to set for another hour. It should stop it from splitting - my one still split but oh well... Take the cake out and leave in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours to set. When you cut it, it works best if you dunk the knife into some hot water first.
Now, how do we make these?????
Make some raspberry sauce: simmer a handful of fresh raspberries with a tbsp of sugar.
While it's doing its magic, melt 2.5 packs of white chocolate and spread over some baking paper and leave to set.
Once the raspberry sauce is ready (about 10-15 minutes), sift it through to just get the colourful liquid part.
When the cheesecake is poured over the biscuits, do the hearts. Make some dots with a syringe in whatever pattern you desire.
Then take a toothpick (or a hair pin.. I didn't have a toothpick) and dip it through the dots, taking it out only after running through the last dot.
And voila - beautiful :] I was jumping around out of joy by this stage.
After the cheesecake is baked and set, cut off the edges byt shaping it into whatever you like - a circle or a square...
Break or cut (with a hot knife) the chocolate into desired shapes (I did sort of chopped off deformed squares) and stick them around the cake: carefully slightly melt the edge first for it to stick. Don't hold it in your fingers for too long because the top will melt and you will loose your shaped chocolate.
Stick the chocolate all around and there you go :] Leave it to cool and then serve. mmmmmm.
Just a note, I personally preferred the heart decoration on the cake while it was unbaked. Maybe it would suit a recipe of a cake that is unbaked. Try it and let me know!