January 1, 2013

sweet things to start with... 2013

Happy New Year of the Snake everybody!

this year should be a good one, at least, if my horoscope is to be believed, this year of the snake, my Chinese (or should i say Japanese) sign is supposed to bring me luck.

well, i hope so, i could use some. after all the little mishaps we ve had thrown at us at the end of last year... and it has not stopped raining, but there are openings in the clouds and there is some blue sky visible now! a-HA!

to kick off this 'lucky' year, i ve been asked to post two recipes of sweet things my mom-in-law made for Christmas 2012. one s a doddle to make, the other requires a little bit more work, but both were delish! i m telling you, at 77, my mom-in-law is still going strong and loves to bake up a storm! she s an inspiration.

so here they are, a quick lemon cheesecake and a chocolate bûche de Noël:

(inspired by Mary Berry in the BBC GOOD FOOD MAGAZINE February 2004)


for the biscuit base:
75 gr digestive biscuits
40 gr butter
25 gr demerara sugar

for the cheesecake filling:
200 gr low-fat cream cheese (Philadelphia light is a good one)
397 gr condensed milk
150 ml double cream
the grated zest and juice of 3 lemons


1. crush the biscuits; using a freezer bag and a rolling pin is a good idea
2. melt the butter, add the sugar and biscuits crumbs and mix well
3. using the back of a spoon, push the biscuit mixture evenly into a 20cm loose-bottomed non-stick cake tin and put in the fridge to set
4. soften the cream cheese in a bowl and beat in the condensed milk until smooth
5. stir in the cream
6. mix in the zest and the juice of the lemons
7. pour on top of the biscuit base and smooth out
8. chill in the fridge, preferably overnight
9. to serve, slide a palette knife along the side to loosen the cake, lift up the bottom and slide the cake out of the tin onto a flat dish. decorate with sugared lemon slices or any fruit in season.

you d think the condensed milk might be too sweet, but the lemon juice counteracts this and there s a very good balance between sweet and tart... scrumptious!

now for the bûche...



for the Swiss roll:
5 eggs
140 gr light muscovado sugar
100 gr self-raising flour
25 gr pure cocoa-powder

for the chocolate ganache:
80 gr evaporated milk
120 gr pure (bittersweet) chocolate pieces


1. pre-heat the oven to 190°C
2. butter the base and side of a 30x35 cm Swiss roll tin and line the base with baking parchment
3. separate the eggs
4. whisk the egg yolks with 2 tablespoons of water and the sugar for about five minutes until light and creamy 5. sift in the flour and the cocoa powder and gently fold in until just blended (so as to keep it light and airy) and no lumps remain
6. beat the egg-whites until stiff and add to the cake mixture in three batches, folding in gently every time, again so as not to lose any airiness)
7. pour the mixture into the prepared tin, bake for 10-12 minutes until just firm to the touch
8. leave to cool before turning out onto a tea-towel which has been dusted with icing sugar... then follow Mary Berry s technique for rolling it up: (the recipe she uses here is a bit different because it uses no flour, but the rolling up is the same)

Great British Bake Off - masterclass

9. for the ganache, simply melt the chocolate pieces into warmed evaporated milk until thickened... it may turn out quite thick when cool, but can always be re-heated until malleable for spreading out onto the cake and for decorating the roulade later.
10. to make the Yule log, cut off a piece of the roulade at an angle and place against the main roll, then spread over the ganache and use a fork to shape the 'bark'... decorate with icing sugar 'snow' and eventually some Christmassy ornaments.

for the filling you could use whipped cream instead, or add crushed nuts and dried red fruit, but surprisingly, the chocolate ganache is not too heavy and does work.

and you don t need to make it into a log (because that s pretty typical for Christmas). whipped cream and strawberries, for example, make it a pretty good dessert for early summer too...

so, here you go, two sweet recipes to start off this 2013. hope the year brings all you may wish for.