Monday, October 24, 2011

Countdown to Christmas - #1

With only a handful of weeks to go before the man in the red suit arrives, I thought I would share some of the things that have helped me really enjoy this time of year.

This week, in the interest of trying this out before serving to guests (because you will REALLY want to !) I am sharing the recipe for this Choc Cheesecake loaf.  It does require some preparation, but it is SO worth it, and if I can manage to knock it together, you will breeze through it!

                               Make Ahead Choc-Cheesecake Loaf
                          * From Super Food Ideas Dec/Jan 2005 edition

Find more inspiration HERE

1 250g pack Unibic Sponge Finger Biscuits
350g cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sour cream
2 x 50g Violet Crumble bars, crushed
3/4 cup mango nectar
200g good quality dark chocolate, broken into squares
100ml thickened cream

1. Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until creamy. Beat in sour cream. Stir in Violet Crumble.
2. Line base and sides of a 7.5 cm deep, 8 cm x 26 (base) loaf pan with baking paper, allowing a 3cm overhang on both sides.
3. Dip biscuits, one at a time into nectar. Arrange in base of pan, trimming so base is completely covered. Spread with one-third of the cream cheese mixture. Repeat layers twice. Cover. Refrigerate overnight.
4. Microwave chocolate and cream in a heatproof microwave safe bowl for 2 minutes on Med-High (70%) stirring every minute with a metal spoon, or until smooth. Cool for 10 minutes.
5. Turn loaf onto a platter. Pour over chocolate sauce.

Serves 10

   At this stage I get lazy because I can't wait to eat it - so instead of making the chocolate stars I crumble one white Flake over to look like snow. It is very rich, so for that extra hip padding goodness, serve with chilled whipped cream.

If you are super talented, here are the directions to make the stars;

1. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Empty a 375g packet of milk, white, or dark melts (or use 100g of each in three different batches) into a heatproof, microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on HIGH (100%) stirring every 30 seconds with a metal spoon, or until melted and smooth.
2. Spread chocolate over prepared baking tray. Allow to set at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes or until surface no longer looks wet.
3. Using different sizes star cutters, cut stars from chocolate. Refrigerate until set.
4. Drop a small amount of melted chocolate onto centre of each star. Gently press a sparkling cachous onto chocolate. Refrigerate until set.

* Make sure you really drench the biscuits in the nectar, almost to the point where they are falling apart. Otherwise they dry out too much.
*If you want to reduce some of the calories and fat content ( a bit redundant in a recipe like this but what the hell!) Use light cream cheese and sour cream. It doesn't affect the consistency, but make sure to use proper thickened cream in the sauce.
* Left over mango nectar makes GREAT mango Bellini's - just fill one third of a champagne glass with the nectar, and top up with your favourite sparkling white!
* Watch every ones face light up with delight when you serve this and crow loudly to anyone who will listen "I made it myself"!!
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