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Monthly Archives: March 2013

Hannah Miles’ Jelly and Custard Cheesecake

I’m known for my super sweet tooth. so you can imagine my sheer delight when flicking through a copy of The Metro on my way to work, I came across a recipe for Jelly and Custard Cheesecake! Not one but three of my favourite things all merged together to make this wonderful dessert. Jelly: good. Custard: good. Cheesecake: great! What was there not to like? And it wasn’t just the idea of it that enticed me but the photograph of the end result was amazing: a deliciously creamy cheesecake with a dusting of sugar sprinkles with a whole ruby red jelly placed ceremoniously on top surrounded by slices of sweet, ripe strawberries. If I could have reached into the paper and taken a slice, I would have (but I really don’t like the taste of newspaper!)

I’m not really sure what kids have for dessert any more but I’m quite sure it’s not jelly and custard as I haven’t heard of anybody making it or eating it (besides myself of course) for a very long time. However, jelly and custard/cream/ice cream was a big deal for us as kids and was considered a real treat. We loved everything about jelly from the way it looked and wobbled to of course the way it tasted. We even loved the fact that unmade jelly started life as a squidgy slab of cubed, coloured gelatine – and naturally, at least two of those cubes from every pack never made contact with boiling water!

But in more recent years, I’ve found that it’s popularity has waned. Indeed, in America, jelly (or jell-o as our Stateside cousins call it) is considered a poor man’s dessert which makes me wonder why American supermarkets stock far more flavour varieties than we do here in Britain. In fact while, I was living in the States I went through several bowls of the great wobbly stuff but probably did so in a bid to combat homesickness and not just because it was seriously yummy stuff!

So here’s Hannah Miles’ recipe for jelly and custard cheesecake; a more sophisticated version of a childhood classic.

Those who have never tried jelly and custard just don’t know what they’re missing…

INGREDIENTS Serves 10
For the topping: 135g packet strawberry jelly cubes
1tsp vanilla bean paste
150ml double cream, whipped to stiff peaks
8 strawberries, hulled and sliced, plus 1 whole strawberry
sugar sprinkles, to decorate

For the crumb base: 200g pink wafer biscuits
60g butter, melted
For the cheesecake: 4 sheets leaf gelatine
300g cream cheese
250g mascarpone cheese
100g vanilla sugar
180ml double cream
1 generous tbsp custard powder
an 18cm ring silicone jelly mould
a 23cm round springform cake pan, greased and lined
a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle

METHOD

Step 1: Begin by preparing the jelly topping. You need to do this the day before you want to serve the cheesecake as it is best to set overnight. Make up the jelly according to the instructions and stir the vanilla into the liquid. Pour the jelly into an 18cm ring silicone jelly mould and leave to set.

Step 2: For the base, crush the wafers to fine crumbs in a food processor or place in a clean plastic bag and bash with a rolling pin. Transfer the crumbs to a mixing bowl and stir in the melted butter. Press the buttery crumbs into the base of a 23cm springform cake tin, greased and lined, using the back of a spoon until tightly compacted.

Step 3: For the filling, soak the gelatine leaves in water until they are soft. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cream cheese, mascarpone and sugar until light and creamy. Put the cream in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water and warm gently. Stir in the custard powder and whisk until blended. Squeeze the water from the gelatine leaves and stir them into the cream until the gelatine dissolves. Carefully add the cream to the cream cheese mixture, passing it through a sieve to remove any gelatine pieces that have not dissolved, then beat until the mixture is smooth and slightly thick. Pour the mixture over the crumb base and chill in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours or overnight until set.

Step 4: When you are ready to serve, remove the cheesecake from the tin by sliding a knife around the edge, then transfer the cheesecake to a serving plate. Dip the jelly mould in a bowl of hot water for a few seconds to loosen the jelly. Invert the jelly mould on to the top of the cheesecake and remove the mould. Spoon the whipped cream into the piping bag and pipe stars around the edge of the cheesecake, then pipe a little into the centre of the jelly. Arrange slices of strawberry around the edge of the jelly and place the whole strawberry in the centre. Decorate with sugar sprinkles and serve straight away.

 
 

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Top Twenty Sweet Treats From My Childhood

I offered one of my work colleagues some Fruitellas and the next thing we knew we’d started naming all the old fashioned retro sweets we loved as kids and I was right back in my favourite place – taking a trip down memory lane! In a world dominated by KitKat, Twix and Snickers (Marathon back in the day!) I wondered where a lot of my old favourites have gone. Some have ended up in the great sweet shop in the sky but many are still available – but for some reason not so heavily advertised and not stocked in as many stores.

So taking inspiration from the great Russell Deasley, here’s my very own Top Twenty (Top Ten just wasn’t an option!) list of all the yummy sugary snacks I used to OD on!

1. Banjo

Available since 1976 until the mid 1980s, I sometimes wonder if I dreamt up this chocolate bar as it was discontinued in record time and never mentioned again! One minute I was being treated to a bar of Banjo every time I went to Tesco with my mum, the next minute it had earned a place in chocolate heaven. Banjo was a milk chocolate covered twin bar with a chopped peanut layer and could be considered a distant (and not so successful) cousin of Twix and Drifter. Packaged in a navy blue and yellow wrapper, it was one of the first choccy  bars to have a heat-sealed wrapper instead of the reverse-side fold which was common back then. Apparently there was also a coconut version in a red wrapper available although I cannot for the life of me remember it!

2. Wrigley’s Opal Fruits

Heavily advertised throughout the 1980s, these fruity cuboid shaped sweets were once a permanent fixture in the duffel coated pockets of many an infant school child who would happily swap the ones they couldn’t stand for they ones they liked (for me it was the dreadful orange ones.) I remember that distinctive yellow packaging and these are actually still in existence although they have been rebranded as Starburst. However, it doesn’t seem the same – who ever heard of Starburst: made to make your mouth water?

3. Rowntree’s Jelly Tots

 

I love these plump, round little sugar coated jellies that resemble tablets. They may be aimed at children but that’s fine by me as they bring out the (big) kid in me! Launched in 1967, they are still on sale today which surprises me because I don’t know anyone else who buys these except me. You’ll know I’ve finished a packet because there will only be the orange ones that are left!

4. Fry’s Turkish Delight

 

This is still a very firm favourite of mine and as a kid I was mesmerised by the gorgeous and distinctive amethyst and fuschia metallic wrapper. My fascination with the very gaudy (Hubby’s words not mine!) yet eye catching packaging didn’t diminish as I entered adulthood as it is my ultimate favourite colour combination and served as inspiration for when I redesigned my room!

I was surprised to learn that Fry’s Turkish Delight has been around since 1914. I love the unique concept of a rose flavoured jelly enrobed in delicious milk chocolate. I used to watch the rather sensual advert for this chocolate bar as I was watching daytime television with my mum after playschool! The slogan “Full of Eastern Promise” is still ringing in my ears and I only wish more shops would promise to stock up this yummy treat.

5. Nestlé’s Caramac

 

A very unusual concept, it was not a chocolate bar so much as a caramel flavoured bar, made using condensed milk, butter and sugar and packaged in a distinctive red and yellow wrapper. This was a treat that could only be tolerated in small doses: initially it’s quite tasty but too much of it and it becomes quite sickly. It’s still a great reminder of back in the day and apparently it’s back in production although I have yet to set eyes on a bar of Caramac second time around!

6. Chewits

 

Still very much in demand today as it was way back when, these chewy sweets were first launched in 1965. Since then, there have been a whole host of delicious flavours over the years including blue mint, rhubarb and custard, cola and tutti frutti but I don’t recall ever trying the banana flavoured ones which sound like they would have been right up my street! In 2009, there was even an online petition to relaunch the ice-cream flavoured Chewits due to public demand expressed on various social networking sites. If only the same thing could work for world peace!

7. Barratt’s Black Jack

 

I wouldn’t have called this a sweet treat so much as a sweet torture! It’s exactly the kind of thing you’d give to somebody you covertly didn’t like. I hated the strong aniseed flavour and even today I don’t think I could ever acquire a taste for it. However, a lovely family friend always used to buy my sister and I bumper packs of sweets which contained the dreaded Blackjacks so in an odd kind of way, even though I cannot stand the taste, it’s a wonderful reminder of a simpler time and a super sweet lady!

8. Barratt’s Fruit Salad Chews

 

Similar in concept to the awful Black Jacks; also contained in the bumper sweet packs, but these pineapple and raspberry flavoured fruit chews were definitely more palatable. I wonder what the nutritional value of these are considering it may be the closest most kids got to a fruit salad! Definitely pre-Jamie Oliver era.

9. Barratt’s Refreshers

 

These resembled those fizzy effervescent vitamin tablets my dad used to dissolve in water every night. Each pack contained a delicious range of fruit flavours which were fizzy on the tongue and we loved the tangy, slightly bubbling sensation as it fizzled away to nothing. That’s if we didn’t impatiently crunch the whole in two seconds flat before reaching for another one!

10. Fruitella

 

The inspiration behind this list! Although it was very similar to Chewits, I preferred Fruitella due to it’s softer texture and more natural flavours, and they do indeed contain real fruit juice and natural colours. My favourite is definitely the English Fruit variety and there isn’t a single fruit flavour in that pack I dislike. Very unusual for me. Back in 2007,  Fruitella brought out a  flavoured chocolate range that was discontinued due to an intense lack of popularity.

11. Barratt’s Sherbet Fountain

 

Consisting of fizzy sherbet and a liquorice stick, Sherbet Fountain underwent a bit of a revamp back in 2009 when the packaging was updated with a plastic tube complete with twist-off lid. Call me old fashioned but I preferred the traditional paper packaging complete with a little bit of the liquorice stick poking out at the end – even if you did end up with a bit of a mess by the time you got to the end! Despite comments I have made about loathing the taste of anything aniseedy, I couldn’t get enough of Sherbet Fountain and dread to think how many I must have got through a week. I suppose there’s a lot to be said for the combination of liquorice and sherbet.

I didn’t know it at the time but apparently you were supposed to bite the top of the hollow liquorice stick and the sherbet was then sucked through it like a straw. I suppose it’s hardly a huge surprise as the ‘Fountain’ bit is something of a give away! However, this is not possible with the new updated version as the liquorice stick is solid.

12. Refreshers

 

Swizzels Matlow always strike confectionary gold with every product they launch and Refreshers (not to be confused with one by Barratt) is no exception. A lemon flavour chewy bar that contains fizzy sherbet, it’s still available today and it’s just not safe when I’m around! Bite sized chews are also available as is a strawberry flavoured version.

13. Barratt’s  Dip Dab

 

I had quite a penchant for sherbet products by Barratt throughout my childhood. Dib Dab was equally as delicious as Sherbet Fountain and I worked my way through quite a few packs of these on a weekly basis – as did most kids of the 70s and 80s. Similar to the Fountain variety except that it came with a yummy lolly instead of liquorice stick for dipping.

14. Nerds

 

I was quite partial to the watermelon flavour and these little candy coated pieces of flavoured rock sugar was a huge deal among my little friends back in the 80s. I loved the fact that this came in a box which had separate compartments for two different flavours. However the novelty soon wore off after I gorged on so many that I felt sick. A great reminder of my era though.

15. Drumstick

 

By the same people who brought us the chewy Refreshers bars, Drumsticks are chewy raspberry and milk flavoured sweets on sticks – chewy lollies! We used to raid the sweet shops after school for handfuls of these. The wrapper has undergone something of a revamp but the iconic yellow, red and green colours have not changed. A larger sized chewy bar is also available.

16. Rowntree’s Tooty Frooties

 

In a world where most bite size candies were round, the square shape of these individual fruit flavoured sweets definitely stood out from the crowd. They weren’t my favourite but I loved look of the colourful crisp candy coated sweets and the surprisingly chewy texture. They are a reminder of my childhood and I shall love Rowntree’s Tooty Frooties forever for that alone!

17. Rowntrees’ Fruit Gums

 

As much as I loved Rowntree’s Fruit Pastilles, I also had a liking for Rowntree’s Fruit Gums. These circular, fruit flavoured sweets were a cross between wine gums and fruit pastilles but without the sugar coating. Like the fruit pastilles, they were available in both roll packaging and larger volume boxes where the sweets are fruit shaped rather than circular. I’m not quite sure what my fascination with fruit gums were because I remember how difficult they were to chew; my teeth would be stuck tight together! Whereas the pastilles have endured, the popularity of the fruit gums have somehow faded over the years.

18. KP’s  Choc Dips

 

Being a typical kid, it wasn’t enough for sweets to be yummy; they also had to have the added novelty factor. And KP’s Choc Dips certainly had that. Whipping off the lid of a tub of Choc Dips would reveal two compartments: one containing crispy biscuit sticks and the other containing a yummy chocolate dip. The biscuits were so delicious that they could be eaten without the dip which was just as well because there was never enough chocolate! A toffee version was also launched and much later, one with a white chocolate dip. Both chocolate dips are still available today but what ever happened to the toffee dip?

19. Dolly Mixtures

 

The most iconic of candies, Dolly Mixtures consist of various multi-coloured fondant shapes, such as cubes and cylinders, soft sweets and sugar-coated jellies. I loved the appearance of the individual candies and the combination of pretty colours and interesting shapes definitely appealed to the girly girl in me. However, I found it incredibly hard to work my way through even a small packet of these as they were far too sweet. And coming from me, that’s saying something!

20. Double Dip

 

Produced  by the godfather of confectionary, Swizzels Matlow, all the cool kids were into Double Dip back in the late 1980s! It’s UPS was a sachet of two fruit flavoured sherbet powders (orange and cherry. Yes, we’re back with the sherbet again!) and a lemon flavoured swizzle stick for dipping. I’m pleased to see that Double Dip isn’t totally off the candy scene but it’s popularity has definitely erm, dipped. Since the original Double Dip hit our shelves, there have been other variations launched, such as the addition of a cola flavoured sherbet and Swizzels have even combined Double Dip with their other big seller Love Hearts to produce Love Hearts Dip.

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2013 in Nostalgia Tastes Like This!

 

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Crafts Lost and Found

Starting a new job and moving into a new flat leaves me with precious little time to devote to my favourite pastime other than snuggling up to my gorgeous hubby – reading! However during a brief wander round my local Waterstones, I came across a delightful little book by Una McGovern called Lost Crafts. As a keen crafter myself, I thought I’d have a quick flick through and discovered lots of forgotten little gems: jam making; peel candying; making old fashioned sweets and traditional lemonade, cheese making… OK, so a lot of this does sound very 1920s which was a lot before my time and contrasts sharply with my erm, hard rocking image. But before we became an overworked, celebrity obsessed, technology ruled, throw away society who only ever see close family and friends via Facebook updates, people actually enjoyed such pursuits and these were considered great family pastimes which brought people together – best of all, they didn’t always cost a small fortune. Back in the 1980s, such activities were not considered old fashioned and I really hope that a revival of such crafts is somewhere on the horizon.

 

Flicking though the book ( I will get around to purchasing a copy come pay day!) was something of a revelation and has even inspired me to start a new blog – time permitting!

Watch this space…

BREAKING NEWS: After  writing this piece, I went to Waterstones an hour later to purchase the book… and found that someone had purchased the store’s only copy! Says it all really.

 

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2013 in This, That and the Other!

 

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I’m Back!

I hate that I’ve been away from my beloved blog for longer than I care to think about but it’s all been for a good reason. I landed a great gig at an English language college and I’m loving it, loving it, loving it! The hours are longer than a pair of longjohns belonging to an NBA player; due to excessive tiredness, I’m constantly OD’ing on caffeine so much it would be cheaper to develop a crack addiction and I hate that I don’t get to spend enough time with my lovely hubby and other equally loved ones but… I really love my job. I’m based in one of the best parts of central London; I get to work with a fantastic bunch of people everyday and I enjoy the work immensely. The hours may be crazy but they do fly by which goes to show that I’m definitely having fun; I can’t believe that I’m getting paid to socialize!

 

However much I’m enjoying life at the moment (not to mention having regular money coming in. Go me!) I won’t be abandoning my blog any time soon and cannot wait to start reminiscing again. Remember when…

Watch this space…. I’m coming back real soon!

 

 

 
 

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