Monthly Archives: November 2011

Maple Cheesecake with Maple-Glazed Pears & Cranberries

A while ago Jordi sent me a copy of ‘Fall Baking’ (which incidentally is the best baking magazine ever). It contains lots of maple recipes – this cheesecake being one of them. I thought I’d give it a go this weekend, after being told by Jordi that the response it got was ‘freakishly awesome’ when she made it. 

There are always one or two things that are likely to go wrong when you’re baking. Even more so when you’ve woken up late after spending the evening before with lovely people watching Scott Pilgrim, and are feeling too tired to bother doing anything more productive than making cheesecake. 

Maple-Glazed Pears & Cranberries

I’ve only just taken the cheesecake out of the oven – it smells glorious – but I’ve yet to taste it, fairly convinced that I overcooked the base. It’s unlikely that the packet of ground almonds that fell in the mixture as I was trying to get flour out of the cupboard will have caused any long-term impairment to the cheesecake (the downsides of having a small kitchen and disorganised cupboards – but at least the packet was sealed). I also ran out of maple syrup when making the maple-glazed pears, so decided it would be a reasonable equivalent to mix some sugar with water to make up the little bit more syrup I needed. I’ll let you know how that turned out. For reference, Sainsburys is not a reliable source of maple syrup – I spent ages wandering around trying to find it with no success. I did however find cupcake cases with snowflakes on them. This probably doesn’t make up for the sugar + water = “maple syrup” thing… 

So now for the agonising 2 hour wait for it to cool down before I can taste it. I really do hope it’s freakishly awesome…

3/4 cup all-purpose flour (or self-raising as I know it)

3 tbsp brown sugar

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted

3 x 8oz packs of cream cheese

1x 8oz pack of mascarpone

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1/4 light cream (or half and half if you know what that is)

2 tbsp all purpose flour

1 tsp vanilla (extract)

3 eggs lightly beaten

1. Preheat the oven to 350F (170C). For crust, in a medium bowl combine the 3/4 cup flour & 3 tbsp brown sugar. Cut (or rub) in the butter until the mixture is crumbly. Stir in pecans. Pat onto the bottom of a 10in springform pan. Bake for 10-12 mins or until lightly browned. Cool crust while preparing filling.

2. In a large bowl combine cream cheese and mascarpone, beat with an electric mixer (or use brute strength if you don’t own one, like me) until smooth. Add the brown sugar, 1/2 cup maple syrup, cream, flour and vanilla – beat until well mixed. Add all the eggs at once, stir until just combined.

3. Pour filling into the crust-lined pan, spreading evenly. Bake for 35-40 mins or until a 2&1/2-3 inch area around the outside edge appears set when gently shaken (centre will be soft, but will set up as the cheesecake cools).

4. Cool for 15mins, then using a thin knife loosen the crust from the sides of the pan. Cool for 30 mins more, then remove the side of the pan. Cool for 2 hours.

5. To serve, top with maple-glazed pears and cranberries.

Maple-glazed pears and cranberries

In a large skillet melt 2 tbsp butter over medium heat. Add 4 medium peeled, cored and thinly sliced Bosc or Anjou pears. Cook for 4 mins, stirring occasionally. Stir in 1/2 cup dried cranberries, 1/4 cup pure maple syrup and 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon. Cook 2-3 mins more or just until pears are tender, stirring occasionally. Serve warm over cheesecake.

Photos of the completed cheesecake to follow….

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And now, may I proudly present (sans cookies)…

A big cross-Atlantic high-five to Lizzie Erwood for her outstanding first post – and her fabulous-looking tart. I have no baking to show for myself at the moment (mark my words: this shall soon be rectified) but I thought I’d take the opportunity to introduce us anyway.

Lizzie Erwood forms the “royal” component of the blog. She is located in Cambridge, England (although she is not a personal friend of Kate’s), where she manages a bookshop,and studies art history when she’s not in the kitchen. She truly is a 21st-century everything-woman – smart, talented, and good with a spatula. She’s got a cute accent, too.

I, Jordi Wieler, form the “moose” component of the blog. A slightly less flattering title, perhaps, but I wear it proudly. I’m a full-blooded Canadian, currently living in a little place called Moose Jaw, though I met my friend Lizzie when I worked in Cambridge last year. We immediately bonded over books and brownies (and beer, if we want to continue with the alliteration) and when, to her great chagrin, I moved back to the colony, the blog was born – out of desperation, really. We miss each other. A lot.

So what we have here is an epistolary, culinary, extraordinary experiment. No longer shall Saskatchewanians’ pallets be confined to puffed-wheat squares and nanaimo bars. No longer shall Brits have to resort to the ol’ Bakewell tart (someone’s going to hate me for saying that; the English folk guard their traditions like a fat man guards his french fries). It is time to blend the classic and the creative, the prairie and the pastoral, the maple and the marzipan! Bring on the baked goods and the half-baked witticisms of two little women with big, big appetites! No ocean shall keep us apart! Our dreams and our disasters and our delicacies shall know no bounds! (Except when the Royal Mail refuses to let me ship shortbread.)

There’s nothing left to say, but “happy baking, my friend.” Well, that, and

This is Lizzie celebrating her birthday in Grantchester. I (Jordi) am represented by the cake - which I made. For Lizzie. Because I like her. A lot.

God save the queen.

Salted Caramel & Chocolate Tart… or, the first ever post


I’ve just realised, as I was about to write out the recipe for this lovely salted caramel and chocolate tart that units of measurement are quite arbitrary on a global level – so to assist with any confusion that grams, ounces or cups may cause, I hope you’ll find this of some use. With one English writer, and one Canadian writer, both of us are regularly subjected to the difficulties of converting measurements (I only bought my first set of cups about a month ago), so hopefully having that will be of general use to everyone. Now, on to the talk of baking…

With Christmas drawing near, I have invested in my Christmas themed baking magazines, my star-shaped cutters that will enable me to build a biscuit Christmas tree, and vague plans for gingerbread houses. However, I put all of those things aside temporarily to make this salted caramel and chocolate tart. 

375g pack of sweet pastry

150g butter

150g caster sugar

2 tbsp agave syrup

1x 397g tin condensed milk

1 tsp sea salt flakes

150g dark chocolate

150g milk chocolate

– Roll out pastry and line a 20-22cm fluted tart tin. Trim and remove the pastry edges (save to make stars for later!). Prick the base with a fork all over and chill for 30 mins. Cut out a few star shapes from the remaining pastry

– Heat the oven to 190C/Gas Mark 5, put the case on a baking sheet, line the pastry case with parchment and baking beans or dried rice and bake blind for 20 mins. Put the stars on the baking sheet and bake at the same time. Remove the paper and beans and continue to cook for another 10-15 mins or until pastry is light golden.

– When the pastry case is cold, make the caramel. Gently heat the butter, sugar, agave syrup and condensed milk in a medium saucepan until the butter has melted. Increase the heat and stir continuously until the mixture comes to the boil.

– Reduce the heat slightly and allow the mixture to bubble for 8-10 mins. Stir all the time until the bubbles become larger and less frequent and the mixture gets thicker. Stir in the salt. Cool a little, then pour into the pastry case and leave to set for 1 hour.

– Melt the dark and milk chocolate in separate heatproof bowls over a pan of simmering water.

– Flood the top of the tart with the dark chocolate, spreading it to the sides, then put small spoonfuls of the milk chocolate and using the end of a teaspoon swirl together to give a marbled effect.

– Chill for 30 mins, adding pastry stars to the top after 15 mins. Don’t leave for too long as it will become too hard to slice.

I’ve written out the original recipe just for accuracy, but when baking I always adapt recipes for convenience – e.g. I went to the supermarket in search of agave syrup to find that it cost £2.43. I wasn’t going to spend that for 2 tbsp of something, so golden syrup it was. I don’t know if golden syrup exists in Canada. Please answer this for me Jordi. 

Unfortunately due to the misleading nature of the picture in the magazine, I used a much too shallow case (approx 3cm) – so I ended up having to make two, because all the caramel I had wouldn’t fit in one – you can make two (which I recommend because then you can bring baking happiness to your family and your colleagues), or use a deeper case. You’ll need more chocolate if you’re making two though…like, 50g more or so. 

Finally, a note on pastry. I never buy readymade shortcrust pastry – my dad has passed some serious pastry-making abilities on to me. So the ultimate pastry recipe is:

12oz flour

3oz margarine

3oz lard

small amount of cold tap water

Rub the margarine and lard into the flour, until it looks kind of like breadcrumbs, then gradually add water, mix with a knife (yes!) until it starts to gather together, add a bit more water until it all comes together in a ball. It should be a bit sticky, so make sure it’s not too dry!

The tart recipe asks for sweet pastry, which I didn’t bother with – I think it’s nice to have plain pastry, because the caramel and chocolate create enough sweetness. It’s quite a time consuming recipe overall, but completely worth it, because the outcome is so good. It is going to be one of those recipes I just keep going back to. 


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