On a Berry High
I was wishing I could be bottling the scent i was smelling the whole time i was handling these berries.
They smell like the familiar berry scented shampoos and soaps we are so used to, except these are more natural. Way more natural in fact.
I am quite sensitive when it comes to commercial artificial fragrances. I find most of them too sharp and pungent for my liking. I get headaches when i spray perfumes on myself. That’s kind of weird.
So anyways, for these berries, i decided that i want to use them both ways. One in its au naturel, untouched state, and another cooked senseless and sweetened with sugar.
So i settled on two items, egg tarts topped with the fresh berries, and a blueberry cheesecake.
The Egg Tarts:
Now these are your standard sweet shortcrust pastry, baked in a muffin pan. Well, they are supposed to be baked in a pie pan, but i went ahead and baked it in a muffin tin as i wanted it to be deep enough to house all that wonderful custard.
This crust is baked blind before i poured in the uncooked sweet egg mixture. The custard is baked in the cavity of the pastry, just a different version from the usual pastry cream that gets piped on top of a pre-baked shell.
I then arranged my berry precious* over the egg tarts and glazed jello mixture over it. And i must say, of all the activities involved in making these egg tarts, the hardest for me was the glazing. I used a mixture of Jell-o dissolved in water. That was a major flop for me. The jell-o was dead set against me (no pun intended). It set too quickly and instead of a nice liquid glossy consistency, i get this gloopy, gooey mess. Yuck.
Anyways, i won’t be providing a recipe for this, because this egg tart is just meh. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t taste bad, but i just don’t want to steal the limelight any further from the other candidate,
The Blueberry Cheesecake:
As with almost all cheesecakes, this cheesecake has three components.
Graham cookie pie crust, a lusciously smooth cheese filling and a sweet sunshine-y blueberry topping.
And if you insist on making you graham cookie crust from scratch, that’s quite a lot of work, but definitely definitely worth it. I thought the three components of this cheesecake went together perfect, but of course, u can’t please everybody. The graham cookie crust which is baked briefly with melted butter and sugar might be too grainy for some, who prefers a base which is more fine textured.
But once u get that cookie crust issues out of the way, this cheesecake comes together very easily. The topping was a breeze to make, and the filling was even more of a breezer (ok, this word probably doesnt exist).
The only thing i wished i did different was probably to add lemon juice to the blueberry topping, which i know from experience could really brighten up the taste by a notch.
Other than that, this dessert deserves a double thumbs up. This is a recipe i would definitely visit over and over again..
For more of this cake, head HERE. Obviously Mel is so much better at capturing and describing this blissful dessert. LOL.
Thanks Mel for sharing the recipe!
Recipe adapted from My Kitchen Cafe who adapted from William Sonoma Desserts
9 large rectangular graham crackers (around 1 1/2 cups), crushed
2 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons melted butter
For the cheese custard:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Freshly grated zest from 1 lemon
For the berries:
2 cups blueberries, rinsed
½ cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons cold water
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In a small bowl, combine the crushed graham crackers, sugar and butter. Pat the crumb mixture into a 9-inch pie pan and bake for 8 minutes, until very lightly browned and set. Let the crust cool completely before filling. Leave the oven on.
Meanwhile make the cheese custard: in a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla and beat until thoroughly mixed and smooth. Add the eggs and beat well. Stir in the lemon zest. Pour into the cooled shell and bake until just set, 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
While the custard is baking, combine the berries, water, and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes, stirring once or twice to prevent sticking. Remove from the heat and add the cornstarch mixture. Return to a boil and cook for one minute, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thickened. Remove from the heat and cool until tepid.
Spoon the berries over the custard. Chill for at least one hour before serving.
* Note: Berries are very rare in my part of the world. They usually cost quite a bit!