Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Chocolate Chunk & Shredded Coconut Cookies & The Liebster Blog Award!

Lately I've been making a lot more cookies than usual, which pleases my husband no end because he's got a pretty big addiction to hot chocolate! 

...and there is nothing he enjoys more than freshly baked cookies to dip into his hot chocolate! So I decided to finally get around to baking this recipe I had pinned way back in November. You should also check out Maggie's whole blog - I finally think I've found someone as obsessed with coconut as I am! and there are some delish sounding recipes on there!  

I decided to make my cookies quite large, they spread out nicely and the melting chunks of chocolate added perfect contrast to the texture of the shredded coconut.  If you're a coconut fan - you will love these! They did not last for long in our house.  I know coconut is a bit of a love/hate thing, so if you're not so keen on it you could always switch it out for some nuts or something.

I'm sorry - I feel like this post is lacking in my usual enthusiasm! but I have been in bed with some kind of food poisoning for the past 4 days and as you can imagine writing enthusiastically about food does not come easy when you have a current aversion to it! Fingers crossed I'll be back to my usual self, gorging on cupcakes and brownies, in no time! 

Chocolate Chunk & Shredded Coconut Cookies:
Makes 16

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk chocolate chunks
1 cup shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 190 degrees C.
In a stand mixer or large bowl, cream together the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy.
Beat in the egg, then stir in the vanilla.
Combine the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt; stir into the creamed mixture.
Fold in chocolate chunks and coconut.
Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto baking sheets (for the more rustic look) or roll yours into balls like I did.
Bake for 8-10 minutes in the preheated oven.
Allow cookies to cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

It's also about time I blogged about the liebster award.  I have been awarded it 3 different times in the past month but have not gotten around to writing about it just yet! Thanks to all who nominated me! 
For the observant among you it's normally awarded to blogs who have under 200 followers, and I did for the first two nominations from The Royal Cook and Make a long story short but my followers have increased since then and Kell's Kitchen liked my blog so much she was willing to give me a 10% margin on the rules - thanks Kelly! 

Liebster means favourite or dearest in German and as I said it is awarded to up and coming bloggers with followers of under 200.  The blogger awarded gets to share the award with 5 more bloggers of their choice and link back to the blogger who awarded them.

So I'm excited to share with you my 5 fave blogs of the moment that are definitely worth checking out...

First up is Daisy over at Nevertoosweet - I think you can tell from the title of her blog that we are kindred lovers of all things sweet! She lives in Hong Kong so blogs about some very interesting delicacies that she finds at bakeries/restaurants over there, and she has even just started her own cupcake hunt trying to find the best cupcakes HK has to offer! She also was lucky enough to go to NYC recently, a city ever so close to my foodie heart! and she was kind enough to flood her blog with pictures of Shake Shack, Serendipity 3, Dylan's and Crumbs (all personal faves of mine!) - it was enough for any NYC lover to get their fix! 

Second, is Kate from What Kate Baked - not only does she bake up countless delicious treats, but her blog posts are always very witty and an enjoyable read! She whips up all kind of interesting cupcake flavours such as Ferrero Rocher, Jaffa Cake and even Custard Cream flavour! 

Next up is Rebecca who blogs at I wanna Be A Domestic Goddess.  I'm sure she probably has way more than 200 followers but as she doesn't have the gadget I'm including her in my list! She is super crafty - in the scrapbooking/homemaking kind of way and an awesome baker and she also lives in DC (Sooo lucky!) She spent a whole year baking different whoopie pies each week, and she also annually dedicates a whole week worth of blog posts to baking cupcakes with amazing flavours like root beer float, hot fudge sundae and even 'shamrock shake' (minty milkshakes McD's used to make back in the day apparently!) Rebecca even spent 4 days in London where she did what any great cupcake lover would do and set out on a cupcake hunt, and I'm happy to say in those 4 days she covered nearly as many cupcakeries as I've covered in the last 5 years - now that to me is seriously impressive!!

Of course I'm going to give a shout out to my sister Mel over at Let's get scrappy - she features lots of her awesome scrapbooking layouts which include homemade bunting, lace borders and awesome sparkly lettering. She also bakes lots of cupcakes too (I guess it runs in the family!) and she just had to be apart from her husband for a week whilst he went home to Belgium so she whipped up a very sweet Valentine's snack bar to welcome him home which she has also blogged about.

and finally, Kat from Life of a Cupcake Baker - as you would expect she bakes a whole lot of cupcakes which I love! She's only had her little baking blog up and running for 8 months but in that time she has tackled (and mastered!) perfect frosting swirls, fondant characters, perfectly coated cake truffles and she always sticks to interesting flavour combos too! I am constantly impressed.

Hopefully all of you who have been nominated will pass it on to your favourite 5 up and coming bloggers too to keep the liebster love going!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Happy Pancake Day! Let's celebrate with Double Chocolate Mint Oreo Pancakes!

So it's Shrove Tuesday here in the UK, those of you in the U.S will probably be celebrating 'Fat Tuesday'.  Either way hopefully you will have been whipping up some delicious over the top treats no matter what side of the Atlantic you live on! 

Typical English pancakes are usually thin crepe style pancakes, and the traditional topping is a sprinkling of sugar with lemon juice.  Don't get me wrong, that type of pancake does have a place...but not in my kitchen! I wanted to make something truly decadent! 

I was planning to add some Mint Oreos in to some regular pancake batter, when I realised it would be even better if the pancake batter was chocolate to begin with! So double chocolate Mint Oreo pancakes were born (because they are studded with chocolate chunks as well as the Oreos!)

My husband declared this the best pancake day we've ever shared together, so the twist on tradition proved a big success! 

Check out that awesome neon green flash in the batter! Unfortunately you couldn't see the green colour peeking out once they were baked but you could definitely still taste the mintiness!

Double Chocolate Mint Oreo Pancakes:
Makes 15-20 depending on size
Adapted from Becky Bakes

3 tbsp melted unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp caster sugar
2 large free range eggs
1 1/4 cups semi-skimmed milk

90g chocolate chunks
90g crushed Mint Oreos

Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and sugar until combined.  Set aside.
In a medium bowl, beat the eggs and milk together until light and foamy. Stir in melted butter.
Stir in flour mixture and mix until just blended.
Fold in chocolate chunks and crushed Oreo pieces.

Put a drop vegetable oil into the pan.
Pour between 1/4-1/2 cup of pancake batter into the pan.
Heat until bubbles start to form, flip and cook on the other side for 1-2 minutes.
Serve with 3 in a stack, 2 scoops of mint choc chip ice cream, some warm melted chocolate and a few sprinklings of crushed Mint Oreos.

Devour and enjoy...and realise why the Americans have named this day Fat Tuesday!
I currently have a deliciously cute baby sleeping in my arms as we are babysitting for baby Elijah tonight...blogging with one hand is alot harder than it looks! but it's definitely worth it for these sweet snuggles he's been giving me!

Thursday, 16 February 2012

A Giant Valentine's Heart Shaped Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie...for the one I love!

Do you know what my fantastic husband planned for us on Valentine's last year? 

Yes, we spent the afternoon parasailing on the magical island of Turks and Caicos, where we were lucky enough to be living.  It was amazing and will definitely go down as one of my best February 14th's ever!

So this year we find ourselves living in North Wales...how was I ever going to to top what Byron planned for me last year - the answer is I wasn't! So I stuck to what I do best and decided I would create the masterpiece of all sweet treats and that would be good enough.  I was ready to make the most extravagant layer cake I could dream up, but after quizzing Byron subtly one day last month about what his favourite dessert in the whole world would be...his answer was cookies!

Cookies? how boring can you get! I was not impressed! He said a triple chocolate cookie would be his favourite ever dessert.  So I started thinking of ways I could jazz up a triple chocolate cookie...and that's when I remembered the cookie I got him on our 2nd Valentine's together...

Excuse the very bad phone picture, but this was a giant heart cookie from Millie's.  I decided if I bought a giant heart cookie pan I could have a go at creating my own!

If you have good eyesight you will have noticed the message on that cookie from 6 years ago reads 'Wouldn't it be nice'.  I'm a huge Beach Boys fan and this used to be 'our song' whilst we were dating, the lyrics fit our state of mind perfectly - 'Wouldn't it be nice if we were older then we wouldn't have to wait to so long' etc.. we even had somebody play this song on the piano at our wedding, it was pretty awesome! So this time around I decided the message should read 'it's so nice' because we don't have to long for days of being together all the time because they are here now!

I was recently alerted by an American friend of mine that Asda have started selling mini Reese's peanut butter cups! This was exciting news and so as Byron is such a peanut butter lover I decided the cookie should involve them too, so I stuck them to the top of the cookie with a little melted chocolate and using edible glue I stuck a heart on each one too.  I also had a few leftover peanut butter chips that came in handy as well.

This is the chocolatey goodness that inspired me!

I used my good old chocolate and peanut butter cookie recipe that had impressed us recently, with a few adaptions to make it 'TRIPLE' chocolate as Byron had requested!

Giant Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie:
Adapted from Bakerella

185g or 1 1/2 cups plain flour
60g or 1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
113g or 1/2 cup butter, slightly softened
335g or 1 1/2 cups caster sugar
130g or 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
100g milk chocolate chunks
100g white chocolate chunks
50g Reese's peanut butter chips

To decorate:
Reese's mini peanut butter cups
Red sugar hearts

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
Grease your cookie pan with butter.
In a small bowl, mix flour, cocoa, bicarbonate of soda and salt using a wire whisk and set aside.
In a free standing mixer, cream butter and sugar with peanut butter until light and fluffy.
Add eggs and vanilla and mix until combined.
Add flour mixture into creamed mixture and mix until combined.
Stir in milk and white chocolate chunks, and peanut butter chips.
Transfer cookie mix into prepared pan and press it down ensuring there are no gaps.
Bake for 14-18 minutes.
Leave to cool in pan for 10 minutes.  Run a knife around the edge of the cookie and gently transfer it to a wire rack to cool completely.

So the treat was well received by Byron, and we have been enjoying big chunks of it all week long! It is especially good if you warm it up in the microwave for about 20 seconds before eating because all the massive chunks of chocolate inside go incredibly gooey and delicious! 

I also made him a little slideshow of all our fun times together, accompanied by what else but The Beach Boys! If you want to check it out you can view it here. I even matched the pictures to the lyrics of the song, and as it was my first time using imovie I was pretty impressed with that! 

Hope you all had great Valentine's Day fun baking delicious treats for the ones you love too! 

Speaking of delicious treats, the previous winner of the cheesecake giveaway did not claim their prize! Sad for them, but great news for all of you who get another chance to win!

So the new winner is...no 119 

Emma Binning

Please email me or contact me via the facebook page a.s.a.p to give me your address and arrange delivery of your yummy prize! 

Raspberry Marble Cheesecakes for Martha Stewart's Cupcake Club

So I'm cutting it fine here...midnight is fast approaching (here in Wales) and I wanted to be sure to post up my Raspberry Marble Cheesecakes for the Martha Stewart Cupcake Club - after all this recipe was chosen by me this month! but yesterday I was busy all day baking up a special Valentine's treat for Byron and the 15th just crept up on me! 

I was also a bit cheesecake-d out as chance would have it.  I selected this recipe way back before Christmas when I hadn't baked or eaten cheesecake in aaaages and then a few weeks back I made my s'mores cheesecake and this week we've been finishing off some delicious Valentine's cheesecakes that The English Cheesecake Company sent us! so I wasn't too excited to be baking these if I'm completely honest...

but all that changed once the baking had begun, and once I had made the raspberry puree.  Oh man, it smelt so amazing! I seriously wanted to eat it by the spoonful, and I couldn't help myself so I did - but I wouldn't advise it...I hadn't added any sugar to it yet and it was pretty tart! As I was inhaling the amazing raspberry goodness, I had a fantastic idea! Baked vanilla cheesecake is a little boring by itself, so I decided to throw a few tablespoons of that delicious raspberry puree into the mix...not only did it turn it a lovely shade of pale pink but when I tasted some it tasted like raspberry milkshake! Seriously it took my baking session to new heights of enjoyment! Unfortunately - the cheesecakes are cooling in the fridge so I won't be able to try them 'til morning but judging by what I licked from the bowl, they're going to be super tasty! 

I even decided to get a little festive with my swirling of the puree, and since I was still all loved up from Valentine's I used a toothpick to create little heart shapes on the cheesecakes!

Raspberry Marble Cheesecakes:
Makes 12

95g crushed Hobnobs
21g unsalted butter, melted 
85g raspberries
1 tbsp caster sugar
450g cream cheese
200g caster sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 160 degrees C.
Line cupcake tin with cupcake cases.
Crush Hobnobs in food processor.  Melt butter in microwave and stir into the Hobnobs.  
Press 1 tablespoon of crust mixture firmly into the bottom of each cupcake case.  Bake until set, about 5 minutes.  

Blend up raspberries in a food processor until smooth, about 30 seconds.  Pass the puree through a sieve into a small bowl, pressing with a flexible spatula to remove as much liquid as possible.  Throw away the seeds (or eat them like I did, yum!) Whisk in one tablespoon of sugar.
With an electric mixer on medium high speed, beat cream cheese until fluffy, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.  With mixer on low speed, add remaining 200g sugar in a steady stream.
Add salt and vanilla.  (At this point I added 3 tbsp of the raspberry puree mix).
Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just combined after each.

Spoon 3 tablespoons of filling over the crust in each case.  Dollop a few spots of raspberry puree on top of the mix.  Using a toothpick drag it through the spots to form heart shapes, or swirl it in any direction to create a random swirl pattern.

Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until filling is set for about 22 minutes.  Martha advises you use a water bath to ensure they don't crack - I didn't and mine were fine.  
Transfer to wire racks to cool completely and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

If you want to check out all the other bakers who baked along with us this month then you can do so here.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Chocolate Valentine's Day Cake Pops...and a Cheesecake Winner!

I shared with you a few weeks ago some of the baking goodies I got for Christmas.  I thought, seeing as how it's now February, it was time to share the rest! 

This is what your present stash looks like when Santa tells you he's not going to buy you much cupcake stuff this year because you have enough!! If you don't believe that this is a small amount of stash, check out the cupcake goodies of Christmas '10, and Christmas '09.

To be fair other than these cute cupcake cookie cutters, the cupcake calendar, car freshener, heart cases, socks, carriers and shopper most of the other prezzies were general baking related goodies.  My fave was the Jamie Oliver jelly mould set, I have big plans for that - I am a huge jelly lover! My KitchenAid earrings also went down well! I got a rather snazzy set of Nigella Christmas mixing bowls you can see peeking through at the back, and I got a cake pop machine with lots of cake pop paraphernalia! 

I've seen these machines around for a while now but I'd never been tempted to try them out.  To me, cake pops are cake crumbs mixed with frosting, rolled into balls and dipped in chocolate.  I didn't understand how you could 'bake' cake pops and I didn't think they would be too appealing, but after receiving my present I was interested to test them out! 

I became even more excited to make my first batch of cake pops with the machine after I got my monthly email from Squire's and fell in love with their coloured cake pop sticks they sell.  Up until now I had only ever been able to find white ones, and I used to be more than a little envious of all the amazing coloured sticks I see on American baking blogs.  So I snapped up some red sticks knowing they would be perfect for some Valentine's pops! 

Aren't they awesome! I love how vibrant they are, and they are also alot sturdier and more durable than white cake pop sticks I have bought in the past.  My ferrero rocher tray was the perfect size to hold the cake pops in once they had come out of the machine (although I had to cool them on a wire rack first otherwise they were so hot they melted the plastic!)

I was slightly dubious...while baking my first batch in the cake pop machine it smelt exactly like when you make cheese toasties in a toastie machine! I wasn't sure how they were going to taste! but I'm happy to report that the chocolate cake was actually really tasty and moist, and the fact that the machine made all my cake pops so perfectly round and uniform made me a happy baker.  I was pleasantly surprised! 

I dipped them in some milk chocolate and then decorated away with lots of super cute Valentine's sprinkles from Just Bake.  They have a great range of sprinkles, cupcake wrappers and cupcake cases.

My favourite product from their site has to be these adorable double sugar heart decorations. I have never seen anything like these before and they would look great on cupcakes too but I thought they looked especially striking on these cake pops, and they co-ordinated with the red sticks so perfectly! 

I finished off my last few cake pops with some toasted coconut just because I LOVE coconut.  They smelt soo good as we were photographing them, and it was pretty hard to resist taking a bite! 

I think they turned out much neater and more attractive then the last times I made cake pops and oreo pops

Here's how to make you own, in the cake pop machine:

Chocolate Cake Pops:
Makes 24
Recipe from Sweet Treats booklet

125g unsalted butter, softened
125g caster sugar
2 medium eggs
100g self raising flour
3 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp milk

For decorating:

400g milk chocolate
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
sprinkles of your choice
toasted coconut

Beat together the butter and sugar in a mixer/bowl until light and fluffy.

Add one egg at a time, beating well after each addition.  Sift the flour and cocoa powder into the bowl and add the milk.  Beat until everything is fully incorporated and the mixture is smooth.

Plug the machine in.  Using a pastry brush, brush a small amount of vegetable oil on the top and bottom plates of the machine to assist with the removal of the cake pops.

When the green light illuminates the machine is ready to use.

Add one slightly heaped teaspoon of mixture to each hole in the machine, filling it to just below the line of the hole.

Close the lid and time them for 4 minutes.  Check them, if they feel spongy and firm they are done.
Leave them to cool for 1 minute in the machine with the lid open.

Remove them from the machine with a teaspoon, then leave them to cool on a wire rack.

Repeat until you have used up all your mixture, mine took 4 batches.

Transfer your cake balls into a ferrero rocher tray or egg box (something that will hold them stable).

Melt 200g milk chocolate with 1/2 tsp veg oil in a bowl in the microwave on low heat, for 20 second intervals until all chocolate is melted and smooth.  Keep a close eye on it as it can burn easily.
(I did mine in two batches as the chocolate can become too thick if it's left out for a long time)

Dip your sticks in the chocolate and then dip them into the cake balls.

Freeze them for about 15-20 minutes, this will help the chocolate to firm up quicker once dipped.  

Transfer the melted chocolate into a small container - you don't want to use a large bowl because you need a good depth to dip your cake pop.  I used a tall milkshake glass which was the perfect size.

Dip your cake pop into the chocolate so it is completely submerged, pull it out twirling it around to flick off excess chocolate.  

Sprinkle your favourite edible decorations on the chocolate quickly before it sets.

I poked holes in the styrofoam blocks that came in the cake pop machine box and then stood up the dipped cake pops in there so that they were upright and secure.

Leave to cool for about 2 hours until the chocolate has set completely.  

Eat and enjoy! 

and you may be here because I was hosting a little giveaway this week.  Thanks for all your entries, I was overwhelmed by your love of cheesecake!! and I'm happy to announce the winner of the Valentine's Cheesecake competition is....

Tammy Chambers! 

Congratulations, please contact me as soon as possible by sending me an email at cupcakecrazygem@gmail.com with your contact details - address and telephone number so that we can arrange for the English Cheesecake Company to send out your cheesecakes in time for Valentine's! 

Sorry to all of those who missed out, but thanks for joining along and hope you will enjoy all the recipes featured on my blog.  If you were some of the people who said you were going to have a go at the s'mores cheesecake do let me know how it turned out! 

Saturday, 4 February 2012

S'mores Cheesecake and a Valentine's Cheesecake GIVEAWAY!

*** This giveaway is now closed ***

You may be thinking that for a person who spent a whole 5 months of her life baking and developing cheesecakes for The English Cheesecake Company last year, that my blog is severely lacking in cheesecake recipes...and you'd be right! 

Oh the fun I had and the flavours I dreamed up! I made a whole range of drinks cheesecakes - there was the milk and cookies: an oreo flavoured cheesecake topped with oreo cookies and gummy milk bottles! The coco cola flavoured cheesecake filled with popping candy and topped with fizzy cola bottles, the lemonade cheesecake topped with whole slices of lemon and giant sugar crystals that made it look like what you see when you peer into a giant jug of lemonade! and my personal favourite was the 'my cheesecake brings all the boys to the yard' - a strawberry milkshake flavoured cheesecake covered in gummy milkshakes. 

However, unfortunately I can't share any of those recipes with you since they are top secret! and one day down the line may be used by the company I was working for.  So I can develop my own recipes at home to share with you...but, my husband is not a cheesecake fan! and when you're making a full sized cheesecake and only one person is going to eat it - that's a problem! you can bet I would get crazy fat in no time at all.  

So bear with me, I'm trying as much as I can to ease cheesecake into our household gently! We had some Americans over for dinner and I knew we were going to rustle up some slow cooker pulled pork burgers with creamy corn and I wanted a suitably American dessert to finish off with.  I have had this recipe bookmarked for aaaages so I was more than excited to finally get around to using it! 

So what constitutes a s'mores cheesecake? a graham cracker base, which delighted the Americans we served it to because you can't actually buy graham crackers in regular supermarkets here! A super smooth and creamy milk chocolate baked filling topped with some ooey gooey toasted marshmallow.

One of our guests declared it the best cake ever, and for me it was definitely the best cheesecake I've tasted in a long time.  

You may notice it's not as aesthetically pleasing as it could have been, check out Tracey's beautiful version to see how it could look! One of the steps for the marshmallow topping is to use a hand held electric beater to whisk it whilst it is simmering in a pan above water.  I don't have a hand held beater and so I had to resort to doing it by hand...do you know how hard it is to whip marshmallow meringue into stiff peaks with only your muscles (or lack thereof) for power? Well, you can see how hard it is from the picture below because mine probably wasn't whipped as long as it should have been and so it wasn't as stiff as it could have been but it still tasted just as delicious! I also grilled mine, as I don't have a blowtorch and you can't get as nice a toasted effect but you definitely get the toasted taste coming through so it is worth doing it! Just keep a close eye on it, it gets toasty super quick! 

S'mores Cheesecake:

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 9-10 whole crackers)
3 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 

9 oz milk chocolate, chopped
2 8-oz packages cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
3 large egg, at room temperature 

1 cup sugar
2 large egg whites
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
12 large marshmallows, cut into quarters with wet kitchen scissors
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the crust:  Preheat oven to 350 F.  Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray.  In a medium bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs and sugar.  Pour the melted butter over the mixture and stir until the crumbs are evenly moistened.  Press into an even layer in the bottom of the prepared springform pan.  Bake for 12 minutes, or until set.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.  Reduce oven temperature to 325 F.

To make the filling:  Add the chocolate to a microwave-safe bowl and heat in 30 second intervals at 50% power, stirring in between each interval, until the chocolate is melted and smooth.  Cool until just barely lukewarm, stirring occasionally.

Combine the cream cheese, sugar, and salt in the bowl of your food processor and pulse until smooth. With the machine running, pour the heavy cream through feed tube and process just until blended. Again, with the machine running, add the melted chocolate and then the eggs, one at a time, blending and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition until the mixture is smooth.  Pour the batter over the cooled crust. 

Bake for about 55 minutes, or until the outer edge is slightly puffed and the center is barely set (the center will jiggle slightly when the pan is gently shaken).  Transfer the pan to a wire rack.  Run a small sharp knife around the cake to loosen it from the pan.  Let cool slightly then refrigerate for at least 8 hours.  (I left mine uncovered in the fridge until it was cold, then used plastic wrap to cover the pan.) 

To make the topping:  In a large metal bowl (I used the bowl for my stand mixer), combine the sugar, egg whites, water, cream of tartar and salt.  Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk constantly until the sugar dissolves and the mixture feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes.  Remove the bowl from the pan and add the marshmallows; let stand for a few minutes until the marshmallows soften.  Place the bowl back over the pan of simmering water and beat the topping with a hand mixer for 4-5 minutes, or until stiff, shiny peaks form.  Beat in the vanilla.

Let the topping cool just slightly (don't wait too long or it'll set and you won't be able to spread it).  Meanwhile, remove the sides of the pan from the cheesecake.  Transfer the topping onto the cheesecake; use a spatula to spread it to the edges.  Let stand for about 15 minutes, or until set.  Use a kitchen torch to toast the topping lightly.  (You could also do this under your broiler but keep a VERY close eye on it, it'll go from brown to burnt quickly.)  Transfer the cheesecake to the fridge and chill well before serving.

So that was my s'mores cheesecake but you're really here for the GIVEAWAY right?

Well since I know so many of my followers are cheesecake lovers! and since Valentine's day is right around the corner - how would you like to win some of these delicious and oh so cute mini Valentine's Cheesecakes courtesy of The English Cheesecake Company! They would make the perfect gift for that loved one in your life...or even the perfect gift if you wanted to treat yourself, shh I won't tell! 

When the postman arrived on my doorstep this morning bearing these cheesecake goodies it was more than a little exciting! and of course I had to taste test them to make sure they were up to scratch.  Let's have a run down of the flavours:

You get 4 varieties (3 of each in the box).  First up is a baked vanilla cheesecake on a crunchy biscuit base, topped with a dark chocolate fudge sauce and crushed up Oreos and an edible chocolate rose in the middle.

Next is a baked chocolate cheesecake on a chocolate biscuit base, topped with the fudge sauce and this time little bits of chocolate covered honeycomb and an edible chocolate rose.

The second baked vanilla cheesecake is topped with the fudge sauce and broken up pieces of chocolate flake along with the edible chocolate rose.

The final one to complete the lineup was my absolute favourite because Toblerone has got to be one of my favourite chocolates ever! So a baked chocolate cheesecake, on a chocolate biscuit base covered in fudge and big chunks of Toblerone is my idea of heaven! 

Words can't describe how delicious these cheesecakes truly were.  Sometimes for me I find cheesecake a bit boring and plain but these were anything but! I love the addition of the sticky fudge sauce which really adds something special and I love how chunky all the toppings are! 

So you want to try them too don't you?

To be entered into this competition for a chance to win these delights you just need to do one thing:
1. Like the English Cheesecake Company on facebook  and leave me a comment on this post telling me that you have done so.  

If you'd like to increase your chances you can have a bonus entry for:
2. Liking my brand new facebook page, again leave me a separate comment telling me you have done so.

If you really really want these cheesecakes you can have a 3rd entry by:
3. Retweeting this giveaway on Twitter, and then comment and let me know.

Each individual comment acts as a new entry so if you do all 3 things be sure to leave 3 comments.

Okay - are we all up to speed? You have 3 chances to win and your entries are valid up until Midnight on Wednesday 8th February.  The winner will be announced on Thursday 9th February, to ensure plenty of time for delivery for Valentine's Day.  Unfortunately this is open to UK residents only since those cheesecakes will not make it to you in an edible state if you live anywhere else! 

Good luck!


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