Monday, December 15, 2014

Spiced chocolate cheesecake with Christmas cake crust & Festive Decor ideas

Christmas decorations in our family home have always been the responsibility of my sister and I - as children we would decorate and redecorate the Christmas tree no less than 3 times before the 25 December, which not surprisingly drove our mother nuts! It was a happy coincidence then when my sister, Sarah-Jane and I were asked to team up and put together a very special feature for Food and Home magazine last month; 'A Guide to the Perfect Stress-Free Christmas' which ironically, was a not-so-stress-free experience creating it! But we did have tons of fun and hopefully, if you're feeling a tad stressed out about hosting Christmas lunch or dinner, it may give you an idea or two. 
A showstopper succulent wreath, rosemary napkin rings and hand-painted napkins for guests to take home as momento's.
I thought I'd share some of the great ideas my sister-dearest came up with (especially for an African-inspired Christmas), my favourite being the gorgeous succulent wreath she created as a centrepiece. Oh, and the paper origami! 

The perfect roast potatoes,  French-roast turkey and beautiful origami star string lights

The menu was all about tradition with a twist, my grandmother's French-roast turkey was the highlight - steam-roasted so it's juicy and falls off the bone - and stuffed with sage and dried pear bulgar wheat stuffing. This year, serve your turkey on a bed of fresh bay leaves, rosemary and sage - it looks so ridiculously royal and fancy with so little fuss! 
Three pea salad with mint dressing, Naartjie (citrus) and ginger beer gammon and Lemon-cured trout with herby mayo

My favourite recipe on the menu though, was this gorgeously rich and velvety spiced chocolate cheesecake which I really like not just for the decadence but because it's something a little different but still nods to tradition with the addition of a Christmas cake crust. Great for using up any leftover Christmas cake you have hanging around! 
Spiced chocolate cheesecake with Christmas cake crust
Spiced chocolate cheesecake with Christmas cake crust
Recipe originally created for F&HE Magazine December 2014 issue
Serves 12 

100g ginger biscuits, crushed
100g Christmas cake, crumbled into pieces
50g butter, melted
200g full-fat cream cheese
400g ricotta cheese
75g castor sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
40g cocoa powder
30ml (2 tbsp) brandy (optional)
5ml (1 tsp) ground cinnamon
100g good-quality dark chocolate, melted

200g dark chocolate, melted, to decorate (optional)
cocoa powder, to dust

Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease and line a 22cm springform cake tin.
In a food processor, blitz the crushed biscuits, Christmas cake and butter until combined then press into the base of the lined tin.
Place the cream cheese, ricotta and sugar into food processor and process until smooth.
Add the eggs, cocoa powder, brandy, if desired, cinnamon and the cooled melted chocolate and mix to combine. Pour the mixture over the biscuit base and bake in the oven until just set, 25 – 30 minutes. Turn the oven off and allow to cool in the tin. Once completely cool, refrigerate overnight.
To serve, unmould the cheesecake onto a cake stand and allow the cake to come back to room temperature before decorating with melted dark chocolate and dusting with cocoa.
Roast vegetable crumble and origami Christmas trees

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