Sunday, 22 April 2012

Nutty as a Cheese cake!

Piccola Torta di Ricotta, Mandorla e Frutti di Bosco
Individual Berry, Almond and Cream Cheese Pie

It was time for a little Sunday treat again- usually the only day of the week that I make anything sweet! Again, being the born NON-baker, I improvised, trusted on instinct, stubbornly attempted the impossible... and got away with it!

This is basically a cheese cake of sorts, with ground almonds added to make it firmer and more satisfying and mixed berries to make it fruitier and simply delicious. And does that sound like such a bad thing to you? I didn't think so! So fellow gastronauts- read on and enjoy!

The one thing that needs to be done here, is the simple short crust pastry base. I followed a simple rule I had picked up at some point, of it being a simple ratio of 1-2-3, whatever quantity you decide to make- meaning one part sugar, to 2 parts butter, to 3 parts flour.... so that is what I did! I stirred the ingredients into a dough and kneaded it until it was nice and smooth, then left it to rest for a while.

Next, I made up my filling. At this point I got a little creative and thought of my own ratio of 3 tablespoons of cream cheese, to 2 of vanilla custard powder, to one whole egg. This was perfect for 1 hearty serving. I whisked these together until smooth and added a cupful of frozen mixed berries. And yes of course- fresh would have been nice... but seriously- you are going to buy 4 lots of berries just to make one little individual cake? I didn't either. The frozen just makes more sense for this- plus they are going to be baked anyway! So in they go! I sweetened with stevia- about a tablespoonful was plenty for my taste and added a little cinnamon and a tiny squeeze of lemon juice. And not to forget- that little pinch of salt! Whisk together until everything turns a lovely mulberry color and then add 2-3 tablespoons of ground almonds. Mix them in well, feel free to lick that spoon and see how delicious it is... and go get busy with that pastry! It's time to bake!

Line your tray, dish or whatever form you are going to use with grease-proof paper. Roll out your dough into the appropriate shape and press it into place. Should you have any breaks in the dough, simply patch it up, press a little extra dough over the spot and hey presto! It will all melt and meld together anyway before it begins baking! Short crust pastry is very forgiving!

Add the filling right to the top- this is not some kind of cake that is going to rise-up on you and spill over the edge. And then say goodbye to at as you push it into a pre-heated oven at 400° for 45 to 60 minutes, depending on the size of your pie. I allowed mine a further 15 minutes with the oven turned off, just to be sure that the filling became nice and firm, but moist from the berries... and absolutely delicious! I actually ate mine warm... it just smelt so good! And I wouldn't blame you if you did the same!

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