"Lockdown baking". Yes, that is a phrase we say now.
In between the world going mad, current events echoing scenes from a horror film and spending much more time than I usually would at home, baking has been one of the key ways I have managed my mood and mental health. Getting away from the TV or computer screen often has been important for me. I also enjoy using my hands to make something delicious while listening to my current obsession, CBC's "Someone Knows Something" true crime podcast.
However, baking normal-sized recipes when your household is only made up of two of you (and there are no colleagues to hoover up the rest) is not ideal. Do I think we could polish off a large tray of brownies by ourselves? Most certainly. But, do I think we would feel good after doing so? Probably not. And would our waistlines thank us? I think that's a resounding no. So, rather than setting ourselves the rather unhealthy physical challenge of consuming as many baked goods as possible in an attempt to keep up with my mental health baking needs, I've started small batch baking. And here is the first small batch recipe I've actually got round to posting: Small Batch Chocolate & Peanut Butter Cheesecake. Enjoy!
Utensils: 5-inch springform cake tin (or similar), baking paper, oil for greasing, tin foil, food processor or rolling pin and plastic bag, 2 large mixing bowls, 2-3 small heatproof bowls, hand or stand mixer (or food processor), sieve, toothpick or knife, roasting tin that comfortably fits the cake tin inside, small saucepan, hand whisk.
Top Tip: Some cheesecake recipes don’t call for a bain marie (water bath), but I get best results with one. It regulates the baking temperature of the cheesecake, which prevents it from overcooking and cracking. The steam from the water bath also prevents the top of the cheesecake from drying out and cracking because it keeps the air in the oven moist. You could try making this cheesecake without one but if you do, I still recommend wrapping your spingform tin in foil to help protect the cheesecake during baking.
100g chocolate digestive biscuits (ensure gluten-free if required)
25g unsalted butter, melted
Chocolate & Peanut Butter Filling
200g full fat cream cheese
60g caster sugar
30g egg, beaten (approx. 1/2 of a large egg)
75ml double cream
1/2 teaspoon good quality vanilla bean paste / extract
60g good quality dark chocolate, melted
60g smooth peanut butter (no added sugar), warmed
Chocolate Fudge Topping
65ml double cream
15g golden syrup
90g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
20g unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon good quality vanilla bean paste / extract
1 tablespoon smooth peanut butter (no added sugar), warmed
A few shavings of good quality dark chocolate
Small handful salted peanuts
Makes: One 5-inch cheesecake, which can be shared between 2-4 people.
1. Preheat the oven to 140°C (fan 120°C). Grease and line the base of a 5-inch springform cake tin (or similar). Prepare the tin for the bain marie (water bath) it will sit in in the oven. Take a large piece of tin foil and wrap it tightly around the bottom and sides of the tin so that no water will leak into the tin when baking. Repeat with another piece of tin foil.
2. Crush the biscuits using a food processor (or the old-fashioned rolling pin and plastic bag method). Mix in the melted butter and then press the mixture into the bottom and slightly up the sides of the prepared tin. Use the back of a spoon to press the mixture tightly into the tin. Place in the fridge to firm up.
3. Using a stand mixer, hand mixer or food processor, beat together the cream cheese and sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Add the egg and beat thoroughly to combine. Sift in the cornflour and add the double cream and vanilla. Beat again to combine.
4. Split the mixture equally between 2 mixing bowls. In the first bowl, fold in the melted chocolate. In the second bowl, fold in the warmed peanut butter. Alternate pouring small amounts of the chocolate and peanut butter mixtures into the prepared tin until you have used both up. Swirl the mixtures together in the tin using a knife or a toothpick.
5. Place the cheesecake tin in the middle of a larger roasting tin and place in the centre of your pre-heated oven. Add freshly boiled water from the kettle to the roasting tin until it reaches about 1/3 of the way up the cheesecake tin, but does not go over the foil covering the tin. Bake for 30 minutes until the edges of the cheesecake are set but the centre is still slightly wobbly.
6. When the cheesecake is done, turn the oven off, prop the door open slightly and leave the cheesecake in the oven for another half an hour. Doing this helps to ensure the cheesecake doesn't crack. Then, take the cheesecake out of the oven and leave to cool on the kitchen side until it is cool enough to go in the fridge. Leave to set in the tin in the fridge until firm (ideally overnight or for at least 4 hours).
7. To make the chocolate fudge topping, put the cream and golden syrup into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the chopped chocolate, butter and vanilla to a heatproof bowl. Once boiling, pour the cream over the chocolate. Wait for 1 minute before whisking together until thick and glossy. Set aside to allow the mixture to cool to room temperature
8. Once the chocolate fudge topping is at room temperature, remove the cheesecake from the fridge. Pour the topping over the cheesecake in the tin. Garnish immediately with chocolate shavings, lashings of warmed peanut butter, which you can swirl around using a toothpick or a knife, and a small handful of salted peanuts.
9. Return the cheesecake to the fridge for 1-2 hours to allow the topping to set before removing from the tin and serving.
Storage: Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. The crust will soften a little the longer it is in the fridge, so it is best eaten sooner rather than later.