I might get this blogging caper happening as a regular happening at some stage in 2017 but I cannot believe that 57 days into the New Year and we still haven't stopped being very busy. Oh well I guess this is just life and how fast it goes by. So much has happened since my last blog (in all honesty without looking I couldn't say when that was). Work has been busy, footy training has started and we have already been on a holiday with the Murray side of the family and a road trip to NSW to visit family and friends in a whirlwind 5 day trip that was a MUST to do. We went to visit my Aunty Maureen and Uncle Dave. In just 10 short weeks we have lost someone very special to me and my family to terminal cancer - Aunty Maureen passed late Thursday evening after such a dignified and amazing journey. Both Mam and I will be attending the service on Friday in Sydney.
I first met my Aunty Maureen, Uncle Dave and my 3 cousins, Steven, Michelle and Alison (the Jones) at the age of 18 months. Strangely the first time I met them was on a Greek Ocean Liner called the Elinis. We were all on our way to start our new lives in Australia - this was in 1973. The Jones were coming from Liverpool. It was then that I also met more family - Lars, Pip, Marica and Annette who were from Finland and Rolf, Anchristin, Ingela and Anna from Sweden. Who would have thought 44 years ago that we would have all still remained so close. Distance may be an issue at times but to me growing up with all of these important people infiltrating my life at some stage, and still today, my life has been truly blessed. While we are not related by blood we are still very much family.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because of my Aunty Maureen. Even while she was sick every time we spoke she told me how she follows our cooking adventures on Facebook all the time and that she was always in awe of our food. She often would encourage me to take up a career in food because she knows that I have the passion for it. It's actually because of her that I am making the effort to post this today.
Today we had close friends Leigh and Lauren over for lunch with their two gorgeous daughters, Harlow and Lenni. Funnily they seem more like family to me than just friends. Knowing that they both love cheesecake, I decided to make my signature French Vanilla Cheesecake with Fresh Berries (to be honest have no idea why I haven't posted about this cheesecake before?) Harlow helped me to decorate the cheesecake just before serving which was a very special moment for me today.
This French Vanilla Cheesecake is so easy to make, is no bake and the vanilla flavour is to die for. It's not an overly sweet cheesecake and I think that the fresh berries are a perfect compliment to the creamy vanilla center.
For the base today I used Marie Biscuits however you could actually use any biscuit flavour of your choice. Depending on your pan and the thickness you press the crumb you may have some left over and that is perfectly fine. Don't make it too thick or it will be hard to cut.
The recipe calls for it to set overnight but to be perfectly honest 6 hours is long enough. If you wanted to make a smaller one in a flan tin just half the recipe.
Do yourself a flavour and give it a go.....
French Vanilla Cheesecake with Fresh Berries
(recipe adapted from Taste.com)
500g packet plain sweet biscuits (such as Marie)
400g butter, melted
600ml thickened cream, whipped
6 teaspoons powdered gelatine
3 tablespoons boiling water
1000g cream cheese, softened
1 1/3 cup caster sugar
300ml thickened cream, extra
1 tablespoon icing sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
Fresh berries of your choice, to decorate
Grease a 20 cm round (base) spring-form pan. Using a food processor, process biscuits until fine crumbs. Add butter. Process until combined. Press the biscuit mixture over base and side of prepared pan. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat cream until thickened. Set aside.
Meanwhile, sprinkle gelatine over boiling water in a heatproof jug. Whisk with a fork until gelatine has dissolved. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy.
Gradually beat in gelatine mixture until combined. Fold in whipped cream. Pour mixture into prepared pan, leveling top with a spatula. Cover.
Refrigerate overnight or until set.
When ready to decorate, place cream and icing sugar in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until thickened and forming peaks.
Remove the cheesecake from pan. Decorate top of cheesecake with whipped cream and fresh berries of your choice. Serve.