Gluten Free no bake Blackcurrant Curd Cheesecake Recipe

I do love a cheesecake! Baked or non baked. It’s all in the ‘buttery biscuit base’. Now I know a song about that! 😊  Anyway.

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Not sure where the idea for this came from, but certainly around the time I popped in to see the girls at ‘Darlington’s & Daughters’. Home of award-winning jams, curds  & pickles. Available to buy retail or even wholesale. AND during office hours (ish) you can pop into the factory and buy some there! Not a factory shop, but the range is available to buy for hard cash only. I will have to admit that, after I had used some curds previously and tweeted about them, I was given a couple of jars, of the as-yet-unavailable ‘Blackcurrant Curd’. Not even a fancy label yet. But believe me, it tastes fantastic. And until a release date of around August 2015 (ish), I shall just have to savour the 2nd jar for myself.

But back to the Gluten Free Cheesecake.

1 Jar of Mrs Darlington’s Blackcurrant Curd

360g Full Fat Cream Cheese

170ml Double Cream

1 Tsp Vanilla Extract

50g Icing Sugar

180g Gluten Free Custard Creams (I used DS GF Custard Creams) – crushed into tiny little pieces….

80g Butter – Melted

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Firstly, mix the tiny weeny, gluten free breadcrumb, biscuit mix with the melted butter and press firmly into the base of the tin. I used a 7″ quick release cake tin with a removable base. Leave this to set in the fridge for at least a couple of hours, or overnight if you are planning ahead.

Once this gluten free biscuit base has set – You’ll need 2 mixing bowls. In 1, whisk the cream cheese and the icing sugar until combined. In the other, whip the cream. But. Not completely. You only need to whisk this until it has started to thicken. You are going to whisk again and if you over whisk the cream, you’ll get what’s also called, butter. And the cheesecake won’t taste very nice. Bitter in fact 😞. Whisk then, the cream and the cream cheese mix together until combined.

To create the two-tone effect split the new cream cheese mix in half. Whisk 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract into one half. And in the other half,whisk in about half the jar of the Mrs Darlington’s Blackcurrant Curd. Again don’t over whisk. Just enough to bring th ingredients together to have an uniformed colour.

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To assemble. Firstly take 1 tablespoon of the curd and place into a piping bag ready to decorate as in the picture. Then spread the remaining Blackcurrant Curd on the gluten free biscuit base. This curd is quite firm and spreads very well. Then onto this, spread the vanilla flavoured cream cheese mix and then finally the Blackcurrant flavoured mix. Tap on the work surface to remove any air holes and so the mix settles flat. Spread the mix on top, to ensure a flat surface to pipe on. Leave this then to firm up, covered, in the fridge for a couple of hours. Pipe on the remaining Curd mix as you desire. Then serve….and enjoy. Depending on how you cut this, you can get around 6 – 8 servings. It is quite rich.

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Hey Pesto (!) Recipe

Pesto.  Not perhaps a particularly difficult recipe, but one that has been a surprise hit with one certain little boy. And of course it’s naturally gluten free, plus finding something he likes is hard at the best of times.

And it’s not difficult to make and will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for a least a week. It is very versatile and will, depending on how you like your pesto, differ in taste, therefore making a match with many foods.

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The other great thing about pesto, is that a little goes a long way. Two tablespoons of the finished sauce will be enough to mix with cooked pasta for 2 or 3 people.

So. Place all of the ingredients into a food blender – and simply blend to a pulp. Pour into a plastic container and store in the fridge. There should be enough for about 8 tablespoons of finished pesto.

100g Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley, non of the thick stalks, mostly leaves

50g Fresh Basil leaves, again mostly leaves

40g Pine Nuts

2 cloves of garlic, roughly diced, they will be blended after all

50g Parmesan/Grando Padano. Pecorino is another great cheese to use. Roughly chopped.

salt and pepper to taste

50 – 70ml Extra Virgin/Olive Oil. If the finished sauce is too thick you can add in some more if required. But start with a smaller amount and work from there.

But it’s up to you . More or less of any of the ingredients will alter the taste and texture to suit. But beware! Adding more garlic will indeed chase the vampires away! Adding more cheese will make it gooey when you warm it through. More pine nuts, nuttier (funnily enough). And if you really want, swop the herbs around to make something even more different!

And then it’s really up to you how you use the pesto. Stirred into freshly cooked pasta, allowing a tablespoon per person. Stirred into freshly mashed potato or new potatoes, lightly crushed and served with roasted chicken or grilled pork chops. Used as a base for a salad dressing to sparkle a summer salad. Or even stirred into mayonnaise for a sandwich dressing. Or with grilled salmon or sea bass.

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Gluten Free Chocolate and Tia Maria Cupcakes Recipe

And so I think it’s time for another recipe 😀

There are times when I find it much easier to look around the shelves and cupboards at home, to find the inspiration on what to bake next. This is one of those recipes. The bottle of Tia Maria has been open for a while and it just seemed a great idea to put it in a bake. I am also doing a linking with http://www.kerrycooks.com and http://www.tinandthyme.uk June’s  #weshouldcocoa linky. image

This makes about 24 cupcakes. Pre-heat the oven to Gas 4, 180c

For the Cupcakes –

200g Soft Butter

240g Light Brown Muscavado Sugar

4 beaten eggs

150g Dove Farm Gluten Free Self Raising Flour

30g Cocoa

30g Ground Almonds

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

6 – 8 tablespoons Tia Maria

8 tablespoons double cream

1 tablespoon golden syrup

For the buttercream –

150g soft butter

300g sifted icing sugar

1 teaspoon instant coffee, dissolved in a 1/2 teaspoon of hot water, mixed with 1 teaspoon Tia Maria

2 Tablespoons Double Cream

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Firstly sift the flour, cocoa, ground almonds and baking powder together, set to one side. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, slowly pour in the beaten eggs. You may need to add some of the ray mix at this point in case the mix curdles. Then fold in the dry mix and then whisk in the Tia Maria, cream and syrup until all incorporated. Divide then between the empty cupcake cases and bake for about 25-30 minutes.  Try placing some dried rice (or dried pulses ie lentils) in the base of the cake mould before adding the cases. This will soak up any grease – a little tip from my Twitter friend @Becksbake which works really well 😊 Once cooked remove from the oven and cool on a rack.

For the buttercream whisk the soft butter and icing sugar together and then stir in the dissolved coffee, Tia Maria and cream. Use them to decorate the cooled cupcakes. Decorate as you would like. I used some chocolate drops.

Enjoy – quickly though as Gluten Free cakes have a very short life!

Center Parcs – A Review for Children with Coeliac Disease

…And now for something a little different…

Before I go any further, I must state that Center Parcs have in no way asked me to post/blog or sponsored me in any way for this post. These are my own views and the holiday was ours to enjoy.

Now we have been to Center Parcs several times over the past few years – Longleat, Sherwood Forest and Whinfell Forest, bearing in mind we once said we would never go back to the same place twice, is kind of weird.  Life is to short we said, I guess we are just creatures of habit after all. But each year has seen our Center Parcs (CP) experience change and grow as we too have grown as a family.  We can do as much or as little as we choose,  challenge ourselves to new experiences – Segway, Archery, horse riding or just spend most of the day in the ‘Subtropical Swimming Paradise’.  The time is yours to do as you please. The lodges are clean and well equipped and you can self-cater or treat yourself to a meal out in the several on-site branded outlet.

This year for us was no different, with one exception we had previously  stayed for 3 or 4 nights, but this year we went and splashed out for a full on treat of 7 nights!  And decided on Elveden, Suffolk, just on the edge of Thetford Forest.  I decided that I would write a post about our experience for other families with children who suffer from Coeliac Disease.

So how did we get on?

Arrival (change over day) is rather chaotic. Cars, bikes and people everywhere. Common sense goes out of the window, ordinary people who drive to and from work suddenly lose all control and drive the wrong way, enter ‘no entry’ signs and don’t look in rear view mirrors and ignore everything else, just to be able to park just outside their lodge…oh wait, probably no change there! 😉. But after we had unpacked and put the car away for the week, we had a little stroll to get our bearings and see what’s what.

Oh and the wildlife? Literally, is everywhere! It’s fantastic, the children (and us) love it. And Elveden is no exception…

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Now experience has told us that whilst the ‘Parc Market’ is very well stocked, it is a little more expensive, and because we were not sure on the Gluten Free stock, we have started to visit a nearby supermarket prior to arrival. But there is some stock on site, breads, pasta, cakes but it is indeed more expensive again!  But I’d baked a couple of cakes anyway 😉

We have previously pre-cooked and organised dinner, but our first night this time was pre-booked in Cafe Rouge. Now there is a children’s Menu, but nothing specific for children with Coeliac Disease.  But this did not deter our server – Jenai,  she was extremely helpful and her product knowledge was fantastic.  Ultimately this would be the first time we have tipped in CP,  she was able to talk confidently about the food on offer and able to ensure Noah ate safely.  We went for the Chargrilled Chicken, fries, peas and sweetcorn.   HOWEVER and it’s a pretty big however she was unable, because Cafe Rouge was unable, to tell us if the Ice Cream was safe. Ice cream!  Apparently the supplier does not include an ingredient list, so they are unable to safely declare it as containing no gluten.  Now I thought this goes against current labelling laws?

Our stay was scattered with activities – Aqua jetting (the thumbs start to ache after 30 minutes, but it only lasts 30 minutes)  mini jet skis (could do with more obstacles to make it more fun) tree-trekking, swimming, cheer-leading (if parents don’t read the small print, they get in free – which isn’t so great if you have read the small print properly and paid!) archery, fencing, sailing a dinghy, a touch of the Spa and more swimming.  All pretty fun, but the stay was more about chilling out and having a break from rushing around.

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And now it gets a little interesting in the eating out stakes.  All in the aid of the Blog we then tried the ‘Foresters Inn’ for Sunday Lunch. Again there is a children’s menu, but nothing specific for Children with Coeliac Disease.  The server was not as knowledgable but we were able to order a chicken breast with veg and roasties – because the chips are not gluten free!  Probably down to cross contamination issues.  But why can’t all the outlets have the same policies and procedures? I for one am more than aware of brand standards and specifications, but when you are on one site with multiple outlets surely this would make more sense?  Value for Money? Not compared to Cafe Rouge.

One that does make us smile is the Sunday morning chorus of smoke alarms.  As everyone burns the sausages and bacon for Sunday breakfast 😊😉

It was a joy this week to see the children in the pool, grow each day with confidence.   Each time we spent more and more time in the Swimming Paradise, More Rapids, Cyclone and Venture Cove.  The ‘Canopy Cafe’ serves Gluten Free chips and the staff here are most helpful too.  A couple of things though, here in Elveden, there doesn’t appear to be enough changing cubicles and certainly not enough family changing cubicles and the cleanliness of the changing area – could do with more frequent checks and a clean. Some folk are very untidy #dirtynappies

Now whilst we certainly self catered, far easier and less hassle, we also enjoyed the fact that eating out meant less washing up!  Which on holiday can only be a good thing.  So after reading an in-house magazine about the chef in the ‘Huck’s’ outlet , learning about Coeliac Disease, this was to be our next venture.

Now, this does indeed boast a children’s menu, but it does also boast a children’s Gluten ‘sensitive’ menu!  Which is a great sigh of relief. Noah was in fact made up. Something for him, not something made up. Included at last.  But there is certainly more work to be done on presentation and portion size…

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Not it sure there are many 4-year-old who can plough through 6 sausages, a full portion of chips and a tin of beans! Overall though our experience was not the best, it is over priced, and a little salty.  Not great value for money, based on our other visits.  And yet again desserts and paying the bill always slip down the service cycle.

And then as suddenly as our week began, it comes to a close.  Our last night though was to see us return to Cafe Rouge and return to Gluten Free food safety (but no ice cream, he had a ‘Chilly Billy’ lolly instead), value for money and great service. We were not disappointed.

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Our wildlife friends came everyday, it added to the magic.

Just as arrival day is chaotic, the morning of departure is a little subdued.  The men folk appear to be the first out to get the cars and pack them up.  Some will stay for a few more hours to enjoy the extra swim and use of the facilities, but we made our move early to hit the road ‘to beat the traffic’ – and did. Bags unpacked, washing on, cat picked up from the cattery, lawn to mow, kids to unwind and the dread of the Sunday night blues as we prepare to return to ‘normality’.

Now, where is my voucher code to return again….😀😀