35 and counting.

Friday the 16th was hubbys birthday. And while last years Four Element Rum Cake will go down in history as the most appropriate cake ever made for him, it was perhaps not thought of so fondly by the parents of the young children we shared it with.

So this time, I took the rest of my audience into account, and made perhaps my most visually impressive cake of all time.

I found this recipe in the Woolworths free recipe magazine, and instead of making my own chocolate bark, I just bought up a bunch of chocolates and decorated like crazy.

Given the numbers I was catering for I also chose to make two two-tier cakes instead of one four-tier. Although if I did that again I'd make more of the nutella buttercream frosting.

This cake was dense, and the buttercream mellowed out the strong nutella flavour. So even a couple of 'non-nutella' people (who are they?) liked the cake.

The first one we ate with hubbys family (there was 11 of us, but one too little for cake), with a slice saved over for my sister….who shared it with her daughter who demanded 'more cakey mummy' between bites.

The second one we actually took camping with us for the weekend, and shared with a group of nine. Only made possible because one couple has the most amazing 4WD caravan with a proper fridge.

If you have something a bit special to celebrate….this is certainly a very very delicious chocolate way to do so.



3.5hrs, a hot day and the best cheesecake ever

Its my sister-in-laws birthday (you know, the brave one that took a knife out of my hands at Christmas) and I couldn't think of a better idea than to make her a birthday cake, rather than a store bought one.

She is an absolute Nutella fanatic. So I started googling all different nutella cheesecake recipes. The cheesecake is because I made one last year and she asked if she could book one in for her birthday (its amazing what I remember…or don't). I looked at all different kinds, and despite our oppressive heat and humidity I pretty much disregarded the no-bake versions out of hand. I know, I'm a cheesecake snob, but I just love the baked varieties.

I found this recipe for a New York Baked Nutella Cheesecake and got excited. Seriously. Its like my three favourite things IN A NAME. I did have to make a couple of substitutions based on what I had, and what I was prepared to spend (marscarpone is EXPENSIVE!!).

So rather than 600g of jacob's digestive biscuits, I used 500g Arnotts Choc Ripple biscuits and made up the difference with teddy bear biscuits. I stand by my choice.

And instead of 600g of marscarpone and 600g of cream cheese, I used 500g marscarpone and 700g cream cheese.

I didn't simmer my nutella jar, but I did fill my sink with hot water and sit the jar in that. (Hubby's idea, he's an ideas man). It worked just fine.

Oh, and while I'm remembering, instead of putting the filling ingredients in a food processor (because it wouldn't fit) I used the kitchenaid and did it that way. Much bigger capacity for 1.2kg of cheese and assorted other ingredients.

I checked the cake after 2.5hrs, and it was NOWHERE NEAR cooked. So after being told repeatedly by hubby that we have nowhere to be and to not stress, I put it back for another hour.

At which point, while a skewer did come out clean, the cake looked terrible. It had risen quite high, and cracked very badly, a section at the back had fallen off onto the base of the oven, and to be honest I felt beaten. I left it to cool down and hoped when I came back I would be able to inact the 'disguse the ugly bits' plan Hubby had come up with.

I will admit to being impressed by the height of the biscuit crumb. Even if I'm nervous about how we will cut it.

A second quick trip to the grocery store and we were in business with 'disguise the ugly top' plan.

Whipped cream and some flake crumbs later and I had a cake I am still extremely proud of.

It sliced up fine with a bit of downward force, and possible most important the birthday girl loved it.

It's a little grown up for the kiddies, but for us grown ups, it's smooth and lush and everything a cheesecake should be. If it's not oppressively hot where you are….you need to make this!