Sunday, June 5, 2011

Happy Birthday To Me

Things have been quiet round these parts of late, unlike in my actual real life, which has been pretty jam-packed - hence my absence. My efforts have mainly been concentrated on throwing a party to celebrate my thirtieth birthday and cleaning up afterwards. I'm not the only one who has aged this past week; my floorboards look like they fairly lived, quite a deal of food has passed through the door of my fridge and many glasses have met their fate in smithereens that I'm still finding in the oddest places. Rather than simply throw the front door open and invite my guests to come in and get drunk to mark my waving goodbye twenties and hello thirties, I figured I would make the festivities as food-filled as time would allow. Were I a more calm and organised hostess, this post would be peppered with pics of the lovely spring rolls that I made (for the first time - highly recommended - I'll be making them again), the crunchy, spicy Thai aubergine salad and the sticky honey & soy sauce marinated saussies, but there was no time or space for camera-wielding during my slightly frantic preparations. So, instead, the only documentation that remains of me eating my way merrily into my fourth decade (apart from an alarmingly rapid increase in the size of my thighs) is this lonely little slice of baked chocolate Oreo cheesecake. I had hit on the idea, you see, of making a cake for each decade; the chocolate ice-cream pie was an easy-peasy crowd-pleasy no-brainer; for those not so wild about chocolate, I decided to go for a lovely moist carrot cake - nice with tea or coffee for anyone who was deciding against alcohol; and since I'm quite a fan of a nice baked cheesecake I thought I would give this baked Oreo one another try, as I had already given it a go back in March and wasn't over the moon with the results. And so, while the sample slice in the above photo may seem rather jaded and forlorn, it is in fact a very triumphant little piece of cake that battled through the festivities of the night before to survive and become my breakfast the following morning. As for the rest of my culinary efforts, I feel that it is only fair I throw another party in the near future to share those tasty, picky little triumphs with you. Watch this space.

This is a Ravinder number, as were quite a few of my party dishes. I really think that she should have her own show. I only actually realised recently that she used to be the food columnist in Grazia magazine, and I actually have a ton of her handy, tasty, speedy recipes pulled out and stapled into The Book.

Ah Oreos, that most American of biscuits. The joy when I found they were becoming increasingly available in shops here. The very sugary awfulness of them, that bold dark biscuit with the sweet, white squidge in the centre. They crunch and they melt and somehow they just disappear. To base an entire cheesecake recipe around them - well I'm only amazed that it wasn't done sooner.

To make the base, 250g Oreos get smashed up and mixed with 50g melted unsalted butter. It's a very curious sight, the white parts of the cookies seem to disappear and you're left with a pile of pebble-y, coal-y edible rubble.

Into the oven with it (170 degrees) for 15 minutes.

Check this out for a weeeeee-ird egg. I was quite perturbed to find this when I opened up the carton, and extremely curious to see what it would turn to be like. Just like the rest of them, apparently. Nothing to see here, then, move along now.

What a riot of colour and taste and texture: 500g cream cheese, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, 4 egg yolks, 100g golden caster sugar, 200g sour cream. It's like a an edible Jackson Pollock.

It comes together beautifully, and in a jiffy, as well. A sweet creamy blanket of dense cheesecake topping.

The Oreo-ness of it all doesn't stop at the base; crunch up 200g (if that many of them have survived up to this point. Ahem) in your hands and sprinkle it in there, scooping them through the mixture.

Here comes the requisite fluff: 4 egg whites, puffed to perfection, ready to be folded into the rest of the topping.

And here it all is, settled nicely over that baked base. Doesn't it look so serene? A joy-giving combination of ingredients in one perfect package. One hour 45 minutes in the oven, still at 170. When that time is up, the cake stays in the oven, but with the door open. I have read variations on these instructions, and I am still none the wiser as to their relevance - I suspect it may be something to do with preventing the surface from cracking.

It's such a triumph when it comes out of the oven - so solid and strong and bold of colour and somehow just utterly sure of itself. Maybe it's all of those oh-so Yes We Can American Oreo cookies. I feel it's a sign of my increasing maturity that I was able to resist sampling this beauty in order to present it as a complete specimen to my party guests.

Though clearly maturity didn't exactly come flooding through and take over entirely - cake in the A.M. is the kind of thing one decides very firmly as a child to allow oneself as an adult. Happy birthday to me.


  1. Oh that looks fab Eimear, glad the festivities went well, the food all sounds nommy :)

  2. Thanks Gráinne! Festivities are ongoing - well as far as I'm concerned it's birthday month, anyhow!