Cheat’s strawberry cheesecake biscuit

Food is such a fantastic conversation starter the world round, isn’t it? As a freelancer I’m constantly in and out of different work locations getting to know new groups of people, and I find that food is always a common denominator. Or maybe it’s just me?

Anyway, I’m working for a few months in the marketing team at Bath Spa University where I sit next to the lovely Stef and we talk food quite a bit. It was Stef who passed on this easy peasy idea for livening up manky (or was it skanky?) Digestive biscuits lurking in the bottom of the tin: turn them into strawberry cheesecake biscuits – genius!

That same day, knowing I didn’t actually have any biscuits (neither manky nor skanky) at home, I stopped off on my way back to pick some up just so I could give it a go. I opted for Hob Nobs instead of Digestives as I thought these might be more reminiscent of the cheesecake base.

Stef wasn’t wrong – these really are good. A great way to use up old biscuits or a ridiculously simple sweet treat when you don’t have the time or energy to make a proper pudding. And they take only a minute to make.

No recipe required here – simply take your biscuit of choice and spread with cream cheese, then top with strawberry jam or any other flavour jam you happen to have at your disposal. My girls, Jessie and Mia, made them with me after tea and they were a big hit all round.

I’m only at Bath Spa for a couple more weeks, so I’ll need to get Stef to share the rest of her cheat’s repertoire with me before I move on…

Love heart jam tarts for Daddy

I spent this afternoon in the kitchen with my two girls baking these oh-so-easy jam tarts for their Daddy for Valentine’s Day.

I offer them up to you now, at this late stage in the day, just in case you’ve failed to remember it is 14 February tomorrow and you need a very quick idea to help rustle up a little loving something for your own loved one. Chances are you’ll have all the ingredients you need in the fridge and store cupboard. Go with any flavour jams you fancy.

OK, so it’s not sophisticated baking but I’m sure you’ll receive a warm smile when you present a plate full of these lovelies to the love of your life. And if you can get any children you might have around the place involved in their preparation, so much the better.

Love heart jam tarts

230g plain flour
Pinch salt
115g butter
2-3 tbsp cold water
Strawberry or raspberry jam, lemon curd – you choose!
Icing sugar

Sieve the flour and salt into a large bowl. Rub in the butter using your fingertips until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.

Many hands make light work. Apparently.

Use a knife to gradually mix in enough cold water to bring the mixture together so that you can form a ball in your hands. Wrap the pastry in cling film and place in the fridge for half an hour.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas 6.

Smear with butter a 12-holed tart tin.

Sprinkle the work surface and your rolling pin with flour. Roll out the pastry until about 0.25cm thick. Use a circular cutter to cut out 12 circles and place in the tart tin, pressing gently into place. Save the rest of the pasty for the heart lids. Prick the bottom of each one with a fork.

Bake the circles in the oven for six minutes until lightly golden. Remove and leave to cool for a few minutes.

You may need to use your fingers to slide the jam off the spoon. Licking of fingers may therefore be necessary.

Carefully (or not so carefully depending on your helpers) spoon a desert spoonful of your chosen jam/s into each tart.

Roll out the leftover pastry and using a heart-shaped cutter cut out your heart lids. Place these on top of each of your tarts.

I give you my heart!

Return the tarts to the oven for six to eight minutes until golden brown.

Leave to cool for a few minutes before carefully using a knife to gently slide each tart out of the tin and onto a wire rack. When completely cool, arrange on a plate and sprinkle with icing sugar.