Friday, December 21, 2012

12 Days of Christmas - Cathryn Hein

I can't believe it, but today is our second-to-last post in this wonderful feature! It's Day Eleven of:
The 12 Days of Christmas
Food and Romance
Blogging Extravaganza!

And my very special guest today is the wonderful Cathryn Hein. Cathryn is the author of amazing Australian romance fiction. If you're a fan of sexy rural men and strong determined women, Cathryn's books are for you! Like me, Cathryn has family spread across Australia and often travels to celebrate and isn't often called upon to play host. But she's sharing with us the amazing creation she made that I'm sure make her family long for her to do duty again soon! The photo of her cake looks so delicious I practically want to lick my computer screen...

Christmas with Gusto!
by Cathryn Hein

Thanks, Emmie. I'm super excited to be part of your 12 Days of Christmas fun. Food and romance - what a way to my heart!

I'm not sure if it's a blessing or a disappointment that I rarely get to do any Christmas cooking. With only two of us and with family spread between far north Queensland and the depths of south-east South Australia, Jim and I usually travel and someone else takes care of the sustenance side of Christmas. One part of me says this is a good thing. Think of all that stress I miss out on! But I can't help feeling a bit sad about it too. I adore cooking. I love all that planning and imagining, the delight of finding ingredients and turning them into something interesting and enticing, the whole process of creating something that people will savour and enjoy.

One Christmas, about five or so years ago, we decided not to travel. Jim and I were going to flop about in our backyard in Newcastle with a whopping great platter of seafood, some excellent wine and the stereo crooning. Then Mum and Dad announced they'd come to us, my girlfriend in Sydney thought she and her partner might drive up to keep us company, and two other girlfriends decided to join the fun. Before I knew it, the backyard was going to be full and for once I had a Christmas cooking challenge on my hands. Believe me, I went at it with gusto!

We still did the seafood thing. There were prawns, wok-tossed blue swimmer crabs and baked snapper, but I also deboned and stuffed an entire forequarter of lamb and roasted it on the Weber, plus made two different kinds of bread, all sorts of dips and nibbles, salads and lots of other things that I can't recall but which kept me occupied for days.

But the pièce de résistance was a white chocolate cheesecake topped with festive fruit and coulis. A complete pain in the bum to make but, oh, was it worth it. Smooth, rich, creamy and very pretty to look at. Not the traditional pud, admittedly, but still a great way to finish an indulgent Christmas meal with family and good friends.

White Chocolate Decadence
You'll need to make this recipe at least a day ahead. Try two or three days ahead to save fuss. It'll keep fine in the fridge.

450g cream cheese, at room temperature
¼ cup caster sugar
3 teaspoons cornflour
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
3 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
2 cups sour cream
1 cup thickened cream
240g block of good quality white chocolate, melted then cooled to lukewarm. I use Lindt.
Fresh seasonal fruit and fruit puree to serve

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Grease a 20cm loose bottomed cake pan (I've also used a 23cm tin with no ill-effects, so this is flexible) and line base and sides with baking paper. Wrap the outside of the tin tightly in a several layers of foil. It's very important to make sure that it's well sealed or water will leak into the tin during cooking and spoil the cake.

Whiz cheese and sugar in a mixmaster or with beaters until smooth. With the motor running, add cornflour, then eggs one at a time, making sure they're well combined into the mix. Add vanilla, zest and creams, and ¼ teaspoon salt, and beat until just mixed. Add chocolate and beat some more until smooth. Pour mixture into the lined tin, then sit the tin on a teatowel in a large roasting dish (the teatowel prevents the tin slipping around). Pour boiling water into the dish until it comes halfway up the sides of the cake tin.

Bake for 45 minutes, then leave the cake in the switched-off oven with the door closed for one hour. Remove tin from roasting dish, remove foil and cool cake completely on a rack (leaving it in its tin). Cover and chill overnight.

Turn out onto a plate or cake stand. Remove baking paper, top with fruit then drizzle with fruit puree. Slice using a hot, dry knife.

Thanks Cathryn! Don't forget to visit Cathryn online or click on the book covers above to learn more. 

And  here's my usual reminder about Random Acts. As part of TDoCFaRBE I'm encouraging you all to undertake a Random Act of Kindness throughout the festive season. 

The latest hint from Random Acts is about helping our four-legged friends this festive season and making sure that those pets who are yet to find forever homes have a happy and comfortable Christmas. 

And you can also simply send Random Acts a donation and wear a smile all day.


  1. Cheesecake... I think I am going into a diabetic coma just looking at it. Fun to see you providing the feast for once, Cathryn! Thanks for hosting this series, Emmie, it's been fun!

    1. Ha ha! It's a seriously good cheesecake too, Imelda. The texture is like no cheesecake I've ever had. Really creamy and smooth. I made one on Wednesday and stuck it in the freezer for later indulgence. So naughty but soooo delicious!

      This has indeed been a great series. The recipes have been amazing!

  2. OMG. After the description of your Newcastle Xmas menu I'm surprised your entire extended family doesn't descend on you every Christmas like a plague of locusts! And that cheesecake looks scrumptious. Thanks for the recipe. And Merry Christmas!

    1. The invitation is always open for them, Louise, but the slack buggers prefer home. Hmmph. Their loss, I say!

      A very merry Christmas to you also.

  3. Fabulous cheesecake, Cathryn! White chocolate and all those fresh berries, yum! I love the sound of your Christmas feast. No wonder people just happened to pop over.

    Merry Christmas to you and Emmie and everyone who's taken part. This has been so much fun and I've gotten such a lot of great recipe ideas.

    1. So have I, Joan. The recipes have been fantastic and I love the way so many are old family recipes, tried and true. They're the best.

      A very merry Christmas to you too.

  4. OMG I was just trying to work out additional dessert for our Christmas lunch - was thinking along the lines of a cheesecake - and now maybe I've found it! LOVE white chocolate and LOVE cheesecake :)

    1. This is definitely what you need, Rach. Guaranteed to impress!

      I was thinking last night that I could make a version using Guylian seashells instead of white choc for a touch of extra naughtiness.