Category Archives: Make Ahead

Baileys Cheesecake

This cheesecake has become a bit of a festive tradition for me (we always have Christmas pudding, trifle and another pudding I’m in charge of), but you can of course make it at any time of year. And of course, my traditions will very soon be replaced by new ones Charles and I make ourselves. 

You will need:
125g or so Digestive biscuits
125g or so of butter 
2 large tubs Philadelphia cream cheese (280g each)
1 medium sized tub double cream (300ml)
Around 80g icing sugar, depending on your taste 
75ml Baileys or unbranded Irish Cream Liqueur 
100g milk chocolate 
Additional chocolate or sprinkles to decorate – I used a 150g bar of dark chocolate, some cherries and some gold confetti sprinkles but you can go as mad or as understated as you’d like 
A large round springform tin

crush the digestives 1. Put the Digestives into a freezer or sandwich bag, seal the top and bash them up with a rolling pin or anything heavy. You should aim for mostly even crumbs with a few small lumps to keep things interesting. 
 how to crush Digestives

2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large saucepan over a low to medium heat. This is just to bind the base so you don’t need to go mad with heat.

 melt the butter 
3. Once the biscuits have been suitably bashed up and the butter has melted, tip the biscuits into the butter and mix until the crumbs have been evenly coated in butter and look like they’ll hold together when chilled. If it looks a bit dry, you can push the crumbs to the side, add more butter to melt and mix up again. 
 how to make a cheesecake base 
4. Tip the crumb mixture into the tin and press it down into the tin, spreading it out as evenly as possible.    

 5. Pop it into the fridge and chill for 30 mins to an hour, or longer if convenient.  

whip the cream6. Next, whip the cream until it is holding well but stop before that horrible curdle point.

7. Set that aside and pop the cream cheese into a bowl. Give it a quick mix to loosen it then add around half of the icing sugar and the Baileys. You can use more or less Baileys depending on your taste, but adding more than 50ml or so is likely to give you a looser filling which is harder to serve. I used about 75ml by the time I as finished swigging and that was about the edge of tolerance. If in doubt, use less, mix, taste then add more if necessary. Add a little more icing sugar, mix together and taste. If you are happy with that, leave it be.

 how to make a cheesecake 

8. Grate the chocolate. If your hands are relatively cold, this should be easy, but if you are in a warm environment I’d recommend chilling the chocolate in the fridge first to avoid it melting in your hand. Or use a larger bar than necessary and keep the wrapper on the unused portion to avoid sticky fingers. I use milk chocolate because the texture is softer and gives a subtler constrast to the smooth filling, but you can by all means use dark or even white if you prefer, or, of course, skip the chocolate altogether. 


9. Stir in the grated chocolate, and then you have your cheesecake filling. 

 Christmas dessert recipes
10. Pour into the tin, spread evenly and chill for at least 2 hours but preferably overnight.

 how to make a no-bake cheesecake 
Now comes the garnish! I did this on the day of serving but you can do it whenever you like. 

how to make chocolate covered cherries Melt a bar of chocolate, the easiest way is in the microwave, 30 seconds at a time, stirred until just melted to avoid burning or blooming but you can of course use a Bain Marie.  

Dip the cherries in, one at a time, and place on a piece of grease proof paper or a non-stick baking mat until set. 


If you have any chocolate left, use a spoon to drizzle into shapes on the paper. These will also set and can then be stuck into the cheesecake as prettily as you can manage.

Sprinkle on the edible confetti and crumble up and failed decorations. 
Put back in the fridge until it’s wanted on the table, then carefully remove the ring and present. 


Tikka Masala Paste

It started snowing this morning so I decided it was the perfect day to make a curry. I’m made chicken tikka masala many times, many ways, but today, I thought things should be done properly, entirely from scratch. 

So the starting point is a great tikka masala paste. I’ll share the recipe as to how to turn this into a full-blown curry later this week, because that recipe can also be made with a ready-made from the supermarket curry paste, if that makes sense. As well as a proper curry, though, this makes a great marinade for chicken or prawns, loosened up with Greek yoghurt and a teaspoon of lemon juice. 

You will need:

4 cloves garlic 

1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and chopped into 4 pieces

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tbsp smoked paprika 

2 tsp garam masala 

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander 

1 tsp chilli flakes (if you prefer, you could use 1 or 2 fresh chillis)

2 tbsp groundnut oil

2 tbsp tomato purée 

1 tbsp ground almonds (I used flaked because I had some open) – if you’re allergic to nuts you can obviously leave these out! Use dessicated coconut instead o

You will also need a mini-chopper or a good heavy pestle and mortar. I have a Brevie stick blender which also came with a chopper attachment as well as a blender attachment so I just used the chopper to save my muscles.   
1. Put the garlic (peeled) and ginger into the chopper or mortar (yes, I just looked that up! The mortar is the bowl and the pestle is the grindy thing). Add in all the dried spices, then the oil and tomato purée. Finally, add the almonds. 

2. Carefully bash or blitz everything together. It can be pretty stubborn to start with, but be patient. If it stops turning at any point, you may have to open it up and move it all about with a spoon a couple of times before it will be completely smooth. Don’t worry if you don’t get all of the almonds completely ground; they’ll add a nice texture later. 

Spoon out into a bowl or jar. If you’re making it ahead of time, you might want to add a little groundnut oil, cover and put in the fridge. This should be enough to make a curry for 4, but you’ll have leftovers if you’re cooking for 2. 

Let me know how you get on!