Easy Cherry Cheesecake-my best cheesecake ever!

One of my favourite desserts is cheesecake and I really fancied one the other day plus I had some mascarpone that needed using up so decided to go ahead and make one. I remember when I first started making cheesecakes and having a few disasters with them not setting properly, probably due to not using the correct amount of gelatine or not following the instructions 100%. The presentation was awful, like a big gloopy mess but the taste was ok but I seem to have got the knack of making a perfect cheesecake now.

Cherry is one of my favourite toppings for cheesecakes and as there are no fresh cherries in the shops at the moment, I decided to use ready made cherry pie filling/topping, which is great if you don´t have time to make your own. I´ve never used mascarpone in my cheescakes before but as I had some left over, I thought why not and added it and believe me, it was definitely worth it but unfortunately I didn´t weigh it so I´ll have to make a rough guess. I´ll let you know next time I make it how much I use as I´ll definitely be including the mascarpone again. The cheesecake is just so light yet creamy....certainly the best cheesecake I´ve ever made. I guarantee if you make this for your partner/family/friends, it´s going to be a big hit and everyone will be left wanting more. The recipe is loosely based on this Raspberry Ripple Cheesecake recipe from the Cookery club but here is my version:

Cherry Cheesecake (Makes about 12 portions)

340g cream cheese (such as Philidelphia)
100ml (just over 1/3 cup)double cream
90g (just over 1/3 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
leftover mascarpone *1/3 cup of mascarpone*
1/4 tsp vanilla extract (or 1/2 tsp vanilla essence, I´ve heard that vanilla extract is stronger so put less)
1 sachet of gelatine
90g/3oz butter
220g/8 oz digestive biscuits
1 595g/21oz can of cherry pie filling/topping

1. Melt butter in a pan, taking care not to brown.
2. Crush biscuits into crumbs using food processor, blender or place in plastic bag and use rolling pin to bash or roll the biscuits (be careful with the latter method as bag may split and crumbs will go everywhere!)
3. Combine butter and biscuit crumbs and then spread evenly into a 9inch, 22.8cm cake tin and place in fridge.
4. Beat cream cheese in a medium sized bowl.
5. Beat in cream, sugar, mascarpone and vanilla extract till smooth.
6. Prepare gelatine according to instructions on packet (in this case add 1 cup boiling water to gelatine and stir till completely dissolved, about 5 mins)
7. Add gelatine to cheesecake mixture and slowly beat in, the mixture will appear very liquidy, like cream.
8. Spoon on top of the biscuit base and refrigerate for 2-3 hrs, until set.
9. Open can and spoon cherry topping over cheesecake, refrigerate until serving.
10. Enjoy!


A taste of Thailand, "Bangkok Balcony", Pittsburgh

I haven´t tried much Thai food believing it to be too spicy for me. I have fond memories of my parents making Thai Green Curry(a milder version especially for me) and ending up with my eyes tearing up, my nose running and a totally numbed mouth due to the spicy heat....I couldn´t even taste the food, my mouth was that numb! However, thanks to my recent discovery of Thai red curry and Anne´s Kitchen´s Creamy Prawn Curry, my interest and my appreciation of Thai food is growing! So much so, that I´ve been wanting to try this restaurant, Bangkok Balcony, for awhile unfortunately I forgot to take my camera so that´s why I´ve given you the link.

Bangkok Balcony doesn´t give the impression of being such a nice restaurant from the outside, in fact you might even walk past it without noticing it as it is just seems to be stuck on the end of some shops. However, when you get upstairs and enter the restaurant, it´s a pleasant surprise. The restaurant is medium sized with modern decor an artistic objects which reflect the Thai culture. You are greeted by friendly staff which lead you to your table.

Every Thursday and Sunday night you can also watch Thai dancing while you eat. We were lucky enough to catch this as we went on a Sunday.The girls were dressed in typical Thai costume and it was interesting to see the way they danced, there were a lot of hand movements. My only complaints is that it was quite difficult to see them properly due to the waiters taking orders as I don´t think the restaurant lent itself to such a purpose because of it´s size. Also, that the dancing was over so soon!

I heard a lot about the Thai samosas as I was checking out other reviews about the restaurant so we decided to share those as a starter, seeing as most people seemed to be raving about them. The Thai samosas consisted of crispy deep fried filo pastry triangles with a soft Thai sweet potato filling -a perfect contrast of textures. They were served with a fresh cucumber sauce or salsa. I thought they were delicious but found it a little disconcerting as it was so sweet. In fact, the filling reminded me a little of marzipan!. I wasn´t sure whether it should be a starter or a dessert. My boyfriend chose a Basil leaf dish, which was made up of your choice of meat(beef in his case), red and green peppers, and of course basil leaves in a spicy garlic sauce and I chose a pineapple curry, again with my choice of meat, which was also beef. The restaurant has a spiciness scale from 1-10, which is good if like me you can´t eat too hot a curry. My boyfriend chose 3 on the spiciness scale and I went for 2. My beef pineapple curry was lovely and creamy and hit just the right amount of spiciness for me, however I preferred my boyfriend´s choice as it was full of flavour. Both dishes were cooked to perfection and the meat was really tender. I would definitely go back there again and am now a fully-fledged convert to Thai food. We decided to skip dessert as nothing really appealed to us although I would have liked to try the green tea ice cream if it hadn´t been for having a cold and a sore throat!

The Bangkok Balcony is an average priced restaurant which is worth a visit to sample the delicious food and due to the friendly,quick service. It is also has won awards for being one of the top Thai restaurants in Pittsburgh so I would definitely reccomend it! It is located on Forbes Ave in Squirrel Hill.
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