I’ve talked before about how Hella likes a game. Less so the board game variety, more the ‘let’s make up a game’ variety. And when it’s Saturday morning and you’ve done your homework, you’ve finished your piano practice and there’s no swim training to attend … what better way to spend an hour or two than to make up a game. And today’s creation? The Blind Taste Test Challenge.
It’s fair to say that as a family we’re not unfamiliar with this concept. Bubba (my Dad), likes to do a ‘compare the own brand (cheap) gin with the big name (expensive) gin’ blind taste test. There’s not a great deal of ‘spitting out’ that goes on, so by the last one they all taste bloomin’ marvellous. Funny that.
I’ve been known to get out a blindfold to test homemade lemon curd against Marks and Spencer’s best. Incidentally, the verdict was 50:50, so probably not worth making your own unless you’ve got a lot of egg yolks to use up.
So back to this morning. Hella’s game was called ‘Taste 10 things that you find in the kitchen’ and who was the
unsuspecting lucky victim participant in her fun? My lovely husband of course. He soon decided that it was only fair for Hella to do some tasting too, so a flurry of scouring the fridge and the kitchen cupboards began. #1 and #2 teenage sons are never ones to miss out on the opportunity to inflict grossness on other people (especially their little sister) so they threw themselves into helping to create the perfect tens. There was, after all, a Ferrero Rocher at stake for the winner – “Ambassador with these Rocher, you are really spoiling us!”
Blindfold on, my lovely husband went first –
- Mayonnaise – no flavour. Needed 2 spoonfuls to get it.
- Tomato ketchup – revolting when eaten on its own.
- Vinegar – biggest cough of the lot.
- English mustard
- American mustard – good job he has a ‘keen’ palate.
- Jam – the most extreme reaction of them all. Evidently the sweet things tasted much, much worse than the savouries.
- Maple syrup – he couldn’t get this at all.
- A cranberry Shredded Wheat – he got Shredded Wheat but not the filling. Half marks. Maybe a bit harsh.
- Tabasco – Quick! Water! Water!
- Coconut water – bleugghh … but mostly because he doesn’t like it anyway.
And the result for my lovely husband? 8½ out of 10. Victory was within his grasp.
Hella next –
- Pineapple – easy peasy.
- ‘Chocolate Stars’ breakfast cereal – think she was being lulled into a false sense of security here.
- Cacao nibs – known as ‘tree bark’ in our house. I get that. Especially horrid when eaten on their own. Much spitting.
- Ginger syrup – I’ve got stacks of this leftover from all the stem ginger I used trialling the Ginger and Dark Chocolate Cookies. Shame it’s revolting when you eat it straight from the jar.
- Ribena – a welcome relief.
- Cheese – from #1 teenage son to Hella “Do you want to eat the whole piece? I think you’ll want to ….” And that was because it was followed by …
- Pickled onions – when you’re 8, you’ve probably never eaten a pickled onion. No wonder that she had no clue then.
- Espresso grounds – taste, texture both as gross as it gets, but recognisable. And then the finale …
- A piece of Rex’s Lamb & Rice dry dog food – Hella starts to suck it. She is clearly puzzled. It could be a nut? #1 teenage son says, “Think about what it reminds you of.” Then realisation on Hella’s face, “It tastes like Rex’s …….. eeeeeuuuggghhh”. Much grossing out and spitting follows.
And a very respectable 8 out of 10 for Hella. So the winner, by a smidgeon, was my lovely husband. But to celebrate a hilarious family game (I’ve never seen both teenage sons so completely engaged) we decided to crack open the rather beautiful Tiramisu Cheesecake that I’d been photographing during all of the merriment. The Ferrero Rochers were safe for another day.
I’ve been making this dessert for years. It’s another example of re-engineering a retro classic to become a bit more ‘now’. It’s a gingernut and pecan base, with a chocolate and coffee centre and topped with swirls of mascarpone and greek yoghurt. Finally it’s decorated with pecans, melted chocolate and the traditional sprinkling of cocoa powder.
And why do I keep coming back to it?
- It’s very easy. There’s no cooking involved apart from melting some butter and chocolate. It’s a good one for the children to make for sure.
- As it’s an old recipe, the ingredients are fairly traditional so there’ll be nothing that you struggle to find.
- It’s a great dessert for making in advance. I tend to do the base and the chocolate/coffee centre the day before and then do the topping and decoration an hour or so before serving.
- The decoration on the top is definitely high impact, low effort. You’ll feel like a domestic goddess. Or god, of course.
- It is exceptionally yummy. The coffee cuts through the chocolate to balance the sweetness and the swirly, yoghurty topping is a perfect contrast. And the flavours are not overly grown up, so it’s one for the whole family.
- You can serve it on its own (that’s how I like it), or with pouring cream (#2 teenage son always opts for this), or with extra Greek yoghurt (my lovely husband) or vanilla ice cream (Hella’s pick of the bunch).
- If your house is anything like ours, the leftover gingernuts from making this dessert will be as popular as the dessert itself.
So, grab yourself a blindfold, 10 tasters from the kitchen, plenty of water, a bowl to catch the more yucky of the taste tests and I can guarantee that a good time will be had by all. Just be sure to have something akin to a Tiramisu Cheesecake as a reward to enjoy afterwards.
- For the base -
- 75g (3oz) butter
- 150g (6oz) gingernut biscuits, crushed
- 50g (2oz) pecans, finely chopped
- For the filling -
- 150g (6oz) dark chocolate - I used 70% cocoa solids
- 150ml (¼ pint) double cream
- 200g (8oz) mascarpone cheese
- 1 tbsp cold, strong black coffee - I used 2 heaped teaspoons instant coffee added to slightly more than a tablespoon of boiling water
- 50g (2oz) caster sugar
- To decorate -
- 25g (1oz) dark chocolate - I used 70% cocoa solids
- 200g (8oz) mascarpone cheese
- 100g (4oz) thick greek yoghurt
- 25g (1oz) pecans, roughly chopped
- cocoa powder, for dusting
- a lightly greased, 18cm (7 inch) fluted, loose bottomed flan tin
- Melt the butter in the microwave and stir in the crushed biscuits and the pecans. Press into the base of the flan tin. Chill until firm.
- To make the filling, melt the chocolate in the microwave. Allow it to cool slightly.
- Whip the cream until it forms peaks.
- Now beat the mascarpone in a bowl with the coffee, sugar and melted chocolate. Gently fold the cream into the mixture. Pour this mixture into the tin, levelling the top and chill until firm.
- When you are ready to decorate the cheescake, melt the rest of the chocolate in the microwave and allow to cool a little.
- Now remove the cheesecake from the tin. An easy way to do this is to stand the cheesecake on a tin of beans (or similar) and gently pull the sides down. Unless you are supremely confident, I would leave the cheesecake on the base of the tin. Transfer the cheesecake to a serving plate.
- Mix together the mascarpone and greek yoghurt and swirl over the top of the cheesecake. Sprinkle over the chopped pecans, drizzle with the melted chocolate and finally dust with a little cocoa powder.