Mini Blackberry Cheesecakes with Apple Roses

Apple roses have been done to death on Pinterest, but they are still delicious, fun to make and look very pretty.  These apple roses are in the middle of mini baked cheesecakes with tart blackberries.


When I was a child, my uncle used to make elderberry wine.  Every year, one one day in late August, would be the day we would bring our baskets and containers and all go with him.  There was an old, disused railway bank near his house that was covered with brambles and elderberry bushes with millions of lovely purple berries.  He would get his elderberries and make the potent homemade wine and we would pick blackberries to make pies, crumbles, cakes and jam.

I really miss our family trips to forage for those lovely berries, but I still love blackberries to this day.

These mini cheesecakes are ideal for an addition to afternoon tea, a bite-sized dessert or an after-school treat.

2 cups/approx 200g of digestive biscuit crumbs
2 tbs sugar
2oz/57g butter – melted

16oz/454g full fat and room temperature cream cheese
¼ cup/60g room temperature sour cream
1 cup/237g sugar
2 tsp lemon zest
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 extra large eggs
Blackberry puree – made with 1 heaped cup of fresh blackberries, 2 tbs sugar, heated until the juices run and the sugar dissolves. Push through a fine sieve to remove the seeds and leave to cool completely. You need ¼ cup of the puree. OR you can of course cheat and use ¼ cup of seedless blackberry jam.

Apple Roses:
2 crisp apples, preferably with a rosy red skin. I used Pink Lady apples
1tbs lemon juice
5tbs water

Cinnamon sugar:
¼ cup/60g caster sugar mixed with 2 tsp cinnamon.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF and line a muffin tin with 12 cupcake cases.

Mix the crumbs, sugar and butter together and divide the mixture equally into the cupcake cases, pressing down with a spoon for a firm base.

To make the filling, place the cream cheese, sugar, sour cream, lemon zest and vanilla into a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and beat until very creamy, with no lumps.  Add the eggs and beat again until fully combined.  Stir in the blackberry puree, you can fully mix in, or leave as a marbled finish.

Carefully pour the cheesecake mixture into the prepared cupcake cases, coming up to just over half way.

For the roses, cut the apples in half, remove the core and thinly slice into half circles and place in a bowl with the water and lemon juice.  Microwave for around 1 minute until the slices soften and they are flexible.

Depending on how thick you have cut your slices, you need around 10-12 for each rose. Lay them out on a board, overlapping each slice with the next.  Sprinkle with a little cinnamon sugar and roll up from one end the other as tightly as possible.  Place into the waiting case, the rose will ‘bloom’ and fill the mini cheesecake.  Repeat until you have a rose in each one and top with a little sprinkle of the cinnamon sugar.

Bake at 180ºC/350ºF for around 25 minutes until the centres are just set and allow to fully cool.  Chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

Apple rose closeup


A recipe originating from the Alps and enjoyed by hungry skiers, this really is a winter dish as it’s so rich, but also great made with Jersey Royal new potatoes. Feel free to add an optional clove of finely chopped garlic, or rub the dish with a cut clove for a more subtle taste.  I prefer it without any.


2.5 lb/1.5 kg of waxy potatoes with the skins left on. You can peel if you prefer.
8oz/235g Pancetta lardons or thickly sliced smoked bacon cut into cubes
1 onion cut in half and finely sliced into semi circles
1 tbs butter
1 tbs oil
Small glass of white wine (optional)
½ cup/120 ml double/heavy cream
2 Reblochon cheeses with the rind carefully removed and cut in half (through the waist of the cheese). You can leave the top rind on one of the cheeses if you wish this to top the dish.
Salt and pepper

Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender. Drain and leave to cool.

In another pan, heat half of the oil and fry the bacon until crisp. Remove from the pan and set aside.  Then heat the butter and the rest of the oil to gently sauté the onions until soft.  Return the bacon to the pan and add the wine and reduce until almost gone.  Remove the pan from the heat and add the cream and stir until combined and leave to cool while you prepare the potatoes.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F and cut the potatoes into bite sized cubes.

Place half of the potatoes in the baking dish and cover with half of the creamy bacon and onion mixture. Then place the two halves of one of the cheeses on top. Then add the rest of the potatoes and cover those with the other half of the cream mixture. Finally top with the other two halves of the cheese – rind upwards if using.

Bake for 25 minutes or until hot and bubbling and serve immediately with chilled wine and a simple green salad.

Goats Cheese Ball

Totally retro, but still delicious and a great addition to any party or buffet table.  A cheese ball is really easy to make and the variations are endless.  This one is made with goats cheese and served with green olive and roasted red pepper crackers – recipe below.


8oz/227g full fat cream cheese at room temperature
8oz/227g soft goats cheese at room temperature
1 tbs chopped dill
2tsp freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup/175g finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup/50g finely chopped dried cranberries
Crackers for serving – see below for recipe

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, place the room temperature cheeses, dill and 1 tsp of black pepper and mix on low speed until well mixed.  Using a spatula, scrape out the cheese mixture, pile onto cling film and form into a ball.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours so it can firm up.

On a plate, spread out the chopped pecans, 1 tsp black pepper and cranberries and roll the ball until fully coated.  This is ready to use immediately, otherwise refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Serve with a good chutney, crackers and chilled white wine.


Olive & Roasted Pepper Crackers

Green olives and roasted red peppers make these crackers the perfect accompaniment to the cheese ball

2 cups/280g plain/all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried oregano
2 oz/57g cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
3 tbs green olives, finely chopped
4 tbsp roasted red peppers, finely chopped – I like to roast my own, but you can buy ready roasted peppers in a jar
1/2 cup/112ml milk
olive oil
sea salt

Preheat oven to 190ºC/375°F

Line 2 baking sheets with a non stick liner or parchment paper.

Mix the flour, salt and oregano until well combined.

Add the butter and rub into the flour mixture until it looks like breadcrumbs.

Stir in the chopped olives, roasted red peppers and milk until evenly mixed.

Divide the dough in half.  Turn out one half of the dough straight onto the non stick liner and roll out to about ¼” thickness.  The thinner they are, the crispier they become and rolling out straight onto the liner means you can roll out the dough very thin.  Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 2”x2” squares and remove any excess dough to re-roll.  They shrink a little as they bake, so you don’t need to worry about them sticking together or having to separate them.

Prick the top of each cracker one or twice and lightly brush tops of crackers with olive oil, finishing with a light sprinkle of sea salt.  Repeat with the other half of the dough.

Bake at 190ºC/375°F for up to 25 minutes or until crackers are golden brown.  Be careful not to let them burn.

Let the crackers cool completely before serving.