Caramel Cheese Cake ~ Chit Chat with Meena Kumar



When we meet lovely friends along with great food that's what I call bliss. Today I am so happy and honored to feature one of my good friend in blog world Meena Kumar who blogs at Elephants and the coconut trees. Meena is such a friendly, down to earth blogger to has many talents up her sleeve. Personally I am huge fan of Meena's blog, right from her recipes, writing, photography and food styling. Her blog has her individuality and you will find a touch of Meena in everything. There have been days I have gawked at her Lychee Pudding,  Whole chicken roast, Red wine, Cabbage stuffed with turkey to name a few. I am sure you would have hopped to her blog to virtually treat yourself with her eyecatching food. Over the years that I have blogged I have learnt that blogging itself is an art, apart from cooking, recipe developing, plating, styling, writng a post and so on. But I have found very few bloggers who score high in all aspects and Meena is one of them. Its a pleasure to know her and hop into her space. Today Meena shares with us a gorgeous dessert, and I have not words to express what I felt when I saw her post in my mail box :-). Thank you so much Meena for taking time off your hectic schedule and doing this lovely dessert and chit chat for me. I am so happy to share you and your dessert with all my readers.


Over to Meena-

Hello lovely people,

This is Meena the hand behind the space elephants and the coconut trees . Blogging  has brought me so many good friends and I must say Priya is definitely one of the best. Cook like Priya and take care of the blog like Priya. Love the way she pays attention to detail. The bg is constantly changed to convey a fresh feel, decorations & fonts are color coordinated and up to date with season and to top it off she develops her own recipe, as a reader what more can we ask for.
Priya,you truly inspire other bloggers ,every award that comes your way is well deserved. It is such an honor to be invited to this awesome blog of yours..


CARAMEL CHEESE CAKE WITH RICOTTA CHEESE

Here is my personal favorite, a from the scratch, lesser cal version cheese cake with ricotta cheese. An ideal cake for all year round but a chilled slice in the peak of summer is simply awesome. 
The caramel on top might looks runny in the pic but trust me it is pretty thick.



CHIT CHAT WITH MEENA

Priya : Which city you are from in India, and where are you staying currently ?
Meena :I am from Palakkad ,Kerala. Currently living in Connecticut with my husband and daughter.

Priya : Tell me about yourself & what made you start a blog?
Meena : A complete foodie by choice, someone who keeps an open mind to all types of cuisines (drawback of not being a picky eater) , ready to travel on short notice  all the rest is uninteresting :) I started the blog as a medium to express myself, a space for my thoughts to meet inner peace  and above all to document memories of everything I learned to cook that I hope my daughter would cherish and try someday.

Priya : What are your hobbies apart from cooking ?
Meena : Anything related to art catches my fancy painting ,crafting ,crocheting. ...

Priya: Why did you choose this name for your blog ?
Meena : I wanted the blog name to represent Kerala and not just my cooking hence the name elephants and coconut trees.

Priya:  Do you have any other blog, please provide link.
Meena : Not a blog but we have a  Facebook group known as SADHYARECIPES , pure vegetarian food served for Kerala feast on plantain leaf is only allowed. Bloggers and non bloggers are welcome to join and post.

Priya: Can you share any interesting situations that had happened to you after you started to blog?
Meena : An antique seller happily gives me a gift for the blog saying it will see good days again, husband and daughter getting farsighted by picking up odd yet interesting things for my props.I mean how better can this get! 

Priya: You are an amazing photographer & what is your camera gear like? how long do you spend time in capturing to editing pictures?
Meena : Thank you Priya, I am still in the learning stage. I wish I had many gears to name. I have a Pentax K10 D and  70-300 Tamron  lens.I am yet to figure out how it is good for food blogging or low light conditions .On a really sunny day if everything falls in place  half an hour is good enough otherwise it takes longer.I don't do much of editing other than may be adding light and shadow, copyright or cleaning up edges. But I have this bad habit of taking lots of pics then I get seriously caught in my own web of choosing the best one.

Priya:  Can you share with us few tips to a great picture? what works for you?
Meena: I rely on natural window light , then try different angles by walking around the plated food. I have very little  props so everyday items lying around the house like packing paper ,chart paper, furniture etc come in handy.Changing backgrounds as much as possible for every post adds a fresh look in my opinion.

When the food is cooking I keep everything else ready for the pic so no time is wasted. Cook and click only when I have enough time to do never when people are waiting as it gets frustrating. I learn a lot from the net. Studying  professionals works has inspired me a lot ,their style,color combinations ,textures and props used, lighting, playing with shadows, angles, what story and mood it conveys etc. 

Priya:  How many hours do you generally give to ur blog in a day usually ?
Meena : Two hours is ideal time but most often it goes beyond that.My family thinks I live in another world :)

Priya: If you had a chance to start a business venture related to food what will be your pick?
Meena : A salad bar or an achar company what do you think of it!



Base : 

All purpose flour - 1 cup
1/3 cup - milk powder
butter  -2 tbsp
Milk- 1 tbsp or so to wet only



·  Melt the butter and mix everything to a wet sand consistency.Add  very little milk just enough to  wet.
·  Cut out  a parchment/wax paper in circle (keep spring as guide to draw circle) and place it on the inside of the  spring form baking pan then spread the mix evenly on to it  and press it firm with fingers or flat ramekin.
·  Bake at 350 F for 8-10 minutes until the edges are light brown.Once done cool completely on wire rack before going to the next step.

Note : You may use Graham cracker /biscuit coarsely powdered mixed with butter(2tbsp) to a wet sand consistency and bake in same method.

Filling :

Ricotta cheese- 15 oz (1 can)
Sweet and condensed milk - 1 can
Egg-2
Sugar -1/4 cup
All purpose flour -1/2 cup
Vanilla essence- 1 tsp



·  Bring everything to room temperature.
·  Slowly whip the ricotta cheese then add egg one by one then add all purpose flour to it slowly blend in the sugar too along with condensed milk. Do not beat too much for air pockets to form.
·  Wrap the outside of cake pan with aluminium foil to catch any leaks from the spring form.I wanted to do a water bath method but my cake pan did not fit into my tray so quit that :)
·  Pour the batter on top of the prepared crust and bake it at 325 F for about an hour.That is until the sides begin to brown and firm up and center is slightly jiggly 
·  Very important: When done remove the aluminium foil  and cover the hot cake pan immediately with a tight lid and keep on the wire rack to cool.This is done to keep the surface of the cake even and the center of the cake does not sink in.Once the cake cools down refrigerate in the spring pan itself.


Topping : Caramel

Sugar- 1 cup
butter - 1 tssp
Heavy whipping cream - 2 tbsp (optional)
or
Whole milk- 2 tbsp (if heavy w.c is used add only if required)

·  Keep an empty heavy bottom pot  on the stove and put the sugar in the middle keep it on lowest heat. Allow it to melt gradually without mixing or moving let it melt completely but take care not to burn at bottom.(see notes) .Then switch off flame.Be very careful while making caramel**(Keep the pot's lid  handy in case anything splutters just protect yourself holding against it like a warrior:)
·  Add the butter let it melt mix then milks only to make it to the color u like, not too runny.Remember  caramel thickens as it cools
·  Get it back to stove and simmer it to thicken as seen in pic.Let it cool slightly then pour on the cheese cake and refrigerate.

To get neat slices :

·  Immerse the knife in piping hot water for a few minutes,wipe it clean and immediately slice the cake.This is done to get neat slices.Put the knife to heat up back into the water after few cuts.Do not skip this as the caramel will get stuck to the knife and will become really messy.

Note:
·  If you feel the caramel  is burning immediately remove from stove and let it cool for some time( don't stir) and get back to stove.
·  Do not leave the cake in room temperature for too long.



Hope you will give this recipe a try and let us know.
Thank you so much Priya, for giving me this opportunity.Wish  you and the blog all the very best in the years to come.

Thank you Meena for this lovely dessert and it was great to have you here. Wising you all the best life has to offer and bigger milestones in blogging. And would love to visit your salad bar / achar company someday ;-) and may it be sooner. 

11 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for inviting me here Priya and for your kind words.
    I am extremely glad to share this awesome space with you dear.

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  2. Ohh wow wat cake meena tnx for sharing,water coming out from mouth.yummy

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  3. wow such a lovely chit chat, lovely pics and lovely recipes... Happy to know more about Meena :) Gr8 post from you both... Cheers...

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  4. Beautiful guest post and a yummy cheese cake there...so good to know more about Meena too :)

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  5. Awesome guest post and recipe. Try it soon eggless though.

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  6. Lovely chat ladies :-) Meena the cake looks delish and I am drooling here :-)

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  7. meena is one of the best blogger friends i have come across too... :) so glad to see her around... and just look at that cheesecake... drooling...

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  8. yummy cheese cake ..........its too good

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  9. Awesome and delicious looking caramel cheese cake. Wonderfully prepared.
    Deepa

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  10. Thats a fantstic chitchat, love going through and enjoyed reading..That caramel cheesecake is killing me.

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  11. Thank you so much lovely ladies, ur encouragement and support means a lot to me.

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Thank you for visiting, I hope you enjoyed my recipes :-) Your comments mean the world to me. In case you have tried any of the recipes featured here, do let me know.
***Kindly note I do not publish comments with links***

Love,
Priya Ranjit

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