Recipe: Haagen-Dazs Strawberry Cheesecake Loaf


A cake loaf with the flavour of fancy ice cream – what more could you want?

I first saw the idea for this on Quora, and it fits firmly into the ‘cooking hacks’ notion of recipes, what with having three / four ingredients, and taking about 3 minutes to prepare. The result was a pretty successful, though very crumbly cake – but the short cut doesn’t deliver what you might hope for from a fancier recipe.

“A cake loaf with the flavour of fancy ice cream – what more could you want?”

I’ll probably try it again, with another flavour of ice cream – probably one with more solid ‘chunks’ that will add some interesting variety. Oh, and probably a flavour with a chocolatey bent.

I didn’t add any salt to my cake, and that was a mistake, since it was a little blander than I’d hoped for. Obviously if you go for a saltier ice cream (I’m thinking e.g. cookie dough) you might want to hold off, but I’ll be adding some next time.

Quora suggested that you could mix the flour with half the ice cream, and then fold in the rest of the ice cream to create ‘streaks’ of flavour veined through the cake. I found that half the ice cream produced a very dry dough that you wouldn’t be able to fold anything into, so I didn’t bother in the end. Your mileage may vary.

So here’s the recipe – simple as:

Recipe: Haagen-Dazs Strawberry Cheesecake Loaf
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A moist, super-simple loaf cake that takes about 3 minutes to prepare. You can (probably) use any ice cream flavour. The cake should rise, crack and brown a bit, producing a light but slightly moist, doughy cake. Obviously stating the flour by volume rather than weight is a cardinal sin of baking, but since the whole idea is to be super quick and simple (and scale easily) this is the way to do it!
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Cake
Serves: 4-10
  • 1x 500ml pot Strawberry Cheesecake Haagen Dazs
  • 400ml self-raising flour
  • ½ tsp salt - optional, but advised for all but saltiest ice creams
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil, or butter, to grease
  1. Preheat oven to 175C (450F).
  2. Allow the ice cream to pretty much melt. (I used the 40 minute trip home from the supermarket to achieve this.)
  3. Pour ice cream into a mixing bowl.
  4. Fill the now-empty pot four-fifths full with flour, stir in salt, and mix into ice cream with a metal spoon until mostly non-lumpy.
  5. Oil / butter loaf tin until well-greased.
  6. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until a cocktail stick stuck into the centre comes out clean.


(My version of) Ottolenghi’s Soba Noodles with Aubergine and Mango

In his (vegetarian) cookbook Plenty, Yotam Ottolenghi mentions that this is the meal he cooks to impress people, and I do too – especially if I’m heading to a picnic. That said, unlike many of his dishes, it’s actually surprisingly easy, with no very unusual ingredients. You can find rice vinegar (and soba noodles) in Sainsbury’s ‘special selection’ area, but I’m sure any light, low-flavoured vinegar will do if you can’t put your hands on it (especially since it’s a little expensive). Ditto other noodles, but soba does have a deliciously nutty buckwheat tang.

“Delicious salad, with the freshness of mango, sumptuousness of fried aubergine and oriental bite of lime and chilli dressing”

Basically you just fry the aubergine, mix the dressing, and combine the rest of the ingredients. Easy!

This is based on his recipe, in the fantastic bible of fresh and delicious veggie food that is Plenty. You can see a (slightly different) version on Guardian Food.

I have made a couple of changes, for my preference:

Firstly, don’t use 300ml of oil. That would be COMPLETELY disgusting. The recipe in the book actually says 220ml (and 250g noodles rather than 300g, which is handy, since they tend to be sold in 250g bundles), but I used about 100ml, doing it in three batches (which is only moderately disgusting). The most important thing to realise about the step of frying the aubergine is that it will immediately suck up all the oil in the pan. But just keep stirring when it’s on the heat, and slowly but surely most of the oil will leak back out into the pan. Each batch will take about 5-8 minutes.

Don’t peel and chop a mango: life’s too short. Buy it pre-diced (though you might want to chop it a bit smaller).

(My version of) Ottolenghi's Soba Noodles with Aubergine and Mango
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Delicious salad, with the freshness of mango, sumptuousness of fried aubergine and oriental bite of lime and chilli dressing
Recipe type: Vegetarian Main / Salad
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Serves: 4-8
  • 120ml rice vinegar
  • 40g caster sugar
  • ½ tsp salt (plus 1 tbsp to dust aubergine when draining)
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • ½ red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 lime, zest and juice
  • 300ml sunflower oil
  • 2 aubergines, cut into 2cm dice
  • 250g soba noodles
  • ½ red onion, sliced as thinly as you can
  • 1 large pack chopped mango, cut into 1cm dice
  • 40g basil, chopped
  • 40g coriander, chopped
  1. Heat a third of the sunflower oil in a large pan (I use a wide-based wok-like pan with a flat centre), and heat on a really hot hob. Carefully fry a third of the aubergine for 5 to 8 minutes until golden-browned. Be patient, and you'll see that whilst the aubergine soaks up all the oil initially, after a while quite a bit will leak back out. Remove and drain in a colander, sprinkled with a tsp of fine salt. Add some more oil and repeat with another two batches.
  2. Cook the noodles according to packet - 5-8 minutes. Rinse with cold water, and pat dry.
  3. Mix vinegar, sugar and salt in small pan, and heat for a minute to dissolve sugar. Add garlic, chilli and sesame oil, cool, then add the lime zest and juice and stir together.
  4. If you're eating straight away, mix all the ingredients and serve. Otherwise, reserve half the herb and the dressing while combining everything else, and mix in just before serving.


Smoked Mackerel Paté

Okay, so it’s cheating to use a recipe from the Guardian’s ‘Hot to cook…’ series, since they’ve already scientifically identified the perfect ingredients and method (!), but in this case there’s a slight tweak, as who can buy fresh horseradish in the UK? Even Waitrose staff insist ‘it’s the same as red radish’. Ahem. I should go to an ethnic food store, who will no doubt have loads of the stuff. But in this case, I substitute horseradish sauce.

Smoked Mackerel Paté
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Spread on bread, lettuce, dip at a picnic, etc.. Delicious!
Recipe type: Appetiser
Serves: 4
  • 3 hot smoked mackerel fillets
  • 150g cream cheese
  • 100g crème fraîche
  • 2 tbsp horseradish sauce
  • Lemon, to serve
  • Handful of dill, chopped
  • Black pepper, to taste
  1. Skin mackerel fillets and flake 2 of them into the mixer.
  2. Blend with the cream cheese, crème fraîche and horseradish sauce until homogeneous.
  3. Flake rest of fish, and mix in along with the dill and black pepper.
  4. Serve with lemon wedges.


Hat tip to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall for the basic recipe for these flatbreads. In fact, I think once you’ve tasted them you’ll never want to suffer supermarket pitas again!

The only part of the recipe that presents any real difficulty is that you need to dry-fry each individually  and giving them even 3 minutes each does take a little time. But they’re fairly low maintenance, so you can get on with a few other jobs at the same time.

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Serve with dips, such as hummus, salsa, broad bean dip, smoked mackerel paté, or use to wrap falafel, salad, etc., or even for fajitas.
Recipe type: Side
Serves: 4-8
  • 250g plain flour (I haven't tried bread flour, but maybe I'll have a go one day)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 150ml warmish water
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  1. Sift flour into a mixing bowl and stir in the salt. Add the water and oil and mix to a dough. (Kenwood dough hook works fine.)
  2. Knead on a well-floured surface for five minutes until smooth and elastic, then cover with a large bowl and rest for 15 minutes.
  3. Roll into a sausage shape, then slice into 8 portions.
  4. Roll out to 3mm thickness on the floured surface.
  5. Shake off excess dough, then lay in a non-stick pan on a medium-to-hot temperature.
  6. When the dough starts to puff up (a minute or two) flip and cook the other side for another 30 seconds. Each side should develop brown patches.
  7. Serve warm.


Chocolate Macaroons


To me, macaroons means the delicious sunken sand-coloured hemispheres with a slight chew that we got at Pesach (/ Passover) that were pipped to the post for my favourite festival treat by cinnamon balls.

These delicious, ganache-filled sandwiches, which have recently become the new cupcake (though I’m sure something else has in turn become the new them) have always been “macarons”.

In fact, of course, the two are the same – and the latter feature two of the former sandwiched around whatever flavoured filling (of the right consistency) you might like to pair with the shells. In spite of the reputation, I don’t think these are super-hard to get right. Have a go!

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Chocolate Macaroons
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This makes a boatload of macaroons (see the picture) - they bake so quickly that making a huge batch is little more work than making far fewer, so you might as well go all-out. That said, I've never managed to pipe anything without making an amazing mess, and no doubt this mess rises exponentially the more you make. I think this might be the most I could manage without coating the entire kitchen with batter. Some recipes suggest almond flour rather than ground almonds - but I think these should have a nice, slightly gritty texture, so would push for the latter.
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 40
  • 6 large egg whites
  • 250 grams ground almonds
  • 250 grams icing sugar
  • 50 grams cocoa
  • 250 grams caster sugar
  • 250 grams super-dark chocolate
  • 300 ml double cream
  • 50 grams butter (salted will add flavour)
  1. Whisk (use the electric!) the egg whites, along with half the caster sugar at a medium speed for a couple of minutes, then even faster for a bit. Once the mixture starts to firm, add the rest of the sugar, and keep beating to stiff peaks. The stiffer it is, the more room you have to 'lose air' as you fold this is, so take your time. It should look glossy and brilliant white.
  2. Mix the ground almonds, icing sugar and cocoa powder, and fold into the egg whites with a large spoon, using a figure of eight action, until completely incorporated.
  3. With a piping bag, pipe large-marble-sized blobs onto baking paper, leaving space for these to flatten themselves. You'll probably need several batches, so have a large table or surface to lay out a number of lots ready to bake.
  4. Important: leave the blobs to sit for 25 minutes, until slightly drier.
  5. Bake on a baking tray for 12 minutes at 165 degrees C. Be brave about believing that they are done at this point.
  6. After cooling for ten minutes, the shells should be easy to lift and set aside.
  7. For the ganache, melt the chocolate in a bain marie (a bowl sat atop a pan of boiling water), add the cream and stir quickly to mix in. Add the butter, and stir this in too. Allow to cool until thick enough to spoon, but not set.
  8. Press the tip of your thumb into the flat side of a shell to make extra space for ganache, and generously add ganache, pressing another (intact) shell on top. Twisting may help to spread the filling evenly.
  9. Refridgerate overnight before serving (oh, go on, you can have one!) and store up to a week (genuinely) in the fridge in an airtight container. Bring to room temperature before eating.


Beef lasagna with Heston’s white sauce


I was fairly intrigued when I first read about Heston Blumenthal’s no-roux white sauce. Instead of starting with the traditional butter and flour lump and then gradually adding milk, and cheese being optional, he advises reducing white wine (significantly), adding chicken stock, then melting in cheese, coated in a couple of teaspoons of cornflour (the only flour).

It seemed just as easy as normal white sauce, with a boatload more flavour. But judge for yourself.

Beef lasagna with Heston's white sauce
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Recipe type: Main
Serves: 4
  • 300 ml white wine
  • 150 ml chicken stock (warmed through)
  • 200 g mature cheese (I used cheddar)
  • Cornflour, to dust (2 tsp approx)
  • 300 g lean beef mince
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 150 g spinach
  • 12 sheets lasagna
  1. In a small pan, reduce the wine to a concentrated 30ml.
  2. Meanwhile, fry the beef for five minutes (you shouldn't need any additional oil), then add the chopped onion, and fry for another three minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes to the beef, and reduce slightly, then add the spinach and wilt for a minute or two and remove from the heat.
  4. Stir the heated stock into the reduced wine, then dust the cheese (reserving a handful to sprinkle on top) with the cornflour, mixing to coat, then stir into the stock until nice and thick.
  5. Layer in a large dish - beef and tomato sauce, lasagna sheets, white sauce. I aim for as many layers as possible (it's all about the pasta!), so be sparing with the sauces, while ensuring there is enough wet for the pasta to absorb.
  6. Sprinkle on top the reserved cheese, and bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until golden brown. The pasta should be al-dente, and have taken on the flavours of the sauce.


Mini crabcake pasta


Looking around for recipes, I came across one for crabcakes, but felt in the mood for pasta – so I went for a combination of the two.

I’d rather imagined marble-sized balls of crabcake in a garlicky olive oil sauce. It didn’t quite work out like that, but was nice enough.

I served this with spinach, rocket and watercress salad, with diced tomatoes since I’d chopped too much.


Mini crabcake pasta
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Recipe type: Main
Serves: 4
  • 100g fresh white crab meat
  • 2 large handfuls brown breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 bunch coriander (roughly chopped)
  • 1 red onion (chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Olive oil
  • 1 large handful mixed spinach, watercress and rocket
To serve
  • 300g dry weight pasta (boiled)
  • 1 medium tomato (diced)
  1. Beat eggs and mix in crab meat. Add chopped coriander (that's cilantro for our American friends. Add breadcrumbs and mix well. You don't want the mix to be too wet.
  2. Heat a little oil in a heavy frying pan over a medium heat. Make cakes with the mix in heaped teaspoon sizes. Mine didn't stay as balls, so I flipped then and fried each side until dark golden brown. Fry in batches and remove to a plate.
  3. Add a bit more oil, then fry onion and toss in the mixed leaves and garlic.
  4. Mix pasta, tomatoes, onions and leaves and most cakes, retaining a few to place on top when plated. Drizzle with any remaining oil.


Swiss Millionaire Shortbread

I love millionaire shortbread – but I only recently discovered just how easy it is to make. In fact, shortbread is such a cinch that I can’t understand why anyone would buy it.

The vanilla brings out the taste – and who wouldn’t use salted caramel now we’ve all been made aware of its existence?

Hat tip to BBC Recipes for the basic mould of this one, though I use vanilla essence rather than pods (who can afford / find them easily?) – and I make it Swiss by using Toblerone, an easy way to make yours stand out.

The certainly isn’t for the faint-hearted, and it’s not guilt-free, but sure to go down well.

Swiss Millionaire Shortbread
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Recipe type: Treat
Serves: 20
For the shortcake:
  • 175g butter
  • 225g flour
  • 75g sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
For the caramel:
  • 400ml tin condensed milk (though, oddly, it's generally sold in 397ml tins - anyone know why?)
  • 4 tbsp golden syrup
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 200g butter
To top:
  • 400g Toblerone (I used the normal milk one, that comes in the golden box)
  1. Rub together 175g butter, flour, sugar, vanilla essence, until it’s dough. Press into a 23cm square tin, prick all over with a fork.
  2. Bake for 5 mins at 175 degrees, then 35 mins at 150 until golden brown (though still a little soft). Allow to cook for ten minutes.
  3. Heat condensed milk, golden syrup and salt. Add 200g butter slowly, then boil for ten minutes stirring constantly. Where the sugar ‘catches’ at the bottom it will become dark brown, but will mix back in, making a dark golden brown caramel. Pour the caramel over the shortbread, and cool in the fridge.
  4. Melt Toblerone in a bain marie (pyrex bowl on top of simmering pan of water) and pour over the caramel. Cool outside the fridge and cut while the chocolate is still not rock solid – this will allow you to create squares without cracking.