Because A Friday Treat is the Perfect Way to End the Week!

Friday, 16 March 2012

Marbled Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies

This week I’ve been both incredibly busy and frustrated, immersed in the world of house hunting. After many months of waiting , I’ve finally been offered a job and now have to relocate before I start next week. So you might think that I’d have been too busy to write and bake a recipe this week – but would I do that to you?

So we’re talking brownies and to be precise, marbled chocolate cheesecake brownies. You may be asking why get the cheesecake involved and not just do normal chocolate brownies but I find that most people have a favourite chocolate brownie recipe and they’re pretty easy to come across, so you don’t need mine. I definitely have a favourite brownie recipe and I’ve been making it for years! I first introduced them to the world a depressingly large number of years ago while still at school where they were very popular and have been making them, usually by request, ever since. Now, for some reason I’ve always kept this recipe a closely guarded secret and now I feel like I cannot change, therefore you probably won’t ever see it here.  Today’s brownie recipe though is still really delicious so I hope you like it!

These recipes are not exactly your traditional brownies though and I’m going to begin with this warning – if you don’t like cheesecake, you’re probably not going to like these brownies!! Although if you don’t like cheesecake, I’m not sure I want you reading this blog anyway – what’s wrong with you?? Oh, you have a dairy allergy?? Then you shouldn’t be eating chocolate either!!! Actually thinking about it, what do you do if you have a dairy allergy and want to make a recipe that contains chocolate? Can you just substitute the chocolate for dairy free chocolate?? Does it melt and bake the same?? So many questions that I’m going to have to find out the answer to!

Anyway, if you do like both chocolate and cheesecake then these are the brownies for you! I wasn’t sure what to expect when I was experimenting with these, but what came out was something that tasted a little like chocolate cheesecake on a brownie rather than biscuit base. Accept that this is what they’ll taste like and you’ll love them. They’re moist and tangy and chocolatey and great – try them! And for those of you who don’t like cheesecake – you crazy bunch – the chocolate brownie part of the recipe makes lovely brownies by itself so you can always have a go at this is you prefer!

Finally before I go, there may not be a recipe posted next week due to the moving, the new job, my probable lack of internet and probable lack of kitchen! I’ll see what I can do!

Some Final Tips Before You Get Started:
  • I always melt my chocolate in a bain-marie (ok, a Pyrex bowl balanced over a saucepan of water) but if you don’t want to fuss with this you can always melt your butter and chocolate in the microwave. Just be careful not to burn it by microwaving at a fairly low temperature and taking it out frequently to stir until fully melted.
  • Make sure your mixture has cooled sufficiently before you add the eggs. Adding the sugar and flour prior to the eggs should lower the temperature enough but just double check, otherwise you’ll end up with chocolate scrambled eggs. Not ideal.
  • I used a standard, supermarket bar of dark chocolate for these which I’m guessing had a fairly low cocoa content because that’s what I prefer for brownies. This is what I’d suggest but if you prefer a more bitter chocolate, say 75% cocoa chocolate when you bake, by all means use it!
  • Once baked, unlike normal cakes, a testing skewer inserted into the brownies shouldn’t necessarily come out clean when checking to see if they’ve cooked all the way through. You still want it to be very slightly sticky in order for your brownies to be moist. If it comes out covered in batter however, they still need more cooking time. Go with your gut on this one.

Marbled Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies
For the Cream Cheese Mixture:
400g Full Fat Cream Cheese
1tsp. Vanilla Extract
125g Caster Sugar
2 Eggs

For the Brownies:
200g Dark Chocolate
175g Unsalted Butter
300g Caster Sugar
130g Plain Flour
3 Eggs

A 30cm x 20cm Rectangular Baking Tin

1)      Preheat the oven to 180◦C, grease and line your baking tin with greaseproof paper. In a large bowl, cream together the cream cheese, vanilla extract, caster sugar and eggs. Stir until smooth, creamy and well combined. Set aside in a cool place.
2)      Place a large heatproof bowl over a saucepan filled with an inch of water, making sure the base of the bowl is not touching the water. Bring the water to boil over a medium heat. Break the chocolate into chunks and place, alongside the butter into the heatproof bowl and melt together, stirring occasionally. Leave to cool slightly once melted.
3)      Mix the sugar and flour into the melted chocolate and butter and stir until combined. Add the eggs and little at a time, mixing until a wet mixture has formed.
4)      Pour ¾ of the brownie mixture into the prepared tin. On top of this, place dollops of the cream cheese mixture before filling the gaps between these with the remaining brownie mixture. Using a skewer, swirl together the cream cheese and brownie until a marbled pattern is created. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes or until the cheesecake is golden and a skewer inserted into the mixture comes out slightly sticky.
5)      Leave to cool completely in the tin before removing and cutting the brownies into bars.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Toffee Apple Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

This week I’m making a request. Several weeks ago, I made my way to London with the noble intention of going to a party and while there I met up with many of my friends, all of whom are now living fabulous lives in the capital city, and a specific request was made as to what recipe should feature in this blog one week. This request was to write a recipe that involved apples.

Now, that in itself does not really narrow my task down, as apples are a deservedly popular ingredient in the baking world.  Pies, biscuits, tarts, cakes, muffins – they really are incredibly versatile and almost always delicious. After much deliberation though, I have decided to go for an apple cupcake with some toffee sauce and cream cheese frosting thrown in for good measure. It sounds excessive but I promise that it’s not and that all of the elements work well together. Cream cheese instead of butter frosting, the high apple content and only the slightest hint of toffee  makes this cupcake a lot lighter than a more traditional cupcake too – you may even, if you try really, really hard, be able to convince yourself its healthy!

The recipe itself is probably one of the most easy and stress-free cupcake recipes I’ve ever used and I’ve used a lot, so that’s a bold statement. All three components; the cakes, the sauce and the frosting, are quick to whip up, I would even go as far as to say that the most time consuming and annoying bit is the chopping up of the apples and even a monkey could do that!

On the subject of the apples, I’m not one of those people who insist on using Bramley or cooking apples in my baking. My general rule would be to think about what you’re making and to make a choice between sweet or tart. I’m not an apple connoisseur (can you tell?) but those are essentially your options and I would suggest sweeter apples for cakes and more tart apples for pies and tarts. For this particular recipe I used Braeburns but like I said, think about it and go with your gut.

So Fi, here is your recipe! I hope you like it!

Some final tips before you get started:
  • By the time you add all four eggs to the creamed butter and sugar, it will look all curdled and mildly disgusting BUT it will be fine once the flour is added.
  • When making the frosting, make sure the butter is very soft so it all blends together properly.
  • Again for the frosting, making sure you’re cream cheese is kept cool in the fridge until the moment you need it will ensure a workable frosting. If your cream cheese is at room temperature it’ll be too runny.
  • While the lure of a lovely toffee sauce might cause you to get carried away, each cake really only needs a teaspoon (max!!). It’s enough to add great flavour without creating a messy, sticky cake.
Toffee Apple Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting (Makes 12)

For the Cakes:
200g Unsalted Butter (softened)
200g Golden Caster Sugar
4 Eggs
200g Self-Raising Flour
1tsp. Ground Cinnamon
2 Eating Apples (Peeled, cored and diced into ½cm cubes)

For the Toffee Sauce:
50g Soft Toffees
2tbsp. Double Cream

For the Frosting:
50g Butter (softened)
100g Full Fat Cream Cheese
300g Icing Sugar
1tsp. Ground Cinnamon

Ground Cinnamon to Decorate

1)      Preheat the oven to 180◦C and line a 12-hole muffin tin with muffin cases. For the cakes, cream together the butter and caster sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs and mix in a little at a time.
2)      Into this mixture, sieve the self-raising flour and ground cinnamon and gently fold into the wet ingredients. Finally, add the cubed apples and stir until well distributed throughout the mixture.
3)      Divide the mixture between the 12 muffin cases and bake in a preheated oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Leave to cool completely.
4)      For the toffee sauce, place the soft toffees and cream into a saucepan and warm over a low heat until the toffees have melted and combined with the cream to make a sauce. With a knife, cut a small round out of the top of each cooled cupcake, fill with a teaspoon of toffee sauce and replace the cake that was removed to make the hole.
5)      For the frosting, cream together the butter and cream cheese using an electric whisk or mixer. Whisk in the icing sugar and cinnamon and stir until a smooth yet firm frosting has formed. Don’t mix for too long or the frosting may go runny. Pipe or spread the frosting to cover each cupcake before finally dusting with a small amount of ground cinnamon to decorate. 

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Chocolate Orange Syrup Cakes

This week I’ve taken an idea and run with it, regardless of whether it makes sense or sounds nice or in fact even works when put into practice. I’m talking about Chocolate Orange Syrup Cakes. Not the snappiest title, I know and it is somewhat confusing but let me attempt to explain the (albeit questionable) logic behind it.

Basically this has all stemmed from me being bought new bakeware. To be more specific, a silicone heart shaped muffin pan. I wanted to use it but was getting bored of making muffins and cupcakes so started to search for an alternative. A couple of weeks ago I posted a recipe for lemon drizzle cake, a cake which had always been a favourite in my house, and it got me thinking as to how I could develop this recipe further. Now I have always been a huge fan of oranges – in fact I’m potentially the number one fan in the world. I have at least one a day and genuinely feel weird if I don’t have one, making it a borderline problem but we’ll ignore that for now! I also of course, love chocolate and therefore the combination of chocolate orange just makes perfect sense to me and so this is how the idea developed. It was like a big food word-association; lemons, oranges, chocolate orange – winning idea for a recipe!!

I could have made one large chocolate orange syrup cake but having done the lemon drizzle cake recipe so recently, I decided that something slightly different was in order...and I wanted to make heart shaped cakes.

So yes, these are what I’ll be scoffing this Treat Friday and having made myself get up and go to the gym at 7.30am, that’s completely fine. If only I could stop eating cake, I could save on the cost of a gym membership...and have a lie in. 

Some Final Tips Before You Get Started:
  • As I’ve not used any sort of cake case in this recipe, make sure all of your muffin pans are really well greased. I melted butter and painted it onto the pans using a pastry brush and therefore avoided having to serve my cakes in the muffin tin with each person digging cake out of the hole with a spoon. That’d be so uncivilized.
  • When making the syrup, it only needs heating very gently to help the sugar dissolve into the orange juice faster. If you’re dealing with a burnt pan situation then you’ve gotten carried away.
  • It’s an obvious one but just make sure that all of the dry ingredients are sieved into the mixture. No-one wants to bite into a lump of baking powder or cocoa powder.
Chocolate Orange Syrup Cakes

Ingredients (Makes 16)
200g Unsalted Butter (softened)
200g Caster Sugar
200g Self-Raising Flour
1tsp. Baking Powder
3 Large Eggs
3tbsp. Cocoa Powder
8tbsp. Warm Tap Water
30g Flaked Almonds
Zest of 2 Oranges and Juice of 1 Orange.
100g Orange Flavoured Chocolate (roughly chopped)

For the Syrup:
150g Icing Sugar
75ml Orange Juice (freshly squeezed)
25ml Lemon Juice

2x 12-Hole Muffin Tins

1)      Preheat the oven to 180◦C. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Into this mixture, sift the self-raising flour and baking powder and gradually add the eggs. Stir until well combined.
2)      In a separate bowl, mix together the cocoa powder and warm water to create a smooth paste. Gently fold this paste into the other ingredients before adding the flaked almonds, chocolate, orange juice and zest and mixing well.
3)      Divide the mixture into the muffin tins and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cakes comes out clean.
4)      In the final minutes of baking, combined the ingredients for the syrup in a saucepan and gently heat until all the sugar has dissolved and a thin syrup has been made.
5)      Once the cakes have been removed from the oven, while still warm skewer each cake multiple times before pouring over a tablespoon of syrup onto each cake. Leave in the muffin tins until completely cooled.