Tag Archives: cream cheese

Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies

24 Aug

Everything’s been a little bit stressful and crazy lately. The Husband has been working especially hard and has been completely exhausted, so I thought I’d bake him a little something to cheer him up.

These are a complete comfort food: dense, rich chocolate brownies studded with milk chocolate chunks and marbled with swirls of velvety cream cheese. It’s like two desserts in one! Try to resist. Seriously.

The basic brownie recipe comes from Marian Keyes’ wonderful Saved By Cake cookbook, which I’ve altered to add the milk chocolate chunks and cream cheese swirls.

CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE BROWNIES

225g dark chocolate (70%)

225g butter

2 eggs

2 egg yolks

100g brown sugar

100g caster sugar

170g plain flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt

100g milk chocolate

For the cheesecake swirl:

200g cream cheese

2 tablespoons caster sugar

1 egg

1. Grease and line a square cake tin and set aside, then preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius (that’s 325 degrees Fahrenheit or Gas Mark 3).

2. Break the dark chocolate into pieces and melt with the butter, either in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of water or in the microwave, until all the lumps are gone and the mixture is smooth and silky. If microwaving, do so in thirty second blasts, stirring between each zap in the microwave.

3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the 2 eggs, both the egg yolks, the caster sugar and the brown sugar with a stand mixer or handheld beaters until the mixture becomes thick and is the colour of light toffee.

4. Pour the melted chocolate mixture into the egg mixture, and gently fold together to avoid the mixture congealing.

5. Sieve together the flour, baking powder and salt and fold into the chocolate mixture.

6. Break up the milk chocolate into pieces/chunks and gently fold into the brownie mixture.

7. To make the cheesecake mixture, beat together the cream cheese, caster sugar and the egg with electric beaters or a stand mixer in a new bowl for 1 -2 minutes until thick and creamy.

8. Pour half of the brownie mixture into the prepared tin.

9. Dollop spoonfuls of the cream cheese mixture over the brownie batter.

10. Pour the remaining brownie batter over the cream cheese dollops.

11. Spoon more of the cheesecake mixture over the top of the brownie batter in large dollops and marble using a flat bladed knife.

12. Bake for 28 -30 minutes, until the cream cheese swirls have started to firm up. Allow to cool in the tin for approximately 2 hours before turning out the brownie and cutting it into squares.

Store in an airtight container – though I have to say, I don’t think these will be sticking around for long!

As a side note, this post is also dedicated to my wonderful friends Tarryn and Pete, who are celebrating the safe arrival of their first child, a beautiful boy named Percy. Congratulations guys! Sending lots of love and hugs across the seas to you and the bubba! ❤

You can view Tarryn’s lovely blog Butter & Buntings here.

Enjoy! xx

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Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

18 Aug

I’m back! Sorry for being MIA lately – The Husband and I have recently moved into our own home (!), and between moving, unpacking and trying to get settled, I’ve hardly had time to get into the kitchen. I needed an excuse to get me back in there, really.

And the excuse came in the form of request for a birthday cake. Perfect! I was specifically asked to make a carrot cake, which I was really excited about. Carrot cake is one of my absolute favourites, and honestly, I don’t know why I haven’t posted about it before. There’s just something about that moist, dense cake coupled with creamy frosting that’s absolutely irresistible. In fact, I think I love carrot cake so very much because it’s an excuse to make copious amounts of cream cheese frosting. Adding maple syrup to the cream cheese gives the flavour a whole other, deeper dimension, and it works with so many cakes – red velvet, pumpkin spice, carrot (of course!)…the list is endless! All I can say is trust me, it’s worth it.

This is a very simple carrot cake recipe, which is slightly adapted from the original found in the Australian Women’s Weekly 100 Classic Cakes cookbook. The maple cream cheese frosting recipe is my own, which has sprung from about five different variations all merged together. The carrot cake is moist, dense and bursting with spices, and topped with the creamy, maple-infused frosting makes it the perfect cake for birthdays, desserts or an afternoon tea with friends. I was sad to give it up once it was baked and decorated!

CARROT CAKE WITH MAPLE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

For the cake (note that I doubled the recipe):

250 ml vegetable oil

1 1/3 cups firmly packed brown sugar

3 eggs

3 cups firmly packed grated carrot

1 cup chopped walnuts

2 1/2 cups self-raising flour

1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate soda

2 teaspoons mixed spice

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 Fahrenheit or Gas Mark 4) and grease and line a 22cm or 23cm round cake tin.

2. In a large bowl, beat together the oil, eggs and brown sugar with an electric mixer until the the mixture becomes thick and creamy.

3. Add the carrots and nuts and the sifted dry ingredients and mix gently with a wooden spoon until combined.

4. Pour the mixture into your prepared cake tin and bake for 50 – 60 minutes, though you ought to start checking the cake after 45 minutes in the oven. The cake is cooked when it is golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for ten minutes before turning it out onto a cooling rack.

For the Maple Cream Cheese frosting:

90g butter

200g cream cheese

1/3 cup maple syrup

6 cups icing sugar, sifted.

1. Beat the butter, maple syrup and cream cheese on high speed with an electric mixer for 2 – 3 minutes, until light and fluffy.

2. Add 1/3 of the icing sugar and beat again to incorporate. Repeat the process until all the icing sugar has been incorporated and the mixture is thick and creamy.

3. Place the frosting in the fridge for 20 minutes to help it thicken up.

4. Frost the cake however you like – I placed frosting between the layers and over the top of the cake and decorated using extra chopped walnuts and sugar carrots. If you’d like to pipe, simply colour some of your left over frosting and fill a piping bag with an attached writing tip.

Enjoy! xx

Jubilee Tart & Banoffee Cupcakes

9 Jun

Where has this week gone? I was supposed to write this post on Monday, but the days have just slipped away!  I’m on ‘half term’ at the moment, which is British for ‘a whole week off from work in the middle of the school term’, and I’m not complaining one bit. Half term coincided with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, which for all you non-Commonwealth folk is the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne. You could hardly walk out your front door here in England without seeing Union Jack flags, bunting, and blue, white and red balloons waving in the breeze. The Husband and I were invited to a Jubilee barbeque/party on Sunday afternoon, and I thought I’d get in on the Jubilee action and make some Union Jack-inspired treats myself.

I was in an enormous hurry while I was baking these, mainly because *cough*I-forgot-to-buy-eggs-and-had-to-run-back-to-the-supermarket-halfway-through*cough*, so by the time I was back I was majorly running out of time to get everything done. I ended up using store-bought pastry (come on, you’ve done it too) and a tin of ready-made caramel filling for the cupcakes, because I didn’t have time to deal with making the caramel and waiting for it to cool down. Nevertheless, we got there in the end!

I decided on Banoffee cupcakes because I figured I should do something quintessentially British, and I was relatively sure that people would have eaten their way through enough Victoria sponge cakes already. Banoffee pie was supposedly created in East Sussex (which is actually where The Husband and I currently live), so it fit the bill perfectly! It’s a gorgeous mix of banana and toffee, and I was really excited to put it into cupcake form. Plus, I’d bought this ridiculously adorable cupcake decorating set the previous week, which I was desperate to use:

First up, let’s look at the Jubilee Tart. I saw this on the cover of a magazine at my local supermarket and I couldn’t resist! The recipe is ridiculously quick and easy (especially if you use ready-made pastry) and the tart itself is light, fresh and fruity. Yum!

JUBILEE TART

1 sheet shortcrust pastry

375g mascarpone cheese

225g low fat creme fraiche (or sour cream, if you can’t find creme fraiche)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 – 3 tablespoons icing sugar

400g strawberries, hulled

150g raspberries

300g blueberries

1. Place the sheet of shortcrust pastry, lightly pricked all over with a fork, on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake in a preheated oven at 190 degrees Celsius (375 degrees Fahrenheit or Gas Mark 5) for 15 – 18 minutes, until cooked and light, golden brown in colour.

2. Remove the pastry from the oven and allow to cool.

3. Meanwhile, whisk together the mascarpone and the creme fraiche until smooth and combined. Add the vanilla extract and the icing sugar (start with 2 tablespoons and taste it before adding a third!) and whisk to combine.

4. Dollop heaped spoonfuls of the mascarpone mixture onto the cooled pastry and spread it out with a spatula, leaving a 1 – 2 cm gap around the edge.

5. Arrange the berries into the shape of a Union Jack: use the strawberries for the centre cross, raspberries for the smaller arms and blueberries for the blue background.

6. Enjoy!

And now for the Banoffee! The banana cupcake recipe is a slight variation on the one from the lovely Marian Keyes’ Saved by Cake, and the cream cheese frosting recipe is my usual one.

BANOFFEE CUPCAKES

125g butter, softened

125g caster sugar

125g self raising flour

2 eggs, lightly beaten

4 – 5 ripe bananas, mashed

1 x 397g tin of ready-made caramel/dulce de leche

1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius (325 degrees Fahrenheit or Gas Mark 3) and line a muffin/cupcake tray with 12 cupcake papers.

2. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and the caster sugar together until they’re fluffy and light in colour.

3. Add the beaten eggs and mix well to combine.

4. Add the mashed bananas to the mixture and mix gently.

5. Add the sifted flour and fold into the mixture.

6. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cupcake cases and bake in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes (the banana seems to make the cakes take a bit longer to cook!), checking after 15 minutes and removing when the cupcakes are lightly golden in colour and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

7.  Once the cupcakes are cooked and having completely cooled, you need to hollow them out to fill them with caramel.

8. Take a sharp paring knife and cut a cone-shaped circle out of the middle of each of your cupcakes.

9. Place a dollop of caramel into the hole.

10. Replace the top of the cupcake so that it acts like a lid to hold the caramel in.

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

125g butter, softened

225g cream cheese

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

5 cups icing sugar

1. Using a stand mixer or electric beaters, beat the butter and cream cheese on high speed for 3 – 4 minutes, until light, fluffy and combined.

2. Add the vanilla and half of the sifted icing sugar and beat for 2 – 3 minutes, until light and fluffy.

3. Add the remaining sifted icing sugar and beat again for 2 – 3 minutes.

4. Place the frosting into a piping bag and attach a large, open star tip. Pipe swirls of frosting onto your cupcakes and decorate however you like. I added some red, white and blue sprinkles and used the cupcake toppers from my decorating kit.

5. Enjoy!

Baked Berry Cheesecake

8 Dec

Last weekend, The Husband and I had ten people over for dinner as a last hurrah for our house sitting stint at my dad’s place. We got everyone to bring a dish with them for dinner – a sort of potluck arrangement – and we were in charge of dessert. Two nights earlier we’d watched a rerun of an episode from Nigella Lawson’s Kitchen series and The Husband (being completely smitten with Nigella, obviously) set his heart on us making her Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake.

It was all settled (and I’m still not totally sure how it happened) but at some point while we were writing up our shopping list for the ingredients, The Husband’s casual suggestion of ‘hey, how awesome would it be if we made TWO cheesecakes?’ suddenly became the plan of action.

I didn’t really fancy making two of the same (because that would make my life far too easy, right?), so I decided to wing it and just make up my own baked cheesecake featuring berries…pretty much because we had strawberries in the fridge and frozen raspberries in the freezer.

And that, my friends, is how we ended up with two baked cheesecakes hurriedly prepared in the space of one afternoon.

The Nigella Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake can be found here, but here is the lovely new…

BAKED BERRY CHEESECAKE

200g Digestive biscuits (though similar plain biscuits would do)

150g butter, melted

375g cream cheese

1/2 cup caster sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

3 tablespoons plain flour

200ml sour cream

1/2 cup roughly chopped strawberries, washed and hulled

1 cup frozen raspberries

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius (325 Fahrenheit or Gas Mark 3) and line a 20cm (8 inch) round springform pan with greaseproof baking paper.

Place Digestive biscuits in the food processor and process until finely crushed. Add the butter and process again until well combined. The biscuit mixture should feel slightly damp and should press together and hold easily when pressed down with your fingertips. If it appears too dry, add a little more butter (20g at a time) until it reaches the desired consistency. Pour the biscuit mixture into the lined pan and press down firmly with your fingertips, spreading the mixture to cover the base of the pan. Bake in the oven for 10 – 12 minutes.

In the meantime, beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla extract with an electric mixer to combine. Beat in the flour and then add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the sour cream until just combined.

Using a wooden spoon, gently fold the strawberries and 2/3 of the frozen raspberries into the batter.

Pour the batter over the base and then gently drop the remaining frozen raspberries evenly over the surface of the mixture.

Bake for 50 minutes (though start checking after 40). The cheesecake is ready when the top is firm and there is a slight wobble in the middle of the cake.

Technically, you ought to let it cool in the oven with the door left ajar for an hour or so to prevent the top from cracking, and then transfer it to the fridge to finishing cooling. Honestly, though, I was in such a rush to get this finished (I pulled it out of the oven ten minutes before our friends arrived) that I let it cool for 20 minutes out of the oven before chucking it in the fridge to get cold. The top cracked (unsurprisingly!), but really…who cares? It tasted absolutely gorgeous, and I’m happy enough with that!

I must apologise for my dodgy photography – it was hard enough to snap a picture before it was devoured completely! You get the idea, though.

Let’s face it; this is by no means the most aesthetically pleasing cheesecake in the world. The top is cracked and the colour could certainly be more vibrant…but honestly? The flavour is ridiculously gorgeous, so it’s easy to overlook the outward imperfections.

The rich, buttery base is beautifully complemented by the smooth, creamy filling studded with sweet strawberries and the slight sharpness of the raspberries. This is the perfect summer dessert – deliciously decadent while still having a fruity kick. Though realistically, is there ever a bad time of year for cheesecake? I think not…