Cheesecake Brownies

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I’m guilty of making the same brownies again and again (and I can’t feel too bad about it as they are delicious) but a recent pit stop at Gloucester Services, of all places, has inspired me to expand my repertoire.

I should explain that the service station in question is actual part farmers market, part artisanal coffee shop, so as you can imagine that they weren’t peddling any ordinary brownies. There were salted caramel brownies, peanut butter brownies and the prettiest swirled cheesecake brownies, all of which I am determined to try!

The brownies recipe used for the base is slightly less involved that my regular one, with the cheesecake bringing a sweetness and chewiness of its own. I should warn you that these are not the cakey variety of brownie – in truth, these are so squidgy they could be mistaken for fudge. But that makes them kind of perfect.

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Makes 12

Ingredients:

Brownie Base:

3 ½ oz / 100g butter

3 ½ oz / 100g dark chocolate, broken into pieces

4 oz / 125g caster sugar

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 ½ oz / 75g self raising flour

2 tbsp cocoa

3 ½ oz / 100g dark chocolate, chopped, or dark chocolate chips

Cheesecake swirl:

7 oz / 200g cream cheese

1 medium egg

2 ½ oz / 75g caster sugar

½ tsp vanilla extract

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F and take the eggs and cream cheese out of the fridge to come to room temperature.

Grease a 20cm square tin and line the base with baking parchment.

Gently heat the butter, sugar and chocolate over a very low heat and stir. Once the butter has melted, remove from the heat let the butter will continue to melt the chocolate. Allow the mixture to cool for 5 to 10 minutes before beating in the eggs and vanilla extract – the cooling stage is important unless you like the idea of chocolate scrambled eggs. Sift in the flour and cocoa and stir until combined.

Stir in the chocolate chips or chopped chocolate – this is the last thing added, otherwise the warmth from the butter chocolate mix can melt the chips and they disappear into the brownies when the batter is stirred. Once these are distributed throughout the mix, resist the urge to stir any further. That way, you get little morsels of chocolate throughout.

Pour the brownie batter into your prepared tin. Give it a gentle jiggle to help level out the mixture. There’s no need to be precise, as you are about to make a mess with the cheesecake topping.

Speaking of which:

In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth, then beat in the egg, vanilla and sugar. If you only have large eggs, separate the yolk from the white and just use the yolk. Don’t worry if the mix seems very wet; it will still set!

Pour the cheesecake mix over the brownie batter. It might be quite a tight fit, so you’ll need to use your judgement over whether to use it all or not. The batter will rise slightly in the oven, so be sure to leave at least half a centimetre clear at the top of the pan. Use a knife to swirl the two so that some of the brownie mix shows.

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Bake for 30-35 minutes until the sides begin to pull away from the sides. The centre may still be a little jiggly, but it will firm up as it cools.

Allow to completely cool in the tin, resting on a cooling rack. The brownies should leave the tin easily once cooled, but if you have any problems, slide a sharp knife down the sides of the tin to loosen the brownies. Don’t forget to peel the baking parchment away from the base!

I sliced these into nine individual brownies, but they are so rich that you might prefer to go with twelve pieces instead. That way you get to eat more brownies!

These will keep for up to three days in an airtight tin.

I’m kidding of course, there is no way they will hang around for three days. Full disclosure: the popped air bubbles in the first picture are because I could not even wait for these to cool fully before turning them out of the tin to slice them. They’re pretty delicious warm out of the oven, with little pockets of melted chocolate, but I do think they are best once they’ve cooled.

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Downloadable PDF: Cheesecake Brownies

 

 

 

 

 

 

Berry Streusel Muffins

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Berry Streusel Muffins

Fresh or frozen berries can be used to make these eye-catching muffins. There are three steps to making these, all of them easy.

The brightness of the berries mean these look as tasty as they, well, taste.

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The cake rises up through the fruit, giving these a marbled pattern

They say that necessity is the mother of invention. In the case of these Berry Streusel Muffins, it was both the mother and the mother-in-law. Phil’s mum managed to leave a couple of bags of frozen fruit in the freezer after her last visit. I was wondering what I could possibly use them for, when my mum casually mentioned that she needed cakes for the church summer fete. Cakes, and lots of them.

I think everyone who bakes has at least one beloved cake, bar or biscuit can they can produce with a moment’s notice. Sadly for me, my standby choices of Lemon Drizzle and fresh Scones are also my mother’s favourites, so I couldn’t rely on these. Well, I made a Lemon Drizzle, because these will always sell, along with a Lemon and Elderflower cake (making good use of the Lemon and Elderflower Syrup I made earlier this summer.)

I’ve already shared my Rhubarb Crumble Cake with you. These use the same crumble topping, but their individual portion size makes them popular with people looking for something to eat straight away, or who don’t have a family at home to help them eat an entire large cake.

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Makes 12

Ingredients:

Cake:

4 oz / 110g caster sugar

4 oz / 110g unsalted butter

1 tsp vanilla essence

2 large eggs

6 oz /170g self-raising flour

3 tbsp buttermilk

Berry Topping:

10 oz / 280g mixed summer berries, fresh or frozen

1 oz / 30g caster sugar (or more to taste)

Streusel Topping:

2 oz / 60g plain flour

1 oz / 30g butter

½ oz / 15g caster sugar

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with muffin cases.

Prepare the berries and the streusel mix first so that you have everything to hand when it’s time to assemble your muffins.

Rinse the berries if using fresh. Place in a large saucepan with the sugar and cook over a low heat until the berries have released their juice and begun to break down, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon. Use the back of the spoon to break up any larger berries that are still intact. Remove from the heat and set to one side to cool slightly.

Next up, the streusel topping. Using your fingertips, rub the fat into the flour until it looks a bit like breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar.

For the cake, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. This can be done using a stand mixer or hand whisk, but don’t worry if you have neither; this batch is small enough to be mixed by hand, using a clean wooden spoon. Add the vanilla, and then your eggs one at a time. Don’t worry if the mixture looks a little curdled at this point, I promise it will all come together!

Sift in the flour and stir in until just incorporated. Add the buttermilk and beat until smooth.

Spoon equal amounts into your muffin cases. I find that using an ice cream scoop with a release does this neatly, but also gives you a perfect measure for each cake. Spoon your berry mixture over the top of each muffin – there’s no need to be especially neat here as the cake mix with push up through a lot of the fruit as they bake and rise, however you will want about a dessert spoon of berry mix for each muffin.

Sprinkle over the streusel mix. These will need to bake for about 35 minutes until the cakes have risen and the streusel is golden. Test the cakes to make sure they’re done – insert a sharp knife or a skewer and check if it comes away clean, or simple gently press down on the surface of one of the muffins. If it springs back, it’s done.

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Allow the cakes to cool in the tin for five minutes before transferring to a wire rack to continue to cool.

Once cool, store in an airtight cake tin. These can be kept at room temperature for 3-4 days, and are generally at their best on the second day.

Printable PDF: Berry Streusel Muffins

 

 

 

Teatime Tiffin

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There is something very decadent about Tiffin, and this version is no exception. In fact, given that these chocolate treats are equal parts gooey, chewy, and crunchy, I might even say they were my favourite iteration of this teatime treat. I suppose you could refer to them as refrigerator bars, or perhaps even the British equivalent of Rocky Road (only without the marshmallows) you’d be wrong. I’m not sure how, but Tiffin is in a class of its own.

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This is a very simple version of Tiffin, but it’s simplicity means that the flavours all come through without being muddied. The gooeyness comes from the base of sugar and chocolate flavours. The chewiness comes from dried fruit; I’ve gone with Sultanas as they are a personal favourite and always in the cupboard, but raisins are perhaps the more traditional choice. Finally, the crunch comes from broken pieces of biscuit.

Perhaps these don’t count as actual baking, but this recipe is too good not to share. I can’t really explain how delicious these are, but trust me – you will love these little squares of chocolaty delight.

This recipe calls for Rich Team biscuits in the base, which have just the right ratio of absorbency to crunchiness. If you can’t get your hands on Rich Tea, any hard, not-too-sweet biscuit will do.

Breaking up the biscuits can only really be undertaken with a rolling pin and some elbow grease – using a blender will give you too fine, too uniform a finish, whereas what you really want is a variety of sizes, from crumbs to chunks. You really want a used good quality sealable freezer bag with all the excess air squeezed out – anything less robust may burst, leaving you with crumbs everywhere.

The original recipe measures both the sugar and the drinking chocolate (the sweetened variety you make with milk, not water) in dessert spoons, which gives a lot of leeway on the actual amount used. I like to use heaping spoonfuls, and have dutifully weighed these out to give you the measurements below. These figures can be played with a bit – although adding too much of the dry ingredients will lead to a crumblier slice that may fall apart.

Recipe: – makes 16

Base:

110g / 4 oz unsalted butter

2 tablespoons golden syrup

2 dessert spoons (35g) brown sugar

3 dessert spoons (50g) drinking chocolate

110 / 4 oz sultanas or raisins

225g / 8oz rich tea biscuits

To top:

100g milk chocolate

100g dark chocolate

Method:

Lightly grease a 9″/22cm square tin.

Place the biscuits into a good quality freezer bag with a seal. Flatten to remove any excess air before sealing. Using a rolling pin, crush the biscuits until broken up, leaving some larger pieces in amongst the crumbs.

Break up the milk and dark chocolate into pieces and place in a bowl over very hot (but not boiling) water to melt. Stir occasionally until melted.

In a separate large saucepan, melt the butter, syrup, sugar and drinking chocolate together, stirring with a wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in the broken biscuits and your dried fruit, and keep stirring until everything is covered in the butter-chocolate mixture.

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Carefully tip this biscuit mix into your prepared tin and press down using the back of the wooden spoon. This can be fiddly as the mixture will be sticky and try to lift itself back out, so having a spare spatula to hand may help.

Pour the melted chocolate over the top. Refrigerate for 45 minutes to allow the base and the chocolate to set.

20180623_143555.jpgRemove from the fridge and allowing to come back up towards room temperature for 10 minutes before cutting into slices to prevent the chocolate from shattering. To slice, loosen the sides with the tip of a sharp knife then tip out from the pan onto a cutting board. Cut the tiffin while it is still chocolate side down to prevent it from breaking apart. This recipe is for 16, however as these are super rich, you may even prefer to divide it into 20 or even 25 pieces.

These can keep up to three days in an airtight container. If the weather is warm, consider keeping them in the fridge, otherwise they can start to crumble.

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Downloadable PDF: Teatime Tiffin

Honey Lemon Cookies

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A lot of people who bake have certain failsafe recipes that they fall back on again and again; mine include a Lemon Drizzle cake my mum introduced me to, my grandmother’s Christmas Cake, and the chocolate Fork Biscuits known in my house as Idiot Biscuits.

Fork Biscuits are incredibly easy to make, and are a great way to introduce children to baking. They are also cheap, fast, and can be made using as little as three ingredients. A large part of what brings me back to them again and again is that their unfussy recipe can easily be adapted into something new whenever the occasion arises. Continue reading “Honey Lemon Cookies”

Idiot Biscuits

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When I was little, my best friend’s mother used to occasionally make these crumbly, dark chocolaty biscuits, and they were always a real treat. Her baking was always different to my mums, and eventually I realised that this was because she used butter rather than margarine in her baking. Butter in baking was unheard of in our house, and while I truthfully prefer baking with a good quality baking margarine the majority of the time, I’ve kept this recipe true to the original. Continue reading “Idiot Biscuits”