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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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”