Monday, December 21, 2015

Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake

 
This year Latif wanted me to make Brownies for his birthday, to which my reaction was Meh.. I mean, I do love a good brownie, but when its for your birthday I want to make something that is spectacular. So I started hunting for a dessert that would incorporate brownies and hit two birds with one stone. This Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake hits the spot in all the right places. It is rich, creamy and truly spectacular. Oh and I also added a salted caramel drizzle just for kicks.
 
Even though there are four parts to this cheesecake it all comes together fairly easily.  I made the brownies one night before and chilled them in the fridge for easier cutting. The brownie recipe makes a lot so I would suggest to make just half the recipe (unless you want extra for snacking or some other recipe).
 
 
 
I did double the crust for my cheesecake but found it a bit overwhelming. With the brownies and the ganache already so rich, the Oreo crust was a bit too much for me and some of the tasters (Latif loved it as is). Next time I would try plain chocolate wafers, or just use the original quantity.
 
I also completely screwed up while making the ganache. Instead of melting the butter and cream I melted the butter with the chocolate. I still ploughed on and added warm cream to the mixture and it turned out beautifully. So you don't really need to go through a food processor and can make the ganache the old fashioned way.

Recipe Source - Given as is from Smitten Kitchen with some changes of my own.

Ingredients

For the Brownies
113 Grams Dark Chocolate (I used 70%)
 170 Gms Unsalted Butter
1 3/4 Cups Sugar
3 Eggs
1 Tsp Vanilla Essence
1/2 Tsp Salt
1 Cup All Purpose Flour

1. Preheat oven to 175 Degrees C (350°F). Line 13×9-inch baking pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides of pan. Grease foil.
2. Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on high for 2 minutes, or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in sugar. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Add flour and salt; mix well. Spread into prepared pan.
3. Bake 30 to 35 minute or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudgy crumbs. (Do not overbake.) Cool in pan on wire rack. Remove brownies from pan, using foil handles.
4. Cool brownies, then cut them into 3/4- to 1-inch squares for use in the cheesecake. You will need only 2 Cups for the cheesecake. Add cubes to cake batter as directed below.

For The Crumb Crust
141 Grams Oreo Cookies or Chocolate Wafers (Finely Ground)
5 Tbsp Unsalted Butter (Melted)
1/3 Cup Castor Sugar (I used granulated and I could feel the sugar in my mouth even after baking)
1/8 Tsp Salt

Stir together crust ingredients and press onto bottom and 1 inch up side of a buttered 24-centimeter springform pan. Fill right away or chill up to 2 hours.

For the Cheesecake
680 Grams (or 24 ounce) Cream Cheese (Softened)
4 Large Eggs
1 Tsp Vanilla Essence
1 Cup Sugar
2 Cups Brownie Cubes (from recipe above)

1. Make crumb crust as directed above for 24-centimeter cheesecake. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Make filling and bake cake: Beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until fluffy and add eggs, 1 at a time, then vanilla and sugar, beating on low speed until each ingredient is incorporated and scraping down bowl between additions.
3. Fold brownie cubes in very gently and pour mixture into prepared pan. Put springform pan with crust in a shallow baking pan.(Very important - I used a cookie sheet with sides - a lot of the butter from the crust seeped out on the pan)
4. Bake in middle of oven for 45 minutes, or until cake is set 3 inches from edge but center is still slightly wobbly when pan is gently shaken.
5. When completely cool, top with following glaze.

For The Ganache Glaze
85 Gms (3 ounces) Semisweet chocolate, broken up, or 1/2 cup chocolate morsels
57 Gms (2 ounces) Unsalted Butter
1/4 Cup Heavy Cream
1/2 Tsp Vanilla Essence
4 Tbsp Icing Sugar.

1. Place the chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat the cream and butter to simmer and pour over the chocolate.
2. Let it stand for 1 minute, then stir well till chocolate is completely melted.
3. Add the sugar and vanilla and stir until smooth. Spread over cheesecake while ganache is still warm. Chill cheesecake in fridge for at least 2 hours or until ready to serve.
 
Happy Eating!!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Pistachio Apricot Layer Cake

 
Every year on Eid I try to make a new cake for our family to enjoy. It is a good time to experiment with indulgent recipes (or maybe not) as I have a lot of mouths to feed. Previously I have made a variety of sweets ranging from very simple desserts like the Oreo Trifle or Cherry Poke Cake to more complicated ones like the White chocolate Layer cake and a Ferrero Rocher Cake.


This year I made a Pistachio cake which is wonderful to eat on its own but even better when slathered with a white chocolate whipped cream. I used fresh apricots to fill the cake and this added another dimension of flavour. In the original recipe the cake uses only half cup pistachios but I have used the full 3/4 cup in the cake with additional 1/4 Cup for decorating.

Recipe Source - Cake Recipe given as is from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients
For The Cake
3/4 Cup Skinned Pistachio Nuts
1 2/3 Cups Sugar
2 Cups Cake Flour (I used 1 3/4 Cups All Purpose Flour with 4 Tbsp Cornflour)
1 Tbsp Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp Salt
226 Grms Unsalted Butter (At room temperature)
1/2 Cup Milk
2 Tsp Vanilla Essence
5 Eggs (lightly beaten)

For The White Chocolate Whipped Cream
170 Grams Premium White Chocolate (I used Lindt)
1 1/2 Cups Heavy Cream

For Assembly
2 Large Apricots (Cut in half, then cut each half in 8 slices)
1/4 Cup Crushed Pistachios

Bake the Cake
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Butter three 8-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.
2. Spread out the pistachios in a baking pan and toast in the oven for 7 to 10 minutes, or until lightly colored. Transfer to a dish and let cool completely. 
3. Transfer to a food processor. Add the sugar and pulse just enough to grind them finely.
4. Pour into a large mixing bowl and add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Blend with the mixer on low for 30 seconds. Add the butter, milk, and vanilla and, with the mixer on low, beat until completely incorporated.
5. Raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the beaten eggs in 2 or 3 additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl well and mixing only long enough to blend after each addition. Divide the batter among the 3 prepared pans.
6. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the layers to cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Turn out onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper liners, and let cool completely.
 
Make The Whipped Cream
1. Place the chocolate in a small microwave safe bowl and melt in the microwave in 15 second bursts.
2. Heat 1/2 Cup of the cream to a boil and mix with the melted chocolate. Keep aside till it comes to room temperature.
3. Place the remaining 1 cup cream in the bowl of a stand mixer and whip till soft peaks are formed. Add the melted chocolate and cream mixture (it should not be least bit warm) and whip till you get firm peaks.
 
Assemble The Cake
1. If the cakes are domed slice off the dome and keep for snacking. Place one layer bottom side up on a cake board and add 1 Cup frosting. Spread evenly and arrange a layer of one full apricot slices.
2. Repeat with the second layer, one cup of frosting and second apricot.
3. Top with third layer and cover the cake with remaining cream. Decorate as desired with the crushed pistachios.
4. Serve at room temperature. Store fully covered in the fridge upto three days.

Happy Eating!!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Double Berry Buttermilk Bundt


This cake is super simple to make and looks amazing with sweet  juicy berries studded throughout. I was itching to bake something and had limited ingredients at hand when I spotted this beauty on Smitten Kitchen. Berries? Check. Buttermilk? Milk and lemon juice substitute to the rescue. Here we go!

While the original recipe has a glaze on top, I think the cake is sweet enough without it. You can also add any fruit to it (cherries, raspberries, peaches etc., avoid very watery fruits) and mix up the ratios as you like as long as it is up to 3 cups of fruit. This makes a large bundt so make sure you have enough mouths to share. Or maybe not.

Recipe Source - Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups (355 grams) plus 2 tablespoons (20 grams) All Purpose Flour
2 Tsp (10 grams) Baking Powder
1 Tsp Salt
1 Cup (225 grams) Unsalted Butter (at room temperature)
1 3/4 Cups (340 grams) Granulated Sugar
3 Large Eggs (at room temperature)
1/2 Tsp Vanilla Essence
3/4 Cup (175 ml) Buttermilk (I used milk and lemon juice substitute)
3 Cups (350 to 450 grams) Mixed Berries (I used 2 Cups frozen strawberries and 1 Cup frozen blueberries)

Method
 
1. Preheat oven to 170° C (350°F). Grease a 10-cup Bundt pan, either with butter or a nonstick spray. Keep aside. If using frozen berries remove from freezer and place in a strainer to defrost.
2. In a medium bowl, add 2 1/2 cups flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk well and keep aside.
3. In the bowl of your stand mixer or another large bowl, cream the butter and sugar for 3-5 minutes on high until light and fluffy.
4. Turn the speed to low and add the eggs one at a time, scraping the sides with a spatula between each addition.  
5. Add the vanilla and beat lightly.
6. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and beat until just combined. Add half the buttermilk, then repeat 1/3 flour and remaining buttermilk. Finish with remaining 1/3 flour and beat just to combine. 
7. Take the berries in a bowl and add the two tablespoon flour. Toss to coat. Gently fold in the berries in the cake batter. 
8. Spread the batter in the greased pan and place in the centre rack of the oven. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes. My oven runs a little hot so my cake was done in 45 minutes.
9. Remove from oven and set on wire rack for 30 minutes. Invert cake on cooling rack and cool completely. Serve and enjoy or keep in an air tight container.

Happy Eating!!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Chewy Brownies from Cooks Illustrated



I am not a snob when it comes to brownies and I will happily eat them as long as they fulfil two criteria - they must be super chocolatey (not a real word, I checked) and they must not be too sweet. These chewy brownies qualify on both counts and they are super easy to make. I first made them to go in the Frozen Brownie Sundae and then once more because I wanted to eat more brownies. One small change on my part was on the type of chocolate used, not because of any personal preference but more because of what is available here in Dubai. It is very difficult to find good affordable baking chocolate so I usually stick to Lindt as it is good quality and reasonably priced.

Recipe Source - Cook's Illustrated via Brown Eyed Baker (My changes in red)

Ingredients - Makes one 9x13 pan

1/3 Cup Dutch-processed cocoa (used regular cocoa)
1½ teaspoons instant espresso (optional) (used instant coffee)
½ cup plus 2 Tablespoons boiling water
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped (used Lindt 80% dark chocolate)
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted
½ cup plus 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil (used sunflower oil)
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2½ cups (17½ ounces) sugar
1¾ cups (8¾ ounces) all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon salt
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into ½-inch pieces (used semi sweet chocolate
 
1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with foil, leaving about a one-inch overhang on all sides. Spray with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Whisk cocoa, espresso powder, and boiling water together in large bowl until smooth. Add unsweetened chocolate and whisk until chocolate is melted. Whisk in melted butter and oil. (Mixture may look curdled.) Add eggs, yolks, and vanilla and continue to whisk until smooth and homogeneous. Whisk in sugar until fully incorporated. Add flour and salt and mix with rubber spatula until combined. Fold in bittersweet chocolate pieces.
3. Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake until toothpick inserted halfway between edge and center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack and cool 1½ hours.
4. Using foil overhang, lift brownies from pan. Return brownies to wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour. Cut into 2-inch squares and serve. Brownies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.
 
Happy Eating!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Frozen Brownie Sundae Cake


Summer is here in full force and we need lots of ice cream to cool down. I made this brownie sundae for dessert at our monthly potluck. The recipe for the brownie and sauce is amazing and I loved both the elements. Instead of making the recipe as given I made it as a cake in a spring form pan. I also made mini sundaes which are perfect to serve at a dinner party.


Recipe Source - Brown Eyed Baker

Ingredients
One 9 inch round layer of Brownies (I used half of this recipe)
1/2 Litre Vanilla Ice Cream (Keep outside for 5 minutes before using)
1/2 Litre Strawberry Ice Cream (Keep outside for 5 minutes before using)
1/2 Cup Salted Peanuts (Chopped)
Chocolate Sauce for topping (Recipe below)
Maraschino Cherries for Decorating
One 9 inch spring form pan

For The Chocolate Sauce
1 Cup Powdered Sugar
1/2 Cup Evaporated Milk or Heavy Cream
1/3 Cup Semi sweet Chocolate Chips
1/4 Cup Unsalted Butter
1/2 Tsp Vanilla Essence

Method
1. Line the spring form pan with plastic wrap and place the brownie layer inside.
2. Put the vanilla ice cream in an even layer and place in freezer till ice cream is firm.
3. Remove from fridge and put the strawberry ice cream. Keep in freezer till ice cream is firm (covered, at least 2 hours)
4. Prepare the Sauce - Add all ingredients except vanilla to a small saucepan and bring to boil over medium high heat. Cook for 8 minutes, stirring constantly till mixture becomes thick. Remove from heat and add vanilla.
5. Cool the sauce for 30 minutes.
6. Remove the cake from the freezer and pour the sauce over the ice cream.
7. Top with chopped peanuts and decorate with the cherries. Cover with plastic wrap and return to freezer until ready to serve.
8. Let it sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Happy Eating!!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting


If you are the type of person who loves a good chunky carrot cake with lots of icing, then you have come to the right place. This carrot cake is full of flavour with the most dreamy icing ever. After assembling the cake you need to chill it in the fridge for sometime and then you get this amazing cake.

The recipe on Brown Eyed Baker calls for 3 round pans but next time I would prefer going with two pans as the layers are quite thin and difficult to handle. I have made this previously in a 9X13 inch pan and it was equally good with a think layer of frosting on top.

Recipe Source - Brown Eyed Baker

Ingredients

For The Cake
2 cups All-purpose flour
2 Tsp Baking Powder
2 Tsp Baking Soda
2 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 Tsp Ground Cloves
1 Tsp Ground Nutmeg
3/4 Tsp Salt
3 Cups Grated Carrots (Approx. 4 Carrots)
1 Cup Coarsely Chopped Walnuts (Toasted)
1 Cup Sweetened Shredded Coconut
2 Cups Granulated Sugar
1 Cup Sunflower Oil (Or any neutral tasting oil)
4 Eggs

For the Frosting
226 Gms (8 ounces) Cream Cheese (At room temperature)
113 Gms (4 Ounces) Unsalted Butter (At room temperature)
300 Gms  Powdered Sugar
1 Tsp Vanilla Essence

Bake The Cake
1. Preheat oven to 325 degree F (162 degree Celsius). Grease two 9 inch baking pans and line with baking paper.
2. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, ground nutmeg and salt. Whisk to combine well.
3. In another bowl mix together the grated carrots, coconut and walnuts.
4. Beat the sugar and oil till smooth. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well.
5. Slowly add the flour mixture and mix until just combined.
6. Fold in the carrot mixture.
7. Divide the batter equally among the two pans and bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
8. Cool cakes in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and remove the baking paper. Cool on a wire rack with right side up till cake comes to room temperature. (Cooled cake can be wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen or kept in fridge if not using immediately).

Make the Frosting
1. Beat the cream cheese and butter till smooth. Add the powdered sugar and beat till frosting is fluffy and smooth. Add in the vanilla and beat till combined.

Assemble The Cake
1. Place one cake layer on a cake board and spread half the frosting on top.
2. Place the second layer and frost completely with remaining icing.
3. Cover and refrigerate for an hour before serving.

Happy Eating!!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Cheesecake Brownies



 
This recipe from David Lebovitz is super simple with no fuss ingredients. Rich cheesecake is combined with a dark chocolate brownie giving you the best of both worlds. I didn't have a lot of chocolate chips in my pantry so I substituted them with white and peanut butter chips. I took them to work as treats for my colleagues and everyone was delighted by the cute little packaging.



 
Recipe Source - David Lebovitz
 
Ingredients
6 Tbsp (85 Gms) Unsalted Butter (Cut into pieces)
115 Gms Semi sweet Chocolate (Chopped)
2/3 Cup (130 Gms) Granulated Sugar
2 Large Eggs (At room temperature)
1/2 Cup (70 Gms) All Purpose Flour
1 Tbsp Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1/8 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Vanilla Essence
1/4 Cup White Chocolate Chips
1/4 Cup Peanut Butter Chips 
200 Gms Cream Cheese (At room temperature)
1 Large Egg Yolk
5 Tbsp Sugar
1/8 Tsp Vanilla Essence 
 
1. Line a 9-inch (23cm) or 8-inch (20cm) square pan with foil, making sure it goes up all four sides. Use two sheets if necessary. Mist with non-stick spray or grease lightly.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (180C).
3. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate over low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and beat in the 2/3 cup (130g) sugar, then the eggs.
4. Mix in the flour, cocoa powder and salt, then the vanilla and chocolate chips. Spread evenly in the prepared pan.
5. In a separate bowl, beat together the cream cheese, the yolk, 5 tablespoons (75g) of sugar, and vanilla until smooth.
6. Distribute the cream cheese mixture in eight dollops across the top of the brownie mixture, then take a dull knife or spatula and swirl the cream cheese mixture with the chocolate batter.
7. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the batter in the center of the pan feels just set.
Let cool, then lift out the foil and peel it away. Cut the brownies into squares (Chill brownies before cutting to get clean pieces).

These taste best when served at room temperature.

Happy Eating!!