Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Brownie cream cheese cake

Whether I’ve had a bad day, good day, blah day, or am bored, excited, depressed, jittery or can’t put a word on it, I can always eat a brownie. There’s something about those gooey chocolate wonders that can accompany any occasion, mood, meal or season.

Over our years together, T has also discovered the pure delight of brownies. So much, in fact, that he wanted a brownie birthday cake. With cream cheese. Not a brownie cheesecake, mind – the cream cheese had to be purely complementary. Every year, I ask T to come up with the main flavours he wants in his birthday cake, and then combine recipes to turn the tasty vision into a culinary reality. This one, however, was a challenge.

Thanks to some ideas from this recipe, I decided to try for cakey brownie layers with a cream cheese frosting. All went well until after the brownie layers cooled, and the top crusty layer completely collapsed. While this is great for individual brownies, it’s not so good if you want to make a cake layer out of them. 

The top crusty layer lifts off easily,
making the finished layer look like...
…this (ignore the fork testing mark…I know
you're supposed to use toothpicks, but I don't always)

So, I tried scraping off that top part, then mixed it into the cream cheese frosting later. Pretty tasty!

In any recipes I post here, I will always try to include both imperial and metric measurements. In the recipe below, the metric measurements have not been tested, so let me know if you have any difficulty. Enjoy!

Brownie layers (makes two):
1¼ cup (156.25g) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
6 ounces (170g) unsweetened chocolate
12 tablespoons (187.5g) unsalted butter
1¾ cup (400g) sugar
4 large eggs
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon orange extract

Cream cheese frosting:
8oz (226g) cream cheese
1 cup (125g) butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup (125g) powdered sugar

  • Preheat oven to 350°F or 180°C. Grease two circular pans, 8in or 20.5cm diameter.
  • Mix flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside.
  • Melt chocolate and butter together over very low heat, stirring constantly, or in an ovenproof bowl over a pot of hot water. When both the butter and chocolate have melted and blended completely, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  • Mix the sugar into the chocolate, then add the eggs one at a time. When blended, add the vanilla and orange extract.
  • Add the flour mixture in three parts, and mix until smooth.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the two circular pans.
  • Bake 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out mostly clean – there should just be a few crumbs on it. Cool the pans completely on a wire rack.
  • When the layers are cool, carefully scrape the top crust off each one and set it aside.
  • Make the frosting, blending the cream cheese, butter, vanilla together before adding the powdered sugar. Lastly, add the crust from the brownie layers, crumbling it as you mix it in.
  • Spread frosting on top of one of the layers, then gently place the second layer on top of that. Cover the entire cake with frosting. Add chocolate shavings if desired.

An introduction...

Cooking is important to me – while there are the occasional disasters, it can be relaxing, rewarding, and even miraculous as I mix a variety of ingredients together and it turns into a delicious meal for my friends and family. And that’s what else I love about it – it doesn’t just do great things for me, but it’s a way to show a little TLC to the people I love.

So, this blog is a way to document my cooking adventures – from the fortunate accidents, to the planned successes, to the downright catastrophes (such as the bread dough I made the other day that failed to rise because I forgot the yeast). I love learning new cooking tips and tricks, and only know whatever I do because of the advice I’ve been given since I was little and accidentally spilled a whole container of garlic powder into my mom’s chicken soup. My mom’s first thought was to add rice to soak up some of the extra spice, and it was a good idea…not quite enough to counteract the mammoth amount of garlic I’d added, but it stuck with me. I hope this blog will be both a place to learn and give advice like that.