Brownie-Swirl Cheesecake

Hello again to all my friends, I’m glad you came to play. Our fun and learning never ends, here’s what we did today! (Bonus points to anyone who remembers that show from childhood.)

Well we are back with another cheesecake recipe.  Here is something for you chocolate lovers – brownie and cheesecake – together! Doesn’t get much better than that.  In this version, we have a brownie layer and a cheesecake layer which are then swirled together – somewhat – and then chocolate chips are sprinkled on top.  My version did not get so swirled as the brownie layer was much denser than the cheesecake layer (possibly because I used white cheese instead of cream cheese – but those are my limitations here). So it ended up more as a fudgy-brownie layer (the best kind) and a cheesecake layer.

Brownie Swirl Cheesecake
Brownie Swirl Cheesecake

I have to say that it was really easy to make.  Only required one bowl (which I washed in the middle) and in the oven it went. I actually doubled the cheesecake part of it because I was making the cake in a 9×13 pan instead of an 8×8 as the recipe calls for. The recipe below is the original.

I was actually up to one am last night as one of my customers decided to have a conference call event at midnight Israel time, just to be sadistic, and I had to stay up for it.  So if I was going to need to stay up anyway, might as well accomplish something.  So I made this cheesecake to take to our friends at whom we will be staying for Shavuot, and a blueberry cheesecake for Rocker Dude, because it is his favorite.

Chocolate chips!
Chocolate chips!

Shavuot is kind of a crazy holiday because it is only one day long (or two outside of Israel) and there is so much preparation for it because everything has to be dairy.  Most people I know cook primarily meat for holidays, so everyone tries to get in all the fancy dairy food that they have always wanted to make and it sometimes makes for some really heavy meals. I planned on practicing restraint this year, but now we are going away for the holiday, so I don’t have to do anything but provide dessert.

Have a bite.
Have a bite.

Shavuot is when we celebrate receiving the Bible. As a result, one of the customs on Shavuot is to learn Torah all night.  Usually it’s the men who do it, but some women like to join in as well.  Once you have kids it is harder because those kids will be up at 6:30 in the morning, so you better be functional at that time of day. Going to bed at 4 am – not so conducive.  So Rocker Dude plans on being up all night, and he needs good food to keep him going – so, cheesecake!!!

All done!
All done!

Squeaker is squeaking, so I have to run.  Here is the recipe.

Recipe (from Smitten Kitchen):

Brownie batter
1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup all-purpose flour

Cheesecake batter
8 ounces cream cheese, well softened (or equivalent amount of white cheese – gevina levana)
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 325°F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Heat butter and chocolate in a heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, whisking occasionally, just until melted. Remove from heat and whisk in sugar, eggs, vanilla, and a pinch of salt until well combined. Whisk in flour until just combined and spread in baking pan.

Whisk together cheesecake batter ingredients in a small bowl until smooth. Dollop over brownie batter, then swirl in with a knife or spatula.

(You can use a butter knife because the tip of it is round enough that you can use it to fold bits of the brownie batter over the cheesecake batter for a more visibly marbled effect.)

Sprinkle chocolate chips over cheesecake/brownie batter swirl.

Bake until edges are slightly puffed and center is just set, about 35 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tuesdays with Dorie: Brrrrr-ownies!

York peppermint patties and brownies, what could go wrong?  This week’s recipe was chosen by Karen of Welcome to Our Crazy Blessed Life.  She picked these delicious brownies and I couldn’t wait to try them.  One problem, where does one get York Peppermint Patties in Israel?  While most Hershey’s products are imported (and sold at exorbitant prices) these are not.  Wait, doesn’t Rocker Dude’s dad have a secret stash of York’s that magically gets refilled when people come in from the states?  (He also keeps his in the freezer.  There must be something about secret stashes and freezers – they just go well together.)

Yor Peppermint Patties

So these brownies are courtesy of Rocker Dude’s dad S.  After he reads this, Rocker Dude will be stopping by with a special shipment for him and R. his mom (but don’t tell 😉 ).

I was running late with this week’s recipe.  Usually I try to make it the week before it is due, but we were at Rocker Dude’s parents for the weekend because his nephews came in from Boston, so I did not have a chance to make these.  I even intended to make them on Sunday night, but somehow, the night got away from me and I didn’t end up going to be until 12 and still didn’t accomplish anything – oy!  So I made a conscious decision to make these brownies as soon as I came home from work on Monday.  One of Rocker Dude’s really close army friends was coming over anyway, so then we could share the calories!  Of course, the Little Rocker had a different plan in mind and did not let me leave her for a minute.  So this had to wait until she went to sleep.

We recently took the side of her crib off because she had been climbing over it to get out anyway.  And she has a history of dislocating her elbow (my family genes, can’t blame the hubby) so we didn’t want to take a chance.  Her crib is right next to a bed, so now she can stretch out over both and she can climb out of bed on her own without diving over the top of the crib rail (of course this leads to little visitors with fuzzy hair at 3 o’clock in the morning climbing into my bed, but at least she comes prepared – she brings her blankie, her stuffed monkey and her water before she climbs in – how cute!)

You can see how her crib is pressed up against the regular bed which is in turn against the wall. Oh yeah, and that's Momo, her best monkey friend.

Anyhoo, basically this means that if she does not have her eyes closed when we leave the room, she will be up knocking at her door to get out five minutes later.  Last night she decided that she really wanted me to stay with her and wouldn’t let me move, so I laid down next to her (another advantage of no crib rail) and fell asleep with her (wouldn’t you?).  Rocker Dude came in twenty minutes later to wake me up.  Okay, now we are ready to bake.

Mixing in the flour to the chocolate mixture.

This recipe was so easy and I love that it was a one-pot job.  Those are always the best recipes.  Melt chocolate and margarine – check.  Mix in the other stuff – check.  Chop up peppermint patties and mix in – check.  Bake —- done!  How much harder could it be.

All the components

As this was obviously a dairy recipe (there is a pareve version of York’s but according to S. (who is a connoisseur) they are not worth trying) I baked this in my toaster oven.  It took a bit longer to cook, but still came out wonderfully.

I was too impatient to wait for them to cool and I hat a piece while it was still burning hot.  It made for a nice contrast with the mintiness.  I will try them again when I get home (they were in the refrigerator all night) to get the total frozen minty experience.

The main ingredient

Everyone should make these – they are sooo good.

Brrrrr-ownies

Check out the recipe on Karen’s site here and see what other TWD baker’s did here.

Mint Chocolate Brownies – For You, Imma

I am dedicating this post to my mom, Imma (that’s just Hebrew for mom) and to all the childhood memories it brings back.

When I was a kid, my mom used to make these brownies.  My older brother S. used to love them and always asked for them.  In fact, when he was in elementary school and his class was putting together a cookbook for Mother’s Day, he submitted this recipe.  I was not such a fan at the time as I didn’t start liking chocolate until I was post-high school I think.  But even so, they were still good.

I forgot about these for a while.  It wasn’t until a few months ago that I remembered about them and tried to make them.  I made them with a chocolate cake recipe at the time, and I put waaay too much mint extract in the frosting, and yet, our dinner guests loved them – Rocker Dude didn’t.  He doesn’t like strong mint flavors.

This weekend, our friends M. and A. were having a big party and they asked us to bring something.  I volunteered to make dessert (yeah, that was obvious), and after thinking about it for a while, I decided to try this again.  Instead of making the base out of chocolate cake, I decided to use brownies.  I used the only brownie recipe that has ever come out well for me – actually my first post on this blog.

The beginning of the icing.

I have also had trouble in the past with buttercreams separating on me, especially in the heat.  When I asked for suggestions, my friend A. said that she had the same problem until she started creaming the heck out of the margarine before adding the powdered sugar.  So I tried that this time.  I used a recipe from The Perfect Cake, and tinted the icing green.  After worrying and hoping and lots of crossed fingers, the icing came out perfectly.  Yay!

Tinted and ready to go.

All that was left was the ganache topping.  my mom always just melted chocolate chips and spread them over the icing, but then when it hardened, it was, well, hard, and difficult to cut through.  So my modification here is to use ganache.  That way it would firm up nicely with a nice shine, but not impede any cutting activity.  I had some leftover ganache in the refrigerator from this recipe, so I heated it up and added a bit more chocolate so that there would be enough to cover the whole cake.

Brownies iced.

I ended up doubling the brownie recipe because there were going to be so many people at M. and A.’s and still baked in a 9×13 inch pan.  In retrospect, a single recipe for that pan would have been enough and then the thin layer of icing wouldn’t have looked so pathetic on such a high cake.  Also it took forever to cook the brownies, so next time, make it in two pans.  I also only used half a recipe of icing because I only had two cups of powdered sugar.  It actually turned out to be just enough.  Whew!

I would advise making this cake over two days to let the cake cool before icing it, and let the icing firm up (you can even freeze it if you have room) before putting on the ganache.

The final product.

The cake went over really well, I only ended up having a tiny piece, the one I photographed, and Rocker Dude didn’t have any, though I think that was more because he was afraid of the mint, though he told me that it was because he had eaten too much meat.  Sure.

Recipe:

The brownie recipe can be found here.

Let the brownies cool completely before putting on the icing.

Icing (this is half a recipe, if you want a thicker layer, use a full recipe):

2 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup margarine, softened

1/4 tsp. mint extract

2-3 tbsp. soymilk

a few drops of green food coloring

Beat the margarine really well, until it is really creamy.  Add the powdered sugar slowly and beat until well incorporated.  Add the mint extract and the food coloring.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Continue mixing and add the soymilk 1 tbsp. at a time until you get a nice consistency that you can spread easily.

Spread the icing in a single layer on top of the brownies.  Put the brownies in the freezer while you make the ganache.

Ganache:

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup chocolate chips

Heat the cream over a medium flame until it starts bubbling around the edges.  Pour over the chocolate chips and let sit for 1 minute.  Mix the chocolate until you have  a thick chocolatey mixture.  Spread over the icing and return the brownies to the freezer or refrigerator.

Bring to room temperature before serving.  Or, eat frozen for a minty treat.

White Chocolate Brownies

This was probably my first serious flop.  I was very excited to make this recipe because I am not such a fan of chocolate, and I love fruit based desserts.  This also sounded like something unique and not your typical run of the mill cake.  Because I wasn’t going to make these “brownies” dairy I used pareve white chocolate and I wonder if that contributed to the problem.

Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of pictures of this recipe because I made it a while ago, before I started blogging and so before I knew what I wanted to photograph.

So all was going well until I had to melt the chocolate.  I made the mistake of letting the chocolate get too hot.  The whole thing separated.  If white chocolate is finicky, then pareve white chocolate is even more so.  The margarine completely separated, but I had no more white chocolate and the stores were closed, so I mixed it really well, let it cool a drop and mixed it really well before I poured it into the batter hoping against all hope that it would work.  It didn’t.

The batter looked fine when it was all mixed and I poured it into the jelly roll pan with no issues.  I then sprinkled cut strawberries on top instead of raspberries because I didn’t have raspberries.  This might have been my next mistake.  As I learned later, all berries can be substituted for each other, except strawberries because they are significantly moister than all other berries.  This moisture affects the consistency of the batter.  Not for nothing do they say that baking is a science.

So, batter is in pan.  On to beating the egg whites.  The first set of whites got overbeaten (never answer the phone when beating egg whites!!!!).  Rocker Dude told me that I need to have a standard of excellence and I should throw them out and start again (did he read the first part of this blog?).  So I tossed them and started again.  The next batch was nicely beaten and I gently spread the egg whites over the batter.  Into the oven it went.

The whole thing is supposed to cook for about half an hour.  Well after half an hour, the brownies were still jiggly.  I was worried because the whites were starting to brown, so I lowered the temperature of the oven and let it cook some more.  After another ten minutes, it looked much better, but to be sure, I lifted the brownies out of the pan, holding them by the edges of the parchment paper.  Guess what happened?  The paper tore and the brownies fell back on their pan, sideways.  The whites completely collapsed and shrunk, no longer covering the surface of the brownies.  I put them back in the pan and promptly sat on the floor about to cry.  Rocker Dude came over and comforted me – or at least tried.  He tried to get me to tell him what I would change next time to fix everything – who wants solutions at a time like that?

So when the brownies cooled, I carefully cut away the unattractive parts and sliced what was left into squares.  The verdict was that they tasted delicious (and we had guests that night – we didn’t mention what happened).  So next time, we try to not drop the cake and hope fully it will turn out better.

It doesn’t look to bad, right?

Have fun with it!

Recipe:

2/3 cup flour

1/2 cup finely ground almonds

1/2 tsp. salt

1 stick butter

4 oz. premium-quality white chocolate, chopped

1 cup sugar

2 tsp. grated orange zest

4 large eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup fresh raspberries

Meringue:

3 large egg whites

Pinch of salt

1/2 cup sugar

Confectioner’s sugar

Preheat oven to 325°F.  Butter a 9×13 inch pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, butter the paper and dust the bottom and sides of the pan with flour; tap out the excess.  Put the pan on a baking sheet.

Whisk together flour, ground almonds and salt.

In a double boiler, melt the butter and the white chocolate.  be very careful not to over heat the mixture – you don’t want the chocolate or the butter to separate.  White chocolate is finicky so don’t leave it alone.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, rub the sugar and orange zest together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and aromatic.  Add the eggs and beat on medium-high speed for about 3 minutes, or until pale and foamy.  Beat in the vanilla.  Reduce the speed to low and blend in the melted butter and chocolate.  Still working on low, mix in the dry ingredients, stirring only until they disappear into the batter.  Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle raspberries evenly over the batter.  Set aside while you make the meringue.

In the cleaned mixer bowl, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites with the salt on medium speed until they are foamy and just turn opaque.  Increase the mixer speed and add the sugar in a slow and steady stream.  Whip the whites until they form firm and glossy peaks.

Gently spread the meringue over the batter.  Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the meringue is browned and crackly and the brownies pull away from the side of the pan. Transfer the pan to a rack and allow to cool.