Monday, February 8, 2010

Brownie Cheesecake

We celebrated Dad and Little Brother's birthday last week, so I baked them a birthday cake. I've been meaning to try making the Brownie Cheesecake from my new book; it's a chocolate, baked cheesecake with a dense brownie base. Doesn't that sound wonderfully sinful? I actually bought the required ingredients a long time ago and was supposed to make it for Christmas dinner, but eventually ended up not having enough time to do so.

So anyway, the cake turned out really delicious. I was a bit worried, because there is no way of testing if a cheesecake is done, unlike for normal cakes, you just stick a skewer into the centre. My oven is rather small and is also fan forced, so I think it usually requires a lower temperature than those stated in recipes. I usually test for doneness using the skewer method, rather than following the recipe's time given.

This time, I had to trust the recipe and just follow the time. So, to reduce the margin of error, I made sure I had the exact pan size stated in the recipe. I went out to buy a 10 inch spring form pan just for this cake.

After baking for the stated amount of time, the cheesecake layer was firm and didn't wiggle when I shook the pan, so I presumed it was okay. However, when we ate the cake, the brownie base was more like halfway between cookie dough and biscuit base than cake. You could feel the crunch of the sugar. Don't get me wrong, it was yummy and went well with the cheesecake layer, I'm just not sure if it's meant to be like that, or if I undercooked it or something...

Anyway, everyone liked it, so I'll still make it the same way the next time I try this. There should be a next time, if I'm not too lazy :)

So here's the recipe from my book. The method is really easy if you have a food processor, but I unfortunately do not. (Almost went out to buy one just for this!!) I just used a wooden spoon and plenty of elbow grease. I also left out the pecans because it's impossible to find any here!

Linda Collister's Brownie Cheesecake

250g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
250g caster sugar
200g plain flour
50g cocoa powder

200g good-quality plain chocolate
400g full-fat cream cheese
2 large free-range eggs
60g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon real vanilla essence
200ml double cream
50g pecan halves
cocoa powder, for dusting

a 23cm spring-clip tin, greased

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius. First make the base: put the pieces of butter, sugar, flour and cocoa into the bowl of a food processor and process until the mixture comes together to make a thick paste.

Tip this mixture into the prepared tin and press onto the base to make a thick, even layer. Chill while making the topping.

Break up the chocolate and put it in a heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over a pan of steaming water and melt gently, stirring frequently. Remove the bowl from the pan and stir until smooth. Leave for 5 minutes to cool.

Put the cream cheese, eggs, sugar and vanilla into the bowl of the food processor. Process until thoroughly combined, scraping down the sides from time to time.

With the machine running add the cream through the feed tube, followed by the melted chocolate. When completely mixed, pour the mixture onto the base and spread evenly. Finish by scattering over the pecans.

Stand the tin on a baking tray then bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes until just firm. Turn off the oven but leave the cheesecake in the oven, without opening the door, to cool down.

Then remove the cheesecake from the oven and chill at least 4 hours (preferably overnight) before removing from the tin. Dust with cocoa and serve.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge and eat within 5 days.

I decorated it with some leftover ganache I had and practiced my awful piping skills. Thank goodness for colorful candles and ribbons which always prove so useful!

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