Sunday, 20 March 2016

Brownies and Cheesecake

Time to reveal what I made for this month's Cake Slice Bakers... The choices this month, taken from Maida Heatter's Cakes, were a Cuban coconut pound cake, an apricot strip, a mocha chip chiffon cake and a chocolate brownie cheesecake. When Joe offered to make a meal for Mother's Day a couple of weeks ago, I volunteered to make the pudding. As we are all rather fond of both Brownies and Cheesecakes, having made several of both over the years, honing various recipes to as near to perfection as we possibly could, this month's choice seemed a no-brainer. Two of our favourite desserts combined into one... It couldn't fail!


The first step was to make the brownies. This recipe was almost identical to one I brought back from the U.S. after living there thirty years ago. It was always my go to brownie recipe until I discovered the soft fudgy results of Nigella Lawson's brownies... Which are by far the best you will ever taste. But I digress and I do think for this particular cake you probably need something a little firmer and drier so they don't disintegrate in the cheesecake. So I stuck to the recipe. They didn't have the crackly surface you get with a good brownie and they really were quite dry, but maybe I over cooked them.


The next step requires them to be frozen making them even more solid, before cutting them into small chunks which are then folded through the cheesecake mixture before baking. There was a huge amount of mixture.


This is then baked until golden brown and then cooled in the tin. I've never baked a cheesecake that has turned quite so golden but that seemed to be okay... it wasn't burnt! Maida Heatter suggests using an all in one cheesecake pan as it is baked in a surrounding bath of water, but as I don't own such a pan I used a springform tin and securely wrapped it in tin foil before putting it in its bath. The cheesecake didn't leak out and the water didn't seep in so that was all tickety boo.


When cool, the cake is turned out upside down onto a layer of clingfilm and it is only then that the biscuit crust is sprinkled over the base. I've never made a cheesecake before that wasn't cooked on its base.


I suppose it meant the base wasn't soggy, but instead it was rather dry and crumbly... So crumbly the crumbs went everywhere when I turned it back the right way up on its plate!


But it looked very nice and wholesome and everyone tucked in enthusiastically.


My verdict... Well it was a bugger to slice, but that aside it tasted okay. Okay enough that the whole thing disappeared rather rapidly. That said, there are not many cakes or puddings that don't disappear rapidly with my husband and four sons around. But personally, I was disappointed. I expected more and from something that took this much effort I expected a LOT more.  Brownies are wonderful... Cheesecakes are wonderful... and I really hoped that combining the two would be awesome, but it wasn't. It was okay but not great, so I wouldn't bother making it again. Often with a recipe that is disappointing I will tweak it and play around until I get something better, but I just don't have confidence that this will ever be something better. This is not one of those occasions when the sum of the parts is better than the individual parts.


At this point I will usually give you the recipe but as it is something I wouldn't make again, I don't feel I can recommend it. So frankly, I can't be bothered to type out the very long instructions. If you really want to try it then bake your favourite brownies... Freeze them until firm, cut into chunks and then stir them into your favourite vanilla cheesecake recipe before baking. I reckon that should work! Personally I'd rather just bake brownies, make a cheesecake and have them separately. 

However, do check out what the other bakers have done this month on the links below. We've had some new people join the group and maybe they had more success with this than I did. I'm interested to see how the other cakes turned out too!


   

   

24 comments:

  1. Such a shame to be disappointed after all that effort. At least your tasting team appreciated it! It certainly looked inviting.
    I sometimes think that unusual recipes are the result of a cook wanting to be different, whereas so often the tried and tested methods are more reliable.

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  2. Yes it does sound like an awful lot of effort! I think I would go for the two of them separately My family always like to think they have been offered two puddings at a meal.. We are a greedy lot! B x

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  3. Oh no! I am sorry you did't like it. It is funny how different the results can be even though we are baking the same recipe!

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  4. Blimey, that does sound long winded, such a shame for you not to be truly happy with it after all that effort. At least it was edible.

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  5. Such a shame that it wasn't the thrilling dessert you were hoping for. At first I thought you were going to use the brownie as the crust. It looks great in the pan!
    Wendy

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  6. Gina, I am finding these regular Cake Slice Bakers posts very interesting. Of course, I always read your posts, but often also have a look at some of the other Bakers' results, too. I am imagining that each of you all are benefitting by being able to compare notes. Great that the CSB group is increasing...lots more info to share.

    I gave up chocolate for Lent, and as in past years have been surprised at how easily I was able to drop one of my main food groups for a while. All the same, I am looking forward to that first chocolate truffle or bunny ear!

    xo

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  7. What a disappointment for you. I used to bake Brownies regularly when I was a housewife and used a recipe that my American sister-in-law gave me. I have now lost the recipe but it was all mixed in the saucepan wherein the butter and chocolate had been melted. Totally delicious and totally faff free.

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  8. That's a pity - all that effort for a less than perfect result. Although I expect I'd have managed to force down a slice or five. x

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  9. Your photos look yummy – it is a shame that they did not turn out as good as they look. My last brownie effort was made in a cast iron frying pan – it also turned pretty good, but not excellent. The best brownies I have tasted were at the Galeries Lafayette in Paris – don’t know if they used more butter or what but they were very good. Like you I enjoy trying new recipes.

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  10. I am sad that yours did not turn out as you expected but it looks delicious! I love that you can see the chunks of brownies on the outside of the cheesecake - mine looked like a regular plain one. I may have cut my chunks a little too small. They seemed to almost melt into the cheesecake as it baked and it was very easy to cut. I wonder if you do decide to try it again if that may give you better results? It was fun to see that someone else attempted the same thing I chose my first time as part of the group!

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  11. Sorry that the recipe wasn't what you expected. It truly is more work. Now I'm going to have to find the Nigella L brownie recipe!

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  12. I was also dissapointed with my bake this month. I hope next month our selections are a improvement. I hate feeling my recipe was a waste, and feel horrible feeding it to my family, when I won't even touch it! Ugh!

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  13. I know exactly how you feel Gina... It was so long winded that it wasn't worth the effort. Tasted fine but I know I could make it with half the effort and be done! Still.. silver linings and all, you challenged yourself with an intricate bake. So it didn't pay off in terms of your own personal satisfaction but you still made it through!! Happy Days! Hazel x

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  14. I live in the southern US and we enjoy this very simple version of cheesecake brownies: - make your favourite brownie recipe (or - gasp - use a box mix) pour it into a pan then add dollops of the following cheesecake mixture and swirl it though the batter.
    8oz softened cream cheese
    1/3 cup of sugar
    1 egg yolk
    1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
    Bake until the sides are puffed and the centre is just set.
    It's very disappointing to put a lot of work into something and have it end up just ho hum. That happened to me a lot when I first moved to the States and previously tried and true recipes did not turn out well.
    Fran

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  15. Such a shame when the end result doesn't warrant the effort. At least the cheesecake was scoffed and enjoyed by your family. Too much gets rejected by the other two here, so I'm considering hanging up my oven gloves!

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  16. Oh shucks, sorry that you as the baker was not happy with the results, but the cake was appreciated by the family! This recipe has so many steps that I gave up reading the recipe! But I had eyes on the coconut cake since I first laid my hands on the book, but I was not too happy with my results too! Till the next month then!

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  17. Oh it's always disappointing when something doesn't turn out as you hoped, especially if a lot of effort has been expended.

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  18. What a great link up. I've not come across this before. And your brownie cheesecake...my children would LOVE this

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  19. I'm so sorry that you didn't like your cake. Especially with all that effort. I'm not really a cheesecake fan, so I passed this one by. Now I'm super happy about that decision.

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  20. Brownies and cheesecake sound like a match made in heaven. I'm sure they will work out better next time.
    Amalia
    xo

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  21. As I was reading this I sensed we were building up to an anti climax. You were giving out the vibes that this pudding did not reward the amount of effort involved and let's be honest Gina, five men will eat anything if it's put in front of them won't they?
    I guess we all have our favourite brownie recipe. I don't know Nigella's but I make Jocelyn Dimbleby's, free in a Country Living mag years ago. Gooey, fudgy and rich. Just writing about them is making me drool so I'd better make some for Easter perhaps. Thanks for making me think of them!

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  22. Well that does sound like a palaver and a half! What a shame it didn't taste wonderful after all that effort. I sometimes swirl cream cheese through my brownie mixture before baking, which is quite nice, and a lot less hassle x

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