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.


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

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!!