21 March 2016

Chocolate Brownie Cheesecake

There was no competition this month.

Before I had even read the recipe I knew that this was my choice with the Cake Slice Bakers. It had all the promise of being something spectacular... Brownies, Baked Cheesecake.. am HELLO! Where have you been all my life? I read the description, Maida Heatter always provides some little description of the cake, and chuckled.

"It is fascinating to eat both cheesecake and Brownies in the same bite. And it is gorgeous." 

Such sweet simplicity right. What could go wrong?

I remembered that the book was first published back in 1982 (I have the 2011 reprint) and while I am thoroughly enjoying baking through the book, I think it can feel a tad outdated sometimes. Methods have evolved and so too has kitchen equipment. The recipe for this cake I found to be convoluted and yielded very mixed opinions.

There was no doubt that it was tasty. But for me, the laborious nature of the recipe made it lacklustre. The brownie recipe turned out way to dry. That's not a brownie as I understand it. There was no chewy, gooeyness. Just a dry, softness. But they stayed firm and held together during the bake.

The cheesecake was gloriously creamy. I don't own an 8 inch spring form (What the actual?? I know right?) so used a 9 inch and it made a huge difference. The cake didn't puff up like I am used to in a baked cheesecake- but that one is on me. The mix itself contains A LOT of sugar. The top of the cheesecake coated itself in this rather delicious crisp sugar shell, almost creme brulee like. Not a bad thing per say, just not expected.

I have adapted the recipe below to make it more convenient, an updated version for you to try. The flavours all meld together to make it a very worthy bake, but there is no need for it to be so tedious. I am going to help you cut down on all of that "hard work"!!

Chocolate Brownies
adapted from Maida Heatter's Cakes, pg 152.

180g self raising flour
3 tbsps coco powder
125g butter
60g dark chocolate
1tsp instant coffee (powder or granular)
1/2 tsp vanilla
200g sugar
2 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 180 C, 350 F or Gas Mark 4.
Line and 8 inch square pan with tin foil, shiny side up. Spray with some cake release spray or brush over with some melted butter.
Sift the flour and the coco powder together.
In a sauce pan, over a low heat, put the chocolate and butter. Stir occasionally until melted.
Stir in the coffee and vanilla. Add the sugar and stir thoroughly. Add the eggs one at a time mixing well after each addition until incorporated.
Finally fold in the flour and coco mixture.
Pop the mixture into the prepared tin and then into the oven for about 20 minutes. Just check with a skewer in the middle, if it comes out clean, you are good to go.
Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool on a cooling rack.
Once cool, flip the brownies out and wrap them in cling film. Pop them straight into the freezer to go cold and to make them easier to chop up into little bits.

Once you have chopped them up, keep them cold in the fridge.

You will have a lot of brownies.. cut them up any size you want. I went with chunky for this cheesecake and we used the rest in ice cream. And we just ate them out of that bowl, as we passed them on the counter. And because they are so small, you just keep popping them your mouth.

Uuuuggghh... Bite size brownies are the worst.

Cheesecake Base

300g digestive biscuits
100g butter

Preheat your oven to 180 C, 350 F or Gas Mark 4.
Smash the the biscuits into smithereens whatever way you know how. I use the therapeutic Ziploc bag and rolling pin method.
Melt the butter.
Add the butter to the biscuits and mix until all together.
Press gently into a spring form pan, ideally an 8 inch round and bake in a preheated oven for 5 minutes. Keep the oven on.

Remove the pan and allow to cool. Boil the kettle.

Baked Cheesecake

450g cream cheese (ideally Philadelphia but really the best you can afford)
1 tsp vanilla
275g sugar
4 eggs

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the vanilla and then the sugar. Beat again until smooth.
Add the eggs one at a time, just until the yolk has disappeared.
Add the wet mix in on top of your biscuit base.
From the fridge plop in your bite size brownie chunks and give it a quick swirl if you want to.
Put the spring form tin into a oven proof pan with a high ridge. Pour the just boiled kettle water around the spring form pan, up as far as your supporting pan will allow, and bake the cheesecake in the oven for about 1 hour.

After an hour, turn off the oven and prop the door open with a wooden spoon. Allow the cheesecake to fully cool in the oven.

You could then pop it in the fridge. It'd make cutting portions easier but the creaminess is more apparent at room temperature.

I figured the cheesecake would spill up over the brownies and almost encase them, but alas the 9 inch pan was just that little too big for this mix to do that. Not a big deal. But you know yerself now, aesthetically it would have been nicer I think.

Like I said, there is no argument. What I baked was tasty. The brownies added that chocolate flavour layer and broke through the cool, creamy vanilla of the cheesecake. The biscuit crumb cut through all the sweet, providing that hint of crunch. It was a great idea bake, just not what I was hoping it would be like.

Go see what the other bakers whipped up this month... I know there are a few more cheesecakes to behold! I wonder how they fared out?


  1. I'm glad I'm not the only one who found that Brownie recipe way too dry and the method long and tedious! But you seem to have got better results than me Hazel so perhaps I should have persevered and trusted my instincts more. I wanted this to be so much better than it was!

    1. I'm with you girl! Onwards and upwards however, they can't be all bad bakes, right?

  2. Hazel, it looks great! I agree with you totally about some of her methods (her crumb crust method has to be the worst). I also agree that the brownies were a tad dry. I always find her baking times way too much and start checking things early. I don't know if ovens have changed since then but hers was obviously slow.

    1. I think ovens have come a long way since she first wrote the book, mine is forced fan so I have to watch my times too. I thought I got the brownies out after 20 minutes but it must have been longer.. So annoying! But look, we live and learn.

  3. Hazel, I see a great piece of abstract art in your cake, and especially that cut slice!

    1. Emily, you might be the only one!! But if anyone wants to offer me millions for it, and hang it in a gallery somewhere I'll take it! Haha!

  4. I read Gina's post on this same cake with her own mixed review on it too. It sounds wonderful! I like how you revamped the recipe and changed the crust (I've never heard of a crust being put on at the end!). Love reading your recipes ... boil the kettle ;) And never, ever leave bite-sized brownies out in the open. What were you thinking?! Have a great day, and enjoy the rest of that cake.
    Wendy x

    1. I know, I KNOW!! But they were just so good to walk past and pop one in your mouth..

  5. I must have pulled my brownies earlier than you guys, as mine were fudgy. But I love slightly underdone brownies, so I can't help myself. I just love seeing how differently everyone's cheesecake ended up. I also love the idea of a bruleed cheesecake top! Yum!

    1. That's what I should have done, gone with my own instincts but I seem to be a stickler for following a recipe this time round.. except for the base of that cheesecake because lest face it. All that flip flopping with boards and what not was just too much!!

  6. Sometimes I think all of the tough instructions on recipes make the recipe kind of anti-climatic. Brownies are so yummy, so I'm afraid I would eat them all.

    1. Yep! We are singing from the same hymn sheet girl! Brownies are definitely yummy and yes we did eat them all.. and we're not one bit sorry. Haha!

  7. Shame that it didn't work quite as you hoped, but I am glad that it was tasty in any case! xx

    1. Thanks Amy!! It did taste good, and you know what, that's probably more important.

  8. Such a pretty cheesecake Hazel, sorry it didn't live up to your expectations.

    1. Ah you win some, you lose some! On to next months!


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