Monday, September 17, 2012

Fudge Brownie & Cookie Dough Cake

Fudge Brownie & Cookie Dough Cake
Let me introduce you to Calorie Mountain. It may leave you feeling slightly queasy if you try to conquer it. Last week was Regex Man's birthday. His birthday has been the inspiration for many epic cakes on this blog including the mint chocolate chip cake and the fruit tingle cake. This time I went a leeeeetle beeeet overboard. Regex Man's favourite Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavour is Half Baked, so I decided to do a Half Baked flavour inspired cake; (brace yourself) Chocolate and Vanilla Marble Cake layered with Cookie Dough Buttercream and topped with Fudge Brownies. It's ridiculously rich and completely over the top, but hey we live in a world of bacon ice cream and deep fried Coke.
Fudge Brownie & Cookie Dough Cake
Trust me, you want to have very small slices of this cake at a time. It's incredibly sweet and rich, but I tried to reduce the sugar where I could and used salted butter to try and balance it out. But even then with all the sugar and chocolate it's incredibly decadent. Only someone with superhuman cake-eating abilities like Regex Man would get a cake like this.
Fudge Brownie & Cookie Dough Cake
The cookie dough buttercream is SO good, it's the same one from Annie's Eats that I used in these macarons, it tastes just like cookie dough. I went a little crazy with the amount of mini chocolate chips that I mixed into the icing, so feel free to adjust the amount of chocolate chips that you use in it. The brownies are super easy to make and they have that crisp outer layer and dense, fudgey innards that you want from a brownie. The cake recipe is a very reliable marble cake recipe which uses buttermilk, which ensures that it stays soft and doesn't dry out at all.
Fudge Brownie & Cookie Dough Cake
It might be a while before you see the next recipe post from me after this week, as I'm taking a much-needed break for my Chinese wedding and honeymoon. But don't despair, I'm not abandoning my blog, not for a single week! I have several exciting posts lined up, including some fabulous guest bloggers who were lovely enough to come up with some amazing recipes to share on this blog. For the meantime, enjoy this crazy cake and by the time I come back I hope to be invigorated and ready to jump back into the kitchen.
Fudge Brownie & Cookie Dough Cake
'Half Baked' Fudge Brownie & Cookie Dough Cake
(Adapted from this cake, buttercream from Annie's Eats, brownies from Taste)
For the cake:
115g (1 stick) butter, room temperature, plus more for greasing
300g (1 3/4 cups) cake flour (not self-rising, I used 270g plain flour + 30g (3 1/2 tbsp) cornflour/cornstarch as per these instructions)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
225g (1 cup) sugar (I used caster sugar)
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp boiling water
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp Dutch-process cocoa powder

For the buttercream:
250g (about 2 1/4 sticks) butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 1/2 cups (about 315g) icing/confectioners' sugar, sifted
2/3 cup (about 85g) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
200g (about 1 cup) mini chocolate chips or finely chopped pieces of milk chocolate

For the brownies:
200g (7oz) good quality dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
200g (1.75 sticks) butter, chopped
3 eggs at room temp
2 egg yolks at room temp
200g (about 1 cup minus 2 tbsp) caster sugar
115g (3/4 cup) plain flour
35g (1/3 cup) cocoa powder

Prepare the brownies first (can be done a day ahead); preheat oven to 160°C (320°F). Brush a 16 x 26cm (base measurement) slab pan with melted butter. Line with non-stick baking paper, allowing sides to overhang. This stops it sticking to the pan and makes the brownie easy to remove from the pan. Melt the chocolate and butter in a large heatproof bowl over a saucepan half-filled with simmering water (make sure bowl doesn't touch water), stirring regularly. Whisk the eggs and egg yolks in a jug until combined. Allow the chocolate mixture to cool slightly before adding the egg mixture. If the chocolate mixture is too hot, the egg may start to cook and scramble. Stir to combine.

Combine the sugar and flour in a large bowl. Sift in the cocoa powder. Add the chocolate mixture and stir until just combined - over-stirring can make your cooked brownies tough. Pour into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Bake in oven for 45-50 minutes or until crumbs cling to a skewer inserted into the centre. Don't over-bake your brownies or they can dry out. Cool in tin, then store in an airtight container for at least 6 hours or overnight. This helps the brownie to set.
Fudge Brownie & Cookie Dough Cake
Bake the cake; preheat oven to 180°C (350°F), grease and line the base of two 18cm round cake tins with baking paper. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl and use a whisk to combine, set aside. Place butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat on high with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. With the mixer on medium speed, add eggs one at a time until combined, scraping down the sides of a bowl with a spatula when needed. Add vanilla and beat again until combined. Add flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with the buttermilk and beginning and ending with the flour. Place 1/3 of the mixture in a separate bowl. In a small bowl, mix the cocoa and boiling water, whisking until it is smooth. Gently mix into the separated bowl of cake batter until combined. Spoon half the vanilla batter and half the mocha batter into the prepared cake tin, and the other half of each batter into the other prepared tin, alternating spoonfuls of vanilla and mocha to simulate a checkerboard. Run a table knife through the batter in each tin to create a swirl effect. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of each cake comes out clean. Cool in tin for 10 minutes and then remove from tin and cool completely on a wire rack. Cakes can be made the night before assembly, wrapped in clingfilm and chilled.

Prepare the buttercream; beat together the butter and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on high. Mix in the icing sugar until smooth. Beat in the flour and salt. Mix in the milk and vanilla extract until smooth and well blended. Stir in chocolate chips until evenly mixed. Place one cake layer on a cake stand and cover the top of the cake with a layer of the buttercream, smoothing with an offset spatula. Sandwich second cake layer on top. Cover entire cake with the remaining buttercream, smoothing with the offset spatula. Cut brownies into small squares and pile on top of cake (you don't have to use all of them). (Optionally) Melt 100g chocolate and drizzle over the top of the brownie pile. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container.
Fudge Brownie & Cookie Dough Cake
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Monday, September 10, 2012

Roasted Strawberry & Ginger Ricotta Cheesecake

Roasted Strawberry & Ginger Ricotta Cheesecake
I am so glad I decided to make a cheesecake this weekend. Because this cheesecake is so damn good. I seem to be a little addicted to roasting fruit at the moment. Roasted strawberries are officially my new favourite thing. Coat them in a bit of brown sugar and balsamic and they turn into decadent, glossy pieces of heaven in the oven. And strawberries are really cheap in Australia at the moment so it was the perfect time to make this.
Roasted Strawberry & Ginger Ricotta Cheesecake
I decided to pair these roasted strawberries with another of my favourites; ginger. One of my favourite cheesecake crusts is made with Ginger Nut biscuits, I just love that zing of spices and the super crunchy texture of the biscuits. Though the rock-hard biscuits were a bit of a bitch to break up into crumbs; in the battle of food processor bowl vs. ginger nuts, the ginger nuts clearly won. Poor broken food processor.
Roasted Strawberry & Ginger Ricotta Cheesecake
The fluffy cheesecake filling is made with cream cheese and ricotta, which makes it fairly light for a baked cheesecake. I added hints of ginger and strawberry to the filling with ground ginger and crystallised ginger pieces and lots of strawberry jam. It really helps to bring the flavours of the topping and the base together.
Roasted Strawberry & Ginger Ricotta Cheesecake
Ugh, I am so in love with these roasted strawberries. I could sit there and eat a whole dish of them with some whipped cream. So effing good. It really does make the perfect topping for a cheesecake, especially with that thick caramelised glaze. You could even make a double batch of the strawberries and blend half of them into the cheesecake rather than using strawberry jam, but I didn't have enough strawberries to try that.
Roasted Strawberry & Ginger Ricotta Cheesecake
If you've never tried ricotta cheesecakes before, you should definitely give this recipe a go. There is much fluffy, happy cheesecakey goodness to look forward to. I am totally eating a piece of cheesecake for breakfast as I type this.
Roasted Strawberry & Ginger Ricotta Cheesecake
Roasted Strawberry & Ginger Ricotta Cheesecake
(makes one 20cm cheesecake, serves 8-10)
250g (1 packet) Ginger Nut biscuits (ginger snaps for those in the US, homemade recipe here)
80g butter (about 3/4 stick butter), melted
330g (11.6oz) cream cheese, softened
500g ricotta (17.6oz) ricotta
1 cup strawberry jam
2 tbsp ground ginger
1 tbsp finely chopped glace or crystallised ginger
1 tbsp grated lemon zest
4 eggs
1.5 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)
1.5 tbsp water

For the strawberries:
2 punnets (500g) fresh strawberries
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 165°C (330°F) (150°C(300°F) for fan-forced), grease and line the base of a 20cm round springform tin.  Place ginger nut biscuits in a food processor and pulse until they are broken down to even crumbs. Add butter and pulse to combined. Press into the base of your prepared tin and chill in fridge for 30 mins. 

Prepare the filling; place cream cheese, ricotta, strawberry jam, ground ginger, glace ginger & lemon zest in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until smooth. Mix water and cornflour together in a separate bowl until smooth and then add the mixture and the eggs to the food processor bowl, pulse until combined. (If you don't have a processor, beat cream cheese and ricotta until smooth and fluffy in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on high. Add the rest of the ingredients and then beat again until smooth.) Pour mixture over the chilled base and bake for an hour. The edges should be just golden and the centre might still be wobbly. Do not remove cheesecake from oven, turn off the heat and keep the door closed and allow the cheesecake to rest in the oven for another hour. Then remove from the oven and sit in tin on a wire rack until completely cool.
Roasted Strawberry & Ginger Ricotta Cheesecake
Prepare the strawberries; hull and halve the berries and then place in a single layer in an oven-proof dish. Preheat oven to 200°C (390°F). Add brown sugar to berries and toss to coat. Pour over balsamic and toss again. Place in oven for 10-15 minutes, berries should be softened and the glaze will thicken as it cools. Set aside to cool completely, then remove cheesecake from tin and top with berries before serving. Can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge overnight (if not serving immediately keep the strawberries separate until ready to serve).
Roasted Strawberry & Ginger Ricotta Cheesecake
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Monday, September 3, 2012

Tetris Cake with Macarons

Tetris Cake with Macarons
I'm still in stuck struggle city. I don't want to overshare, but I felt I should mention it for those of you who have emailed me in the last few weeks and are wondering why you haven't heard back from me. So this week I don't have a full recipe post, but I did want to share this fun idea with you. Last week was D-Tap's birthday. He's not a big fan of birthdays, but I wanted to make a fun, geeky cake for him. I mean, he showed up on the dance floor at my wedding reception in a Gumby costume. He deserves cake. Not long after I decided to do a tetris-themed cake with square macarons as the tiles he happened to walk past humming the tetris song, so I knew it was meant to be. Unfortunately with everything going on and having to prep the cake mid-week after work meant that I didn't have enough time to make the cake as awesome as I wanted it to be. I'm not very satisfied with the final outcome, the shells were bumpy and too big, the icing too's just a bit off. But I had to take a photo of it just so I could make this gif:
Tetris Cake with Macarons 
Try to overlook my rather average photoshopping skills. If you're wondering what's in the cake; I used a double quantity of this caramel mudcake recipe, chocolate cloud icing (using this recipe from Sweetapolita, it is so, so good) and square macarons shells (similar to these). I also decided to make a black border around the edge using licorice but it probably didn't need it. You could always use square lollies or sugar cookies for the tiles instead of macarons, but you know I couldn't resist using the macs. If I did it again I'd definitely make the tiles a lot smaller and make sure I gave myself more time to make the whole thing neater.  But I think the sentiment was appreciated :)

P.S. Someone pointed out that technically the bottom two rows should have disappeared. a very a good point. Okay, so I fail at being a nerd :(
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