One of our wonderful Events Officers, Trudy, has taken to baking during isolation. Here are her not-so-secret recipes for the best brownie and the chocolatiest cheesecake!
- 200g Chocolate (milk or dark)
- 170g Butter
- 250g Brown Sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp espresso powder (optional but fun)
- 100g Plain Flour
- 30g Cocoa Powder (for a richer, darker flavour, use Dutch Cocoa Powder. However, let’s face it, it is not essential, and only a weirdo like me would have this in their cupboards. ‘Normal’ cocoa powder also works fine!)
- 1 tsp salt
- Optional – white chocolate, nuts, chocolate covered coffee beans.
This only makes about 8 brownies. Scale up or down as required.
Making the brownies:
- The recipe I based mine off of says to preheat the oven to 180. I have never done this. I whack it up to the max and hope for the best.
- Line your baking dish or brownie pan with baking paper.
- Melt the butter in the microwave in bursts, then allow to cool.
- Chop the chocolate into chunks, and divide into two. Melt half in the microwave in 30 second bursts. Allow to cool. Save the other half for later.
- In a large bowl, mix the butter and sugar.
- Beat the eggs and vanilla extract into the butter and sugar mixture. The mixture should become light and fluffy.
- Whisk the melted chocolate into the mixture. It’s important that the melted chocolate has cooled, as if it is still too hot, the eggs will cook, and that is not what we want.
- Run the flour, espresso, and cocoa powder through a sieve, into the mixture. Fold into a mixture. Mix with caution – if you want ‘fudgy’ brownies, you should mix as little as possible (just enough to fold in the dry ingredients), as overmixing will result in cakey brownies.
- Fold in the chocolate chunks that we saved earlier. You could use chocolate chips, but the reason I use ‘chunks’ of ‘real’ chocolate is that chocolate chips tend to retain their shape and don’t melt, whereas the chunks will melt, and results in brownies with gooey pockets of chocolate. This is a good thing to keep in mind when baking chocolate chip cookies, too. Alternatively, instead of adding the other half of the chocolate, you could add chopped white chocolate, chopped nuts, or some chocolate covered coffee beans.
- Transfer to the baking dish.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes. Test with some sort of prodding instrument – a knife or skewer works fine. How much you bake the brownies depends on your desired texture. Obviously, no one wants a raw brownie, but personally I like fudgy brownies, so I remove the brownies while they still have a bit of a wobble to them. I also like to take the brownies out about half-way through the cooking time, allow them to rest for ten minutes, and then pop them back into the oven.
- If you like cakey brownies, remove them when the prodding instrument comes out completely clean. For a cracked top effect, remove the pan of brownies about five minutes before they are cooked, bang the pan on the side to create some cracks, sprinkle with salt, and pop back into the oven.
No-Bake White Chocolate, Lime & Ginger Cheesecake
Note: This is not a cheesy cheesecake. You are essentially eating white chocolate. That suits me fine, but if you’re one of those ‘oh no, I can’t eat that, it’s too sweet’ people, this is not for you.
- 175g Gingernut biscuits
- 50g unsalted butter
- Alternatively, use digestives, and just sprinkle some ginger and cinnamon into the mix.
- 200g White Chocolate
- 300g Full-fat cream cheese
- 300ml Double Cream
- 1 tsp lime juice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Making the base:
- Stick the biscuits into a freezer bag. Seal the bag (important!). Grab a rolling pin and bash the biscuits into crumbs. If you want, you could just use a food processor, but that makes more washing up, and bashing biscuits is a great way to release stress.
- Chop the butter into more manageable chunks, melt in the microwave. Then mix the biscuit crumbs into the butter.
- Press the crumb mixture into your cake tin. You want to cover the base and sides of the tin. Depending on the size of your cake tin, you may need to make more of the crumb mix.
Making the filling:
- Chop the white chocolate, then melt in bursts in the microwave. The proper way to do this is in a bowl over a saucepan filled with water, but I am lazy and impatient, and I don’t think it really makes a huge difference. Periodically stir the chocolate mixture to evenly distribute the heat. Once melted, let it cool for a few minutes.
- Drain the liquid from the cream cheese. Tip the cream cheese into a large bowl, then fold in the cooled melted chocolate. Add the lime juice and vanilla extract.
- Whip the double cream. I forgot I had a stand-mixer and stupidly did this by hand, which takes forever. Once the cream has thickened, fold it into the chocolate and cheese mixture. You are looking for a moussey texture.
- Scrape the mixture into the crumb-lined biscuit tin, cover in cling film/tin foil, and pop in the fridge.
- After 8ish hours, it should be ready. You want to let it soften a bit before serving, so make sure you get it out of the fridge at least ten or fifteen minutes before serving.
Please do send us photos of your creations, we would love to see them! Happy baking!