First bake: tiramisu brownie cake

Tiramisu brownie cakeA friend of mine celebrated her birthday the other week, but I rather shamefully only got round to baking her a cake a few days ago. I hoped the fact that it combined two of her favourite things (as much chocolate as humanly possible and tiramisu) would persuade her to forget its belatedness.

Tiramisu brownie cake mix

Tiramisu brownie cake mix

This was actually a little bit of an experiment – I’ve been meaning to make BBC Good Food’s brownie cake for bloody ages (a massive brownie??? Genius, I say!), and only made ‘normal’ tiramisu (albeit with a white chocolate spin) a few weeks ago. I do love the combination of coffee, chocolate and almonds, but just don’t seem to indulge in it that often!

Tiramisu brownie cake 7

Anyway. I followed the Good Food recipe pretty much to the letter, but tweaked it a bit to add a dash of coffee to the mix. I can’t say I really tasted the coffee in the brownie, but that was ok, because the icing very definitely had a distinctive coffee flavour.

Tiramisu brownie cake 6

This was more of my own concoction – mascarpone, amaretto, very strong coffee and a mixture of brown and icing sugar. It did end up a little wet and had soaked through the brownie cake after a day or so, but I don’t think that was a turn-off for the recipient! However, next time I make this (and there WILL be a next time) I’ll make the icing more like a buttercream so it’s a little more stiff and doesn’t seep through the cake.

Tiramisu brownie cake 4

All in all, this was a HEAVENLY cake. The brownie cake was dense, chocolatey and decadent, and the coffee mascarpone icing was just mmmnfgh. It really was. Apart from adding more icing sugar to the icing and maybe sprinkling over some flaked almonds as a finishing touch, I don’t think any major changes are needed to the actual flavours. Huzzah.

The recipe

For the brownie base, follow the recipe on BBC Good Food here – you can add some instant coffee granules to the mix if you like: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/3431/chocolate-brownie-cake

While the cake is cooling, make the icing by beating together the following until smooth:

  • 250g mascarpone
  • 50ml very strong coffee, cooled
  • 3 tbsp light brown soft sugar
  • 2 tbsp amaretto (or a teaspoon of almond extract)
  • 3 tbsp icing sugar (I would recommend adding a lot more and omitting the brown sugar if you want a drier icing)

Spread the icing in one deliciously thick layer on top of the cooled cake and sift a little cocoa powder over the top. I decorated my cake with edible silver balls, but flaked almonds and/or grated white chocolate would also work well.

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Re-bake: cherry, white chocolate & coconut traybake

White chocolate, cherry, coconut and almond Sometimes, all you want is something baked and sugary, PRONTO. This flourless recipe is perfect for just this craving, as all you have to do is stir everything together and bake. Easy! Of course, this recipe is also perfect if, like me, you have a penchant for the holy trinity of white chocolate, cherries and coconut.

I’ve made this once before and stuck religiously to the recipe with a very nice result. This time, I was forced to improvise a little as I didn’t have quite enough dessicated coconut (I have been baking with it quite a lot recently!). I instead made up the difference with some roughly chopped flaked almonds.

White chocolate, cherry, coconut and almond traybake mix

White chocolate, cherry, coconut and almond traybake mix

The chocolate was a mixture of Aldi’s Choceur (I think that’s how it’s spelled!) white chocolate and Tesco Value white chocolate. The Aldi version definitely wins hands down in terms of flavour – the Tesco stuff was just far too sweet and not white-chocolatey enough. If that even makes sense.

Once baked, you end up with a baking tin full of gooey chocolate combined with coconut, glace cherries and almonds… yum! However, it’s worth resisting the urge to dive straight in with your spoon and let it cool. Once cold, it’ll be nicely set and you can slice it up into neat little bars.

White chocolate, cherry, coconut and almond traybake 2I have to say, the addition of the almonds is a definite winner – they add a wonderful crunchy texture that goes perfectly with the soft coconut and cherries. This is a very sweet recipe, so it’s only really recommended if you can hack all the sugar – which I most certainly can! *ignores toothache*

The recipe

From the BBC Good Food website here: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1269637/

First bake: chocolate fudge brownies

Chocolate fudge browniesAh, brownies. Along with cheesecake and pecan pie, brownies are surely one of America’s most ingenious culinary inventions. I was drawn to this recipe thanks to the intriguing soft cheese layer running through the middle of them – chocolate and cheese is definitely a match made in heaven!

I followed the recipe pretty faithfully, for a change! I used the last of my Valrhona cocoa in the cake and some bog standard cocoa in the frosting. For the cheese layer, I used a tub of light Philadelphia. I failed to take any photos of the mix because I was eager to get it in the oven, but it was fairly standard for a brownie mix – the key, as always, is not to stir it too much.

Chocolate fudge browniesThe brownies had to be left to cool for a bit before slapping the icing on, which I somehow managed to do with great self-restraint. I made the frosting a bit too early and it had solidified by the time I came to ice the brownies, but I just slightly heated it up again to loosen the icing.

All in all, these are some rather delectable brownies – extremely chocolatey, just the right texture and some nice contrasting flavours with the pecans and cheese. Definitely a winner in my book!

The recipe

From a chocolate baking book from Next of all places, called Oh So… Guilty: Indulgent Chocolate Treats:

Makes 16

  • 200g/7oz low fat soft cheese
  • 0.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 225g/8oz caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 85g/3oz butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 100g/3.5oz self-raising flour, sifted
  • 50g/1.75oz pecan nuts, chopped, plus extra to decorate

For the frosting:

  • 55g/2oz butter
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 75g/2.75oz icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Lightly grease a 20cm/8in square cake tin and line the base with baking paper.

2. Beat together the soft cheese, vanilla extract and 5 tsp of thhe caster sugar until smooth, and set aside.

3. Beat together the eggs and the remaining caster sugar until light and fluffy.

4. Place the butter and cocoa powder in a small saucepan and heat gently, stirring until the butter melts and the mixture combines, then stir it into the egg mixture.

5. Fold in the flour and pecans and stir until just combined – do not overmix.

6. Pour half of the mixture into the tin and smooth the top. Carefully spread the cheese mixture over it, then top with the remaining cake mix.

7. Bake in the oven for 40-45 mins and let cool in the tin.

8. Make the frosting by melting the butter in a small pan with the milk. Stir in the icing sugar and cocoa.

9. Spread the frosting over the cooled brownies and decorate with pecan nuts. Let the frosting set, then cut into squares.