Speculoos Cheesecake Brownies

I still have a couple of jars of Speculoos paste left from my trip to Amsterdam so I have been looking online for recipes. I have come across a couple of cheesecake recipes using it but nothing really grabbed me. It has been ages since I did anything exciting with brownies so then the thought hit me – cheesecake marbled brownies are something I have been meaning to make for ages, but what if that cheesecake was Speculoos/Speculaas paste based? So it happened:
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On to the recipe, if you fancy making these at home.
Ingredients.
For the brownie bit:
  • 185g unsalted butter
  • 200g decent chocolate (I use one bar of Green and Blacks dark and one milk)
  • 85g plain flour (regular or gluten-free Doves Farm)
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 275g golden caster sugar

For the cheesecake bit:

  • 400g full fat cream cheese
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 150g Speculoos biscuit paste (optional – these are pretty good as just cheesecake brownies, if you prefer)

Method:

  1. Cut butter into cubes and put into a pyrex type bowl with the chocolate (broken into small pieces) Melt them together by putting the bowl over a pan of simmering water but make sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl. Stir occasionally until they are combined. You can also do this by shoving it in the microwave but watch it really closely because chocolate burns easily. Leave the melted mixture to cool to room temperature.
  2. While it is cooling – put all the ingredients for the cheesecake bit into a bowl and whisk until fluffy and fully combined. Leave in the fridge until you are ready to use it
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 160c. Line your tin with tin foil or baking parchment. I use a tin that is about 6 x 12 inches.
  4. Break the eggs into your bowl and add in the golden caster sugar whisk on high until light and thick and creamy – it should become pale and double in volume. It takes a while and is the most important step, this is what makes them light.
  5. Pour the cooled chocolate mixture in, then gently fold together with a spatula.Be careful not to knock the air out.
  6. Add in the sifted cocoa and flour mixture and fold in really gently until just combined. If you are making regular brownies, now would be the time to add in chopped up chocolate bars and whatever else you fancy.
  7. Pour the three-quarters mixture into the tin and push it out into the corners making sure it is even. Then add the cheesecake mix on blobs with a spoon. Add the remaining brownie mix in dollops with a spoon and then bang the tin hard a couple of times on the kitchen side to level it out. Use a skewer to marble the mix.  Pop it in the oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes or so. To test if it is done shake the tin a bit, it shouldn’t wobble like jelly. I find the skewer test a bit redundant for brownie making because if it comes out clean you have probably over cooked them
  8. Leave them until they are totally cold and the cheesecake sets properly
  9. Store in the fridge because the cheesecake bit.

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FUCK cake

Hurrah! It was my birthday on Friday. Happy Birthday to me and what a very happy birthday it was. I had some friends over on Friday night to christen our new house and celebrate. I am still recovering – best night ever and all that. I don’t think I have had a birthday cake since I lived at home 15 years ago so I decided this year that I would make my own (with help from A on the washing up). And, if I have to make my own birthday cake I am going to make it both amazing and offensive.  I give you the amazing FUCK cake.

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I used this chocolate, caramel and vanilla ombre cake recipe from BBC Good Food but sandwiched it with homemade salted caramel sauce (the usual Nigella recipe) – it was pretty tasty and I think the ground almonds made it particularly moist. Also when you cut it, you get impressive layers. Yay!

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The biggest challenge was finding the multicoloured strands/sprinkles – weirdly everywhere was out of stock. I could find metallic ball ones and pink ones (because baking is only for little girls or something – URGH) but not the basic kind. Found them eventually and used letter cookie cutters placed onto the chocolate ganache to make the letters.

The best endorsement of this cake came from a Christian school friend who said: “I’m offended by a chocolate cake. Well this is definitely a first!!!!” – My work here is done, people. Done.

Salted Caramel Brownies

This evening I did some advance baking for some friends’ birthdays at the weekend. I baked some lactose-free carrot cupcakes that I will ice on Saturday – I will share those next week assuming it is not a massive disaster. Also if anyone has any Vitalite butter icing tips, I would really appreciate them. I also made some gooey salted caramel brownies – not lactose free but you can easily make them gluten free by switching the flour. Mmm… Salted Caramel. These brownies are amazing, seriously. They don’t look as pretty as some of the other stuff I make but they taste so good.

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Again, these use Nigella’s salted caramel sauce recipe, which is super easy – no sugar thermometer required. Just remember to use decent salt.

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The caramel is added to my failsafe brownie recipe. I use this brownie recipe all the time and add in whatever I fancy (chopped up Bounties, finger of fudges, Dime Bars, pecans etc)

  • 185g unsalted butter
  • 200g decent chocolate (I use one bar of Green and Blacks dark and one milk)
  • 85g plain flour (regular or gluten-free Doves Farm)
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 275g golden caster sugar
  • 2 quantities of Nigella’s salted caramel (make it with slightly less cream to make sure it is thick enough) made in advance and totally cooled (although in an emergency the freezer works – don’t let it actually freeze)

Method:

  1. Cut butter into cubes and put into a pyrex type bowl with the chocolate (broken into small pieces) Melt them together by putting the bowl over a pan of simmering water but make sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl. Stir occasionally until they are combined. You can also do this by shoving it in the microwave but watch it really closely because chocolate burns easily. Leave the melted mixture to cool to room temperature.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 160c. Line your tin with tin foil or baking parchment. I use a tin that is about 6 x 12 inches.
  3. Break the eggs into your bowl and add in the golden caster sugar whisk on high until light and thick and creamy – it should become pale and double in volume. It takes a while and is the most important step, this is what makes them light.
  4. Pour the cooled chocolate mixture in, then gently fold together with a spatula.Be careful not to knock the air out.
  5. Add in the sifted cocoa and flour mixture and fold in really gently until just combined. If you are making regular brownies, now would be the time to add in chopped up chocolate bars and whatever else you fancy.
  6. Pour the half the mixture into the tin and push it out into the corners making sure it is even. Then add the caramel. Try to avoid getting it too close to the edges if you can. Then add the other half of the brownie mix and smooth it over.  Pop it in the oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes or so. To test if it is done shake the tin a bit, it shouldn’t wobble like jelly. I find the skewer test a bit redundant for brownie making because if it comes out clean you have probably over cooked them or missed a caramel seam.
  7. Leave them until they are totally cold. In this case, I mean it, they firm up and become manageable when cold. You can always reheat them later if you like.

So there you go… Enjoy!

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Emergency Cookies

Me and MrStarmoose (my fiance) rarely keep biscuits in the house, mainly because we are both liable to eat the whole lot and feel sad about it afterwards. But sometimes you just want a cookie  (a warm chocolately gooey cookie) and a glass of cold milk.

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So I have cookie dough on standby in the freezer (it can just be stored in freezer bags), ready to pop in the oven. It stops us eating loads of them because they feel a bit special. Frozen dough make really good presents for birthdays and stuff if you put the recipients favourite chocolate bars in them or shove them in a nice tin.

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The recipe (makes about 12 medium ones or 8 huge ones) is quite Millie’s cookies-ish but I think the darker sugars make it more chewy and caramelly. Also I use 2 bars of Green and Blacks which means they taste a bit more grown up:

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Grown-up? Who am I kidding? I have also made them with a whole range of chopped up chocolate bars: mini-Rolos, Caramacs, Snickers etc.

The recipe:

  • 125g butter, softened
  • 175g light brown soft sugar
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 200g chocolate (chopped up chocolate bars, chips, fudge cubes, biscuits, whatever you like… raisins, nah, too healthy!)

Method:

  1. Cream butter and sugars together and then add the egg and the vanilla. Sift in the flour and salt and mix with spatula – it will be fairly dry, add a drop of milk if it is too dry.
  2. Ball it together than then divide it into two. Place a sheet of clingfilm flat on the kitchen surface, roll one ball into a sausage shape and them wrap it in the cling film and roll it a few more times to make an even shape, pull in the ends like a Christmas cracker and repeat for the other ball.
  3. Place the two cookie sausages in the freezer and allow to cool for about 40 minutes then take them out and with a sharp knife cut them into even slices (6 per roll or 4 if you want huge ones) and then you can store them in a freezer bag until you are ready to eat them
  4. To bake them pre-heat your oven to 180c and place the cookie rounds on ungreased baking paper spaced far apart (I usually do four on a big tray), half way through cooking give them a pat down with a fish slice to spread them out a bit. If you want to have a really squidgy centre then bake for about 12 minutes from frozen. Otherwise cook for 15 minutes until just golden round the edges – keep an eye on them they will cook quite fast at the end.
  5. Take out of the oven and leave to harden for 5 minute before transferring to a wire cooling rack or your mouth. They are really amazing warm with the chocolate still molten.