Monday, 24 September 2012

Caramel Cheesecake Brownies

More caramel and cheesecake.  My friend was hosting a tea party for her birthday.  I love going to her house for tea parties because she has the nicest spreads, from the tea pots and saucers, to the white damask linens and tiered dessert stands.  And an abundance of cute food!  I wanted to contribute, and although I would normally bake a cake for a friend’s birthday, I thought that it would be too much for this party.   So I decided on brownies since they could be cut into small squares – perfect for a tea party.  This is the first time that I would make brownies (ever!) and I knew which recipe to try.  For a while now, I have been eyeing the Baked brownie (you know the one from Baked in NYC?) because it has been declared the best brownie of all time by numerous food bloggers.  But of course I wanted to change it up a bit, and so I thought I would incorporate cheesecake and caramel (it seems as though I have a thing for caramel and cheesecake lately) to make caramel cheesecake brownies!

Check out the verdict at the end of the post!

Caramel Cheesecake Brownies
Makes a 9x9 inch square pan.

Caramel Cheesecake
4.5 oz caramel (19 squares of pre-made caramel)
8 oz cream cheese (1 block)
2 Tablespoon sugar
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1.    Melt caramel and a tablespoon of the cream cheese over simmering water.
2.    Beat the remaining cream cheese in another bowl over simmering water.
3.    Add the melted caramel to the cream cheese and beat until blended.
4.    Add sugar and beat.
5.    Add egg and vanilla and beat.
6.    Cool in refrigerator while you make the brownie batter.

*Note: I think it would’ve worked better if I had made a caramel sauce from scratch (like from this post) and added that to the cream cheese.  That way, there would have been no need to heat the cream cheese over simmering water.  But I was lazy, so I used the premade caramel squares.
Melting caramel.

Brownies from Baked
From here and here. I halved the recipe.

½ cup + 2 Tablespoon all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon cocoa powder
5.5 oz dark chocolate, chopped
½ cup salted butter
½ teaspoon instant espresso powder
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
2 ½ eggs, room temp
1 teaspoon vanilla

1.    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking pan with parchment.
2.    In a bowl, mix flour and cocoa.
3.    In a large bowl, melt chocolate, butter, and espresso powder over simmering water.
4.    Turn off heat and mix in sugar.
5.    Add eggs and whisk.
6.    Add vanilla and mix
7.    Sprinkle four mixture and fold with spatula until just mixed.
Chocolate, butter, and espresso powder melting.

To bake:
8.    Pour ¾ of brownie mixture into the pan.
9.    Pour cheesecake mixture on top.
10. Pour the remaining brownie mixture on top and make swirls with a toothpick.
11. Bake for 45 min or until middle is firm when you shake the pan.
12. Cool completely in pan before cutting.
Bottom brownie layer.

Cheesecake layer.

Brownie batter on top and swirling.

After baking.

Verdict: These turned out great! They were a tad sweet, but brownies usually are.  I loved the chewiness and dark chocolatiness!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Cereal Cake with Cheesecake and Caramel Frosting

I wanted to make a mini cake for my friend’s birthday that had multiple flavors.  I wanted to do something a bit different for the cake flavor and thought I would try a cereal flavoured cake. But what kind of cereal?  Since Milk Bar’s original Cereal Milk flavour is Cornflake, I thought I would go with that.  Second, filling.  How about another type of cake?  Cheesecake! And frosting?  I have been thinking about caramel lately and I haven’t worked with it much so I went with a caramel buttercream.  I hope the flavor combination isn’t confusing!

Check out the verdict at the end of the post!

Cereal Cake
Adapted and inspired from here, Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook, and here.

This makes one 5 inch cake and 6 cupcakes, but feel free to use a bigger baking pan with no leftover cupcakes.

¾ cup cornflakes
¾ cup cold milk + a little extra
½ Tablespoon vinegar
¼ cup + 2 Tablespoon butter, softened
½ cup + 2 Tablespoon sugar  
1 ½ large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoons vanilla
1 ¼ cups cake and pastry flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt (if not using salted butter)
¼ cup whipping cream
2 Tablespoon sprinkles

1.    Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
2.    Spread cornflakes on a baking sheet and toast in oven for 15 min or until golden.
3.    Cool completely and transfer to a bowl.  Add cold milk and steep for 15 min.
4.    Using a sieve, squeeze out the milk and top up with more to make ½ cup total. (Save cornflake pulp)
5.    Add vinegar to milk and set aside.
6.    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
7.    Grease and flour a 5 inch baking pan and line 6 cupcakes.
8.    In a bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt (if using).  Set aside.
9.    In a larger bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. 
10.   Add eggs and vanilla and beat to incorporate.
11.   Mix in 1/3 cup of the cornflake pulp from above.
12.   Alternately mix in flour and milk, starting and ending with flour.
13.   In a small bowl, whip whipping cream to a soft peak.
14.   Fold whipping cream into batter.  Stir in sprinkles.
15.   Bake cake for 30 minutes and cupcakes for 16 minutes.
16.   Cool cake and slice in half.
Adding whipped cream to batter to lighten it up.

Before baking.

After baking.

Liquid Cheesecake

1/2 brick of cream cheese (112g)
1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoon sugar
½ Tablespoon corn starch
¼ teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon milk
½ egg

1.   Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees F.
2.   Beat cream cheese for 2 minutes.  Add sugar and beat for another minute or until incorporated.
3.   In a small bowl, mix cornstarch and salt.  Beat in milk, then egg until thoroughly mixed.
4.   Gradually add the egg mixture to cream cheese mixture as you beat on medium speed.  Beat for 3 minutes.
5.   Pour batter into a small baking pan lined with aluminum and bake for 15 minutes.
Liquid cheesecake after baking.

Caramel Buttercream Frosting
From here.

1/4 cup sugar
2 Tablespoon water
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup salted butter at room temperature
2 cups icing sugar

1.  In a small saucepan, heat sugar and water on medium-high heat until it bubbles and turns a light to medium brown.
2.  Mix whipping cream and vanilla, and slowly add to caramel while stirring.
3.  Cool until room temperature, and chill in the fridge.
4.  Beat butter until fluffy.
5.  Sift in icing sugar and beat until smooth and fluffy.
6.  Add caramel sauce and beat until fluffy and completely incorporated.

1.    Place bottom layer of cake on serving tray and slide strips of parchment paper underneath to catch frosting.
2.    Pipe a ring of buttercream on edge of cake.
3.    Fill with liquid cheesecake.
4.    Place top layer on top.
5.    Frost with buttercream.
6.    Decorate with ruffles, flowers, and dragees.
7.    Remove parchment paper when finished.

From upper left, clockwise: Adding a buttercream ring, filling with cheesecake, adding 2nd layer, frosting cake.

Adding ruffles.

To assemble cupcakes, core cupcakes, fill with liquid creamcheese, frost with caramel frosting.
Assembling cupcakes. I had leftover caramel sauce that I drizzled on top.

Verdict:  I really liked the way the cake looked after decorating it.  I super loved the ruffles!  The caramel buttercream frosting was delicious and the liquid cheesecake was amazing.  The cereal cake was good and moist, but did not have a strong cereal flavor.  My friend was surprised by the cake and couldn’t wait to try it!