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Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies

We had a morning tea at work this week, to farewell one of our longest-serving staff members.  For twenty three years TM has worked diligently and cheerfully, always going the extra mile and making sure everything and everyone is organised and looked after.  I have only been at the organisation for just over three years, but in that time she has been such a support to me and I will miss her terribly.  I don’t even want to think about her not being there when I arrive in the mornings.  The place will seem very empty without her presence – even on the days she’s not there, she’s still THERE, you know?

So, as is mandatory for all morning teas, cakes, biscuits, quiches and slices were baked and brought in for everyone to share.  I made my Date & Almond Slice, and also tried a new recipe for Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies, which I hadn’t made before.  They turned out really well.  Very moist and moreish and easy to make.  Everyone enjoyed them so I am glad I tried something new, and will make them again.  I tend to make things I shouldn’t really eat (ie things with chocolate or nuts in) – my theory being that I won’t indulge too much myself.  This is a fallacy.  I eat half the batter before it even goes in the tin and then keep taste-testing the baked product.  Pathetic.  I’m sure my kidneys hate me.

Anyway, the brownies were delicious – I did modify the original recipe slightly as I felt it had too much sugar in it (I left out about a 1/3 cup from the chocolate batter, but I am giving you the original amounts here).  The recipe comes from Baking Bites – a lovely foody blog with lots of yummy recipes, baking advice, kitchen gadgets and more.
Please do visit their site – you’ll find lots of inspiration 🙂

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INGREDIENTS

Brownie Batter
1/2 cup butter
2-oz dark chocolate, chopped
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

Cheesecake Batter
8-oz ricotta cheese (I used smooth)
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp all purpose flour
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8×8-inch square baking pan with baking paper.
Prepare brownie batter: In a small, heatproof bowl, melt butter and chocolate together in the microwave. Stir with a fork until very smooth. Stir in cocoa powder until well-incorporated. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs and vanilla extract. Whisking steadily, pour chocolate mixture into sugar mixture. Stir until smooth. Stir in flour and salt, mixing until ingredients are just combined and no streaks of dry ingredients remain.
Pour into prepared pan and set aside.

Prepare cheesecake batter: In a medium bowl, beat ricotta cheese, sugar, flour, egg and vanilla extract until smooth. Drop in dollops onto prepared brownie batter. Gently swirl two batters with a butter knife.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until brownies and cheesecake are set. A sharp knife inserted into the cheesecake mixture should come out clean and the edges will be lightly browned.
Cool in the pan completely, then refrigerate until ready to serve. Cut into small squares (or large squares if you’re a piggy ha ha)

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Brownies can be refrigerated, covered, for several days.

Enjoy!

And to TM, I say a fond farewell – you will be missed more than I can say x

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Bunnies, Bunting and Brownies

Bunnies, Bunting and Brownies

Happy Belated Easter everybody!  Hope you had a lovely weekend (whether or not you celebrate Easter itself) and were able to get some relaxation, recuperation and, what’s another ‘R’ word? Restoration?  Anyway, hope you had fun and enjoyed time with loved ones (or just lots of lovely chocolate if you’re lucky enough to be able to eat it!).

I had a busy weekend, visiting family and catching up with people.  I also got lots of crafting time in (with the countdown to my new, full time job I am crafting up a storm whenever I get the chance!) and made a few bits and pieces.  I made a sweet little necklace with some wooden bunting/pennants from KaiserCraft, that I covered with patterned papers and sealed with Ranger Ink Matte Accents glaze.  I’ve already had one friend say she wants one made for her so I guess it looked ok!

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I also worked on some simple, collage-based cards using some butterfly-shaped blanks I bought from the local discount shop – 5 cards with envelopes for 99 cents! I had the idea of collaging them with different papers, almost like a patchwork quilt, when I saw them in the shop.  I added a small scrap of text and a button for embellishment.  The cards worked out quite well and weren’t too time-consuming.  I glued the paper pieces on with gel medium and used that to seal the cards too.  Here’s the first attempt (forgot to take photos of subsequent ones!):

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I spent some time at Mum’s and she showed me the projects she’d been working on (both taken from Somerset Studio magazines).  This cute little bird box:

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…and some fabric flowers/roses that she’ll use for embellishments on other projects.  Love these!:

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They are created by twisting 1″ strips of fabric around a knot, stitching or glueing as you go, then added beads, pearls etc in the centre for accent.  They are attached to a circle of text paper and some lace or burlap or whatever suits your fancy!  Fiddly but easy enough to do – I’m gonna practice making some later!

It’s my last day at my current job tomorrow.  I’m having an afternoon tea “send-off” so I attempted to make some cake pops to take with me.  Having never made them before (but they always look so pretty!) I wasn’t really prepared for how long they take.  Also, they are so sweet!  I kinda feel the spectre of Diabetes hanging over me, just by being in the room with the little suckers!  I made a bunch of them, but, not being particularly enamoured of them, I made a big batch of brownies as well.  Brownies never let me down!  I’m not going to show you the Cake Pops – they are a bit sad and ugly.  Just use your imagination 🙂

Hope your week has gotten off to a good start and that April Fool’s Day didn’t harbour any nasty surprises or pranks.  All the best for a safe and happy April 🙂

Brownie Bake-Off

Brownie Bake-Off

A group of librarian friends in Sydney are having a brownie bake-off.  Recipes are being tweaked, samples scrutinised and ingredient lists zealously protected.  I’m unable to eat chocolate any more due to my renal condition (it’s a cruel universe indeed that forbids the all-healing goodness of chocolate) but I am known for my brownies.  I used to bake them a lot – for every family gathering, craft sale, birthdays and just-because days.  I haven’t made them for over a year now – it’s no fun whipping up a batch of these little beauties unless you can dip into the batter and help yourself to the baked finished product.

However, I am happy to share the recipe with all of you. It’s a fool-proof one and never fails me.  Give it a try – you’ll be glad you did (and so will anyone else whom you deem lucky enough to sample it).  Just be warned though – you WILL have to make these again and again.

 

CHERRY RIPE BROWNIES

125g butter
200g brown sugar
2 eggs
5 tablespoons cocoa, sifted
3 tsp cherry brandy essence (or vanilla essence)*
100g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 bars of Cherry Ripe, chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (can use pecans or almonds or mixture of nuts)

Preheat Oven to 180 degrees celsius.

Over low heat, melt butter in a medium sized saucepan.  Remove from heat and mix in cocoa powder, sugar, essence and eggs.  Sift flour and baking powder and add to mixture with chopped nuts and Cherry Ripe.  Stir until combined.

Pour into a 20cm square cake tin, lined with baking powder.

Bake for approx 25 minutes.  Do not over-bake. Check at 20 minutes – brownies are better undercooked.  A skewer inserted into the middle should come out just clean.  Let cool in tin and then dust with icing sugar before cutting into squares.  

* Cherry Brandy Essence is available in the Cake/Baking section of the supermarket.  It’s not essential but it does amp up the flavour!  Substitute real Cherry Brandy if you like – experiment!