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Delicious Bites: Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies

Ready for a delicious recipes for brownies? Why not, right? Hi everyone, it’s Jillian here with this month’s Delicious Bites post. With Easter just around the corner, my initial thought was to do something chocolately, then my thoughts turned to cheesecake, as they often do. I try to keep my chocolate consumption down to a bare minimum but sometimes nothing else but chocolate will do. Do you feel the same way? With both chocolate and cheesecake on my mind I decided to put the two together and came up with this, a recipe for chocolate cheesecake brownies. These little squares are an absolute favourite with my workmates and when I take them into work for morning tea they disappear in a flash.

brownies5

There’s something about the combination of cheesecake with just set chocolate brownie that’s irresistible. The secret ingredient is the potato flour (starch) which helps keep the brownie mixture moist and squidgy while the cheesecake part is cooking. The swirl is important but you do need to do it gently to keep the 2 mixtures separate. I used the closest thing I had at hand to do this, which in this case was a chop stick.

brownies4

The brownies are very rich so I normally cut them into squares but if you’re brave, then cut them into bars.

Here’s the recipe for you and trust me, you’ll be glad you made them.

Brownie Ingredients:
125g (4 oz) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
185g (6 oz) dark chocolate, chopped
2/3 cup caster sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup plain flour
1/4 cup potato flour (starch)
1 1/2 (20 ml) tbs cocoa

Cheesecake Ingredients:
250g (8 oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 large egg
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Grease and line the base and sides of a 8 inch (20cm) square pan with baking paper or aluminum foil, making sure the paper goes up all four sides. Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F (conventional). Sift the flours together with the cocoa into a small bowl. Melt the butter and chocolate in a bowl placed over a medium saucepan filled with simmering water, stirring until smooth. You could also do this in the microwave. Remove the bowl from heat and mix in the 2/3 cup sugar, then the eggs. Mix in the flour and cocoa mixture and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until the batter becomes smooth and glossy. Spread half the brownie mixture evenly in the prepared pan. In a separate bowl, beat together the cream cheese, the egg, 1/4 cup of sugar and vanilla extract until smooth. You could also do this step in a food processor. Dollop the cream cheese alternately with the remaining brownie mixture over the batter in the pan, then take a knife or spatula (or even a chopstick) and gently swirl the cream cheese mixture with the chocolate batter.

brownies8

Bake in the preheated 180°C/350°F oven for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the batter in the centre of the pan is just set. Leave the brownie in the switched off oven with the door slightly ajar for a further 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack, then lift the brownie out of the tin and peel away the foil. Cut the brownies into squares or bars. These will keep in an airtight container for a couple of days. They also freeze well.

 

brownies6

 

brownies3

 

brownies2

Wishing all of you a vert Happy Easter and Passover! I’ll see you all again next month with some more Delicious Bites for you, Bye for now – Jillian

(images/text: jillian lieboff)

Posted in Delicious Bites, uncategorized on April 02, 2014

Delicious Bites: Blood Orange Tea Cakes

Hi everyone, are you ready to see and taste something delicious today? It’s Jillian here with my Delicious Bites column for March. As spring is nearly here, I decided to make some blood orange tea cakes to celebrate its arrival. Can you remember the first time you tasted a blood orange? I can. Somehow when I was 15, I managed to persuade my parents to send me on a school trip to Europe. By the time we made it to Italy; we were desperate for some real orange juice. We ordered glasses of orange juice and when they arrived we were sure the waiter had mixed up our order. We sipped our drinks and even though they looked like glasses of tomato juice, they tasted like orange juice.

01

As soon as blood oranges arrive at the fruit market, I always pick up a few and all these years later I still get a kick out of their brilliant colour. Blood oranges are a little more tart than a regular orange and are great in salads and make a fantastic orange cake. If blood oranges are hard to find where you live you can replace the blood orange in this recipe with a regular orange. I added a little almond meal to the mix to make sure the cakes were nice and moist.

Blood Orange Tea Cakes

As mini bundt tins differ in size it’s a bit hard to predict how many cakes the mixture will make. I used quite large tins and made 3 cakes but I think you’d get 6 cakes if you used mini bundt tins. If you’d like to make a 9 inch bundt cake just double the recipe and the cake will take close to an hour to bake. No cake is complete without icing. Can you believe the vibrant colour of the blood orange icing? When I saw these poppies and realised they were the same shade as the blood orange icing, I had to have them.

Blood Orange Tea Cakes

Blood Orange Tea Cakes

Blood Orange Tea Cakes

Here’’s the recipe for you.

BLOOD ORANGE TEA CAKES
125g (4 oz) unsalted butter, softened
100g (3½ oz) caster sugar
Finely grated rind of 1½ small blood oranges
1 egg
1/4 cup self raising flour
1/4 cup almond meal
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup strained blood orange juice

METHOD
Grease and flour 3- 6 mini bundt tins. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Sift the flour into a small bowl and mix together with the almond meal. Set to one side. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, orange rind and caster sugar until light and fluffy. In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg then gradually mix into butter mixture. If the mixture starts to look curdled, add a spoonful of the flour mixture. Add the remaining flour mixture into the batter alternating with the orange juice to make a soft batter. If the batter looks too thick add a little more juice. Spoon the batter into the prepared tin and bake the cake in the oven for 25 – 30 minutes until the top is lightly golden and cake is cooked when tested with a skewer. Leave the cake to cool for about 10 minutes before turning out on a wire rack. When the cakes have cooled completely, ice with the blood orange icing.

BLOOD ORANGE ICING
15 g (1/2 oz) softened unsalted butter
1/2 tsp finely grated orange rind
1/2 cup sifted icing sugar
1-2 tablespoons blood orange juice
Optional – edible flowers

I decided to decorate the top of the cake with some basil flowers. As well as being very pretty and edible I discovered that basil goes really well with orange. have you discovered any other surprising flavour combinations?

Blood Orange Tea Cakes

Blood Orange Tea Cakes

Cream the butter and orange rind together. Add in the icing sugar and enough juice to make a soft icing. Drizzle over the cooled cakes. Decorate with edible flowers if desired. 

And of course, always add some fresh flowers nearby as you set your table and serve your delicious bites.

Blood Orange Tea Cakes

See you all again next month with another Delicious Bites column. Bye for now, Jillian

(images/text: jillian lieboff)

Posted in Delicious Bites on March 03, 2014

Delicious Bites: Apple and Cranberry Tea Cake

Hello everyone, are you ready to bake again or still recovering from indulging during the holidays? Whether ready or not, I’m sure you will be soon again, especially when your family starts to crave your homemade goodies! How are you anyway? I hope you’re all doing well and enjoyed the holiday break and are filled with inspiration for the coming year. This is Jillian and I have a wonderful New Years recipe for you to enjoy over Sunday afternoon tea and newspaper reading… I don’t know about you, but today was my first day back at work following a 2 week break. I decided that I needed something to sweeten the first working day of 2014, so I made an apple and cranberry yeast cake for morning tea. This recipe was inspired by a rhubarb yeast cake recipe from Stephanie Alexander’s book, ‘The Cook’s Companion’.

apple cranberry yeast cake

Fresh cranberries are impossible to find in Australia where I live, so we have to use frozen or dried cranberries. Maybe it is the same where you live? Rhubarb would make a great substitute if you can’t find fresh or frozen cranberries. If you’re not keen on cranberries, you could make an apple and walnut version instead swapping out the cranberries for some walnuts and sultanas (golden raisins) and use lemon juice and rind instead of orange to flavor the fruit and the glaze.

cranapples

I recently bought a stand mixer with a dough hook and it made whipping up the dough for this cake a breeze. Once you’ve made the dough and rolled it out, it’s then filled with loads of sweetened fruit. The top is slashed before baking to allow some of the fruit to peek through. If you don’t feel like doing this you could always roll up the dough and slice it to make scrolls.

apple cranberry yeast cake

I then finished the cake with an orange glaze but that step is optional. If you don’t feel like icing the cake, you could just brush the uncooked cake with melted butter and sprinkle the top with some cinnamon sugar before baking.

apple cranberry yeast cake

Here’s the recipe for you for Apple and Cranberry Tea Cake – serves 10

Ingredients
85 gm (3 oz) butter, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup milk
2 cups plain flour
1 1/2 tbl caster sugar
2 tsp dried yeast
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg

Apple and Cranberry filling
450 gm apple (1 lb), peeled, cored and finely diced
1/2 cup cranberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 tbl orange juice
1 tsp finely grated orange rind
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Orange Icing
Reserved juice
1 tsp melted butter
1/2 cup sifted pure icing sugar

apple cranberry yeast cake

Method
Put the butter and milk in a small saucepan and stir over a low heat until the butter melts and the milk is lukewarm. Add the vanilla and set to one side. Mix the flour, sugar and dried yeast in an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Make a well in the centre, then with the motor running, add the egg and sufficient milk mixture to make a soft dough then knead until smooth and shiny (5 minutes). Transfer the dough to a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and stand in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

While the dough is proving, make the filling. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl apart from the cinnamon and set to one side for 30 minutes. Drain the fruit, reserving the juice for later. On a lightly floured surface, punch the air from the dough; then roll out to a 20cm x 30cm (8 x 12 inch) rectangle before transferring to an oven tray lined with baking paper. Spread the drained fruit over the middle of the dough, leaving a 5cm (2 inch) border along the long sides. Sprinkle the filling with the cinnamon. Cut the long sides through to the filling at 3cm intervals using a pair of kitchen scissors. Fold the ends of the dough over the filling and then fold strips alternately across the filling in a criss-cross pattern, pressing the ends to seal. There should be glimpses of the filling within. Cover the cake with a tea towel and stand in a warm place for a further 30 minutes, to prove.

apple cranberry yeast cake

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF. Bake the yeast cake until the crust is golden, a skewer inserted withdraws clean and the filling is cooked ~ 30 – 40 minutes. You may need to cover the yeast cake with baking paper to prevent over browning. Cool on the tray for 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.For the orange icing, mix the icing sugar, 1-2 tbl of the reserved juice and the melted butter in a bowl or until smooth. You may need to use a little extra reserved juice. Drizzle the icing over yeast cake and serve. I use a 20 ml tablespoon and a conventional oven. You’ll need to lower the temperature if you’re using a fan forced oven.

apple cranberry yeast cake

apple cranberry yeast cake

By the way, the cake is best eaten the day it’s made but I had some for my breakfast this morning and it still tasted pretty good. Good luck with your return to work. See you again next month with another Delicious Bites post – Jillian.

(text/photos: jillian leiboff)

Posted in Delicious Bites on January 06, 2014

Delicious Bites: Pavé aux Chocolat

Hello everyone, would you like an easy recipe for baking this Christmas? It’s Jillian here with a special Christmas Delicious Bites post for you. When Holly asked me to come up with a simple Christmas dessert, I have to say I was stumped. In the Leiboff household, we’re nothing but traditionalists when it comes to our Christmas Day menu. Despite the 32°C heat outside, we always have roast turkey with all the trimmings for Christmas lunch followed by a traditional steamed plum pudding, well spiced and heavy with fruit and nuts. My work holds a Christmas lunch each year where we’re asked to bring along a dish to share. I’m sure it’s no surprise to you that I always bring along dessert so today I’m sharing with you a recipe for a favourite dessert of mine, a Pavé aux Chocolat.

pave aux chocolat

It’s almost a family heirloom recipe because my Mum used to make a version of this when I was growing up, which she called Biscotten and it was one of her dinner party staples. Mum used to soak sponge fingers in a mixture of brandy and milk, layered them with a chocolate cream filling then covered the cake with whipped cream. I found this version in an English magazine long ago, wrote it out by hand and it’s been in my recipe box ever since. Pavé aux Chocolat is more about assembly than cooking so it’s easy to put together once the chocolate cream has been made. It’s not a last minute dessert though. You do need to make it the day before it’s served to allow all the flavours to develop and for the sponge fingers to soften. The sponge fingers are lightly soaked first and you might want to do a practice run on a few. Soak the sponge fingers for too long and they’ll be too soggy. Don’t soak them for long enough and they’re too crunchy.

The recipe is pretty flexible as well. I used rum but you could alter the flavour of alcohol used to soak the sponge fingers or skip it entirely. For an alcohol free version you could use some vanilla extract instead of the rum or you soak the sponge fingers in coffee or coconut milk instead. If uncooked eggs are a concern, I’m sure you could leave the egg yolks out of the chocolate cream entirely. The egg yolks add richness to the cream so perhaps you could add 100 mls of cream while melting the chocolate to make it more ganache like or maybe fold 100 g of mascarpone through the filling. I topped the Pavé with some chocolate curls but you could always top the Pavé with a layer of whipped cream just like my Mum used to.

pave aux chocolat

Pavé Au Chocolat: Here’s the recipe for you:

Ingredients:
185g (6 oz) dark chocolate
125 g (4 oz) unsalted butter
125 g (4 oz) sifted icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
2 tbs Dutch process cocoa, sifted
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup rum
1/4 cup milk
18 – 24 sponge fingers (Savoiardi)

To decorate:

Chocolate curls/whipped cream

Filling

Melt the chocolate in a small bowl over hot, not boiling, water or in the microwave. Set to one side and allow the chocolate to cool a little. Cream the butter, icing sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the cocoa and mix until well combined. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, stirring them in thoroughly. Gently mix in the melted chocolate. Refrigerate the cream while preparing the sponge fingers.

pave aux chocolat

pave aux chocolat

pave aux chocolat


Preparation

Combine the rum with the milk in a shallow bowl. Dip the lady fingers into the milk mixture and make a row of one-third of the lady fingers down an oblong platter. How many sponge fingers you use is determined by the size of your platter. Cover the lady fingers with a third of the filling. Build up two more layers of lady fingers ending with a layer of chocolate. Refrigerate the cake overnight to allow the flavours to develop. Decorate the top of the cake with chocolate curls or cover with whipped cream if you like. Bring the cake to room temperature before serving.

pave aux chocolat

pave aux chocolat

Wishing all of you a wonderful Christmas and New Year with your family and friends. See you all again in 2014 with some more Delicious Bites. – Jillian

(images/text: Jillian Leiboff)

Posted in Delicious Bites on December 19, 2013

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