Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies

I like brownies, and my friend gave me this recipe which is a bit different from your usual one. It has cream cheese added to the batter.

Preheat oven 180C/gas4               Grease and line a 18x24cm tin

Put 125g butter, 125g dark chocolate and 200g light brown sugar in a pan; stir over medium heat till melted. Take pan off the heat and beat in 3 eggs.
Add 50g sr flour, 50g cocoa and stir into the mixture.
Pour into the tin.
Beat 200g cream cheese [use full fat not low fat] with 50g icing sugar till smooth. Spoon into the batter then swirl with the tip of a knife to get a marbled effect.
Bake the brownies for 35-40 mins.

I liked these - you get the taste of the traditional brownie with the added texture of a cheesecake. They mix together well. Do I prefer it to the normal brownie - no, I don't think so, but it makes a change! I thought cooking them for so long would make them hard, but the crumb was moist.


Hummingbird Cake

Until recently, I thought that a Hummingbird Cake was the same thing as a Carrot Cake! On one of my afternoon tea visits [I'm trying to find all the little tea shops in Northants!] I saw this cake and decided to try it, liked it so much that I had to make one. I need to take a cake for a retirement party tomorrow, so decided this was the time to make it.
It's based on a recipe from an old 'Living' cookbook.

preheat oven 180C/gas4                  Grease a 3x23cm sandwich tins and line bases.

In a bowl sift together 250g plain flour, 250g caster sugar, 1 tspn cinnamon and 1 tspn bicarb. To this add 3 beaten eggs, 200ml sunflower oil, 100g chopped pecan nuts [you need a few more to decorate the top], 3 ripe and mashed bananas and 85g tinned pineapple, chopped, and 4 tbspn of its juice from the tin. Beat this all together with a wooden spoon till its mixed well.
Divide the batter between the 3 tins then bake for 25-30 mins till golden and firm.
Leave cakes to cool in tins for 10 mins then turn onto wire racks.

Filling and topping: In a large bowl beat together - 175 full fat cream cheese [Philly], 55g butter and 1 tspn vanilla extract till smooth. Sift in 400g icing sugar and beat till smooth.

Use half the filling to sandwich the cakes together, then spread the rest on the top. Decorate with some more chopped pecans.

I'm sorry that the photo is a bit blurry. I really do need a new camera or a better photographer!

It's quite a large cake. I loved the mixture of textures - the crunchy nuts, soft fruit and the creamy topping. I'm still not a convert to pineapple, but it's not really a strong element in the cake. The cake itself is soft and moist. I still prefer Carrot Cake, but this runs a close second!


Banana and Caramel Cake

A quick post. It's the usual story - what to do with 3 very ripe bananas in the fruit bowl. I also had a tin of Carnation Caramel coming to its 'use by' date, so decided to make a cake combining both of them.

The Caramel is very sweet so there's only a small amount of sugar in the cake. I wanted an easy cake to cut, so made it in a loaf tin,

Preheat oven 180C/gas4                     Grease a 900g/2 lb loaf tin

Cream together 75g butter and 25g soft brown sugar till fluffy. Beat in 1 egg then add the caramel and mix well. Sift together 225g plain flour and 2 tspn baking powder then fold these into the mixture.
Stir in 3 ripe and mashed bananas. Pour the batter into the tin and bake for an hour. I covered the top with foil for the last 15mins as it was getting very brown.
Cool in tin for a few mins then turn onto a wire rack to cool.

I really expected it to be very sweet, but it isn't. The crumb is soft and I liked the bits of banana. The caramel flavour is there, but not strong. It's quite a dark colour, but then the caramel is too!
It's an OK cake, but nothing special.


Caribbean Coconut Cake

Coconut seems to be one of the 'in' things as you see coconut oil, creamed coconut  etc. My late husband hated coconut, so not wanting to eat a whole cake on my own, I rarely made one.
This is a recipe given to me by my neighbour, so I promised to make it. I suppose it's called a Caribbean cake because of the coconut and pineapple jam in it?

Preheat oven 180C/gas4           Grease 2x20cm sandwich tins and base line.

Cake: In a large bowl put 175g butter, 175g caster sugar and 3 eggs. In another bowl, sift together 175g sr flour, 11/2 tspn baking powder and 1/2 tspn freshly grated nutmeg.
Beat the butter, eggs and sugar then fold in the flour mixture plus 55g desiccated coconut and 2 tbpsn creamed coconut. Mix well.
Divide the batter between the tins then bake for 25 mins till golden. Cool in tins for 5 mins then turn onto a wire rack.

Filling:  Sift 280g icing sugar into a large bowl. Add 115g butter and 3 tbspn creamed coconut and beat together till smooth.

Spread 3 tbspn pineapple jam [I found some in a local Caribbean shop] over one of the cakes and spread half of the butter cream on top. put the other cake on top and spread the rest of the buttercream over it. Toast some desiccated coconut [ carefully or it will burn!] and sprinkle over the top.

The cake had a nice soft crumb and the coconut flavour was strong, but not too strong. I'm not sure if I liked the pineapple jam, but that may be because I'm not a great fan of pineapples!
The topping was a good creamy contrast to the soft cake, and I liked the toasted coconut which gave a bit of a crunch. A nice addition to my 'cakes with tea' recipe list.


Cider and Spice Cake

I've had a very nice French lady staying with me . She came with a party from our twin town in France. I bought some wine and a nice bottle of cider, only to discover she didn't drink any alcohol! So I decided to use some of the cider in a cake.

A nice easy cake to make; am not sure where I found the recipe as it was scribbled on a piece of paper.

Preheat oven 180C/gas4                Grease a 20cm square cake tin.

Cream 125g butter and 125g caster sugar together till nice and fluffy. Mix together 225g sr flour, 1 tspn bicarb and 1 tspn mixed spice.
Fold half of the flour mixture into the batter then add 200ml cider and mix well.
Stir in the rest of the flour and pour batter into the tin.
Bake for about 35-40 mins.
Cool the cake in the tin then sprinkle some caster sugar mixed with a little more mixed spice over the top.

It's a nice moist cake with a soft texture. The cider flavour comes through well and the spice was a nice background flavour. Adding the spice to the sugar topping gave an extra spicy boost to the cake. 

You could used other spices - whichever you like best, and you could add cubed apple to the cake.

A tasty, easy, teatime treat.


Strawberry, Ricotta and Mascarpone Tart

The friend I've mentioned before on here, who owns a tea shop, came over at the weekend and brought me some strawberries grown locally. I wanted to make a tart with some of them, so found a French recipe in a folder for this one.

The pastry is 'une pâte sablée', a rich sweetened shortcrust, but it's made in a processor or mixer. The filling is just a mixture of mascarpone, ricotta and icing sugar and the whole is topped with sliced strawberries.

For the pastry - 1 egg, 200g flour, 125g butter, 75g caster sugar, 50g ground almonds, 1 tspn almond essence [opt], pinch salt.

For the cream - 250g each of mascarpone and ricotta and 100g icing sugar

Topping - punnet of strawberries, sliced

Preheat oven 200c/gas6          You need a 23cm tart tin

Put all the ingredients for the pastry in a blender and mix till blended. Bring together into a ball, cover with clingfilm and put in the fridge for at least half an hour.

Mix the cheeses and icing sugar together in a bowl.

Take pastry out of fridge and roll out to fit the tart tin. Bake for 20 mins till light golden colour.

When cold, spoon the cream into the pastry case and decorate with the strawberries.

Photography by my daughter!
It was a delicious ending to a family meal. The filling wasn't too sweet and had a lovely soft texture. The slightly sweet pastry was crisp and contrasted well with the filling, and the strawberries were delicious, really tasting like strawberries. A nice simple but delicious dessert.


Caramel Chocolate Cake

I always seem to find something I need to use up in my store cupboard, and this time it was a tin of Carnation Caramel just coming to its 'use by' date.
I love anything caramel, so decided to use it as a filling and topping for a cake. I know it's very sweet, but I took it to a coffee morning to share the sweetness!

It uses oil instead of butter, so perhaps that makes it a bit healthier!

For the cake:

Preheat oven 180C/gas4               Grease and base line 2x18cm sandwich tins.

Sieve together 175g sr flour, 21/2 tbspn cocoa powder and 1 tspn bicarb. Stir in 150g caster sugar.
In a jug  - put 150ml vegetable oil [I used sunflower] and 150ml milk, 2 eggs and 1 tspn vanilla extract and beat together.
Beat 2 tbspn of the caramel till smooth and add to the egg mixture. Add the wet mixture to the dry and mix well. [It's a wet mixture]
Pour into the tins and bake for 20-25mins till risen and firm. Cool the cakes in the tin, then turn onto a wire rack.

For the icing:

Melt 125g dark chocolate [I used 70%] in a microwave or over simmering water. Add the rest of the tin of caramel and 1 tspn vanilla extract and beat together till smooth. Add 1 tbspn sieved icing sugar and mix together.

Put one of the cakes on a plate and spread half of the icing on top. Add the second cake and cover the top with the rest of the icing. Leave to set.

I sprinkled a bit more icing sugar on the top. The cake has a lovely soft, moist texture and is a good contrast to the smooth caramel filling. Yes the filling is sweet, but the dark chocolate counteracts some of the sweetness and gives it a lovely flavour. A nice treat with a cuppa.