Saturday, March 5, 2011
Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake
Two of my housemates have birthdays in the summer, one in July and the other in August. We didn't do much for their birthdays when we got back to school, but a celebration for their 21st was absolutely necessary! We knew we wanted to postpone it until around February for their half birthdays. In October, we had a joint party for my birthday and another housemate's birthday and then there weren't many free weekends for another party afterward. Then, so many other things got in the way and our plans didn't pan out. I really didn't want to delay this any further and just decided to make a cake for them this weekend. It was perfect, actually, because I took yesterday off due to a Student Research Conference our university held. It was so nice having a break from student-teaching and getting to spend my free time baking.
The only really difficult part of making this cake was trying to hide it from the birthday girls. Even though the recipe seems long and that there are a lot of components, it's actually quite simple to make. It didn't take me as long to make this cake as it did to make this other cake. The first thing I did was make the brownies. So delicious! And you will have so much left over. I used maybe just a quarter of the batch? But it's okay, brownies are always welcome in this house.
After the brownies cooled and I cut them into little squares, I moved onto the crust. I love the fact that this recipe uses Teddy Grahams. We love Teddy Grahams around here so it was a much better idea than using something normal like graham crackers. (Actually, just a few weeks ago, we went on a Teddy Graham splurge and bought three different flavors.) I definitely used a springform pan too big for this cake because I couldn't get the crust up the sides. Not like that affected the taste at all, but I'll just make a mental note to myself to use the 9-inch pan next time and not the 10-inch. I basically used a food processor to grind the cookies up, combined the rest of the crust ingredients into a microwavable bowl and microwaved it for 30 seconds. The butter melted just enough for me to mix everything together well.
I don't know what it is about Kraft Philadelphia's cream cheese, but it's the creamiest stuff out there. That stuff works so well. I would like to try using reduced fat cream cheese one time. This recipe uses 3 packages of cream cheese so I might want to do myself and others a favor and make one of those a reduced fat package next time. I wasn't sure how the taste would turn out so I stuck with regular fat for now. I'm really happy about the way this cheesecake turned out. I just want to work on the cracks next time. Look at that big crack! Thankfully, the glaze covered that.
And next time, I am putting those numeral candles after the glaze has already hardened. It stuck onto the candles and I had a difficult time getting the candles off the cake.
Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake
From Smitten Kitchen
Part One: One Bowl Brownies
- 4 oz unsweetened chocolate
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup flour
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line 9-by-13 baking pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides of pan. Grease foil.
2. Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on high for 2 minutes, or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in sugar. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Add flour and salt; mix well. Spread into prepared pan.
3. Bake 30 to 35 minute or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudgy crumbs. (Do not overbake.) Cool in pan on wire rack. Remove brownies from pan, using foil handles.
4. Cool brownies. Chill in the refrigerator as it will make cutting easier. Cut brownies into 3/4- to 1-inch squares for use in the cheesecake. Yields more than 2 cups of brownie cubes, but you only need 2.
Part Two: Crumb Crust (All measurements can be doubled for a thicker crust)
- 1 1/2 cups or 5 oz finely ground cookies such as chocolate wafers. Or Chocolate Teddy Grahams.
- 5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/8 tsp salt
1. Stir together crust ingredients and press onto bottom and 1 inch up side of a buttered 24-centimeter springform pan. Fill right away or chill up to 2 hours.
Part Three: Cheesecake
- 3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 cups brownie cubs (from recipe above)
1. Make crumb crust as directed above for 24-centimeter cheesecake. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until fluffy and add eggs, 1 at a time, then vanilla and sugar, beating on low speed until each ingredient is incorporated and scraping down bowl between additions.
3. Fold brownie cubes in very gently and pour mixture into prepared pan. Put springform pan with crust in a shallow baking pan. Pour filling into crust and bake in baking pan (to catch drips) in middle of oven 45 minutes, or until cake is set 3 inches from edge but center is still slightly wobbly when pan is gently shaken.
4. When completely cool, top with following glaze.
Part Four: Ganache Glaze
- 3 oz bittersweet chocolate, broken up, or 1/2 cup chocolate morsels
- 2 oz butter
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp powdered sugar
1. Grind the chocolate into powder in the food processor, scald the butter and cream in a saucepan (or in a Pyrex cup in the microwave).
2. With the machine running, pour the hot cream/butter mixture slowly through the feed tube onto the chocolate. Blend until completely smooth, stopping machine to scrape down sides once or twice. Add the extract and sugar and process until smooth.
3. Spread over cheesecake while ganache is still warm. Chill until ready to serve.