Welcoming Ciarán with Brownie Cheesecake
Okay, just because it’s a holiday week (well, that – and I had brownies leftover from a catered event to use up), I’m offering a second dessert post this week. While Brownie Cheesecake may not be the All American classic Pineapple Upside Down Cake is, it’s certainly a dessert that only could have grown out of American excess-and I mean that in the very best way. Got a really good thing? Make more of it!
I had planned to bring this, along with the Pineapple Upside Down Cake, to the paternal side of the family’s gathering on Sunday afternoon, but got a bit lazy, and although the cheesecake got baked, there wasn’t enough time to chill it before leaving for the shindig.
The maternal side of the family benefited. We all had a very lazy 4th of July, with no festivities planned. Perhaps due, in part, to the fact that we just buried the oldest member of our clan, Uncle Paul, a couple of weeks ago. And perhaps, because on the heels of that, we welcomed the newest member of our clan. He threatened to be born on the 89th anniversary of uncle’s birth, but it was a false alarm. He took a couple more days to arrive, after alerting his Mom that he was on the way, and was born on the 1st of July. There was talk of naming him Paul (or some variation thereof) in some quarters, but his Irish father had naming rights and gave Halima’s little brother the lovely Gaelic name, Ciarán. Welcome, Ciarán!
Fortunately, due to my laziness, Dad, Mom, Ciarán’s Uncle Martin, and a few older cousins ate Brownie Cheesecake to celebrate his arrival- and the 4th of July.
(adapted from Maida Heatter’s Book of Great American Desserts )
For the crust:
- 1-1 1/2 cups dry chocolate cake or cookie crumbs, depending on how much crust you like
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1-2 tablespoons melted butter (just enough so that the crumbs hold together)
- Mix the crumbs, sugar and butter together in a large mixing bowl, until the crumbs clump together when gathered in your fist
- Pat the crumbs in an even layer in the bottom of an 8 x 3 inch springform pan
- Place the pan in a 325 degree oven and bake for 10 minutes, until the crust is firm.
- Allow the crust to cool completely on a rack.
For the cheesecake:
- 2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 4 large eggs
- @16 1/2- 3/4 inch brownies
- A pinch of salt
- Wrap the pan with the crust twice with heavy duty aluminum foil
- Place the sugar, then the cream cheese, vanilla and salt in the large bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low speed, until the cream cheese is completely smooth. BTW, I use Philadelphia Cream Cheese as I find it the smoothest.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing them in completely after each addition.
- Pour one third of the cream cheese mixture into the prepared pan. Add a third of the browinies, then pour in another third of the cream cheese mixture. Repeat with anothe third of the brownies, then pour on the remianign cream cheese mixture. Stick the rest of the brownies into the top of the cheesckae, pushing them down into the mixture slightly.
- Place the preapred and filled pan in a larger pan, then pour in enough hot water to come up to half of the pan’s height.
- Bake at 325 degrees for about 1 1/4 to 1/2 hours, or until it is mostly set. Turn of the oven, then leave the cheesecake in the oven,placing a large wooden spoon in the oven door, so that it remains slightly open. Allow the cheeecake to cool in the open oven for about an hour, then cool completley on a rack. When it’s cool, wrap it very well, and cool in the refrigerator for several hours.
- To unmold the cake, wipe the sides and bottom of the pan with a hot, damp towel. Run a thin metal spatula around the edge of the pan. Release the spring, then lift the cake still on the on the removable bottom from the sides of the pan. Flip the cake gently onto a cardboard round or flat platter, remove the bottom, then flip it over onto another cardboard round or flat serving platter.
I garnished the cheesecake with whipped cream rosettes, and served it with caramel and chocolate sauces.