Four Clan Kitchen

What we eat everyday

Archive for January, 2012

Cheesecake Brownies

Posted by fourclankitchen on January 31, 2012

I have a go to brownie recipe that I love, and I don’t particularly love a cheese cake (too dense, too rich). But I do love cream cheese and the idea of combining a brownie and cream cheese just appeals to me.  I saw the recipe below on David Lebowitz’ blog a while ago and finally got around to making them.  These are lovely and fairly effortless.  Also, compared to a lot of  brownie recipes, they use a surprisingly small amount of butter.   When I mentally tasted them,  the cream cheese batter was tangy, but I guess the large amount of sugar that goes into the batter takes away the tanginess.  Next time, I will add a squeeze of lemon and lemon rind to the cream cheese  and will update this post if that works out.  Aside from this one minor personal issue, I am definitely glad to have these in my  brownie repertoire.

Ingredients:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 ounces (1 full bar) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2/3 cup  sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature  (If you forgot, you can warm up the eggs in some tap water- this does not take long)
1/2 cup  flour
1 tablespoon good qualtiy unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips

8 ounces (200g) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk
5 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method:

1. Grease an 8″ square pan with cooking oil or butter.  Lebowitz recommends lining a 9-inch (23cm) with foil, making sure it goes up all four sides. Use two sheets if necessary. Then lightly coat the foil with oil or non-stick spray.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (180C).

3. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate over low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and beat in the 2/3 cup (130g) sugar, then the eggs.

4. Mix in the flour, cocoa powder and salt, then the vanilla and chocolate chips. Spread evenly in the prepared pan.

5. In a separate bowl, beat together the cream cheese, the yolk, 5 tablespoons of sugar, and vanilla until smooth.

6. Distribute the cream cheese mixture in eight dollops across the top of the brownie mixture, then take a dull knife or spatula and swirl the cream cheese mixture with the chocolate batter.

7.  Bake in the center rack of the oven for 35-40 min.  These brownies are easiest to cut if you put them in the fridge for a while before cutting.

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Vanilla Cardamom Spritzes

Posted by fourclankitchen on January 21, 2012

We made these for Christmas and I went overseas right after  that for a conference.  So while everyone is recovering from holiday overindulgence,  I am belatedly posting a recipe for Christmas cookies in January.  But they are good all year round and a Christmas staple in my husband’s family.. The kids spend the whole week trying to sneak these out of the cookie box or the freezer, and their grandmother spends her whole vacation trying to make these not disappear by the dozen. My son requested these for our first holiday in 15 years at home.  This recipe is his great grandmother’s and the presence of cardamom suggests that it has a Scandinavian origin.  It’s lovely, delicate and flavorful and if your family is like mine, you will want to make a double batch.  I have to say the cherry on top is not my favorite.  Next year,  I will make these with candied orange peel or citron on top.   Your pick.

Ingredients:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg (large) if Xlg, 1 egg minus ½ Tbs as the amount of liquid is crucial
2½ tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. ground cardamom
½ tsp. salt
2½ cups all-purpose flour, sifted (I did not sift).

Method:

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Combine the butter and granulated sugar in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer set on medium speed, beat until light and fluffy.

Beat in the egg, vanilla, cardamom and salt. Using a spoon, stir in the flour until well mixed.  The batter will resemble tart dough at this point,  very maleable and easy to shape into a log that is just slightly smaller in diameter than your cookie press.

Fit your cookie press with the desired disk. Pack the dough into the cookie press and spritz the dough out onto ungreased baking sheet spacing the cookies 1 in. apart.  If the cookie dough is too warm, the cookies will not spriz out of the press correctly.  Simply stick the cookie press in the fridge for 15-20 min before proceeding.

Although the original recipe called for sticking the cherries onto baked cookies using egg white,  I found that sticking the cherry on the raw cookie dough prior to baking, worked better (If you prefer, you can follow the original method below:  See *).
Bake until lightly golden, about 10-12 minutes (I did 10 min). Gently transfer the cookies to wire rack (or aluminum foil on counter) to cool.
If you are doing 2 sheets at a time, trade oven places half-way thru.

* Use the following method, If you want to stick the cherries on after baking the cookies:

Combine 1 or 2 egg whites with a little water.

As soon as possible after baking cookies, combine 1 or 2 egg whites with a little water, and dip candied cherries in the egg-white mixture and decorate the center of the spritz cookie. (the egg white helps keep the cherries on the cookies)

Makes about 4 dozen cookies. I always make a double recipe, as one doesn’t last more than 2 days!

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