recipe: cranberry cheesecake chocolate brownies

Christmas is coming so what better excuse to pimp up your favourite brownie recipe. Chocolate brownies are always a crowd pleaser but these are made extra special with a cool, creamy cheesecake topping and are studded with jewel like cranberries. Again for a bit of extra effort you have something just a little bit special that you can keep in the cupboard for those inevitable Christmas callers or serve as an alternative dessert, if you have managed to keep from demolishing them.

The cheesecake and fruit topping also helps cut through the richness of these brownies making these more than a little bit moorish…. you have been warned.

Ingredients

For the brownies

  • 125g butter
  • 250g good quality dark chocolate (ideally circa. 70%), cut into small pieces
  • 325g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp cocoa
  • 150g plain flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the cheesecake topping:

  • 350g full fat cream cheese
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 2 eggs

For the cranberry topping:

  • 200g fresh cranberries
  • juice and zest of 1 orange
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • good grating of nutmeg (I used about 1/4 of a nutmeg)
  • 1tsp vanilla essence

Useful equipment

  • Silicon spatula, is helpful for melting the chocolate and ensuring it melts evenly
  • Large rectangular baking tin

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 160 degrees fan or 180 degrees.
  2. Place the cranberries, orange zest and juice, sugar, vanilla and nutmeg in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook for approximately 10 minutes, stirring frequently, ensuring that the fruit doesn’t become too mashed but becomes soft and jewel like. Taste the berries and add more sugar if they are too tart. There should still be a level of acidity which will work well against the richness of the brownie but the berries shouldn’t be unpleasant on their own. Set aside once cooked.
  3. Line a large brownie tin with baking parchment.
  4. Place the butter and chocolate in a bowl over a pan of gently simmering water and allow to melt, stirring frequently to ensure that you don’t overheat the chocolate at the bottom. Make sure that the bowl does not touch the water. Once melted, allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.
  5. Whisk the eggs and sugar together until light, you may see air bubbles forming on the top. Then lightly fold the cooled chocolate into the egg mixture.
  6. Add the flour, baking powder and cocoa and mix to a thick batter. Pour the batter into your prepared tray and set aside.
  7. Combine the cheesecake ingredients in a bowl and beat until smooth and pourable.
  8. Pour the cheesecake mixture on top of the brownie. Using a fork swirl the brownie and cheesecake topping together carefully so you can see a pattern of both mixtures. Scatter the cranberries over the cheesecake topping.
  9. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes. They are ready when there is only a slight wobble to the middle of the tray, otherwise the central brownies may be undercooked. Cool and enjoy!

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