Monday, 31 January 2011

Big Tom's Big Birthday Surprise Fruit Cheesecake Brownie

Big Tom. Where do you start? He is now 25 years old, a quarter of a century. Not too long ago this would have been an impressive feat, given regular warring and primitive medical care. Were he to have been born over 200 years ago, he might now expect to be dying, having faced down a broadside from the Franco-Spanish fleet at Trafalgar. Strapping him to the surgeon's table, you lean in to hear his final words, "Kiss me, Hardy". Mishearing him you fear that rigor mortis cannot be far off.

Just over 200 years ago, The United States of America came into existence. The USA is undeniably Big Tom's favourite country, he has the flag, the Obama bobble-head and even an American girlfriend! The 20th Century has been rightly called the American Century, but what of the 21st? At Davos, commentators characterise the situation as "Asia up, US down", like the world's first intercontinental jingoistic blow-job.

I, however, would not doubt the power of American Exceptionalism as championed by Sarah Palin - patriot, lover of America, hater of moose. What better way to celebrate this than with cake? One might consider brownies and cheesecake to be cakes in their own right, but like Martin Luther King, I want to see brownies and cream cheese, side by side. I have a dream.

Brownie Ingredients
  • 275g plain chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
  • 275g unsalted butter
  • 85g white chocolate, cut into large chunks
  • 175g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 325g light muscovado sugar
This is a variation on Antony Worrall Thompson's superb triple-chocolate brownie recipe.

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a bain-marie (here improvised with a pan and a pyrex bowl). This is necessary to stop the chocolate and butter getting too hot.

Sift the flour and baking powder together

Beat the eggs

When fully melted, the butter chocolate mixture should look and smell delicious - be warned, you can't eat it yet!

Add the sugar, eggs and vanilla essence to the butter-chocolate mixture. Then gently fold in the flour. The result should be thick and bubbly brownie batter.

Grease-up good some greaseproof paper and put in a cake tin.

Pour in your batter

Push chunks of the white chocolate into the warm batter and smooth the top with a pallette knife

Cheesecake Ingredients
  • 400g cream cheese
  • 150g icing sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs

Having never cooked a cheesecake before, this part freaked me out. Here you combine the cream cheese with icing sugar and the vanilla extract. I know, I know, cream cheese goes with smoked salmon, but you've got to trust me with this one.

Whisk until smooth, adding in the eggs one by one.

Pour this liquid on top of your brownie base and put in the oven for 40 mins at 170 degrees Celcius.

You should end up with something like this - the edges have risen more than the centre but the topping of whipped cream should hide this!

Cream Topping Ingredients
  • 300 ml whipping cream
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 150g blackberries and blueberries, plus extra to decorate

Just when you thought this cake couldn't take any more . . .

Whisk the fruit, cream and sugar together until firm but not stiff. This may take some time . . .


Remove the brownie-cheesecake from the tin and greaseproof paper.

Prepare to cover in whipped cream!

Shape the cream over the outside of your brownie-cheesecake.

Et voila! A Fruit Cheesecake Brownie! Tom is 25, so we get him the square root of 25 candles! The only thing that could make this more American is if we shoved it on top of Mom's Apple Pie.

So the only thing left to do is give the birthday boy his cake and presents . . .