Friday, November 11, 2011

Behind again

In case anyone is wondering, 20 credits is a course load for lunatics.  My brain is like unto an orange after it has been juiced -- somewhat flattened and kind of oozy.  Despite this, or perhaps because of this, I have been cooking.  Cooking rather a lot. Other domestic tasks not so much.  My apartment has definitely assumed the mid-quarter chaos, that signals that it is the abode of a very tired person who does little more than cook, sleep, read, and sometimes water the plants.  But as I mention I have been cooking.  In order to get caught up on food based blogging I need to give the recipes for Black Forest cheesecake brownies, squash and bacon pasta al forno, the latest iteration of orange vegetable coconut soup -- NOW with extra legumes, as well as discussing the perils and delights of sour dough starter, venison meatballs, and the Greek place over in Queen Ann that is now my favorite Greek place.  I'll start with the brownies, widely acclaimed as the best brownies ever (okay, only Carolus Calvus described them thus) but they are pretty darn good.

The brownies in question were my solution to the problem of wanting a birthday cake, and being the only person around who would bake one (Okay, Jackie volunteered, but she doesn't actually like cake, and I didn't feel like a big party this year, so it seemed a bit unfair). Mom always makes me an Italian Cream Cake, which as far as I know has nothing to do with Italy but rather has a lot to do with pecans and coconut (the recipe seems to originate in the American South).  But in the absence of Mom, I opted for something that was nothing like what she makes me.

Black Forest Cheese Cake Brownies

Notes: The brownie layer is actually just a doubling of my favorite brownie recipe.  It's gooey.  Very gooey.  For reasons that I have yet to understand, if you bake these brownies in a glass dish, you will end up with a dish of delectable brownies that refuse to leave their pan neatly, no matter how you butter and flour the pan.  If you bake them in a greased metal pan, no problem. Unfortunately I was making a 9"x13" pan to share with my classmates, and the only pan that size I own is pyrex.  Fortunately taste made up for inelegant presentation.  If you just want a truly excellent fudgy brownie, halve the recipe and bake it in an 8"x8" baking pan, or a nine inch metal pie plate, if that's all that's clean.

Brownie Layer
2 sticks of butter (low fat is only one of the minor virtues, especially if you spend a lot of time walking around in Seattle's winter weather -- icy cold downpours, alternating with wind and icy cold sideways rain)
4 ounces of unsweetened baking chocolate finely chopped
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cheese Cake Layer
16 ounces cream cheese, well softened and cut into chunks (I usually microwave it to goo, but other people choose to do things differently.)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest, if you happen to have it on hand

1 or possibly 1 1/2 cans of cherry pie filling.

Grease and flour a 9"x13" pan. Preheat the oven to 325.

In a large heavy bottomed sauce pan, melt the chocolate and butter over medium low heat, stirring to make sure it doesn't burn.  When everything is nearly melted, turn off the stove and let it coast until all of the chocolate and butter is in fact melted.

Add everything else, stirring until well combined.  One of the reasons I like this brownie recipe? It's really easy, even if you're really tired.

Scrape the brownie batter into the pan, and bake for twenty minutes.

Meanwhile combine everything else except the cherry pie filling, and mix until smooth.

When the brownies come out of the oven, scrape the cheese cake layer on top of the brownie layer and bake in the oven for 35 minutes or so, or until the cheesecake layer is just tinged with brown and beginning to crack on top. and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean of cheesecake, but with a few brownie crumbs.

Allow the cheesecake to cool for twenty minutes then top with the cherry pie filling.  Pop everything in the fridge and serve the next day to general acclaim.


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