I was planning on baking some muffins at the weekend but got on Twitter and saw that last week’s theme for #TwitterBakealong was to bake some brownies with fruit in. #TwitterBakealong is great fun. You bake something connected with that week’s theme then upload a photo to Twitter along with the hashtag. The photo has to have a handwritten sign to be included in the bakealong. Brownies are a huge favourite in our house and I love making them. Unfortunately though, they don’t do my waistline any good.
Looking on Twitter I could see lots of incredible bakes with different added fruit inside. I’m not one who usually adds fruit to brownies. It’s usually extra chocolate, candies, Oreo cookies or nuts that end up in my brownie batter. I just didn’t know what to do that would stand out.
Back in 2017, I bought a fabulous book which I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts. Flapper Pies And A Blue Prairie Sky by Karlynne Johnston, who is a Canadian blogger and food writer. I came across her book in the gift shop at Fort Edmonton and just had to have it. I’m getting the hang of working in cup sizes instead of grammes! I knew that the Flapper Pies book contained several traybake and brownie type recipes which would inspire me.
Eventually I settled on adapting the Peanut Butter and Jam Cheesecake Brownies recipe. Instead of using raspberry jam, I used two thirds of a jar of washed, drained and dried maraschino cherries which I stirred into the cheesecake mixture. The brownie was a triple layer confection. Starting with a plain chocolate chip base, then a cheesecake layer and finally topped with more decadent brownie, this time swirled with peanut butter in the mixture. It sounded so naughty but nice.
I had to giggle at the recipe introduction as Karlynne Johnston stated that “these brownies are now my husband’s favourite bar. I put them in the freezer so I could take a photo of them later and he snuck down for an entire week and ate them straight from the freezer, frozen as a midnight snack! You have to admire his dedication!” This did make me laugh as anything baking related that goes in the freezer, especially cookies or brownies usually vanishes and gets eaten frozen!
On Sunday afternoon I started to get everything out to start baking. I must admit this wasn’t a cheap bake, but did use up ingredients I bought on impulse when shopping in Lakeland before Christmas. I saw jars of maraschino cherries which I usually associate with cocktails or ice cream sundaes on display as well as a bag of dark Guillard chocolate chips. I knew that I had to bake something exciting with them.
First of all I melted some butter in a saucepan. When this had melted, I removed the saucepan from the heat and stirred in some caster sugar. After the caster sugar had dissolved, I stirred in some cocoa powder.
The next step was to add three eggs one by one and stirred into the mixture.
Then, I added in the dark chocolate chips.
The plain flour then was stirred in but it needed to be folded in carefully so that it wasn’t over mixed. The brownies really needed to be fudgy, rather than cakey in texture.
The brownie batter was ready apart for one thing. It needed to be split two ways: one third containing peanut butter and the other two thirds to stay plain.
The plain chocolate brownie base was put into a greased square loose bottomed tin. I don’t think mine was the same dimensions as the one suggested in the original recipe but this was the nearest I had.
The next step was to make the cheesecake filling. This was done by thoroughly washing and rinsing the sticky syrup off the Maraschino Cherries. There was loads to get off. I dried them on a piece of kitchen towel then started to chop the cherries into quarters. I had to re-rinse the cherries after they had been cut up as well, as they were still covered in syrup.
In a large bowl I whisked together some full fat cream cheese, some sugar, an egg and some cornflour. This made the cheesecake mixture quite runny so I wondered whether I should have used an egg with it. I then folded in the cherries. This turned the mixture a delicate purple colour.
The middle cheesecake layer was finally spooned on top of the chocolate brownie layer. Unfortunately whether it was because the cheesecake layer was runnier than expected or because there wasn’t enough of the far too stiff peanut butter layer, I found this incredibly difficult to spread. Also there didn’t seem to be enough mixture. It turned out that I ended up swirling the peanut butter layer into the cheesecake layer so that it was more of a marble effect.
You can just about make out the two layers when I cut into the brownies once they had cooled down enough. They baked in my electric fan oven for 35 minutes (which is slightly longer than other brownie recipes) at about 170oC. The texture came out perfectly and gooey just like a brownie should but I still wasn’t sure what it would taste like with cherries in it. My daughter hates glace cherries but she liked these. In fact my whole family loved them and I put the rest in a plastic box to take into work. Then I remembered that the brownies contained peanut butter and being that I work in schools and nurseries which are usually nut free environments for allergies, I put the box in the freezer.
It will be interesting to see if my family do what Karlynne Johnston’s husband did with her brownies when she put them in the freezer. On my last count there were sixteen pieces in the batch, we ate four so that leaves twelve. I bet if I go to the freezer now, there won’t be any left. I will report back!
Love Sam xx