Birthdays, a time of year that I love… especially when it’s not mine. I think I may actually be the only person on Earth to prefer other people’s birthdays to my own, but that’s just how it is. There is one specific problem when it comes to my birthdays: I’m the baker, thus I make my own cakes – not the most enjoyable experience (especially when putting the candles on!).
What I love most about birthday treats are the surprised, joyous and somewhat excited look everyone gets when they see their cake for the first time; nothing quite beats that look. Well, except maybe the even happier, slightly crazed look they get if it tastes good too.
Despite this, I have to admit I wasn’t thrilled about making a colleagues birthday treat – why? She doesn’t really like cake… there goes all my show-stopping tricks and recipes! I ended up choosing the black and white chocolate cheesecake bars to for the following reasons:
- I’ve wanted to make it forever.
- It’s a cheesecake and a bar… what more could you want.
- I refused to make brownies (which is what was actually requested)
I think you’ll agree they’re fair reasons… right?
I started baking her birthday not-quite-cake surprise by whisking up the butter and sugar and adding the eggs in one at a time. Once that was done I sifted the ‘dry ingredients’ and added them in two batches to make a moist and workable dough.
Three quarters of this was not so delicately squished into a baking tray and put in the fridge to cool, whilst the remainder was wrapped in cling film before it joined everything else in the fridge. 30 minutes later, the baking tray went into the oven for about 20 minutes.
I ‘attempted’ to shape my dough to have sides, so that it would look the same as the picture. However, when it came out of the oven, the bottom had risen to make a rough, yet beautiful smelling cake. Not quite what I had in mind. Thankfully, I had a plan; whilst I left it to cool I may have squished the bottom parts down a bit in order to ‘deflate’ the base. If I’m honest it didn’t help very much at all but there was something satisfying about squishing just-baked cake that meant I couldn’t stop.
Once the base was cool, I began with the cheesecake topping, and this is where I cheated. Instead of melting the chocolate in a glass bowl over simmering water, I microwaved it. Now, before I get horrified looks for my baking blasphemy, I actually read about this ‘cheat’ in a chocolate recipe book … so there! It’s allowed, kind of.
I whisked together the cheese and sugar whilst the chocolate was cooling and mixed it all in until it was smooth. This went on top of the base and the remaining batter was crumbled in largish pieces on top. This went in the oven for another 25 minutes, or until the cheesecake topping stops wobbling.
Once out, it was a matter of cooling it completely before putting it in the fridge; and cutting it neatly to take to work the next day.
I didn’t actually have the right baking tray for this recipe – it was too small. So the bars came out a lot thicker then it should have, which resulted in a very rich taste. But this wasn’t a bad thing – or at least – it didn’t stop anyone from having more than one piece.
The bars went down a treat; it’s not quite a cheesecake, and not quite a cake – a hybrid of the best bits of both. Yes, it’s rich, but almost decadent despite the fact that it looks like a simple dessert. It’s not a flashy showstopper; this – in my opinion – is your posh take of the good old, rainy day, chocolate-hit type treat. What more could you want?