I've been reading a lot of cookbooks lately, some for the first time and others for the umpteenth time. The new Cake Days cookbook from the lovely Hummingbird Bakery has already become a firm favourite, despite being one of the new additions. So far, all the recipes have been a success at first try, and the cakes I've tried have been nothing short of delicious and indulgent.
The latest recipe I've tried was so successful (and scrumptious) that I have to share it. It takes a little effort as two rounds of baking are required, with some cooling time in between, but the results are a very adult, very rich snack. The mix of a dark cocoa base and a tangy, white chocolate cheesecake is a great combination.
Firstly, you need to make the dough for the dark chocolate base. For this, you will need to line a 23 x 30 cm baking tray with parchment. (Try to get a tin that is at least 2-3 cm deep). When I first made this, I thought the ingredient quantities seemed huge, but it does work.
For the base
250g butter (softened)
420g castor sugar
2 eggs (beaten)
380g plain flour
60g cocoa powder
1 teaspoon bread soda (bicarbonate of soda)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. It really pays to have the butter as soft as possible. It's not really possible to overwork the butter and sugar, so make sure to spend some time on the creaming, getting it as smooth and light as possible.
Add the eggs one a time, beating well between each addition, making sure to occasionally run a spatula down the sides of the bowl to incorporate the ingredients.
Sift together the remaining ingredients, then add to the batter in two batches, beating well with each addition. At this stage you should have a stiff, sugary dough. Cut off one quarter of the dough, wrap it in clingfilm and pop it into the fridge to rest for a while.
Press the remainder of the dough into the baking tray, cover and leave to chill in the fridge for 20 - 30 mins. In order to get a smooth base, I spooned the mixture into the tin, covered it loosely with clingfilm and then pressed out the dough through the clingfilm. I then used a small spice container like a rolling pin to make sure that I got a smooth even finish.
At this stage, preheat your oven to 170 Celsius. Once ready, bake the base for 20-25 mins. Cool it completely in the tin before you move to the next stage of adding the cheesecake. However, it's best to leave the oven on as you will be baking the cheesecake.
For the cheesecake
80g good quality white chocolate
300g full fat cream cheese
60g icing sugar
1 large egg, beaten
Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl over a saucepan of boiling water. Once melted, take off the heat and leave to cool slightly. In the meantime, mix the cream cheese and icing sugar until smooth. Add the egg, mixing well. Finally, mix in the melted chocolate.
Pour the mixture over the dark chocolate base. Lastly, take the chilled dough from the fridge and tear off lumps. Drop the lumps randomly into the cheesecake mixture. As the dough cooks, they will expand slightly and provide a nice contrast.
Bake the completed dish for about 25 mins, or until the cheesecake has set. Allow to cool completely, then place in the fridge for a few hours before serving. Once the cake is fullt set, cut into squares or bars with a very sharp clean knife (the cheesecake mixture will crumb slightly, so a sharp knife helps). Finally, enjoy!