I should have started writing a blog years ago. Literally, years ago. And the reason I didn’t is pretty stupid: I felt intimidated.
I’m a big reader of blogs, you see – I like nosing into other people’s lives and kitchens – so I am fully aware of the vast, huge, mountainous variety of things to read out there. It seems like every second person has a blog nowaways, and you can find one on almost any conceivable subject. There are thousands upon thousands of UK food blogs. I felt that if I started one of my own, I would just be shouting into the void. I always told myself that my cooking would never be as good as the others, my photographs never as polished, my writing never as engaging. I don’t think of myself as a creative person at all. And nobody would ever read it, so what would be the point?
I would look at all the of wonderful, talented, established food bloggers that I admire, and know that I could never get to that stage. It seemed to me that I should have started back in 2006, when food blogs were becoming ‘a thing’ for the first time. ‘I’m such an idiot!’ I would tell myself, ‘I could have done hundreds of posts by now! I could have archives! I could feel like I know what I am doing!’
I really never feel like I know what I am doing.
Eventually, I managed to convince myself that everyone has to start somewhere, and that it’s likely that all those people I admire probably used to feel like they were shouting into the void too. James always tells me that the idea is not to focus on what everyone else is doing, but to focus on doing your own thing as well as you can and recognising that you might have something the person next to you doesn’t. Of course, he’s much wiser than I am, and got his act together re: creative output many years ago.
That all sort of clumsily brings me on to these brownies.
Source: The recipe is from Faith Durand, and can be found on The Kitchn website, here. Faith Durand is one of those intimidatingly amazing people who I really admire (this is her career! She makes a living out of this! Have you seen that website?!), and I love her recipes. Of course, she’s American, so naturally I’ve had to convert the recipe because ounces and cups mean nothing to me. I’ve tweaked it very mildly in the process, but this is still hers.
Notes: These brownies actually taste better if you let them sit and eat them the next day. If you can manage that, though, you’re a better person than I. They also do very well frozen, and can be eaten cold.
Goats’ cheese and chocolate might sound weird, but I promise you, it’s perfection. If you are serving them to people who might raise eyebrows, just call them ‘raspberry cheesecake brownies’ and tell them what’s in them afterwards. Or don’t.
125g raspberries, lightly crushed with a fork
2 tbsp kirsch, or crème de cassis, or whatver vaguely alcoholic red liqueur you have lying about
285g dark chocolate (70% or higher)
170g unsalted butter
125ml whole milk
400g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs
130g plain flour
¼ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
for the topping
225g goat’s cheese
110g full-fat cream cheese
30g unsalted butter
1 tsp almond extract
Freeze dried raspberries, to decorate (optional)
- First, place your chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pan of simmering water to melt. I always put this on first because it usually unexpectedly takes ages.
- Heat the oven to 180C/ 160c fan/gas mark 4. Grease and line a brownie pan – I use a rectangular 30cm x 20cm one for everything. Lining the pan will make it far easier to get the brownies out later. Mix your liqueur with your raspberries and set it aside in a bowl to marinate.
- Your chocolate and butter should now be well on the way to melting. When it has, remove it from the heat and stir in the milk, and then let it cool for about five minutes. Then mix your sugar and vanilla into the chocolate mixture, and add your eggs one by one. Sift in the flour, baking powder, and salt, and fold until smooth. Chuck around half of the raspberries into the brownie mixture, stir, and spread it evenly into your pan.
- Now make the topping. I do this in a bowl with an electric hand whisk. Beat the goats’ cheese, cream cheese, butter, egg, sugar, and almond extract together until combined. Fold in the reserved raspberries – you don’t want them fully incorporated because you want the swirly ripple effect. Use a regular spoon to dollop the cheesecake mixture onto the top of the brownie mixture, then use a skewer or a knife to swirl it around until it looks marbled.
- Bake it for twenty minutes, then check it. You’re looking for the brownies to be just barely set in the middle, but starting to very lightly brown and crack around the outsides. It might take up the half an hour, depending on your oven and the size of your pan. As soon as you take them out of thee oven, sprinkle the freeze dried raspberry pieces over the top, if using. Leave to cool and set.