Chocolate Fudge Brownies

Dad loved giving us little surprise gifts. Small toys, books, stationery, he would get two of them, hide it behind his back and ask me and my brother to choose a color. It got us so excited.  He always remembered the things we said we wanted and on every birthday or any other occasion he would buy us one of those things and it was always such a wonderful surprise, totally unexpected.

Although every such gift was special, the best one was my first oven, a small OTG., sometime in 1999.  I had seen it several times on a tele-shopping network and kept talking of all the things I could bake in it. Can you imagine how thrilled I was when it was delivered at our doorstep a few weeks later! I started baking the very next day and discovered a new passion! It was my most precious possession. 

There was a small recipe booklet that came with the OTG with a lot of sweet and savory recipes. One was for a fudge brownie and it looked absolutely heavenly. I had never had a brownie before and the recipe seemed so easy. It was one of the first recipes that I tried from the book and it was perfect, a great thin crust on top and gooey and fudgy in the center. 

This recipe is from Joy of Baking and its one I've made often. Its a very simple one bowl recipe that bakes to perfection. Just make sure to not over bake them, now that would be a crime!!

Chocolate Fudge Brownies

5 ounces (150gms) bittersweet chocolate or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup (113gms) unsalted butter
2 tbs (15gms) cocoa powder
1 cup (200gms) granulated sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3/4 cup (95gms) all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup (125gms) semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F/ 180C. Grease and line an 8" pan with parchment paper.
Melt the chocolate and butter together over a double boiler. Remove from heat and stir in cocoa powder and sugar.
Next whisk in the vanilla extract and eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Finally stir in the flour, salt and chocolate chips, if using.
Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes in the middle of the oven until a toothpick inserted comes out with a few moist crumbs.
Cool completely on a wire rack in the pan. Cut into squares and serve.

Chocolate Cheesecake...No Bake and Eggless

Although I made this a while back, this cheesecake is totally dedicated to my brother. I know he would love this, being chocolate crazy was one of the things we had in common growing up!

It is Rakshabandhan today and I so wish he was here with me to celebrate.

I had made this back in April when I had some friends over for dinner on the eve of Manoj's Birthday. I had bought cream cheese to bake a cake, but then changed plans and made this. It was everything I would ever want in a dessert, chocolate and some more chocolate!  It was a breeze to make and tasted just incredible!

Chocolate Cheesecake

150 gms cookies, crushed (I used digestive biscuits)
2 tbs cocoa powder, omit if using chocolate cookies
4 tbs melted butter
2 tbs sugar

Cheesecake Filling:
200 gms cream cheese
1 cup heavy cream
150 gms semisweet chocolate
1/2 tbs gelatin
2 tbs water
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Ganache Topping:
1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate
1/3 cup heavy cream

Mix together the cookies, cocoa, sugar and melted butter. Press the mixture into the bottom of an 8" spring form pan and bring it up to the sides a little. Chill the base while you prepare the filling.

Cheesecake Filling:
Take the water in a bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Microwave for a few seconds just until clear and melted and keep aside.
Melt the chocolate over a double boiler. Keep aside to cool.
Whip the cream cheese and sugar until smooth and creamy. Stir in the gelatin.
Stir in the cooled chocolate and vanilla extract.
Whip the cream to almost stiff peaks and fold into the chocolate mixture.
Pour this mixture over the prepared crust and smooth the top. Refrigerate for 5-6 hours until set.

Ganache Topping:
Melt the chocolate and cream over a double boiler until smooth. Cool to room temperature.

When the cheesecake has set, run a knife around the edges and unmold carefully. Tranfer to a serving plate and spread the ganache over the top.