The Ultimate Chocolate Brownie

From Annabel Langbein

Ask people what’s in this deliciously moreish brownie and they’ll never guess my secret ingredient – dates. As well as making it extra-rich and moist, the dates make it a whole lot better for you than the everyday brownie, adding a healthy quotient of antioxidants, fibre, vitamins and essential nutrients such as iron. Some dates are much drier and harder than others so may take longer to soak and become soft.

Prep time: 10 mins + standing

Cook time: 50 mins

Makes: 30 pieces

· 2 cups chopped dates

· 1 tsp baking soda

· ¾ cup boiling water

· 200g finely diced butter, at room temperature

· 4 eggs

· 2 tsp vanilla extract

· 2 cups caster sugar

· 1 cup dark cocoa, sifted

· 1 cup flour

· ½ tsp baking powder

· 250g chocolate chips or dark chocolate cut into small chunks

Preheat oven to 160°C and line a 30cm x 24cm slice tin with baking paper.

Put dates in a large bowl, add baking soda and boiling water and stir to combine. Add finely diced butter and stir until melted. Leave to stand for 20 minutes.

Mash softened dates with a fork to break them up to a creamy consistency. Stir in the eggs and vanilla until well combined.
Stir in the sugar, then add the cocoa, flour and baking powder and stir until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips or chunks.

Smooth into prepared tin and bake until it is set in the middle and begins to come away from the sides of the tin (about 50 minutes). Cool before cutting into squares. Stored in a sealed container it will keep for a couple of weeks.

Published in: on June 18, 2013 at 09:42  Leave a Comment  

Cream cheese raspberry brownies

After Canadian Living Best – Chocolate: “from a celebrated Toronto pastry chef”. Modified by busy NZ based scientist not reading the recipe too well, still turns out pretty irresistible.


250 g dark chocolate

500 g softened cream cheese (2 packages)

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

1 tbsp vanilla essence

1 cup softened butter

1 cup flour

Pinch of salt

Raspberry jam, or better fresh/frozen raspberries


Melt chocolate, let cool to lukewarm

In large bowl beat cream cheese with 1/3 cup of the sugar until smooth (soften the cream cheese in the microwave at medium heat if needed). Beat in one of the eggs and 1 teaspoon of vanilla

In separate large bowl beat butter with remaining sugar until smooth, beat in remaining eggs one at a time, beat in remaining vanilla, then chocolate. Mix in flour and salt until just combined

Reserve 1 cup of chocolate batter. Spread remaining chocolate batter in 3.5L cake pan. Spread with cream cheese mixture. Spoon jam and/or raspberries over top.

Bake in center of preheated 180°C oven for 35 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Let cool and cut into squares.

Published in: on January 23, 2013 at 18:57  Leave a Comment  


5th December was world soil day, and so a mudcake was appropriate. It has a silty to sandy texture, dense structure but no recognizable horizons.

The recipe is from, with slight changes.


250 g butter, chopped

200 g dark chocolate, chopped

2 cups caster sugar

1 1/2 cups water

1 teaspoon instant coffee, or for extra texture: freshly grinded coffee

1 1/2 cup plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 cup cocoa

3 eggs lightly beaten


In large saucepan, add first 5 ingredients (butter, chocolate, sugar, water, coffee).

Melt together until sugar dissolved and butter and chocolate are melted. Allow to cool for 10 minutes

Sift flour, baking powder and cocoa into large mixing bowl

Add cooled chocolate liquid and beat gently

Add eggs and beat gently

Pour into greased cake tin and bake at 150°C for 1 3/4 hour, but test frequently

Also on offer were biscotti with alcoholic syrup by John H.

Published in: on January 23, 2013 at 18:54  Leave a Comment  

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Super easy to make biscuits or cookies. Interesting bit of relatively useless information: the American word “cookie” comes from the Dutch word “koekje”.

The recipe is from a BBC cooking website, where comments list endless substitutes for raisins (such as cranberries, chopped apricots, chocolate chips, marshmallows, nuts, and all possible combinations of those).


100g butter

100g caster sugar

2 tbsp honey

2 eggs

2 tsp cinnamon

100g wholemeal flour

2tsp baking powder

160g rolled oats

100g raisins

Heat oven to 180 C. Grease a large baking sheet

In a large bowl, mix butter and sugar together until soft, then beat in the honey

Add the egg and cinnamon and mix well

In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, oats and raisins and mix together before adding to the butter mixture.

Drop heaped spoonfuls of the cookie dough onto the baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden.

Remove from the oven, they should be golden but will still seem a tiny bit soft to the touch. Let cool on the tray just enough to peel them off without burning your fingers and start eating.

Published in: on October 30, 2012 at 14:59  Leave a Comment  



So this cake/ dessert is a long-time favourite from Strawberry Fare (yummy dessert restaurant in chch). I decided to give it a whirl and the results were tasty but not quite restaurant quality….. I’d suggest doubling the amount of raspberry mixture to get 2 good layers and don’t over mix the white choc mix or it will curdle (oops). Apart from that make sure you have other things to do in between as it takes a while to get through all the layers – but the results are worth it!

Chocolate Sponge
4 eggs separated
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
(gluten free may be substituted)
50g corn flour
25g cocoa
20 mls warm water
Raspberry Mixture
150gm raspberries
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp sugar
20mls water

Dark chocolate layer
300g choc chips
100g Belgian choc
600 mls chilled cream

White chocolate layer
125 g white Belgium choc
75g white buttons
300 mls cream

Chocolate Ganache
150 g chocolate chips
40 g Belgium chocolate
130 mls cream


You will only need a thin layer of chocolate sponge for the base. The recipe below will make a full height sponge so the remainder of the sponge will freeze well or simply cover with whipped cream, berries and drizzle over chocolate ganache for another quick and yummy treat.

Preheat oven to 180.C fanbake.
Line 24cm high sided tin with paper on sides and bottom

Chocolate Sponge
Beat egg whites until thick, add sugar and beat until dissolved. Add yolks, beat again. With beater on low add dry ingredients quickly. Turn off beater and add warm water. Hand mix to finish. Pour the sponge mixture into paper lined tin and bake at 180 for 20 mins, rotate in oven and bake for 20 mins more. When sponge is cool remove paper and cut horizontally a layer about 1.5 cm thick. Re line tin with more paper on the bottom only and place the layer of the sponge back into the tin on the paper.

Dark chocolate layer
Melt both chocolate chips and Belgian chocolate in microwave in 20 sec bursts, stirring between heating, until melted & combined and set aside to cool slightly. In large glass jug microwave chilled cream for 30 secs Pour into beater bowl, beat cream on medium speed until just thickening Quickly beat in melted choc. Turn beater off and finish mixing with spatula. Spread half of the chocolate mixture evenly over sponge and put in fridge.

Raspberry Mixture
Bring raspberries and sugar to boil in a pot. Mix cornflour and water together and add to raspberries, mix well, bring back to boil stirring all the time. Boil for 2 mins, remove from heat and let mixture cool. Spread half the raspberry mixture over choc layer and put back in fridge.

White chocolate layer
Melt both white chocolate chips and white Belgian chocolate in microwave in 20 sec bursts, stirring between heating, until melted & combined and set aside to cool slightly. In large glass jug microwave chilled cream for 20 secs Pour into beater bowl, beat cream on medium speed until just thickening Quickly beat in melted choc. Turn beater off and finish mixing with spatula. Spread half of the white chocolate mixture evenly over raspberry layer and put in fridge.

Spread remainder of raspberry mix over white choc layer and then the remainder of dark choc mix over that.

Chocolate Ganache
Mix together chocolate chips, Belgian chocolate and cream. Microwave for approximately 30 secs and stir until combined and glossy

Pour the ganache over top chocolate layer and put your finished Devils Dream Cake in fridge for at least 2 hours.

Remove from fridge, slide off the sides of the tin and remove bottom of tin and paper. Do this very carefully. Ease your Devils Dream Cake onto a tray or large plate. Cut with very hot large knife. It is important to clean your knife between each cut with a hot damp cloth. This is great served with raspberry sauce, fresh whipped cream and some seasonal berries.

[categories Chocolate, Dessert]

Published in: on October 24, 2012 at 15:00  Leave a Comment  

Chocolate Banana Cake

In what must have been the largest turn-out to cake club ever, Amy said goodbye to her fellow cake clubbers and work colleagues with a tasty chocolate banana cake and a pile of other goodies contributed by clubbers and the WEM team. She will sadly miss the delights of Tuesday morning cake, one of the best incentives for coming to work on a Tuesday, but will continue to drool over cakes from afar.
Banana Chocolate Cake


100g butter

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1/2 cup plain yoghurt

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

1 banana, mashed

1 1/2 cups self raising flour

1/4 cup cocoa

pinch salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup boiling water


Preheat oven to 180 C. Beat together butter and sugar, add egg and mix well. Mix in yoghurt and then banana and sifted dry ingredients. Sitr through baking soda dissolved in hot water. Pour mixture into a greased, lined cake pan (22 cm). Bake for 30-40 minutes.

Chocolate Ganache

Makes 4 cups

500ml cream

500g best quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped

Pour the cream into a medium pot and heat it until it is almost but not quite boiling. You’ll know it’s ready when bubbles start to form around the edge of the pot. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate. Stand for 2 minutes, then stir until the chocolate is fully melted into the cream. Whisk until smooth and glossy. When you start to stir it, you think it won’t come together, but it will.

If you’re not using the ganache straight away, store it in a jar in the fridge for up to two weeks. When you’re ready to serve it, gently warm in a pot or microwave to soften.

Published in: on October 12, 2012 at 15:44  Leave a Comment  

Orange and Almond Cake

Here’s a modified version of a recipe from the book ‘Better Cooking: A Year in the Kitchen’. A not-too-sweet cake for the citrusophiles among us (althought the orange flavour is pretty mild). A tangy Cointreau syrup may make this even better.


  • 200 g plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 120 g ground almonds
  • 200 g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 140 ml olive oil
  • Juice and finely grated rind from two large oranges
  • 80 g blanched almonds

Heat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and line with baking paper a deep, round tin (about 20 cm diameter). Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl and combine with the ground almonds and sugar.

Add the eggs, oil, orange juice and zest and mix until combined and smooth. Spoon the mixture into the tin and smooth before decorating with the blanched almonds. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Stand on a wire rack before removing cake from the tin. Serve with lashings of thick cream or good vanilla yoghurt and wash down with a nice cup of tea.

[categories Orange, Almonds]

Published in: on October 10, 2012 at 20:43  Leave a Comment  

German Christmas chocolate cake with rum

or “Gewürzschnitten”

Although confusing enough for a Northern Hemispherer the weather is becoming less and less Christmassy, a Christmas cake still seemed appropriate. It took a long time for more than 2 hungry cake clubbers to arrive, and even then with several Germanic expats there was lots of cake left, to the delight of the German partner of the baker.

Ingredients for a huge cake (photo shows approximately 1 fifth of the total cake …):

· 300 g melted chocolate (preferably dark)

· 300 g butter

· 300 g sugar

· 8 eggs

· several tablespoons of a mixture of: cinnamon, cloves, aniseed, ginger, cardamom and a whiff of white pepper.

· 250 g flour

· 1 tablespoon baking powder

· rum

· 200 g chocolate for the icing

· icing sugar

Melt chocolate and butter and combine in a large bowl with sugar, eggs, rum (a good shot), spices, baking powder and flour. Mix thoroughly.

Pour onto a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake at ~175-200 Celsius for 25 minutes.

Take cake out of the tray straight away and while it is still warm melt more chocolate and pour over the cake. When ready to serve dust with icing sugar.

Photos courtesy of Amy!

[categories Chocolate, Alcohol, Slice, Spice]

Published in: on October 2, 2012 at 07:45  Leave a Comment  

Gooseberry Cake

A cake best served warm from the oven, was the recommendation from the 500 cakes and bakes recipe book (Martha Day, 2006). This may be the case, but getting up early is not a strong point, so the cake was made the night prior to cake clubbers trying this unusual cake.


115 g butter

165 g self raising flour

1 t baking powder

2 eggs, beaten

115 g caster sugar

1 ½ t rose water

Pinch of ground nutmeg

115 g gooseberries (juice reserved)

Caster sugar to decorate

Whipped cream to serve


Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a 18cm squarer cake tin and line sides with baking paper.

Gently melt butter, then transfer to a large bowl and allow to cool

Sift together flour, baking powder and add to butter in the bowl

Beat in the eggs one at a time, then add the sugar, rose water and grated nutmeg until you have a smooth batter

Add 15-30 mL of the reserve gooseberry juice, until you have a pourable batter

Pour half the batter mixture into the prepared tin, sprinkle over gooseberries, then pour over the remaining batter

Bake for about 45 minutes (or until a skewer come out clean)

Leave in tin for about 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and peel off the baking paper. Allow to cool for a further 5 minutes

Dredge with caster sugar and serve immediately with whipped cream, or leave the cake to cool completely before decorating.

Published in: on September 11, 2012 at 10:03  Leave a Comment  

Chocolate and raspberry baked ricotta cake

In the first ever by-email Cake Club post, we bring you Fiona’s excellent chocolate and raspberry baked ricotta cake, adapted from to make it quicker. This disappeared down the gullets of the hungry crew more rapidly than a very rapid thing, and seconds were devoured with great gusto.

Ingredients (serves 8)
3/4 cup (165g) reduced-fat ricotta cheese (I use the whole container 250g)
2 cups self-raising flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder (you can add more cocoa to make it more chocolatey, or chopped dark chocolate)
1 cup caster sugar
100g butter, melted
1 cup hot water
1 cup frozen raspberries

Raspberry sauce
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 cup frozen raspberries (I add 1/2 C more)
(Recipe says 2 tablespoons water – but I usually add more e.g. 1/2 cup, so there is lots of sauce).

Place ricotta in a sieve over a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight, if time permits (this allows excess moisture to drain from ricotta). – (I skip this step – don’t bother draining it)

Preheat oven to 160°C. Grease and line base and sides of a 6.5cm-deep, 22cm (base) round cake pan with baking paper.

Sift flour and cocoa into a bowl. Add sugar, butter, water and ricotta. Mix well. Gently fold through raspberries. Pour mixture into pan. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Stand in pan for 5 minutes. Turn onto wire rack to cool.

Make raspberry sauce: Combine sugar and 2 tablespoons cold water in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until syrup thickens slightly. Add raspberries. Remove from heat and set aside for 15 minutes.

Cut cake into wedges. Place on plates. Spoon over raspberry sauce. Serve.

Published in: on August 27, 2012 at 20:23  Leave a Comment