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Cheesecake brownies with nutty caramel

She calls these her ‘Money can’t buy you happiness’ brownies. They are an epic cross between a cheesecake and a brownie, with a delicious nut and caramel middle. Plan ahead because they need a little double baking around the caramel center.

Ingredients

For the brownie base

  • 250g/9oz unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
  • 250g/9oz dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 4 free-range eggs
  • 280g/10oz soft dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp instant coffee mixed with 2 tsp hot water and cooled
  • 120g/4½oz plain flour, sifted, plus 1 tsp for the chocolate chips
  • 30g/1oz cocoa powder sifted
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 150g/5½oz dark chocolate chips

For the nutty centre

  • 200g/7oz chopped mixed nuts or hazelnuts
  • 450g jar dulce de leche
  • ½ tsp salt

For the cheesecake top

  • 300g/10½oz full-fat soft cream cheese
  • 100g/3½oz caster sugar
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 orange, zest only
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • cocoa powder, for dusting

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4. Line the base and sides of a 20x30x5cm/8inx12inx2in brownie tin with some baking paper so that it comes 1cm/½in above the top of the tin and lightly grease.

  2. To make the brownie base, put the butter and chocolate in a small saucepan and melt over gentle heat, stirring occasionally until the mixture is liquid. Set aside to cool.

  3. Whisk the eggs, sugar, and cooled coffee in a large mixing bowl until the mixture is light, thick, and fluffy. This should take 5 minutes with an electric hand whisk.

  4. Pour in the cooled melted chocolate and whisk until the mixture no longer has any streaks in it. Then add the sifted flour, cocoa, and salt, and mix until you have a glossy batter.

  5. Mix the remaining teaspoon of flour with the chocolate chips in a bowl before mixing them into the batter until they’re well dispersed – this trick will stop them sinking to the bottom when you bake the brownies. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and level off the top. Bake for 25 minutes.

  6. To make the nutty center, toast the hazelnuts in a large non-stick pan over medium heat, stirring until they are a deep golden-brown.

  7. Put the dulce de leche in a bowl along with the toasted nuts and the salt, mix, and set aside.

  8. As soon as the brownies are baked, take them out of the oven and leave to cool completely in the tin. As soon as they have cooled, spread the sticky nut mixture over the top and place it in the freezer for 30 minutes.

  9. Adjust the oven to 170C/150C Fan/Gas 3½.

  10. To make the cheesecake top, mix the cream cheese, sugar, egg, almond extract, orange zest, and flour together really well. Spread an even layer over the nut mixture and bake for 30 minutes. As soon as the cheesecake is set in the center, remove it from the oven, allow it to cool and leave in the fridge overnight. The wait will be worth it!

  11. Dust with the cocoa, take out of the tin and cut into squares. Eat, eat, eat!