Playing the goat
As a rule I am not a fan of strong cheeses. In fact, any food that smells like it is four weeks past its best (and yes, that does include durian) is not on my favourites list. The annoying thing is I *want* to like strong cheese. There are just so many delicious types of cheese out there that look awesome and seem so sophisticated but, y’know, they’re mouldy and smell like the inside of an overused trainer. Whatever, to preserve my façade of an educated foodie with an adventurous palate I’ll stick to the “Oh blue cheese, I would but it’s not gluten free I’m afraid” line. On which point, if anyone has a definitive answer to whether blue cheeses are gluten free that would be great, on the very small off-chance I attempt to try them in future. Given the mould is grown on bread before being injected into the cheeses my instinct is to say they’re not gf, but how much gluten can a mould spore pick up? The Food and Drink Directory only has blue cheese dressings, and doesn’t cover blocks of cheese, but let’s be honest, how many salad dressings do you buy which contain real ingredients? Perhaps this ambiguity means I am spared from sweaty trainer cheese for all eternity. Hooray. Who knew being coeliac could have such golden upsides.
Goats’ cheese (and really, where does the apostrophe come in that? Is it the cheese of just one goat, so goat’s cheese, or lots of goats’ cheese? I’m thinking the latter). This is another one I want to like but I find it often tastes kind of, well, goaty. Did you know that especially goaty goats’ cheese occurs when a boy goat is kept a leetle bit too close to the girl goat who’s churning out all the milk. Not that close, just close enough for the girl goat to get butterflies in her stomach and start producing too many pheromones which go into the milk and make it taste of, well, goat attraction. Yuk. Since I don’t know where my local goat dairy is to buy products from, and I’m likely to get thrown out if I walk into my supermarket and start asking just how close their nannies get to Billy, I have to content myself with buying “mild” goats’ cheese and trying not to look like a complete food pleb. Marvellous.
Anyhoo, all of this food dribble isn’t getting us much closer to the main event which is, of course, goats’ cheese brownies. Apparently goats’ cheese goes well with chocolate and I can see why. It’s slightly sharp so it cuts through the rich darkness of the brownies nicely, without being overwhelming. Now don’t panic, this is definitely goats’ cheese desserts for beginners. Your mild goats’ cheese (if you’re not a wimp feel free to use stronger stuff) is mixed with an equal part of plain old cream cheese and some sugar as well to make it taste more desserty, plus there’s a lovely thick, intense layer of dark chocolate brownie under there too. The result is none of my guinea pigs could taste the goats’ cheese and looked a bit puzzled when I told them about it. Knowing it was there I could detect it, but it didn’t detract from the general awesomeness of these little bites. Without making another batch with just cream cheese to compare I can’t say for certain that the goats’ cheese improves these, but I suspect it does; they were damn good, and unlike other cream cheese brownies not too sickly.
Goats’ cheese brownies
Adapted from Obviously sweet
I used my trusty 9×9 silicone baking pan to cook the brownies in. The result was a slightly thinner brownie than an 8×8 pan would produce and a shorter cooking time. I suggest these would need 25-30 minutes in 8×8 size, as opposed to my 20-25 minutes.
200g dark chocolate (70%)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
85g gluten-free flour (I used half rice flour, half tapioca starch)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
150g mild goats’ cheese
150g cream cheese
Pinch of salt
1. Preheat the oven to 180 C. Chop the chocolate into chunks and melt in a bowl in the microwave with the butter. Remove and stir at 30 second intervals, and when the butter is all melted remove the bowl from the microwave and stir until the melted butter melts all the chocolate. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl whisk the eggs and sugar. Stir in the vanilla extract, then fold in the coffee, gluten-free flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in the melted chocolate and mix until completely combined. Spread 80% of this mixture into an 9×9 (or 8×8) greased (or silicone) square baking pan.
3. In a medium bowl beat together the goats’ cheese and cream cheese. Stir in the sugar and salt and beat in the egg. It will be pretty runny. That’s fine. Pour this mixture on top of the brownie mix in the pan. Spoon the remaining 20% of the brownie mixture on top of the cheese topping (it won’t cover all of it), and using a butter knife swirl gently.
4. Bake the brownies in the oven for 20-25 minutes (5 minutes more for an 8×8 pan), or until the cheese filling is turning a goldeny brown at the edges, and the brownies are crisp on top. A toothpick inserted in the middle should come out with a few moist crumbs attached.
5. Remove the brownies from the oven and for ease of slicing, cut into squares immediately. The heat of the brownies will help the knife to slice through them. Alternatively wait until they are completely cool and slice with a knife dipped in hot water and dried.
6. The brownies are best left to chill in the fridge before serving; they firm up a little and become more fudgey.
Makes 36 1 1/2 inch square brownies, or thereabouts. These keep well in the fridge, but do dry out a little bit. After 2 days they are best eaten at room temperature for increased squidginess.