Monday, 17 December 2012

Snowy day squares

One of the reasons why I like winter is the snow that accompanies it. While others groan and complain about the snow, and avoid mentioning the word with a taboo-like compliance, I absolutely enjoy every glittering moment of snowy Canadian winters. This winter, however, although the first snow arrived weeks earlier than usual in early November, it disappeared almost the moment it hit the ground. This was followed by a week of atypical warm, rainy weather. It was as if winter was trying to tease me.

So now it's mid-December and the weather is 7°C, cloudy and rainy (the wrong type of precipitation!). With no snow to brighten up these long hours of darkness, I think I might just fall into a winter blue. Luckily, there are these snowy squares, with their fluffy, bright, white top layer and their intense, dark, chocolatey bottom layer to tie me through these snowless days.

The Recipe: 
Brownie layer ingredients:
Sifted dry ingredients:
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup de-fatted soy flour (supposed to enhance flavour, can use wheat flour if that's more convenient for you)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 crushed wheat bran
  • 1/4 tsp salt
Wet ingredients: 
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar 
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup hot water
With electric beaters, beat eggs and sugar until mixture is a thick, creamy yellow mixture. In a separate bowl, melt unsalted butter and stir in milk (any fat content is OK) so that the mixture is just warm. Add and blend sifted flour to egg mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk & butter mixture, starting and ending with flour (ie. flour, milk, flour, milk, flour). Beat in the 1/3 cup recently boiled water just before pouring into a lined 8-inch square pan and placing in a preheated 325°F oven for 20 minutes. 

Marshmallow cheesecake layer: 
  • 3 egg whites
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup light cream cheese
  • 2 tbsp yuzu preserve (purchased at Korean, Chinese, or large mainstream supermarkets, price ~ CAN$4 – 6/L)
  • 1/2 tsp ground fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
In the meantime, we prepare the snowy layer. Very simply, make a meringue by beating egg whites to soft peaks, add granulated sugar and lemon juice, and beat until you get stiff peaks. Set aside. Beat together cream cheese, orange marmalade, ginger, milk, and cornstarch until mixture is smooth. Add egg whites by quickly and vigorously beating a third of egg whites in first, then gently folding in the rest. Take the brownie-bottom layer out from the oven, pour snowy layer on brownie layer and spread with a spatula or spoon to make an even layer. Return pan to oven, lower temperature to 300°F and bake for 25 minutes or until top looks like lightly toasted marshmallow. Allow squares to cool to room temperature, and place in an airtight container to refrigerate until square is completely chilled. Slice into squares of desired size and enjoy. 

Note: if you really like the top layer (like I do), you can just make the marshmallow cheesecake layer, cut into individual pieces and freeze it. When eaten frozen, it melts in your mouth like ice cream and is a summertime delight. 

Light and fluffy toasted marshmallow cheesecake layer

Out of the pan, a little scraggly on the sides, but who cares? Just slice off the four edges (for your taste-testing:-)

Chilled and cut into squares. Yum!

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