Even though the review section of my blog was supposed to feature on a bi-weekly basis, the temptation to make chocolate, coconut and lime cupcakes last week was just two strong! (Blame national cupcake week). So this week I instead decided to use it as an excuse to drag my Mum to one of my favourite cafes in Newcastle and really show the diet where to go!
I first tried Olive and Bean a couple of years ago and it’s safe to say I’ve never been disappointed. They may have had a slightly hipster revamp in that time, which I nonetheless still fully approve of, but they are pretty good at consistently delivering delicious food and drink across the board. And they even entertained me when I hassled them to know where they got their cups and saucers from for a question on my Instagram, after I was that loser who took a picture of, not even their food, but the crockery in a busy cafe.
But this time I looked like even more of a loser: not only did I take a few photos, but I pretty much conducted mini photo shoots of everything that was delivered to the table. But I’m going to start with the coffee: I had a black Americano which is always a little controversial for me as I very rarely even get half way through a cup. This time, however, I managed it. While the coffee is quite rich and has a proper depth of flavour to it, it’s not overly strong and therefore balances itself quite nicely in my opinion. However, I am no master of coffee so I should probably leave it there before I get a lot of angry coffee buffs claiming blasphemy.
The raspberry and hazelnut baked cheesecake brownie, on the other hand, I can comment on. I have had a few cheesecake brownies before, and have tried making them on one occasion with a degree of limited success. Therefore by choosing them I knew I was essentially choosing an overload of sugar. Even though brownies are sweet, adding a layer of baked cheesecake essentially ramps that up to at least double the sweetness, but anyone who also knows me knows that would never put me off.
If you read my last review for the Malteaser brownie at The Brownie Bar, I know what you’re probably thinking: at some point I need to try something other than brownies. But I have to excuses: first is that I now have an excuse for a mini brownie off, and second that it just looked so pretty in the cabinet that I had to choose it! The type of brownie that Olive and Bean and the Brownie Bar do are very different, and that’s because I think they use slightly different methods. The Brownie Bar have quite light brownies which are borderline a little more cakey even though they are still amazingly gooey. They are quite similar to the Brownie recipe I use at home, which is featured in my recipe for wasabi blondies, or chilli beetroot brownies. Olive and Bean, on the other hand, use a similar method to the way I used to make brownies at my old job. While my method involves whisking the eggs until they are as light and fluffy as they can be, the recipe from work does not. As a result you get a much heavier brownie that really maximises the goo factor and provides a different, yet equally yummy brownie.
Therefore in some ways it is quite difficult to compare the two, especially since I’m not picky! The layers on the cheesecake brownie at olive and bean were perfect: the sweetness of the cheesecake was really prominent, but since they use, what I think is, quite a dark chocolate in the base, the richness helps cut through that a little bit. Add some hazelnuts for a but of crunchy nuttiness (no I haven’t been pinching slogans from Crunchy Nut Cornflakes) and a few raspberries for sharpness and you’re certainly in for a treat. I think I therefore prefer the flavours of this brownie because there was a little more going on, but this is an unfair comparison. I have tried the white chocolate and raspberry brownie from the brownie bar before, and if you compare those two together it’s pretty much impossible to choose!
However, I do have two slight criticisms for the baked cheesecake brownie. First is that I shouldn’t have shared a piece with my Mum (my fault entirely for not listening to my inner greedy cow) and second is that we got an end piece, which wasn’t quite as luscious as the middle. While it was still amazing, it did highlight one potential problem for me when it comes to doing brownies this way, and that is that since the mix is so dense, sometimes it’s a little hard to get the middle cooked without the edges becoming really crisp. At work we always trimmed the edges off, and I can understand why you might not do that because it’s a waste, and they are still really tasty parts of the brownie. So while I happily ate and enjoyed them, unfortunately for Olive and Bean I think that gave the Brownie Bar the slight edge (no pun intended) and puts them in the front for me! But I would never knock Olive and Bean, and if you ever fancy satisfying your inner fatty in the same way that I do and try both you’ll have to let me know what you think! But either way I hope you enjoy!