Brownies sounded good when it hit my brain but I sure didn't want the favored ultra rich brownies that are immense in size and weight. So, when I happened upon my go-to website and saw Cream Cheese Brownies...I knew that would be the ticket!
As regular readers know, I'm a huge fan of Stephanie Jaworski's JoyofBaking.com and that's where I got the basis for these brownies. I had to tweak it a bit, but I'll put the link for her recipe here...so you can see what hers calls for. Basically, I used a different pan, a different chocolate, and a different lining for the pan. Hers calls for a 9 inch square pan...I just have an 8 inch. Hers calls for foil lining the bottom and hanging over two edges to lift with...after attempting this with two pieces of foil and poking my fingers through it...I gave up and moved to parchment paper. I use Reynold's Recycled Foil...and it's thin. I need to just buy some regular foil and give up on trying to be green in the foil department. Lastly, her recipe called for unsweetened chocolate - of which I had none - so I used Ghirardelli's semi-sweet chocolate morsels. That will likely result in some really sweet brownies...but you do with what you have!
Here's the recipe the way I baked it...
CREAM CHEESE BROWNIES
Based on the recipe from JoyofBaking.com
1/2 cup unsalted butter - cut into small pieces
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli)
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs (room temperature)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
CREAM CHEESE LAYER:
8 ounce block cream cheese - softened to room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg (room temperature)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Place rack in center position of the oven.
Line 8" square pan with parchment paper across the bottom and up and over the two opposite sides (to give you handles for removal). I sprayed some baking spray in the bottom of the pan to adhere the parchment paper and folded the excess down over the outside of the pan. Make a crisp edge so they don't flop back in on the batter.
Prepare a saucepan of simmering water and place a metal or heatproof glass bowl over the pan. Add the butter and chocolate to the bowl and allow to melt.
Remove from heat and place the bowl on a dishtowel to keep from slipping and stir in sugar and vanilla with a wooden spoon until smooth. This will serve to cool the chocolate too. Add eggs, one at a time, stirring after each addition. Add flour and salt and stir until smooth and glossy - about 1 minute. The batter will be thick and starts to come away from the edge a bit.
Remove 1/2 cup of chocolate batter and set aside.
Add the rest of the chocolate batter to the prepared pan and spread evenly. Set aside.
In food processor bowl, process cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar, egg, and vanilla and pulse. Scrape down bowl, including bottom of bowl, and pulse just until mixture is smooth and creamy.
Pour mixture on top of chocolate mixture in baking pan. Smooth mixture with spatula to cover the chocolate mixture, careful not to mix the two. You now have a layer of chocolate mixture and a layer of cream cheese mixture in the baking pan.
Take the 1/2 cup of reserved chocolate batter and drop by spoonful evenly all across the top of the cream cheese batter.
Take a butter knife or a skewer and swirl through the two batters (not digging down into the bottom batter) to make a swirly pattern - but not "mixing" the two together.
Place pan in pre-heated oven and bake for 25-35 minutes (mine took 33 minutes). The cream cheese batter should be lightly brown on the edges...and like a cheese cake, it should still be wiggly in the middle. Allow to cool completely on a rack.
Place in refrigerator and allow to completely set up (at least 2 hours). After brownies are chilled, run a knife around the un-papered edges to ensure they are released and lift cream cheese brownies from pan with the two paper handles and place on cutting board (have the cutting board right next to the pan). Cut into sixteen 2 inch x 2 inch pieces, wiping knife after each cut. It wouldn't hurt to have a glass of hot water and a dish towel, or better yet, paper towels handy for cleaning the knife between slices.
Here's what I ran in to...the middle brownies, bottom layer, were not baked sufficiently. I had a smaller pan so I cooked them longer and went with the slight jiggle deal I usually do with cheese cake stuff. Maybe that was a bad choice...this isn't cheesecake after all! It was just the middle 4...but all the bottom brownies were "fudgy". That's fine with me...but the 4 in the middle...well, they needed baking a bit longer...or the right pan! The other thing might have been that I used semi-sweet chocolate...the chemistry might have gotten out of kilter. I'm no scientist so I can't hypothesize that particular element!
So, the final word is...I've eaten one... and these are kick-ass brownies. They are all fudgy with the tang of cream cheese...delicious. I've put the four "underbaked" ones on a separate plate and I'm going to see if they set up over night. Otherwise, the outer ones are just the way I like 'em!!! Next time I'll need to get a 9 inch square pan. In baking, size really does matter!
Bon Appetit, Y'all!!!
I ate one of these this morning straight from the fridge - it's more like a piece of fudgy cheesecake than a traditional cake brownie. Intense and flavorful...
The other note is be careful not to overbeat the base brownie mixture. I notice I had lots of air bubbles in mine...probably overbeat it...even though I did it by hand.
The teen is going to LOVE these!