I’m torn on my opinion of these brownies. On the one hand – totally delicious. But on a continuum from brownies to cheesecake, these may be too far on the cheesecake side for my preference. The chocolate part is intensely fudgy, the brownies are best served cold, and there’s a full 8-ounce package of cream cheese in an 8-inch square pan. They’re rich, and I love rich. But they’re not really brownies.
I made these for SuperBowl Sunday, and in a surprising display of self-control, it was a full 5 days before Dave and I finished the whole pan. What Dave doesn’t know is that in addition to the squares we’d have together with tea in the evenings, I kept shaving off bits of brownie for myself during the day. Just to “even out” a row. And then even it out some more.
Obviously I liked these! And I whole-heartedly recommend them if you want something that walks the line between brownie and cheesecake.
Cream Cheese Brownies (from Cooks Illustrated January 1999)
CI note: Knowing when to remove a pan of brownies from the oven is the only difficult part about baking them. If you wait until an inserted toothpick comes out clean, the brownies are overcooked. But if a toothpick inserted in the middle of the pan comes out with fudgy crumbs, remove the pan immediately. If you are a nut lover, you can stir 1 cup toasted walnuts or pecans into the brownie batter. To melt the chocolate and butter in a microwave oven, microwave chocolate alone at 50 percent power for 2 minutes. Stir chocolate; add butter; and continue microwaving at 50 percent for another 2 minutes, stopping to stir the mixture after 1 minute. If chocolate is not entirely melted, microwave an additional 30 seconds at 50 percent power.
Makes 16 2-inch brownies
2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon table salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate or semisweet chocolate
1 stick unsalted butter (4 ounces)
1¼ cups granulated sugar
2½ teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs
8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
1 egg yolk
1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position, and preheat oven to 325 degrees. Whisk flour, salt, and baking powder in a small bowl; set aside. Coat an 8-inch-square baking pan with cooking spray, and, fit an 8-by-16-inch sheet of aluminum foil in bottom of pan. (Foil overhangs both sides of the pan; use as handles to remove baked brownies from pan.) Coat foil with cooking spray.
2. In a medium heat-proof bowl set over a pan of almost simmering water, melt chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally until mixture is smooth. (Alternatively, melt chocolate and butter in microwave oven.) Remove melted chocolate mixture from heat; whisk in 1 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla; then whisk in 3 eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Continue whisking until mixture is completely smooth. Add dry ingredients; whisk until just incorporated.
3. In a small bowl, beat cream cheese with remaining ¼ cup sugar, ½ teaspoon vanilla, and egg yolk until of even consistency.
4. Pour half the brownie batter into prepared pan. Drop half the cream cheese mixture, by spoonfuls, over batter. Repeat layering and swirling with remaining brownie batter and cream cheese filling. Use blade of a table knife or a spoon handle to gently swirl batter and cream cheese filling, creating a marbled effect.
5. Bake until edges of brownies have puffed slightly, center feels not quite firm when touched lightly, and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into center comes out with several moist, fudgy crumbs adhering to it, 50 to 60 minutes.
6. Cool brownies in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Use foil sling handles to lift brownies from pan. Place brownies on wire rack; allow them to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours. (To hasten cooling, place brownies in the freezer for about 1½ hours.) Cut into squares and serve. (Do not cut brownies until ready to serve. Whole bar can be wrapped in plastic wrap, then foil, and refrigerated up to 5 days.)