There are some recipes that nag at me because I can’t get them quite right. For years, my ideal cream cheese brownie recipe was just beyond my grasp. Finally, after dozens of tweaks, I have finalized a batch that properly satisfies my sweet tooth.
When I was in high school, I dated the same guy for a number of years. His mother was a wonderfully warm woman who had beautifully manicured nails, perfect makeup and sometimes wore “princess Leia” buns on the sides of her head and pulled them off. One of her specialties was chocolate cream cheese brownies. After school, we would descend upon the pan of rich brownies dotted with tart cream cheese reservoirs and speckled with chocolate chips. Ahh… a teenage metabolism. I ate multiple brownies without a second thought.
For years, I tried various cream cheese brownie recipes in an attempt to re-create those that ignited my after-school binges. I realized after a number of attempts that my quest was hindered by nostalgia and that I wasn’t satisfied by any batch of brownies because they didn’t deliver the carefree days of my past.
Some months ago, I reset my goals and began making chocolate cream cheese brownies with a fresh attitude. I considered what qualities I like in a brownie and tweaked recipes until I came upon the best result. These brownies are more fudgy than cakey with a bit of a higher ratio of cream cheese swirl than some. I use high quality dark chocolate and cocoa powder (try Valrohna or Callebaut) for the richest flavor. Be sure not to over mix the batter to keep a moist, gooey crumb. And finally, consider enjoying one these alongside a tall glass of milk.
Chocolate Cream Cheese Brownies
- 8 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon ARGO® baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons Spice Islands® Pure Vanilla Extract
- 3 large eggs
- 8 oz. cream cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9-inch square baking pan by buttering the bottom and then using two pieces of parchment paper criss-crossed over the bottom and up over the sides.
- Chop the semi-sweet chocolate into small chunks. Reserve ¼ cup to sprinkle over the top of the brownies. In a double boiler, melt the butter and the chocolate over simmering water.
- Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Use a whisk to combine the dry ingredients well.
- When the butter and chocolate are melted, remove them from heat and stir in the sugar.
- Lightly beat 2 eggs in a bowl and then mix them into the bowl along with the vanilla extract.
- Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients using a rubber spatula or spoon mixing just until incorporated. Do not over mix or use an electric mixer!
- To prepare the cream cheese mixture, mix softened cream cheese with 1/3 cup sugar. Add the egg and mix well.
- Put dollops of brownie mixture in the pan and follow with spoonfuls of cream cheese mixture. Use a knife, moving it back and forth to swirl the two mixtures.
- Sprinkle reserved chocolate pieces on top.
- Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out with moist crumbs. It should not be dry.
- Cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Use the overhanging parchment paper to remove the brownies and let cool completely before cutting.
- Run a large knife under hot water and cut brownies into 16-inch squares.