As someone who shows love through food, I do my best to keep track of people’s likes and dislikes. If I’m making food for you, I want you to love it. (No pressure, Andy.) I know not everything can be a home run, and sometimes, I make things that I know only I’ll enjoy, but those times are few and far between.
Of course, making something that pleases everyone is harder than it should be. Especially when it comes to dessert. In my group of friends, we have a chocoholic who dislikes caramel and coffee, a custards-and-creme-brulee fan, two coffee-and-vanilla-bean addicts, and me, the equal-opportunity-dessert lover (as long as you don’t muck things up with coconut). You can’t even create a Venn diagram of desserts that will please us all. (Or, maybe you can, but you’ll end up with three separate circles.)
So, when I invited a relatively new friend over for dinner, I immediately started thinking about what I should make for dessert. Not dinner, dessert. (I have a go-to dinner option for first-time guests. Unless you tell me that you don’t eat chicken, cheese, or tomatoes. But then we might have a hard time being friends. Kidding. Mostly.) Dessert though, that’s another story. There are just so many options!
I decided that I couldn’t lose with a chocolate-cheesecake combination, even if our dinner guests weren’t hardcore chocoholics. As my friend Jackie (the creme brulee fan) likes to say, “Chocolate dessert is better than no dessert.” I thought about making black-bottom cupcakes, but the idea of scooping out individual cupcakes just didn’t appeal to me that night. So, I turned to one of my favorite recipe sources, and lo and behold, Deb came through for me. Again. (No one’s surprised by this anymore, right?)
These were super easy, although I definitely recommend using a hand or stand mixer for the cheesecake filling, rather than a whisk. Or maybe my arms just aren’t strong enough to whisk cream cheese into a smooth batter. (That probably means I should keep practicing, right?) I don’t think my cheesecake swirled quite as nicely as Deb’s, but no one complained. 😉
These were really, really good. We served them straight from the fridge, and I would say that they’re definitely best cold. The brownie layer is thick and fudge-like, and the cheesecake layer is the perfect contrast to the rich brownies. My only complaint? It only makes a 8″ pan, so we ran out of brownies way too soon.
For the brownie batter:
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
2/3 cup AP flour
For the cheesecake swirl:
8 ounces cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
For the topping:
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350° and make sure the rack is in the middle position. Butter a 8″ square baking pan. If you’d like to be able to lift your brownies out of the pan (for easy / pretty cutting / serving), I’d recommend lining the baking pan with parchment paper to create a “sling.” (I didn’t do this, but probably will next time.)
Melt the butter and the chocolate in a 3-quart saucepan over low heat, whisking often, until melted and combined. Remove from the heat and whisk in the sugar, eggs, vanilla and salt until everything is well-combined. Stir in the flour until just combined and spread it in the prepared baking pan.
Next, make the cheesecake swirl. In a medium bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), beat the cream cheese, sugar, egg yolk and vanilla, until smooth. Spread / dollop the cheesecake mixture over the brownie base and use a butter knife to marble / swirl the batters together. Sprinkle the top of the brownies with chocolate chips.
Bake the brownies until the center is set and the edges are slightly puffed, between 30-35 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely for easiest cutting / serving.
Click here for a printable version.