Cheesecake Swirl Brownies

It’s Oscar Night! Glitz and glam and golden statues honoring the best movies of the year. Every year, I get excited about the Oscars, until I realize I haven’t seen the majority of the films nominated. This year is no exception. There are over 40 different movies nominated for various awards. Of those, I’ve seen 3. Sure there are some that I’d like to see, but to be completely honest, the movies I typically watch generally aren’t Oscar worthy. Kevin Smith, teenage wizards and sparkly vampires, and Bruce Willis just don’t hold a lot of weight with the Academy. But even though I haven’t seen the movies, I’ll tune in tonight to see who takes home the top honors. (Or really, what everyone is wearing. Because that’s the most important part.) And I’ll be munching on some brownies while I watch.

With the idea of a black and white swirl of brownie and cheesecake, I planned on calling these “Tuxedo Brownies”, perfect for an Oscar party. Too bad the final result didn’t end up looking anything like the picture.

What the brownies were supposed to look like. From Food Network.
The recipe, which had an accompanying photo of a gorgeous black and white swirled brownie, made barely enough cheesecake to even coat the top of the brownie mixture in a thin layer, let alone give a beautiful thick swirl throughout. I used Baked’s brownie recipe, which had been such a hit before, but there was so much brownie batter (because silly me didn’t cut the recipe down to fit an 8x8 pan instead of a 9x13..), what small swirl there was of cheesecake turned a nice golden brown during the hour it took for the center of the brownies to actually cook. So much for that tuxedo look. The brownie itself, while still incredibly delicious, was so thick, at nearly an inch and a half tall, that it ended up as a dense, almost cake-like brownie instead of the fudgy rich brownie of before. And you can’t even begin to taste the cheesecake in it.

I’ll give these brownies another shot someday. But next time, I’ll be sure to halve the brownie recipe and double the cheesecake part. Maybe then they’ll be worthy of a spot at the Oscar party table, instead of just the Razzies. Now excuse me while I go sit on the couch and be completely judgmental about dresses that cost more than anything I'll ever own in my entire life.

I've posted the recipe exactly as I made it. However, because my brownies were so thick, with a really thin layer of cheesecake, I suggest halving the brownie part of the recipe and doubling the cheesecake part. I haven't attempted this yet though, so I don't know exactly how it'll turn out.

Cheesecake Swirl Brownies
Adapted from Baked by Matt Lewis and Food Network
Makes 16 2-inch brownies

8 ounce package cream cheese
1/3 cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or ½ vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped)
1 large egg
Pinch of salt

1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder
11 ounces dark chocolate (60% to 72% cacao), coarsely chopped
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Butter the bottom and sides of an 8x8 inch baking dish. Line with parchment paper, leaving a 2 inch overhang on either long side of the pan. Butter parchment.
2. Make the cheesecake topping: In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Beat in sugar, vanilla extract and vanilla bean seeds, and pinch of salt until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in egg until well blended; set aside.
3. Make the brownies: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and cocoa powder. Set aside.
4. Put the chocolate, butter, and espresso powder in a large bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth. Remove from heat and add the sugars. Whisk until completely combined. The mixture should be at room temperature.
5. Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined.
6. Sprinkle flour mixture over the chocolate mixture. Using a rubber spatula, rather than a whisk, fold the flour mixture into the chocolate until just a bit of the flour is visible.
7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, reserving about ½ cup of brownie batter, and smooth the top. Pour cheesecake topping over top of brownie batter. Drop reserved brownie batter in large dollops over cheesecake. Draw the handle of a wooden spoon through the top of the two batters, creating the swirled effect. Bake in the center of the oven for 50 minutes to an hour, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it. (If the cheesecake part begins to get too brown, cover with foil for remainder of baking time.)
8. Let brownies cool completely before using parchment overhang to lift out of pan. Place on a large cutting board and cut into 16 2-inch squares.
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oneordinaryday said...

Sorry the brownies didn't turn out the way you had hoped. But who could turn down a brownie as thick as that? :)

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