When it comes to brownies, only one bit of advice comes to mind: When you go to a party in the sixth grade and you eat so many brownies that you end up throwing up seven times in a row (but not in the car, thank you very much), have some nice, sodium-rich soup….it’s like a teeter to your totter. In other words, it will balance you out.
I just now realized that story may be the explanation to my aversion to brownies.
Never you mind, because these brownies are not ordinary. They have cream cheese in them, so everything is right with the world. The base of the brownie is pure chocolaty, walnuty goodness and the top is a swirl of chocolate and cheesy, almond delight. Even I can’t say no.
Let’s start with the chocolate. I just grabbed what I found at the store. Standard sweet baking chocolate. But if you want to be fancy and give your taste buds a treat, go for the gusto and try something spectacular like Ghirardelli or Scharffen Berger. But trust me, the standard worked just fine.
Melt it with butter over low heat on the stove. Once melted and combined, take off the stove and let it cool while you put together the cream cheese mixture and brownie batters.
Cream 2 tablespoons butter with the cream cheese until fluffy. PS: I used 4 oz of cream cheese…so sue me. Gradually add 1/4 cup sugar, creaming until light. Add 1 egg, 1 tablespoon flour and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and mix until smooth. I did all of this in my standing mixer. Once it was all put together, I scraped it into a small bowl and set aside. Cleaning the mixing bowl, I was ready to make the brownie part of my brownies.
Beat 2 eggs until fluffy and lemon-colored. Gradually add remaining sugar (3/4 cup), beating until thick. Fold in 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Blend in chocolate mixture. (you know, the one you have cooling on your counter). Add 1/4 teaspoon almond extract and 1/2 cup chopped nuts.
Take 1 cup worth of the batter and set it aside. With the rest of the brownie batter, spread it into a 8 or 9″ glass pan. I used Pam on my pan. It worked just fine. It also ended up looking like this:
Then I poured the cheese mixture on top.
I did a kind of rumba while shaking the pan to level the mixture.
Obviously, it worked.
I took the batter from the 1 cup reserves and dropped it by tablespoonfuls on top of the cream cheese mixture.
Then things got a little hairy.
I am an artist, but never have I marbleized. After working the batter with the spatula, and making a blobby mess, I ended up making two columns from top to bottom, going back and forth…moving my way continuously with the spatula. I then took a fork and dragged lines from one side to another, crossing the columns and pulling the batter to create the marbleized effect.
It was a nail-biter, I tell you what. But ended up looking like this.
And once I baked it in a 350 degree over for 40 minutes, it looked like this:
I let it sit in the pan until completely cooled. If you don’t and you try and cut it too soon, because it smells so delicious that if you don’t try it right now you might just lose all sense of propriety and take to the whole thing with a fork…. ahem…..if you try and cut it too soon, the brownie will stick to your knife and you end up with a mess. Or so they say. Personally, I wouldn’t know anything about that. At all.
These brownies turned out super delicious. They weren’t so chocolatey that you could only have one. (yay!) In a way, the cream cheese top kind of lightened things up a bit, without the loss of any flavor. In a way, the cheese top was its own teeter to the chocolatey totter. If only I had these in the sixth grade…….
Cream Cheese Brownies
- 1 package (4 oz) sweet cooking chocolate
- 5 tbsp butter
- 1 package (3 oz) cream cheese, softened
- 1 c. sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 c. plus 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp almond extract
- 1/2 c. chopped nuts
- Melt chocolate and 3 tablespoons butter over low heat: cool.
- Cream remaining butter with the cream cheese until fluffy.
- Gradually add 1/4 cup sugar, creaming until light.
- Add 1 egg, 1 tablespoon flour and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and mix until smooth; set aside.
- Beat remaining eggs until fluffy and lemon-colored.
- Gradually add remaining sugar, beating until thick.
- Fold in remaining flour and the baking powder and salt.
- Blend in chocolate mixture.
- Then add almond extract, remaining vanilla and the nuts.
- Measure 1 cup batter and reserve.
- Spread remainder in 8 or 9 inch square pan.
- Pour cheese mixture over top.
- Drop reserved chocolate batter by tablespoonfuls over top.
- Swirl mixtures together with spatula (or fork or butter knife) to marbleize.
- Bake in moderate oven (350 degrees) 35-45 minutes.
- Cool in pan on cake rack.
- Cut in 16 squares.