Rich asked for cream cheese brownies a few weeks ago. I could have sworn I had a recipe in one of my cookbooks. Of course, I couldn’t find it when I needed it. I used one of our favorite brownie recipes that uses all cocoa, no melted chocolate. And I winged it on the cream cheese portion. The brownies were good, and they looked pretty, but they weren’t quite what I was trying to achieve. The brownies were too cakey and the cream cheese portion was nothing special.
I tried again, using a different brownie recipe and adding a little sour cream to my cream cheese mixture. I had to make a few changes to the brownie recipe, since I didn’t have unsweetened baking chocolate it called for, but I did have a Trader Joe’s Pound Plus 72% cacao chocolate bar. Unsweetened baking chocolate is 100% cacao and contains no sugar, so I cut the sugar in the recipe a bit to compensate for the sweeter chocolate. I replaced the volume of sugar with cocoa powder to help deepen the chocolate and make up for the “lighter” chocolate I was using.
They were the best cream cheese brownies I have ever made. The brownies were chewy around the edges and dense in the middle. The chocolate flavor was darker than the usual brownie, and not overly sweet. The cream cheese part was creamy, with a slight sour tang from the sour cream and cream cheese. Success!
If you like, you can make my One Bowl Brownies (which was the recipe I started with) for the brownie portion of the below recipe.
Cream Cheese Brownies
From The Cook’s Life
Makes 24 brownies
4 ounces 72% cacao chocolate (Trader Joe’s, Lindt or Ghirardelli are good ones)
¾ cup butter (1 ½ sticks)
1 ½ cups sugar
½ cup natural cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
Cream Cheese Topping:
1 (8 ounce) block cream cheese (light or regular), room temperature
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup sour cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a 9 by 13 inch pan.
Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwave-safe bowl on high for 1 ½-2 minutes, stirring after one minute. Chocolate can keep its shape, even when melted, and it scorches easily, so keep an eye on it. Stir to melt chocolate completely. Add sugar and cocoa and stir until well blended. Stir in vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each. Stir in flour, scraping sides and bottom of bowl.
Spread batter in prepared pan and level top. Set aside.
Beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in sugar. Add vanilla and egg and beat until well combined. Add sour cream and mix on low speed until combined.
Pour cream cheese topping in ribbons onto the top of the brownie batter in the pan. Try to make two or three distinct lines of topping. Use a table knife to swirl the topping and batter together. Run the knife through the topping and batter only once. If you keep mixing you will end up mixing them too much and you will lose the marble effect.
Bake the brownies 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in a brownie portion close to the middle comes out with a few crumbs, not raw batter. The cream cheese may start to lightly brown in spots – this is fine.
Cool in pan on a wire rack before cutting. Store tightly covered.