Saturday, February 25, 2012

Chocolate Cream Cheese Brownies

The first time I read over this recipe I did a double take.  And a third look just be sure I read it right.  Eighteen tablespoons of butter?  Five eggs?  And that's only one layer.  A ribbon of chocolate cheesecake hides between the layers of decedent brownie.  And to top it all off, a thin layer of semi-sweet chocolate is added, just in case there wasn't enough chocolate.

I still haven't replaced my electric mixer and the just thought of beating cream cheese and butter in such large quantities sent a spasm through my wrist.  And the recipe would use up the last of my sugar.  But I was not going to let that stop me.  I apologize profusely to any readers who may be observing lent by giving up sweets or chocolate.  I couldn't pass this dessert up. 

adapted from a recipe at

makes 48 brownies

The Ingredients:
for the filling:
1 cup bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 egg
2 tsp flour

for the brownies:
18 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
5 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder

for the topping:
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped

The Process:
for the filling:
Slowly melt half of the chocolate with the heavy cream in a double boiler or in the microwave.  Stir until smooth and allow to cool.  Meanwhile, in a medium bowl cream together cream cheese and egg until fluffy.  Slowly pour in chocolate mixture and blend until well combine.  Stir in the remaining chocolate and flour and mix well.  Chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.

for the brownie:
Preheat the oven to 350

Butter a 9 x 13 baking dish and set aside.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer (or by hand) cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, blending thoroughly before the next addition.  Add the vanilla and almond extracts.

In medium bowl sift together flour, cocoa powder and baking powder.  Gently blend the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined.

To assemble:
Spoon half of the brownie batter into the prepared baking dish.  Smooth into an even layer.  Spread the cream cheese layer evenly over the brownie batter.  Spoon the remaining batter on top as evenly as possible and gentle spread to cover.

Bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

As soon as the brownies come out of the oven , sprinkle the chopped chocolate evenly over the surface.  Allow to rest for five minutes or until the chocolate begins to melt.  Gently spread the soft chocolate into a thin, smooth layer.

Allow the bars to cool completely.  Cut into approximately 1 1/2 inch squares.

The Review:
This recipe yields 48 brownies for a reason.  These are rich and ridiculously dense.  The consistency is more fudge like than cake.  And I certainly am not complaining!   Left overnight in the fridge the layered decadence became even more smooth and dense.  A little taste goes a long, long way.

The only frustration I had with this recipe was the same I have with most layered recipes...getting the layers smooth and even.  The first layer was a breeze.  A spatula does quick work of the spreading the thick batter.  The second layer was an almost pourable consistency, so a few passes was all I needed to smooth it over the first layer.  The third...well there in lies the challenge.  Because the batter was so thick I needed to spoon it on top.  The second layer did not provide enough friction for the top and spreading became more about evenly distributing the brownie batter than creating a smooth consistent layer.  The forth and final layer did a good job of covering any cracks and fissures left by the less than satisfactory job I did on the layers below. The end result created an undulating ribbon of cream cheese filling that was thick in some areas, thin in others.

Considering how chocolatey these are, I doubt anyone will even notice if the layers turn out uneven...

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