Ready for festive? You’ll need some chocolate.
Happily, these chocolate cheesecake brownies jingle all the bells.
Because chocolate. And cheesecake. And most of all, brownies.
Recipe: Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies
Mrs. Kitchen Riffs is the dessert maker in our household, and this is her creation. It’s somewhat similar to our recipe for Chocolate Mascarpone Brownies, but with more cheese-forward flavor.
These brownies are quite rich and moist. So, although you could eat them with your fingers, we prefer to plate them and use a fork.
Prep time for this recipe is 20 to 30 minutes. Baking time adds about 35 minutes. Then we suggest letting the brownies cool for at least an hour before cutting them into serving pieces.
This recipe yields about 24 servings (depending on how large you cut the brownies).
For the brownies:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder (see Notes)
- 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
- 4 large eggs
- ~2 cups granulated sugar (see Notes)
- ½ cup crème fraîche or sour cream (optional; see Notes)
- 1½ to 1¾ cups unsweetened cocoa (see Notes)
- 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
For the cheesecake swirl:
- 16 ounces full-fat cream cheese, softened
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (or more to taste)
- ~¾ cup powdered sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (375°F if using a metal baking pan). Butter a 9 x 13-inch baking dish and line it with parchment paper.
- Whisk the flour and baking powder together and set aside.
- Melt the butter in the microwave, preferably in a lidded container (see Notes). Pour the melted butter into the bowl of a stand mixer. Cool the butter for two minutes, then add 4 eggs and beat until combined. Add the sugar and crème fraîche (if using), blending until smooth. Add the cocoa and mix until the batter is glossy (about 3 minutes).
- Add the dry ingredients (flour and baking powder) and mix until well combined. Add the chocolate chips and blend well. Pour the batter into the prepared dish.
- Make the cheesecake swirl in a stand mixer (using a clean bowl): Add the cream cheese to the mixer bowl, then beat to soften. Mixing on low speed, add the two eggs and the vanilla extract. Then gradually add the powdered sugar. Mix all the ingredients together until smooth and well combined. Drop by spoonfuls onto the brownie batter and swirl in.
- Bake for about 35 minutes, or until the top begins to crack. Do not overbake.
- Remove the brownies from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Cut into pieces of about 2x2 inches.
- If you use a glass baking dish, make sure it’s ovenproof. Bake at 350°F (instead of 375°F) because glass holds heat more efficiently than metal. If you bake at a higher temperature, you risk burning the brownies.
- These brownies will puff up a bit in the baking dish, which is what causes the top to crack. That’s OK.
- It can be difficult to tell when brownies are done – and they may come out dry and taste-compromised if you over-bake them. Fortunately, these brownies are more forgiving than most. The crème fraîche and the cheesecake swirl help keep them fluffy even if they stay in the oven just a little too long.
- Many recipes warn not to refrigerate brownies. That’s because, unless brownies are well sealed, refrigerators can suck the moisture out of them. Again, these brownies give you more leeway since the cheesecake component keeps them from drying out easily. But do seal them well if you decide to refrigerate.
- Why use a lidded container when melting the butter? Because butter can explode in the microwave. Guess how we know this.
- How much sugar to use in the brownie batter? That’s up to you. Two cups will yield a flavor that’s pleasing but not too sweet. If you want sweeter, just increase the amount of sugar.
- Crème fraîche is similar to sour cream. But crème fraîche has a higher fat content – and a richer taste.
- Crème fraîche is not a traditional ingredient for brownies, but it adds extra moisture and lusciousness. And it’s great in cheesecake (so you could just mix it into the cheesecake swirl if you prefer).
- Many supermarkets stock crème fraîche (we usually see in the dairy case; sometimes in a cheese case). If yours doesn’t, it’s easy enough to make: Just combine 1 pint of heavy cream with 2 tablespoons of buttermilk in a nonreactive container. Cover, then let the mixture sit at room temperature until it’s as thick as you like (about 12 hours for us). Then refrigerate the mixture until you’re ready to use it.
- For the unsweetened cocoa: Brownies are all about chocolate, so you want to use something good. We recommend using Dutch processed cocoa, which is less bitter than regular unsweetened cocoa.
- Start with 1½ cups of cocoa, then increase to 1¾ cups if you like extreme chocolate (as we do).
- Vanilla extract seems to make the flavor of cheesecake pop. So adjust the amount to your taste. For this recipe, we used small-batch, aged vanilla extract (not cheap, but worth it).
- Almost every baking powder you’ll find on your grocery shelf is “double-acting.”
- Baking powder does become weaker over time (and most baking powder tins have an expiration date). So replace your baking powder when necessary. We usually replace ours once a year, when daylight saving time ends (so we remember to do it).
- It’s a good idea to shake baking powder before using it to make sure all its components are well mixed. Baking powder consists of baking soda, plus an acidic ingredient (which reacts with the baking soda to produce leavening) and a neutral substance (usually cornstarch) to provide bulk.
- Programming Note: We’re ready for some R&R. So this will be our last post of 2021 – we’re taking off until the first Wednesday in 2022. See you then!
“I’m loving this,” I said. “Chocolate? Cheesecake? Swoon!”
“Just in time, too,” said Mrs Kitchen Riffs. “We need some comfort food now that omicron has ambushed us.”
“Are we going to slog through the entire Greek alphabet?” I said. “That would be a real pi in the face.”
“Psi,” said Mrs K R. “That joke didn’t please me one iota.”
“I thought it was very mu-ving,” I said.
“Theta’ll be enough,” said Mrs K R. “I may need a kappa-ccino to recover.”
Better stop before she lambdastes me. Happy Holidays, everyone!
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