Friday, January 27, 2012

Cheesecake Brownies

In my quest to become the next Great Baker, I have seen many products that seem like just the thing to make it happen. One of these products is the wonderful Cake Pops pan, which I had seen on TV and begged everyone to get me for Christmas. Luckily, my mother-in-law actually listens to me. Lo and behold, as I ripped away the wrapping paper, there it was - my very own cake pops pan.

I was very anxious to use my pan for the first time, so instead of going out and buying cake mix, I used what I already had, which was brownie mix.
Brownie pops, to be precise.

I originally wanted them to be drizzled with melted Ghirardelli white chocolate chips, but alas....I am but a young baker. I cannot seem to figure out how to successfully melt chocolate in a double boiler. If anyone has any advice for me, please share. I ended up sprinkling my pops with confectioner's sugar, and they were a hit nonetheless. I hate failing, though. Damn you, white chocolate!! I don't mean that...

At any rate, my brownie pops are not the star of today's blog. Today, I am describing to you my endeavor to create the combination of two wonderful things into one super-wonderful thing. Cheesecake + brownies = Cheesecake Brownies! Recipe courtesy of the Food Network.

A little rough around the edges, but delicious all the same.

While the recipe calls for making your own brownies from scratch, I went ahead and took a shortcut and used a brownie mix. Lazy, yes, but I was in a hurry and I've made brownies from scratch before, so making them again just to prove to you that I can do it doesn't interest me. Sorry. :P I used their recipe for the cheesecake topping, though. I used Kroger brand brownie mix, and put a handful of mini chocolate chips in, too. Then I prepared the cheesecake topping. I followed the recipe from there on.

These cheesecake brownies are pretty good, though I think I might put just a little more sugar in the cheesecake topping next time. Some of the reviews say the cheesecake to brownie ratio isn't satisfactory; I disagree. I thought it was perfect. These are good warmed in the microwave for fifteen seconds or straight out of the fridge.

I need to practice my swirling. As you can see in the photo, my swirling skills are....lacking.
(Adapted from Food Network)
Yield:  16 bars
  • 8 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup lowfat buttermilk
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Position the rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line an 8 by 8-inch baking pan with foil so it hangs over the edges by about 1-inch. Spray with cooking spray.
  3. Cheesecake topping: In a medium bowl and using an electric mixer at medium speed, beat the cream cheese until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Beat in the sugar and the vanilla until very smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Beat in the egg until well blended. Set aside.
  4. Brownie layer: Put the chocolate, butter, and oil in a small microwave-safe bowl and heat at 75 percent power for 30 seconds. Stir and microwave again until melted and smooth, about 30 seconds longer. (Alternatively, put the chocolate, butter, and oil in a small heatproof bowl. Bring a small saucepan filled with 1 inch or so of water to a very slow simmer; set the bowl over, not touching, the water, and stir occasionally, until melted and smooth.)
  5. Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, and cayenne in a medium bowl.
  6. Combine the brown sugar and granulated sugar in a large bowl. Whisk in the buttermilk, egg whites, and vanilla. Add the chocolate mixture and whisk vigorously until fully incorporated and the batter is thick and glossy. Gradually add the flour mixture and stir just until it disappears.
  7. Reserve 1/2 cup brownie batter and set aside. Scrape the remaining brownie batter into the prepared pan. Pour the cheesecake mixture evenly over top. Drop the reserved brownie batter in large dollops over the topping. Draw the handle of a wooden spoon through the two batters to create a swirled effect.
  8. Bake until the top is just set, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Lift brownies out of the pan by the foil and peel off the foil. Spray a knife with cooking spray and cut into 2-inch squares.

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