Friday, September 11, 2009

cheesecake-marbled brownies

cheesecake marbled brownies

Rumor has it that pregnancy doesn’t just lead to swollen ankles, an insatiable need for peanut butter and a belly that causes what I will have to assume are otherwise polite people to ask if you’re having twins. Rumor has it that pregnancy quite often leads to teacup humans, and those teacup human need to be “delivered” from one world to another. Oh my god, I am going to have to birth a baby, aren’t I?!

brownie batter
ready to bake

Fortunately for all of us, this is not the kind of blog where I would subject you to the details of delivery, in part because I plug my ears and say “la la I can’t hear you” when anyone brings them to my attention and in part because I’m in the practice of encouraging appetites and well… you know.

cheesecake marbled brownies

I am also, or at least currently, in the practice of bribery; shameless, unapologetic, unequivocal bribery. I am Deb, I publish the Smitten Kitchen, and if I cannot make brownies good enough that no labor and delivery nurse would even consider passing my room by when I’m ringing a buzzer, then I might as well turn in my URL right now. I might not have a crib or changing table for this baby (4 weeks! or so!*), any great skill in the unbitchy-while-functioning-without-sleep department and I might (might! I admit nothing!) have demanded that my epidural request be put on file the day my third trimester began but I have made killer cheesecake-marbled brownies, individually wrapped them in the freezer and added the item “Baked Goods Bribery For Nurses’ Station” to my hospital packing list. This I can do right. They’ll be a hit.

* And yes, I know that newborns don’t actually need a crib or changing table, or so the Internet tells me, which is why we have lined an empty drawer with softly shredded newspaper to use in the interim.

cheesecake marbled brownies

One year ago: Braised Romano Beans
Two years ago: Apple-Yogurt Cake
Three years ago: Giardiniera

Cheesecake-Swirled Brownies
Adapted from Gourmet, June 2007

It’s true, I have made these before. Well, not these, a different recipe and they’re good, great even, but I’ve always wanted to fix it up a little. That brownie recipe is wonderful, but not simplified enough for a two-step process and there was never enough cheesecakiness (oh yes, it is a word) to balance it. Also, my mother has always made hers with chocolate chips swirled into the cream cheese and although I feel that a good brownie should not need extra chocolate in the form of frosting or chips to make it work, it sure cuts fantastically through the cream cheese swirl. Thus, three changes and a new recipe was warranted. Make these instead.

I added the aforementioned chocolate chips and more unsweetened chocolate to the brownie recipe, as commenters seemed to feel it was not chocolaty enough. I don’t think anyone could make the same argument about these.

Makes 16 2-inch square, thick brownies

Brownie batter
1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup all-purpose flour

Cheesecake batter
8 ounces cream cheese, well softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Make brownie batter: Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Heat butter and chocolate in a 3-quart heavy saucepan — though I did mine double-boiler style, placing the mixing bowl I was using over simmering water, thereby creating one less dirty dish and melting the chocolate more gently — over moderately low heat, whisking occasionally, just until melted. Remove from heat and whisk in sugar, eggs, vanilla, and a pinch of salt until well combined. Whisk in flour until just combined and spread in baking pan.

Make cheesecake batter: Whisk together cheesecake batter ingredients in a small bowl until smooth. Dollop over brownie batter, then swirl in with a knife or spatula.

[I actually like using a butter knife because the tip of it is round enough that you can use it to fold bits of the brownie batter over the cheesecake batter for a more visibly marbled effect. Try it!]

Sprinkle chocolate chips over cheesecake/brownie batter swirl. Although it might be more logical to just mix them into the cheesecake batter (and feel free to do this, it will have no ill-effect) I thought it might interrupt the swirl-ability of it.

Bake brownies: Bake until edges are slightly puffed and center is just set, about 35 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Slicing tip: I like to chill my brownies until they’re almost frozen before cutting them. It makes it much easier to get a clean slice. I also like to eat my brownies super-cold, but that’s just personal taste.


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