1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 ounces (115 grams) unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 1/4 cups (250 grams) granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (65 grams) all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Cream Cheese Layer:
8 ounces (227 grams) full fat cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup (65 grams) granulated white sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
Cream Cheese Brownies: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (160 degrees C) and place the rack in the center of the oven. Have ready a 9 inch (23 cm) square baking pan that has been lined with aluminum foil.
In a heatproof bowl, placed over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the butter and chocolate. Remove from heat and stir or whisk in the sugar and vanilla extract. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the flour and salt and stir vigorously until the batter is smooth and glossy (about one minute). Remove 1/2 cup (120 ml) of the brownie batter and set it aside. Spread the remainder of the brownie batter evenly onto the bottom of the prepared pan.
Then, in the bowl of your food processor (or with a hand mixer), process the cream cheese just until smooth. Add the sugar, vanilla, and egg and process just until creamy and smooth (do not over process). Spread the cream cheese filling evenly over the brownie layer. Spoon 16 small dollops (4 rows with 4 dollops of brownie batter in each row) of the reserved brownie batter evenly on top of the cream cheese filling. Run a knife or wooden skewer back and forth through the two batters until you have a marble effect.
Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes or until the brownies are set and the cream cheese is just beginning to brown. (A toothpick inserted into the brownie comes out with just a few moist crumbs.) Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely. Then cover and refrigerate the brownies until they are firm enough to cut into squares (several hours or even overnight). Once chilled, remove the brownies from the pan by lifting with the ends of the foil and transfer to a cutting board. With a sharp knife, cut into 16 squares. It is a good idea to have a damp cloth nearby to wipe your knife between cuts. These brownies can be stored in the refrigerator for several days. Serve cold or at room temperature.
Makes about 16 - 2 inch (5 cm) brownies.
There are so many types of brownies, but one of my favorites is these Cream Cheese Brownies which combine a dense and fudge-like brownie with a cream cheese filling. Bite into one and you are sure to notice how the tanginess of the cream cheese so nicely tempers the deep richness of the chocolate brownie. What a perfect way to enjoy both a brownie and cheesecake at the same time.
The trick to making a dense and fudge-like brownie, besides reducing the amount of flour and using no artificial leavening (baking powder/baking soda), is to incorporate as little air as possible when mixing the batter. So, for these Cream Cheese Brownies, instead of pulling out the electric mixer we are just going to mix the ingredients by hand in one bowl. The result is a nicely compact brownie with a dense and fudgy texture. Once the brownie batter is in the pan (we do put a little brownie batter aside for later) we top it with a cheesecake filling. The main component in a cheesecake is cream cheese, that white, soft and spreadable cheese with a slightly tangy flavor. It has a 33% butterfat content so its texture is wonderfully smooth and creamy. The one thing you do need to keep in mind is that the cream cheese needs to be full fat and at room temperature before it is beaten (in the food processor or with a hand mixer) so it will be nice and smooth with no lumps (but do not over process). Then we add a little sugar, an egg, and some vanilla extract for texture and flavor and after gently spreading it over the brownie layer, there is only one thing left to do. And that is to place small dollops of that leftover brownie batter over the cream cheese filling and then running a knife or wooden skewer through it all to give a nice marbleized effect. You can eat these Cream Cheese Brownies the same day as you make them, but I prefer refrigerating them overnight as this gives the flavors time to soften and mingle.