Seriously though, I probably should be spending an hour in the gym for every recipe I make. That would at least counteract all the time I spend
Let me tell you about these brownies. I have been in love with this particular recipe for over a decade (I feel old), thanks to my dear friend Katherine (she's older). These are the brownies that got her extensions on papers in high school, out of trouble for missing class, and extra meetings with advisers. These brownies are what taught me that a cup of butter is, in fact, two sticks not one. They were pretty much the only chocolate I ate when I was a chocolate-hating teen. These brownies are the best you can get, short of lacing them with something (and even then I'm pretty sure they're better). Crusty edges, dense, gooey center, eat-straight-out-of-the-pan-with-a-fork-but-probably-just-with-your-fingers goodness. Especially at 3am, which is prime baking time where Katherine comes from. We had a lot of late nights with these brownies.
This version of the brownies has a cheesecake layer swirled in, which cuts nicely into the richness of the chocolate. Katherine's are plain cheesecake, and I added some strawberries for a little extra flavor (I mean, who doesn't love strawberries and chocolate?). It's subtle, but it's there. Since I've been known to eat large numbers of brownies in one sitting (see above), I made them in the mini cupcake tin in an attempt to lessen the damage. The result is a perfectly bite-sized treat for those times you just need a little chocolate in your life. Because we all need a little chocolate in our lives.
Cheesecake Brownies (Makes 24 mini brownies or one 9x9 pan)
Cream Cheese Layer
1/2 cup cream cheese (soft)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (soft)
1/4 cup sugar
1-2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup strawberries (optional)
Beat cream cheese, butter and sugar together. Beat in vanilla, strawberries and eggs. I just threw everything into my food processor and blended to a smooth consistency.
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1 stick unsalted butter melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs (room temperature)
1/2 generous cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350*. Stir cocoa and sugar together, stir in melted butter. Add vanilla and eggs (one at a time if not at room temp), then mix in flour and salt. If you're using a stand mixer, set the speed to medium for the vanilla and eggs, then reduce to low when you add the flour.
Pour about 2/3 brownie mixture into greased (or parchment papered) pan and spread evenly, then pour in cream cheese mixture. Spoon the rest of brownie mixture over cream cheese in dollops. Use a fork to spread out top brownie layer and marbleize the cream cheese with the top brownie batter. For mini brownies, bake for 16-18 minutes, and for a 9x9 pan bake about 25-30 minutes until toothpick comes out mostly-to-entirely clean (depends on how fudgy you want them, but definitely make sure it's at least mostly clean). Try not to eat all of them in one go.