Let’s talk about brownies.
Before I started baking, I didn’t really like brownies. Sorry, I just didn’t! Most brownies I have eaten outside are terribly dry and have the worst chocolate flavor. That made them almost cakey brownies but really they were just fudgey ones gone dry. You can tell. I HAVE had some good brownies outside too. But they weren’t my favorite.
People are always talking about brownies when it comes to their favorite desserts. That made me reconsider the whole stick-to-cupcakes-cookies-and-cake thing. But I didn’t go out in search for the perfect brownie, I just decided to bake them myself and see what the whole fuss was all about.
But the sad part is, my brownie adventures have always been unfulfilled. They would almost never cut clean, or maybe I was too lazy to powder the sugar. What can I say – If I am not passionate about making something, I just don’t put much effort into it. It’s not like they tasted bad. They just didn’t make me go ‘I want to live in a house made of these brownies’ like I go with most well baked goods.
I just shelved brownies for a while, got busy in other things and forgot about it. Till I woke up a few days back wanting brownies. Why? I don’t know. I am weird that way.
My rule usually is, if you want it now and can make it at home, don’t make the effort of walking out the door to buy it. Am I not such a homely girl?
Then came the craving for cheesecake. What’s a girl to do? Spend double time making brownies AND cheesecake separately? My sweet tooth lands me in the most difficult situations sometimes.
Make them together. Yes. Soft, creamy and mildly sweet cheesecake dolloped on slightly chocolate-y red velvet brownies. I like this recipe because it solves the eternal cakey versus fudgey brownie dilemma. Perfectly best of both. The small amount of chocolate gives you a hint of that flavor, but doesn’t allow the flavor of the cheesecake to get overshadowed.
I have to give credit to this treat – it’s quite effortless to make. You don’t even have to use a hand mixer. A whisk and spatula and 3 medium-large bowls. I do like it when I don’t have to wash those little nooks of the hand mixer whisks.
What I do not want to give credit to is those nasty little bottles of food coloring, which hardly do the job of adding color. It CHANGES color in the oven heat. What kind of a food color is that? Sadly, that’s the only thing I get here in Muscat. Back in Mumbai, you get these tiny little plastic bottles of powder color which adds glorious will-not-change-in-the-oven-heat color. That is what I will use when I make these again. Which I will. Make again. I almost ate the whole batch. Only gave my dad a few pieces, made warm in the oven, with ice cream on the side.
If you are making these just for the taste and not very much for the look, I suggest just using the recipe as is, skipping the food color. I presume that it will give you a light milk chocolate type brown, which isn’t the worst thing in the world.
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 60 gms semi-sweet chocolate (Or dark chocolate), chopped coarsely or chips
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoon red food coloring
- 2/3 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 230 grams cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Butter the bottom and sides of a 8 inch metal baking pan. Put a long piece of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan, letting the parchment extend up two sides of the pan and overhang slightly on both ends. (This will make it easy to remove the bars from the pan after they have baked.) Butter the parchment. You can also use aluminium foil.
In a small, heatproof bowl, melt butter and chocolate together. Stir until combined and very smooth. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, vanilla extract and red food coloring. Add chocolate mixture and stir until smooth. Add flour and salt and stir until just combined and no streaks of dry ingredients remain.
Pour into prepared pan and spread into an even layer.
To prepare cheesecake mixture, beat cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla extract in a medium bowl until smooth. Distribute the cheesecake mixture in 8 dollops over batter in the pan. Swirl in with a knife or spatula.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, until brownies and cheesecake are set. A knife inserted into the cheesecake mixture should come out clean and the edges will be lightly browned.
Let cool completely in pan on a cooling rack before lifting out the parchment paper to remove the brownies.
Keep in the fridge for about 30 minutes or till very cold before cutting. This is important for the cleanest cut