Sunday, September 12, 2010

Cheesecake-Marbled Brownies

I haven't been baking desserts much lately. I don't remember growing up with a change in cooking habits depending on the seasons thanks to the wonders of air-conditioning, but now that I live in Montreal without any air-conditioning in my apartment, I pay more attention to seasonal weather both in terms of dress and cooking. The weather is starting to turn cooler again here, so the heat is no longer a hurdle to baking.

It's also been a while since I made brownies. I may have over-reacted to someone saying that I'd be providing brownies as part of the prize for an office pool and said there would be no brownies over the summer from me. I decided the cooler September weather is signaling the end of summer in Montreal and it is safe to make brownies again.

And what a wonderful recipe to break the baking and brownie drought. This brownie recipe may be the one that unseats all previous brownie recipes ... and that's saying a lot. I meant to save some extra for a special person and the brownie didn't even make it home, so I'll be baking another batch today. The same recipe twice in one week? That never happens around here.

I made very few changes to this Smitten Kitchen recipe. It's perfection as it is. I used milk chocolate chips and slightly less than 1/2 cup because that's what I had on hand. I also used ever so slightly more cream cheese because it's sold in 250g tubs here and not 8 oz tubs. Don't be afraid that it's cheesecake and brownies, it's a remarkably easy recipe that doesn't even dirty the mixer.

Cheesecake-Marbled Brownies (from Smitten Kitchen, adapted from Gourmet)

Brownie batter
1/2 cup 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
250g cream cheese, well softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips (or milk chocolate)

1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan.
2. (You could do this on the stove, but I found this method quicker.) Place butter and chocolate in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Heat in microwave until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is melted.
3. Whisk in sugar, eggs, vanilla, and a pinch of salt until well combined.
4. Whisk in flour until just combined and spread in baking pan.
5. Whisk together cheesecake batter ingredients in a small bowl until smooth.
6. Dollop over brownie batter, then swirl in with a knife or spatula.
7. Sprinkle chocolate chips over cheesecake/brownie batter swirl.
8. Bake until edges are slightly puffed and center is just set, about 35 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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