I am not someone who ever needs to look hard for an excuse to bake, so an invitation to a neighbour’s barbecue is more than enough of a reason to trawl through all the recipes in my to-do list. The hunt for a super sexy looking chocolate/cheese indulgence was not a long one and surprisingly I has all the ingredients for this recipe in the house already. Its like it was meant to be. It was fate. My neighbours have heard from my beloved other half that I like to bake and they have already had the (maybe somewhat dubious) pleasure of being my guines pigs before, so I thought that the least I could do if they were going to supply their perfectly BBQ-ed meat and super tasty salads is provide the sweet kick to round the whole thing off. It may be just me and my weakness for all things chocolate, but I don’t feel as though a meal is really over unless I have had a little something sweet. Its like trying to end a sentence without a full stop, or end a long run without a good stretch and a sweaty sigh of contentment – it just isn’t right.
So after raiding my cupboards and fridge with a joyous abandon that only the promise of a heavenly slice of chocolate brownie with a delectable swirl of cheesecake thorugh it can give me, I set to work being all organise (not a normal state for me). I chopped and measured and poured until all the components of this magical creation were ready to come together and form a little slice of heaven. (I am not blowing my own trumpet here by the way – I am not the creator of this heavenly recipe, I am merely the translator for my own little batch. All the credit goes to the original authors at Gourment and Deb at Smitten Kitchen for her wealth of knowledge translated into subtle but oh so effective changes)
Don’t let yourself be put off by the seeming complicatedness of this recipe. Is is not actually complicated or difficult or time consuming at all. And the tiny bit of extra effort, which is all that is required really, is very well worth it. The fudgy brownie swirled with the tangy cheesecake is a tick in the chocolate-fix box, and was most appreciated by my bbq-hosting neighbours – and acted as a good birthday cake substitue as the cheeky man had not told us it was a birthday-celebratory bbq, how rude! Candle in the brownie pile worked well.
From Smitten Kitchen, Adapted from Gourmet, June 2007
Makes 16 2-inch square, thick brownies
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
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.