Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Cheesecake Brownies

As part of my "impress Josh's girlfriend" dinner last weekend, I made cheesecake brownies. Not only was I craving something rich, gooey and chocolaty, but I had never made this version of the brownie before. I think I spent longer searching for a recipe on the internet than I actually did cooking. After viewing a ton of recipes, most of which were discounted for including a chocolate ingredient that I didn't have in my cabinet, I settled on this version by David Lebovitz. If you haven't checked out his blog, it is absolutely worth a look.

Even though they didn't come out as pretty as the ones in Lebovitz's picture, they tasted delicious and were easy to make.

After all of this searching and baking, I had an email exchange with Mrs. D, Josh's mom, who makes the best cheesecake brownies I have ever had.

Mrs D:  I haven't made them in a long time and they're from the side panel of a Betty Crocker brownie mix box...Dave Lebovitz would cringe!  I hope you're not too disappointed that the wonderful brownie recipe would qualify for that semi-homemade show on the Food Network; definitely not from Ina Garten!  

Me: Disappointed? Are you kidding? I am thrilled! I will make brownies from scratch, but I honestly don't think I get a better result than when I make them from a box. I am psyched to try out the Mrs D/Betty Crocker version.

Josh was over at our house again this weekend helping Dave re-insulate our house. (More on that another time.) Megan stopped by to join us for dinner. Since I was going to have the full cohort of brownie test subjects, I decided to make Mrs. D's version for comparison. The things I do for science, right? The unanimous verdict was that the semi-homemade version was superior to the Lebovitz from scratch version. We did extensive testing to back up our results.

So, if you are in the mood to make brownies from scratch, go for it. But if you have a box of Betty Crocker around, make this version of the cheesecake brownie. Just to be clear: Best. Brownies. Ever.

Here is Mrs. D's recipe:

Philly Cheesecake Brownies
Prep time:  20 minutes
Baking time:  40 minutes

1        pkg. Betty Crocker Dark Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix
1        pkg. (8 oz.) Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese, softened
1/3    cup sugar
1        egg   
1/2    tsp. vanilla
*I added 1/2 bag of chocolate chips to the batter as well.
Prepare brownie mix as directed on package.  Pour into greased 13x9-inch baking pan.
Beat cream cheese with electric mixer on medium until smooth.  Add sugar and vanilla;
           mix just until blended.
Pour cream cheese mixture over brownie mixture; cut through batter with knife several
           for marbled effect.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until cream cheese mixture is lightly browned.

Changes to original recipe:  I use an 8x8 pan, pour a little more than half of brownie mixture into prepared pan, dollop the cream cheese mixture over that (without spreading it), then pour rest of brownie mixture over the cream cheese and marble it very lightly.  I think we decided we didn't like too much of the cream cheese getting browned.  In my oven, the 8x8 pan takes 50-55 minutes.

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