I'm cranking through my to-do list this week to get ready to go back to work next week. Took my car in for servicing, got a car wash (and promptly got rained on on my way home - awesome), got the batteries in my watches replaced (they both decided to die at the same time - further awesomeness), and am hitting the baking. You'd think I'd focus solely on the baking books I have in order to further my baking challenge instead of getting distracted by whatever new cookbooks I can check out at the library. But like any shiny new object, this newly released cookbook by Emily Luchetti caught my eye and I couldn't resist checking it out and thumbing through it. I earmarked a few recipes to copy and bake in the future. For now, I'm going with this brownie recipe as something straightforward to make and a good addition to the goodie bags I'm making for friends this week.
Both the brownie batter and the cream cheese batter are almost equal in amount so you can conceivably make this as a two-layer brownie. But I followed instructions and swirled the two batters instead although I mostly swirled the top layer and kept the bottom brownie layer mostly intact. This didn't have the extraneous addition of nuts or even chocolate chips and I liked the idea of just a straight brownie. Since I'm not a big cream cheese fan, I also liked flavoring the cream cheese batter with coffee. I used espresso powder instead of instant coffee granules and I dissolved them in the vanilla extract first before adding to the cream cheese batter. It just blends better in the batter that way and you don't have to worry about the granules getting concentrated in one part of the batter or not melting appropriately. I ended up baking mine for 40 minutes (every oven is different) - the cream cheese part hadn't quite set but the brownie part was done.
Because the cream cheese batter is equally predominant, this is not a brownie you want to serve warm as it'll be too gooey. Let it cool to room temperature and even chill it if you want to give it more of a cheesecake texture. I love the chocolate part of this brownie and didn't mind the cream cheese part - the mocha flavoring definitely helps the cream cheese go down easy. But next time I'd probably do a better job of swirling both batters together so there's not such a huge swath of cream cheese all at once in any given piece. If you like cheesecake, swirl as little as you please. If you don't, swirl away. As always, use the best quality chocolate you can (I used Lindt) as that'll make a big difference in how these taste.
9 ounces dark chocolate (58 to 62% cacao), chopped or broken into 1-inch pieces
10 tablespoons (1 ¼ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
Large pinch of kosher salt
Coffee-Cream Cheese Layer
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 350⁰F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9 x 9-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray or butter.
2. Chocolate layer: Melt the chocolate and butter in the top half of a double boiler. Stir and scrape the side of the saucepan occasionally with a rubber spatula until the chocolate is smooth and evenly melted. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar and eggs until smooth. Stir in the melted chocolate, then the flour and salt and mix until well blended. Turn the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly with the spatula.
4. Coffee-Cream Cheese Layer: In another bowl, mix the cream cheese with the sugar until smooth. Add the eggs and stir until combined. Scrape down the side of the bowl with the rubber spatula. Stir in the instant coffee and vanilla until everything is well blended.
5. Using a rubber spatula, spread the cream cheese mixture on top of the chocolate layer, then run a table knife through the cream cheese to swirl it into large white ribbons throughout the brown batter.
6. Bake, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownie comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes.