by Stephanie Zonis
People love brownies. People love cheesecake, too, and these bars combine the best of both worlds. These are not difficult to make, but they are terrific for almost any social occasion, and they make a nice gift, too; wrap them individually in plastic wrap, then place them in a fancy tin. Because they freeze perfectly, they're ideal for dessert when unexpected guests drop by. Some people, like me, don't even bother to defrost them before serving, as I think they are equally good chilled or frozen.!
If it is necessary to the comfort of your heart (this means you, Mom), you can add some chopped walnuts or pecans to the brownie batter, but if you do so you might want to omit the chocolate chips unless you like a lot of crunch in your brownies (the chips are, after all crunchy when cold).
Cream Cheese Layer:
12 ozs. cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs, graded "large"
1/2 cup sour cream
1-1/2 cups chocolate chips
3/4 cup (12 Tbsp. or 1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
7 squares (7 ozs.) unsweetened chocolate, chopped
5 squares (5 ozs.) semisweet chocolate, chopped
4 eggs, graded "large"
2 cups plus 3 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2/3 cup flour
Line a 13" by 9" by 2" deep pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil, shiny side up, leaving some overhang and folding it down on the outside of the pan. Grease the bottom only lightly with vegetable shortening. Set aside. Adjust rack to center of oven; preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
For Cream Cheese Layer:
In small bowl of electric stand mixer (or use a medium bowl and a powerful hand-held mixer), combine softened cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. Beat at low speed until mixed, then increase speed to medium and beat just until perfectly smooth (you don't want a lot of air in this mixture). Scrape bowl and beater(s) frequently with rubber spatula. At low speed, add eggs, one at a time, beating after each only until smooth and incorporated. Remove from mixer; by hand, fold in sour cream. Set aside at room temperature.
For Brownie Layer:
In medium heatproof bowl, combine butter and chopped chocolates. Place over simmering water on low heat (water should not touch bottom of bowl). Stir often until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and hot water; cool at least 15 minutes.
In large bowl, combine eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt. With large spoon, beat until well-mixed and slightly foamy, about one minute. Add chocolate mixture, which may still be slightly warm, and beat in until combined. Add flour; stir in just until mixed. Batter will be on the thin side--OK.
Measure out 2-1/4 cups of the brownie batter. Turn into prepared pan. Spread level, then run batter slightly higher along pan edges and in corners. Slowly pour cream cheese mixture over brownie layer; spread level. Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over cream cheese, keeping them about 1/2" away from edges. Using back of clean spoon or spatula, gently tamp chips down into cream cheese layer just slightly.
Stir remaining brownie batter to loosen; place small spoonfuls all over top of cream cheese layer. Spoonfuls will not entirely cover cream cheese layer--OK. If you wish, with a toothpick or cake tester, cut through the brownie spoonfuls and just into the cream cheese layer five or six times, first parallel to the long edges of the pan, then parallel to the short edges of the pan. The brownie spoonfuls will have set somewhat after coming into contact with the colder cream cheese layer, so they may provide a bit of resistance to the toothpick. This step is optional, but it creates a nice marbling effect.
Place the pan into the preheated oven. Bake 33-40 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into a brownie patch in the center of the pan emerges with only a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Do not overbake. Note that the brownies will come away from the sides of the pan only as they cool, and that the sides will take on a golden color (the top doesn't brown). Let cool to room temperature, then cover and chill at least 6 hours before cutting.
To cut, remove brownies, still in foil, from pan. Peel back foil from sides. with long, sharp, heavy knife, trim and discard about 1/2" from each edge. Try using a serrated knife and a straight-edged knife; see what works best for you. I cut these into 32 bars; however you cut them, you'll need to rinse the knife blade under hot water and dry it frequently. Wrap each individual brownie in plastic wrap. Store in refrigerator or freezer and serve cold--or frozen!
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This page created November 1998
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