Earlier this week, one of our favorite neighbors celebrated his birthday. I wanted to bake him something but, not surprisingly, I didn’t get around to it until the last minute. When I’d called my neighbor’s wife to ask what she thought he’d like, she told me he loved Twix and I immediately thought of the millionaire’s shortbread from the Baked book, which have a shortbread base topped with caramel filling and then a chocolate glaze. Unfortunately, there simply wasn’t time to get them completed before it would be too late for us to deliver them to their house. I still plan to bake them, especially since I also love Twix, but it’ll have to wait for another day.
Luckily, she also told me he loved chocolate and cheesecake, so I came up with a backup plan. Brownies!! Everyone loves brownies and when you add cheesecake and peanut butter to the equation, they’re bound to be a hit. Plus, they’re quick to whip up – perfect if you’re a procrastinator like me and need to put together a dessert in short order. We loved these brownies – the base is fudgy and moist and the peanut butter cheesecake swirl was perfect. It’s slightly tangy with a definite cheesecake texture, but the peanut butter flavor makes it appealing even for cheesecake haters (like Shane – who gladly gobbled a few of the brownies that didn’t make it over to our neighbor).
Just a few quick tips for this recipe. The only 8×8 baking pan I have is a Pyrex so that’s what I used. I have a few 9×9 pans, but I didn’t want the brownies to be too thin. The recipe instructs 25-30 minutes for the baking time and that would probably be fine if you use a metal pan, but my baking time was closer to 35 minutes in my Pyrex. Also, the brownie batter is thick and it will be easier to swirl with the cheesecake batter if you work quickly. I stopped to take pictures as I dropped the batter into the pan and my swirls suffered
4 ounces cream cheese, softened 1/3 cup peanut butter 1/8 cup sugar 1 egg yolk (save the egg white for the brownie batter) 1 tablespoon milk
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted 1 cup sugar 1 egg plus 1 egg white 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 2/3 cup flour
Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray an 8-x-8-inch baking pan with cooking spray, then line with foil (or parchment), leaving an overhang on 2 sides to create a sling. Spray the foil with cooking spray.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar and cream cheese on medium until combined. Add the peanut butter to the bowl and beat to incorporate fully. Finally, mix in the egg yolk and milk until the cheesecake batter is smooth; set aside.
Combine the cocoa powder, flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. In another medium bowl, whisk together the sugar and melted butter. Add the whole egg as well as the egg white and the vanilla extract and whisk to combine. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and use a rubber spatula to mix until combined.
Smooth 2/3 of the brownie batter in the bottom of the prepared baking pan. Add the cheesecake batter on top and smooth to form an even layer. Drop the remaining brownie batter by spoonfuls on top of the cheesecake and then use a knife to swirl the two together.
Bake for 25-30 minutes (probably closer to 35 minutes if you’re baking in Pyrex), or until a thin knife inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Remove the pan to a cooling rack. Once the brownies have cooled, use the foil sling to lift them out of the pan and then cut them into squares.
I'm Tracey, a sports-obsessed Rhode Island girl who makes approachable food from scratch.