Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies

Brownies are probably my #1 favorite dessert of all time. And for me, there really is no such thing as a bad brownie. I used to be all about cake-y brownies but I’ve learned to appreciate those on the fudgy end of the spectrum too. Also, can I confess that I love brownies made from a box? I’m not usually big on packaged mixes for baking, but brownies are totally the exception. Shane and I made a big pan of them about a month ago and I would be embarrassed to tell you how quickly we devoured them…

Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies

One of the best things about brownies is that they’re open to endless variation. Roasted Cherry. Dulce de Leche. Peanut Butter Cup Truffle. Banana Split. I could go on and on, but I think you get the point. Pumpkin, though? I’d never gone there before, which was sort of silly given my love of the combination of chocolate and pumpkin. Shawnda took the idea even one step further by adding cream cheese and warm fall spices to the mix too. Totally genius, right?

Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies

These brownies fall squarely in the dense and fudgy category, and I loved them! I wasn’t sure whether the chocolate would overwhelm the pumpkin and the spices, but their flavors shone through. The brownies are rich, a few small bites were plenty for me. They freeze well though so you can do that and then pull them out on demand :)

The brownie batter is much heavier than the cheesecake layer so swirling the two together was somewhat tricky (I was probably a little over-zealous), but rest assured they’ll taste good regardless of how well you swirl them!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies
adapted from Everyday Food (via Confections of a Foodie Bride)

{Note: if you don’t have pumpkin pie spice, you can substitute a combination of more common spices. Check the link to Shawnda’s site above for specifics.}

Brownies
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Pumpkin Cheesecake
4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature (reduced fat is fine)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line an 8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on opposite sides to lift the brownies out afterward. Spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

To make the brownie layer: Combine the butter and chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30-second bursts on 50% power, stirring in between each, until the mixture is melted and smooth. Add the sugar and whisk until well combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking to combine after each addition. Add the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt and whisk until incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and use a spatula to spread in an even layer.

To make the cheesecake layer: Combine the cream cheese and sugar in a medium bowl. Beat with a hand mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the pumpkin puree, beating until well combined. Mix in the egg and vanilla just until completely incorporated. Finally, add the flour and pumpkin pie spice and beat until combined.

Dollop the pumpkin cheesecake batter on top of the brownie batter. Use a knife to swirl the two together – the brownie batter is much heavier than the cheesecake batter, it helps to try to lift the brownie batter to the top as you swirl.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Remove the pan to a wire rack and let the brownies cool completely before lifting them out with the foil “handles” and cutting into squares.