(this recipe for the cheesecake and this recipe for the brownies)
I've been baking for birthdays a lot (duh). Cakes are great, but if there's no party, a cake is silly. Cakes are for big groups and should be cut with lots of people around. When I'm bringing a dessert to school a cake is really too much to deal with. I've been trying out different bar things. I looooove brownies but the problem with being the birthday fairy is that you always have to one-up yourself. I worry that I have to keep it fresh!
Thus, cheesecake brownies. This recipe called for a box brownie mix which is totally sacrilege in my book. (I remember last year I made brownies for my boss for his birthday and one of the people in my lab said, "wow, I've never eaten brownies not from a box before!") I used my favorite brownie recipe instead. If you have a favorite, feel free to substitute. This one is super easy, the brownie part takes less than 10 minutes to make, and... these brownies are just about perfect if I do say so myself. Then you take something perfect and add cream cheese and sugar. Ohhhh!
For the brownies
1 cup melted butter
3 cups white sugar (some of the reviewers on this recipe recommended using some brown sugar, but I tried that and don't like it as much)
1 Tbsp vanilla extract (or more, I never measure vanilla, I just pour until I'm happy)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup cocoa powder (sifted to remove clumps)
1 tsp salt
1-2 cups chocolate chips (at least 1 cup, use more if you're indulgent, but don't skip these!)
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional, I didn't use them this time, but I often do when I just make brownies without cheesecake on top)
For the cheesecake
8 oz. bar of cream cheese at room temperature (use Philadelphia! it's the best for baking, seriously)
2 Tbsp butter at room temperature
1 Tbsp cornstarch
14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla
1. Preheat your oven to 350. Line a 9x13 pan with aluminum foil and grease generously.
2. In a large bowl, mix the melted butter, sugar and vanilla.
3. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
4. Mix in flour, cocoa and salt.
5. Fold in chocolate chips and nuts (if using)
6. Pour the brownie batter into the prepared pan.
7. Cream together cream cheese, butter and cornstarch in a medium bowl or mixer. This will take a little while if you are doing it without a mixer, so make sure it's very soft!
8. Slowly mix in vanilla and egg, followed by sweetened condensed milk and keep mixing until everything is fully worked in.
9. Pour the cream cheese mixture evenly over the brownie batter, smoothing with a rubber spatula.
10. Bake for about 45 minutes or until the cheesecake is starting to brown. The top might crack a little. DO NOT OVERBAKE. If you're unsure, just take it out of the oven. These (like almost all brownies) are better undercooked.
11. Allow to cool completely (at least 2 hours) before cutting into bars and eating more than you intended to.