Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Brownies on the brain

I really think that something happens to your brain during pregnancy. And while it may seem to return to normal, it's never quite the same afterwards. I particularly noticed this when I was pregnant with Brianna. My memory had some definite issues. On many occasions I ended up telling Jamie, "I believe that you told me _____. I just have no recollection of it..." (Heck, that one still happens--I do wonder if lack of sleep also kills brain cells...) One big sign of my absent-mindedness was when I was baking. One recipe in particular was a problem on several different occasions.

Quite a few years back, one of my aunts gave me a recipe for Black and White Cheesecake Brownies. I think it must have originally come from the back of a bag of Nestle Mini Morsels. Any time I would make these brownies, everyone would rave about them. I must have messed them up at least three times when making them while pregnant with B. One time I put the salt that was supposed to go in the brownie base into the cheesecake batter. Not good. Another time I set the oven to the completely wrong temperature (I must have had pizza on the brain, because I set it way too hot) and realized it about 20 minutes into baking them. I know I messed them up at least one other time, but I can't remember what I did wrong (see, I told you it doesn't really get better after you have the baby...). Fortunately, I have made them since without incident, so it wasn't a completely permanent sort of thing.

I was reminded of all this by this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe. Melissa of Life in a Peanut Shell picked Espresso Cheesecake Brownies for us to make. They consist of a brownie layer on the bottom topped with a cheesecake layer (with a bit of swirling the two together) and a sour cream topping. I figured I'd be playing around just a bit with this one. I'm not a big fan of coffee flavored things, but I do keep espresso powder around since it adds a deeper flavor to chocolate desserts. So I decided to go with a vanilla cheesecake on top of espresso brownies. Since there were some reports that the brownies weren't that chocolatey, I figured that would help. I also used 70% chocolate (El Rey) for another flavor boost. Since I planned to take most of the brownies to the daycare, I left off the sour cream part for easier transportation.

The brownies were easy to make. To start, I lined my 9" square pan with non-stick foil. I find it helps tremendously with getting brownies out of the pan. Then I mixed up the cheescake batter (be sure to have your cream cheese at room temp--helps avoid lumps). Next, I mixed up the brownie batter (oh, forgot to say above that I added some chocolate chips to it, as well) and put it in the pan, reserving some for swirling. I added the layer of cheesecake batter, dropped spoonfuls of the reserved brownie batter on top, and swirled them together. I ended up baking the brownies for 33 minutes.

The verdict? I'm sad to say that these really didn't turn out that great. Brianna and Gillian didn't like them, and they both love brownies. Jamie thought they were okay, but nothing outstanding. They looked really pretty, but the brownie part was rather dry, and just not that chocolatey, even with my modifications. The cheesecake part was pretty good, but overall, this one wasn't a favorite. I definitely prefer my existing cheesecake brownie recipe. When I compared the two, the main difference that I saw was that the brownie base for my usual one has about three ounces more chocolate. Like the brownie buttons, I do like the concept, but I'd like to try again and play around with the brownie base.

If you'd like to give these brownies a try for yourself, head on over to Melissa's blog. When I have a little more time, I'll type up the recipe I usually use, but you can also find it (or something very similar) by googling "Black and White Cheesecake Brownies."


  1. Well, they look great. I see you did not put the topping on. Wise choice as it really detracted from the rest of the brownie.

    Too bad they weren't your thing, tho'.

  2. Well, if your family didn't care for 'em, you could always send 'em up here!! We could find it in our hearts to take care of them for you!


  3. Even though they weren't the hit of the family, they look fantastic! You got some great swirl action happening!

  4. You definitely win this week's swirl award! That brownie base was do disappointing, but, like you, I generally like the concept. I'll be interested to see what you come up with when you experiment with the recipe.

  5. Yeah - they weren't a hit at our house either - and you know I looove brownies.

    Oh well - I'm looking forward to your b/w brownies.

    I'll wait.


  6. I'm feeling a little bad as these brownies were a really big hit around here with the guys, and they loved that topping...chocolate, coffee, sour cream, cheesecake...it was like it was just made for them! Yours look very beautiful. I could not get swirling...all my chocolate sank to the bottom and I couldn't figure out where to swirl, so nothing by way of a swirl from here. Truly, yours are beautiful!

  7. What a wonderful swirl, glad I had the topping to cover my swirls :-)

    Ulrike @ Küchenlatein

  8. They do look great, so sorry they didn't live up to your expectations.

  9. I do want to try these again because I really wanted to like them more. Like you, I really liked the concept.
    Regardless, your brownies look great.

  10. All I can say about all your comments is, "ditto!" I agree. Great concept, not so great taste-wise for me.

  11. Your swirls are awesome, Mine were so stiff I couldn't get those darn little lumps to dance around at all. They tasted good though. I did enjoy the marriage of the three flavors together. So the sweet tangy sour cream "icing" with the sweetness underneath was quite good. However, like you, its really hard to beat an oooey goooey dark chocolate brownie with or w/o walnuts. Great job

  12. Your brownies are gorgeous! I wish my swirls had been half as nice as yours :) These were a big hit with my neighbor, but just ok for me. My brownie layer was too thin so the cheesecake sort of dominated.

    Oh, and the pregnancy thing? I already have the worst memory ever. If it gets worse I'm in trouble!

  13. These brownies really do look tasty. Too bad you guys didn't like them. We love brownies around here, but never tried ones like this.

    Christine M.