When I lived in Amherst, Massachusetts almost twenty years ago, there was this great bakery called The Black Sheep. I had never seen a cream cheese brownie, I think, til I came face-to-face with an industrial-sized pan of them displayed in their window. I needed them often, and made all sorts of excuses to go into town so I could have them. They were huge, too. Fun.
I go years at a time without thinking of cream cheese brownies, but when the thought strikes I must have one… or a whole pan. In the absence of The Black Sheep I experimented on my own last night and I am here to tell you — you, too, can make the most kick-ass brownie you have ever eaten. Excuse my language, Mema; these are good!
Here’s how you do it: Make any basic brownie batter you really like — from a box, from scratch, whatever. In my highly brownie-baking educated opinion, fudgy works better than cake-like for this experiment — so I added a little extra butter. Why not?
TIP: The Moosewood Cookbook has a good brownie recipe. And use the morning’s left over coffee instead of water in any brownie recipe. It won’t necessarily be mocha-flavored, just richer.
Put the batter in the pan just like you normally would. Take a container or two of cream cheese and beat it up in a bowl so it’s a little soft. Drop dollops of it on top of the batter. I pushed them down a little bit so they’d permeate the chocolate and spread out… and because what I really wanted to experiment with came next: ladle a dollop of Nutella in the center of each precious mound of cream cheese. Pull a knife through however you like just like making a marble cake.
I was particularly concerned about the Nutella because I’ve had mixed results heating it. YUM! These brownies turned out well. The cream cheese is extremely tangy — some people like to mix sugar in with it. I like it this way. Because I wasn’t sure how these would turn out, I made a half a pan with pecans for my husband, who likes them that way. I notice the cream cheese side is almost gone today! 😉