Why make brownies or cheesecake when you can have both? That was my thinking, until I realized that the confusion over what my beautiful franken-cake really was may have been the reason behind it’s lack of ribbon-winning at the Rehoboth Chocolate Festival Baking Contest.
Though the (nepotistic! prejudiced!) judges did not name any of the creations that Harry’s mom, Harry, and I entered as baking contest winners, we thoroughly enjoyed sampling the dozens of submissions that other eager bakers submitted. And did I mention that someone molded a surf and turf feast out of some sort of chocolate? So, there’s that.
And while we did not get to sample that showpiece, the many other tastes left us all napping and sporadically debating what constitutes the perfect anti-chocolate. General consensus suggested shrimp or unsweetened tea, though someone was persistent that horseradish was the top contender.
Whatever your antidote may be, I suggest you stock up! After feasting on this fudge-y, creamy, and all-around rich brownie cheesecake (or cheesecake brownies, instructions on how to convert below), you’ll be needing it.
Adapted from Joy of Baking
Makes 1 Cheesecake
1 3/4 cup chocolate graham crackers, crushed
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon sugar
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into smaller pieces
8 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature (Make sure you use full fat cream cheese!)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
For the crust, combine the melted butter, chocolate graham cracker crumbs, and sugar until evenly mixed. Press mixture into the bottom of a 9 inch pan. Make sure to press down on the crumbs enough to form a nice, dense crust. Bake in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove and let cool while you prepare the rest of the cheesecake.
For the brownie layer, place the chocolate and butter in a double boiler and mix as they melt. Once both the chocolate and butter have completely melted, remove from the heat, and add the sugar and vanilla extract. Whisk until they are evenly incorporated. Add the eggs, one by one, whisking well after each addition. Stir in the flour and salt and mix until the mixture appears glossy. Set 1 cup of the chocolate mixture aside, and pour the rest into the pan over the crust. Even out the top.
For the cheesecake layer, put the softened cream cheese (make sure it has reached room temperature) in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and whisk at medium speed until it is smooth. Add the remaining cheesecake layer ingredients and whisk, combining well. You will want to run a spoon around the bowl occasionally to make sure the ingredients are mixing evenly. Carefully pour the mixture over the chocolate layer, trying not to combine the two layers. Even out the top of the cheesecake layer.
If the chocolate batter that was set aside has cooled and solidified, put it in the microwave for a few seconds to soften it. Use a teaspoon to dollop the chocolate batter that was set aside onto the cheesecake layer. Then use a toothpick to swirl the chocolate into a design.
Place the cheesecake in the oven and cook for 45 to 60 minutes. The cheesecake is ready when the edges have browned and the center does not wobble when the pan is slightly shaken. Once the cheesecake is baked, remove it from the oven and let it cool completely at room temperature. Once it is completely cooled, cover with aluminum foil, and store in the refrigerator. This cheesecake keeps well in the fridge for a few days.
If you would rather have cheesecake brownies, omit the crust layer, and halve the recipe. This will make enough to fit a 9 inch square pan.
Enjoy cold or at room temperature, with a hot cup of coffee or a cold glass of unsweetened tea (the anti-chocolate).