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peanut butter cheesecake swirl brownies

January 18, 2011

So my school has all its first-years take a three-week class in negotiating and dealing with clients and decision-making—you know, all that stuff that we might someday need to know in order to function. They break us up into small groups and each day, we have to write a two-page memo on something or another.

It has the potential to be either super-awesome and chill or not so fun, depending on how the group work goes. As it happens, my group members are completely wonderful. Therefore, I decided to make them some brownies—you know, as a “thank you for not making me psychotic” present. I totally give those all the time. Plus, the dining hall had been seriously slacking in the brownie department for a couple of weeks (but naturally, on the day I lugged these in, they had them stocked again).

Also, as a sidenote, as soon as Annie posted this on her blog, I knew I had to make them IMMEDIATELY. Not sure if I’ve mentioned this yet or not, but I have a little bit of an obsession with finding the perfect brownie recipe. (I’ve found it several times, actually—most recently during the aforementioned snowday—but that doesn’t stop me from trying out new recipes at an unreasonable rate.) I used to/still love boxed brownies so much that it’s hard to find a suitable replacement from scratch. (A rational person might wonder if it’s even worth finding a recipe from scratch if I like the more convenient way more anyway. I mostly ignore rational people.)

And this recipe promised some new options. You mix some of the cream cheese into the batter itself, which, according to Annie, helps with moistness levels. Now, I wouldn’t necessarily know that, because I was too impatient to let the cream cheese come to room temperature, which resulted in little pellets of cream cheese suspending themselves throughout the batter. (Note to self: 50% power in the microwave only takes a few seconds to soften…) However, they’d mostly incorporated themselves by the time I baked and sliced the suckers, and they were very soft-yet-still-cooked-through. And the contrast between the sweet brownies and the tart-ish cheesecake was loverly. Plus, peanut butter.

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Swirl Brownies
14 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
6 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray. To make the brownie batter, combine the butter and chocolate in a large heatproof bowl set over simmering water. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is completely melted and smooth. Remove the bowl from the heat. Whisk in the cocoa powder, sugar, and cream cheese until smooth and well blended. Mix in the vanilla and salt. Add the flour to the bowl and whisk just until incorporated. Pour the brownie batter into the prepared baking dish and smooth the top with a spatula.
2. To make the peanut butter cheesecake portion, combine the cream cheese, peanut butter, and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. [Or, if your cream cheese is soft enough, just whisk it.] Beat on medium-high speed until completely smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Blend in the egg and vanilla until incorporated, scraping down the bowl as needed.
3. Drop spoonfuls of the peanut butter mixture over the brownie batter in the pan, creating a cobblestone appearance. Use a knife or wooden skewer to gently swirl together the peanut butter mixture and brownie batter. Bake 30-35 minutes, until the center is just set. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled before slicing and serving.

Source: Annie’s Eats

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