These cream cheese brownies are rich and fudgy with a swirl of cheesecake. The tanginess of the cheesecake layer balances out the extra chocolate-y brownies, making these the perfect decadent brownie recipe. These cream cheese brownies combine 2 of my favorite desserts in one: fudgy brownies and cheesecake. You end up with a brownie that’s extra decadent, and tanginess of the cream cheese creates the perfect balance of flavors. They’re the type brownie that’s just a little extra special, and the pretty swirls on top makes them decadent looking too.
The Story Behind these Cream Cheese Brownies
The first time I told
boyfriend fiance I was planning to make cheesecake he told me he didn’t like it. What???? How could he NOT like one of my best friends?
Frankly – I was a little hurt and not impressed by his judgemental attitude. But after the initial surprise and anger subsided, I got competitive. It was challenge accepted – and I was ready to prove to him that cheesecake is delicious.
And these cream cheese brownies were just the way to do it. Because disguising cheesecake into fudgy brownies is clearly the way to win over anyone’s heart, change their mind and prove your point.
How to Make Cream Cheese Brownies
To make these brownies – you need to make the 2 components: the brownie layer and the cheesecake layer.
To make the brownie layer:
- In a heatproof bowl, first melt together ½ cup unsalted butter with 4 oz dark chocolate. I recommend using between 50-70% dark chocolate. Just make sure that you don’t use bittersweet chocolate or they’ll be way too bitter.
- Whisk 1 cup of sugar into the mixture.
- Then whisk in 2 large eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Make sure that the mixture isn’t super hot before adding in the eggs, otherwise you can end up with scrambled eggs.
- Gently fold in ½ cup all-purpose flour and ¼ teaspoon salt.
Then the cheesecake layer is made with just 3 ingredients:
- In a medium bowl using an electric mixer, beat together 8 oz cream cheese with ⅓ cup sugar. Make sure to use full-fat, brick style cream cheese, and ensure that the cream cheese is room temperature before getting started (this ensures no lumps).
- Then beat in 1 large egg.
From, there – it’s time to “assemble” the brownies, and create that beautiful swirly top.
- Reserve ½ cup of brownie batter, then pour the rest of the brownie mixture into a prepared 8×8 inch pan.
- Smooth the brownie batter to cover the entire pan.
- Pour the cheesecake batter over top.
- Drop 16 spoonfuls of the reserved ½ cup of brownie batter over the cheesecake batter (I do 4 lines of 4).
- Using a toothpick or a thin knife, swirl the batter.
From there – the brownies are ready to bake. They’ll take about 30 minutes to bake in an oven preheated at 350F.
Cutting And Serving Brownies
For these brownies – it’s imperative that you cool them fully, then chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours before cutting into them. Chilling the brownies in the fridge allows them to fully set, and actually improves the flavor. It also ensures that the brownies cut beautifully with clean edges.
How to Cut Brownies – Always cut brownies that are fully cooled. Cut with a thin, sharp knife – not a butter knife. You want to make clean, sharp cuts – not saw the knife back and forth. Then wipe your knife off in between each cut.
Now for a few FAQs:
- Can I make these cream cheese brownies in a 9×13 inch pan? Yes – simply double all the quantities. When you go to assemble the brownies – reserve 1 cup of the brownie batter for swirling. The bake time will be about the same.
- Can I use box mix brownie batter for this recipe? I don’t recommend it. I find that box brownies aren’t the best consistency for swirling.
And if you love brownies – make sure to try these other favorites:
Cream Cheese Brownies
For the Brownie Layer
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- 4 oz dark chocolate* , I used 70%
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs**
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup all purpose flour , spooned & leveled
For the Cheesecake Layer
- 8 oz cream cheese**
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg**
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Line an 8x8 inch metal pan with parchment paper, or aluminum foil and lightly grease.
- In a large microwave safe bowl melt together the butter and dark chocolate in short 30 second bursts, stirring between each until entirely melted together.
- Whisk in the sugar.
- Cool for 3-5 minutes, then whisk in the eggs and vanilla extract.
- Gently fold in the flour and salt using rubber spatula or wooden spoon.
- In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth with no lumps.
- Beat in the egg until just incorporated.
Swirling & Baking
- Reserve ½ cup of brownie batter. Spoon the rest of the brownie batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
- Pour the cheesecake batter over the brownie layer.
- Drop small spoonfulls of the reserved brownie batter on top of the cheesecake layer. I do 4 rows with 4 spoonfulls in each row.
- Using a toothpick or sharp, thin knife - swirl the batter.
- Bake for 28-32 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the center looks set and an inserted toothpick comes out clean or with just a few damp crumbs.
- Cool fully, then cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- When ready to serve remove from the fridge and lift the brownies out of the pan using the overhang from the aluminium foil. Cut into squares using a sharp knife.
Oh em gee. I’m pretty sure my life will not be complete until these are in my hands / mouth.
They will seriously change your dessert life… I don’t think I can go back to regular brownies anymore
Can you use cocoa powder instead of chocolate?
If you wanted to use cocoa powder instead, I’d add 2 extra tablespoons of butter (for a total of 10 tablespoons) and add 1/2 cup cocoa powder. I’d also increase the sugar to 1 and 1/4 cup instead of 1 cup 🙂
You never fail to crack me up with your stories! And drool. Definitely drool, too. These brownies look AMAZING!
You’re making me internet blush! 🙂
Keith @ How's it Lookin?
They look great. Multi-layer brownies are awesome, thanks for sharing
Looks so yummeeeh 🙂 I shared this recipe of yours on my blog hope you don’ mind 🙂
hello ! I am wanting to make these asap ! What sized pan did you use?
An 8×8 inch square pan lined with aluminium foil and lightly greased 🙂
Hi! This looks great! I am planning to make it tomorrow. My question is that in the recipe you didn’t have any baking powder, I am wondering if they are fine without? Thanks 🙂
There’s no baking powder or baking soda in these brownies by design. Baking powder makes things rise, so if you want fudgier brownies that are dense – it’s best to leave it out. Typically brownie recipes that are more cake-like will have baking powder. But for this recipe I wanted really fudgy brownies, so I left it out
Thank you! I will do the same 🙂
I made those today to try them out, and now I’ve created a monster in my son. He won’t stop harassing me to make them again tomorrow. Yeah, because by the end of the evening, they were GONE. Thanks a lot, for giving me a new weapon of persuasion toward my son. They are delicious!
Hahaha – this made my day!!!! So glad you loved them and that I could give you a new parenting tool 😉
Hi, I’m going to be using a 9×9 inch pan. How do I modify the recipe? Thanks and can’t wait to try it!!
You won’t need to modify the recipe at all – the bars will just be a little thinner
These sound great, my question is, can you use parchment paper instead of tin foil in the pan if it is butteered?
You can definitely use parchment paper instead.
I made this recipe today and I’m sure it would’ve been absolutely delicious!! Unfortunately the cream cheese layer, was very salty. I assume it was because the cream cheese I used, Philadelphia, was very salty but I’m not sure.
I’m going to try this again another time and use another cream cheese or leave out the salt!
Can’t wait to try your other recipes too!