Chocolate + peanut butter + cheesecake. Need I say more? These brownies are over the top delicious.
These peanut butter cheesecake brownies are my idea of the perfect dessert. The brownie layer is fudgy, the peanut butter cheesecake is extra creamy, and chocolate ganache on top is the perfect addition. They’re not overly sweet, but very, very rich. The tanginess of the cheesecake pairs perfectly with the peanut butter and chocolate.
Making the Brownies
This recipe has 3 layers – so while it isn’t overly difficult, it does have quite a few steps.
You’ll first make the brownie batter. It’s made with melted butter and dark chocolate – as opposed to oil and cocoa powder. They’re fudgy and rich, but not too sweet. You’ll bake the brownie layer on its own first for about 20 minutes (it won’t be entirely done baking, but close). I found it necessary to bake the brownies first in this recipe so that the brownie layer isn’t too gooey or raw.
As the brownie layer is baking, you’ll make the peanut butter cheesecake layer. It’s tangy, thick and peanut buttery-y without being too sweet. You’ll spoon the peanut butter cheesecake batter over the baked brownie layer and then spread the top smooth.
Then the pan goes back in the oven to bake at a slightly lower temperature. It will need to bake for about 30 minutes. When it’s done baking, the top should look set, except for perhaps in the very middle. It may start to crack slightly around the edges, but if you’re seeing cracks in the middle, it’s definitely done baking.
It will need to cool fully, and then chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours before serving. This is necessary because it allows the cheesecake to properly set and the flavor actually improves. I typically make the brownies (brownie base and cheesecake layer) the day before I plan to serve them and chill in the fridge overnight. Then I’ll add the chocolate ganache topping the next day. If the top of your cheesecake isn’t perfect, the chocolate ganache also hides any imperfections.
Baking Tips for Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownies
- Make sure to bake the brownie layer on its own first – this ensures that the brownie layer isn’t raw.
- For the cheesecake layer, use full-fat, brick-style cream cheese.
- The cream cheese, sour cream and eggs must be room temperature before making the cheesecake layer.
- Use regular, smooth peanut butter. Natural or homemade can separate and add too much oil to the cheesecake.
- Baking times can vary – be sure to monitor your cheesecake carefully as its baking.
- Note – these brownies are very rich. So you only need a small piece!
Want more peanut butter recipes?
- Peanut Butter Cheesecake Bars – these have a thicker cheesecake layer and an Oreo crust
- No-Bake Peanut Butter Cheesecake
- Peanut Butter Pie
Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownies
- 8x8 inch (20x20cm) pan
- ½ cup unsalted butter cut into 6-8 pieces
- 4 ounces 50-70% dark chocolate* finely chopped
- ¾ cup white sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 10 ounces full-fat, brick-style cream cheese room temperature
- ⅓ cup white sugar
- ½ cup smooth peanut butter*
- ¼ cup sour cream* room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 large egg room temperature
- 1 large egg yolk discard the egg white
- 5 ounces dark chocolate* or semi-sweet
- ½ cup heavy cream 33-35% MF
- Line an 8x8 inch (20x20 cm) metal pan with parchment paper so that there is an overhang around the edges. Or, line with aluminum foil (leaving an overhang around the edges) and lightly grease with cooking spray.
- Preheat the oven to 350F (180C) degrees.
- Add the chopped butter and finely chopped chocolate to a large heat-proof bowl. Microwave on medium power (not high powder, which is standard on many models) for 45-second intervals, stirring between each interval until smooth.
- Whisk in the sugar and vanilla extract. Then whisk in the eggs. Make sure the batter isn't still hot when adding in the eggs - otherwise they can scramble.
- Gently stir in the flour and salt.
- Pour the brownie batter into the prepared pan and smooth it out to the edges.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. The top should look set, and you should start to see it pulling away from the edges. Once the brownie is out of the oven, turn the oven down to 325F (160C) degrees.
Peanut Butter Cheesecake Layer
- As the brownie is baking, make the cheesecake.
- In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth.
- Beat in the peanut butter. Be sure to turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl .
- With the mixer on a low speed, mix in the sour cream and vanilla extract.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and additional egg yolk. Then with the mixer on low speed, beat the whisked eggs into the batter. Stop mixing as soon as the egg is combined.
- Spoon the cheesecake batter on top of the baked brownie and smooth the top. Be careful - the pan will be hot.
- Place the pan back in the oven and bake for another 30-35 minutes. When the cheesecake layer is done baking, it should look set on top, except for perhaps in the very middle. You may start to see small cracks around the edges. If you start to see cracks forming in the middle of your cheesecake, then it's definitely done baking.
- Turn off the oven and open the oven door. Cool the cheesecake in the oven (turned off with the door open) for 30 minutes. Then remove from the oven and continue cooling until the pan is room temperature.
- Cover the pan with aluminum foil and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours for the cheesecake to properly set. I typically do this overnight.
- Finely chop the chocolate into very small pieces and place in a heat proof bowl.
- Heat the cream until almost boiling (either in the microwave or in a saucepan while gently stirring).
- Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let sit for 2 minutes. Then whisk until smooth.
- Remove the cheesecake from the fridge. If there's any condensation on top of the cheesecake, pat it dry with a paper towel.
- Pour the ganache over top and and spread it smooth. Place the bars back in the fridge for the ganache to harden.
- When ready to slice & serve. Lift the bars out of the pan using the overhang of the parchment paper/aluminum foil. Place the bars on a cutting board and slice using a sharp knife (not a table knife). Wipe the knife clean with a paper towel in between each slice.
- Store bars in an airtight container in the fridge.
- I like to use 50% dark chocolate for this recipe. I do not recommend using anything stronger than 70% or the brownies can get too rich. Semi-sweet chocolate works too, if you like sweeter brownies.
- Make sure to use commercial-style, smooth peanut butter. Do not use natural, homemade, or anything that can separate - otherwise you can end up with oil in the cheesecake.
- The cream cheese, sour cream and eggs should be room temperature before getting started. Be sure to take them out of the fridge about 30 minutes before getting started.
- For the sour cream, I use 14% MF. Make sure to use sour cream that comes out of a tub.
- Chilling the cheesecake before serving is necessary.
- For the chocolate ganache toping - feel free to use dark chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate. I typically use 50% dark chocolate.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- Nutrition information is an estimate only and based on 1 brownie, assuming that the pan is sliced into 16 equal pieces.