Brownies are one of those types of desserts that people seem to form strong opinions over. Some like cake-like brownies, and others like dense fudgy brownies. Personally, I love rich dense brownies, simply because I feel like the chocolate flavor comes through much better, since fudge brownie recipes call for real chocolate as opposed to cocoa powder. Regardless of this fact, I will never turn down a brownie of any sort. I mean, it would be silly to do such a thing. Brownies are so easily adaptable and come in so many different flavor combinations that choosing a fudgy brownie over a cake brownie would simply be unfathomable. Yes, just unfathomable.
There's something about the combination of brownies and cheesecake that people really seem to love...including me, obviously. I may not be the biggest fan of cheesecake itself (although I do enjoy a small slice of plain cheesecake with raspberry topping every now and then), but when cheesecake gets baked into anything else, whether it's a muffin or a cupcake, or a brownie, like in this case, I think the combination is really just outstanding.
This recipe for raspberry cream cheese brownies is so good. Seriously, it is. The brownies themselves are rich and full of a very nice chocolate flavor, and the layer of cream cheese and raspberry preserves that is sandwiched in the middle of the brownie is really just perfect. It's not too sweet, and it adds a really nice bit of extra flavor. But wait, this raspberry cheesecake-like filling...that's actually not my favorite part. Sorry if I made it seem that way. I mean, don't get me wrong, I think the middle layer of these brownies is awesome and all, but I think there is something else about them that makes the brownies even more amazing...
My REAL favorite part about these brownies is the fact that you actually infuse the raspberry flavor into the brownie batter. Yup, that's right. This brownie not only has a layer of raspberry cheesecake like filling, but also has raspberry flavored chocolate. The brownies start off like any other sort of fudge brownie would, by melting together chocolate and butter, and then comes the best part. Adding seedless raspberry preserves to the melted butter and chocolate mixture brings the brownies to a whole new level, making them taste like a raspberry fudge, or a raspberry truffle. I find this idea so simple and so ingenious at the same time, and I can't believe I had never thought about doing this before. I mean, I usually add hot coffee to brownie batter to enhance the flavor, why had I never thought about doing the same with a raspberry jam...or really, any sort of jam now that I think about it. I definitely need to play around with this idea. But, I digress. What I was trying to say was that my favorite part of these brownies is that the brownies themselves taste have their own raspberry flavor, giving you a hint of raspberry in every bite, and this makes all the difference, for me at least.
These raspberry cream cheese brownies are so good, you won't be able to stop at just one! I sure wasn't able to...sigh.
Raspberry Cream Cheese Brownies
recipe from Pink Parsley
For the Filling
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Brownies
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam, divided
1 1/4 cups sugar
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and position a rack in the middle of the oven. Grease and line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on each side.
In the bowl of a standard electric mixer, combine the cream cheese, sugar, egg yolk, and vanilla. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk together and set aside. In a large bowl set over a pot with a little simmering water (think double-boiler), place the chocolate and butter. Stir the butter and chocolate together until they have melted and become smooth and shiny. Whisk in 1/4 cup of raspberry jam, and allow the mixture to cool slightly, about ten minutes. Add the sugar, eggs, and vanilla to the chocolate mixture, making sure to stir continuously, until the mixture is fully incorporated. Whisk in the flour mixture, mixing only until just combined.
Microwave the remaining 1/4 cup raspberry jam until it's warm, about 30 seconds. Stir until smooth.
Add half of the brownie batter to the prepared baking dish, and smooth the top with a spatula. Drop spoonfuls of the cream cheese filling over the batter, and spread into an even layer. Drop spoonfuls of the warm raspberry jam over the cream cheese filling, and with a knife, swirl the raspberry jam throughout the cream cheese layer. Add the remaining brownie batter to the pan, and spread until smooth, making sure it has been evenly distributed.
Bake the brownies until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, or with a few dry crumbs attached to it, about 55 minutes. Cool the brownies in the pan for at least 2 hours before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. For easy cutting, place the brownies in the freezer for 15 minutes to firm up, and then use a warm knife to slice through them.