Fudgy and very delicious, these brownies are chocolatey, not-too-sweet, easy to make, and can be frozen. A chocolate layer is topped with a simple cream cheese mixture and swirled to get a marbled effect and a scrumptious brownie bar.
Originally posted in February 2014, this post has been updated with text and images to serve you better. The recipe was slightly tweaked to make it better.
We can all agree that chocolate and cheesecake are a fantastic pair.
This recipe is the perfect combination of both. A sibling to the decadent raspberry cheesecake brownies, another recipe worth making as soon as possible.
An excellent recipe for cream cheese brownies to have frozen at all times because we never know when the craving will hit, right?
These have been a big hit among friends and coworkers for years! They helped me break the ice at a new job years ago, and it's been one of the most asked-for recipes since.
About this recipe
- Easy to make. A few bowls, a pan, a whisk, and you're pretty much ready to bake these.
- Make ahead. Most brownies keep well for days and can be frozen; this one is no exception. Funny to think they will last that long, though.
- Simple ingredients. Nothing out of the ordinary, so you might have everything at home right now to make this recipe.
- Crowd pleaser. These homemade brownies are almost guaranteed to be liked by everyone. Serve it as a dessert at potlucks, barbecues, and picnics.
All your usual brownie ingredients, plus some cream cheese, that's all that goes into these.
- Chocolate: use your favorite dark semisweet chocolate for this recipe. I love using 60% to 70% dark or semi-sweet chocolates like Ghirardelli Chocolate Dark Bar 60%, Green & Black's dark chocolate 70%, and Ghirardelli 72% intense dark chocolate. The higher the percentage of cocoa, the less sweet the chocolate is.
- Cream cheese: good, old, full-fat Philadelphia cream cheese is still my first option. But if you used another brand and like it, go for it.
- Butter: use your usual brand, unsalted. No shortening or low-fat butter, please.
- Sugar: I use regular white and sometimes brown sugar, which is terrific for chocolate recipes.
- Cocoa powder: always use unsweetened. I like Hershey's unsweetened cocoa powder, Ghirardelli Premium baking cocoa, and Scharffen Berger natural cocoa powder. And in my experience, the dark ones are the best (this does not apply to the super dark used for making homemade oreo cookies known as dark cocoa powder).
- Vanilla: I use pure vanilla extract or pure vanilla paste when available, but a good vanilla essence (artificially flavored) also works.
- Other flavorings: coffee extract and a few drops of pure almond extract, together with the vanilla, make a fantastic flavor combination for chocolate.
How to make cheesecake brownies
Two parts to this recipe: a chocolate brownie layer and a cheesecake batter to make the swirl. Both are very easy and one-bowl.
The chocolate batter
Melt butter and chocolate in a large bowl, add the sugar, and mix (it helps decrease the temperature).
Add the eggs in two parts and whisk until well integrated. Don't beat.
Add the dry ingredients and whisk until well mixed but don't overdo it.
The final batter is smooth and shiny.
The cheesecake layer
Cheese mixture. It's only a matter of mixing all ingredients for this layer in a bowl. It's a thin batter. Pour it on top of the chocolate batter and then lightly swirl with a knife, bringing some of the chocolate to the top.
Pour cheesecake mixture on top of the chocolate batter without covering.
Lightly swirl with the tip of a knife.
If you bake them until what might seem to many as slightly underbaked, you have a sort of cheesecake brownie fudge, the type that has you going to the fridge for a sliver, and then another, and then a little more.
The never-ending sliver we know so well, and love, of course.
Vintage Kitchen tip:brownies should still jiggle in the middle when you take them out of the oven. That means they'll be fudgy when they cool down. Don't be tempted to wait until they are completely firm, which means they'll be on the dry side.
- Organization: read the recipe first and ensure you have ingredients at the correct temperatures, equipment, and enough workspace. This will make the process so much easier!
- Baking time: keep in mind that all ovens and pans are different, even if they look the same or very similar. The baking time in my recipes is as accurate as it can be, but it might take you more or less time. Use a thermometer inside the oven (like the OXO oven thermometer) to check that the temperature is right. I recommend you keep track of how your oven works and what tiny details you might need to adjust.
- Pans: measure your pan before using them to ensure they are the correct size. You can make half the recipe (like I did today) in an 8-inch square pan.
- When are they done: brownies should jiggle slightly in the middle when you take them out. They will keep baking a little with the residual heat, so don't be tempted to bake them until completely firm as they will be, most of the time, overbaked and on the dry side.
- Make ahead: these keep well in the refrigerator for several days, always well wrapped, or in the freezer for a month or maybe more, also well wrapped. Thaw at room temperature, but don't let them get too soft.
- Flavorings: you can use a tablespoon of your favorite liquor (orange or coffee work very well) or a ground spice like cinnamon for a different flavor.
Related recipes you might like:
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For the cheesecake batter:
- ¾ cup (175g) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons of sugar
- ¼ teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
- 1 egg, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon flour
For the chocolate batter:
- 1 cup (225g) unsalted butter
- 9 oz (250g) semisweet chocolate
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 6 eggs, at room temperature
- 1 ½ cups (300g) sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 350ºF / 180ºC
- Line a 9x13-inch pan with parchment paper. If making half the recipe see Notes below.
For the cheesecake batter:
- Mix cheese, sugar, and vanilla in a medium bowl.
- Add egg and mix well.
- Add flour and integrate until smooth. Reserve.
For the chocolate batter:
- Melt chocolate and butter together, in the microwave for about 1 minute (20 seconds at a time and stirring well before mocrowaving it again), or in a double boiler over, but not touching, the water.
- Add sugar and mix well.
- Add the eggs and whisk, making sure it's all integrated well.
- Add the chocolate mixture, cocoa powder, and mix until smooth.
- Add flour and salt. Mix only until combined.
- Pour the chocolate mixture in the prepared pan.
- Drizzle cheesecake batter unevenly over it. With the tip of a knife, swirl lightly, trying to bring some of the dark batter to the top. Stop before you have too many swirls and the cheesecake part is too mixed.
- Bake for about 25 minutes, until the top dries but the center is still jiggly.
- Remove, let cool on a wire rack, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm to cut. I like to eat them the next day.
- Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator or freeze for up to a month.
Half the recipe: use a square 8-inch pan and bake for about 20 minutes. Check at 15 minutes and see how it goes. It's done when it's still barely jiggling in the middle. For the cheesecake mixture use half an egg (lightly beat it and add half; use the other half for scrambled eggs or something similar). The rest of the ingredients are easy to cut in half.
Ingredients: read the recipe first and have all ingredients measured and at the temperature stated. These details are important to get the best possible results.
Pans: measure your pan before using to make sure it's the right size.
When are they done: brownies should jiggle slightly in the middle when you take them out. They will keep baking a little with the residual heat so don't be tempted to bake them until completely firm as they will be, most of the time, overbaked and on the dry side.
Make ahead: these keep well in the refrigerator for several days, always well wrapped, or in the freezer for a month or maybe more, also well wrapped. Thaw at room temperature but don't let them get too soft.
Flavorings: you can use a tablespoon of your favorite liquor (orange or coffee work very well), or a ground spice like cinnamon for a different flavor.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Category: Bars & Brownies
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: cheesecake brownies
Adapted from Breakfast Lunch Tea at Rose Bakery, by Rose Carrarini