Moist, rich, and fudgy brownies are swirled with layers of cream cheese filling to create a beautiful marbled effect that is just as incredible to look at as it is to eat! If you want to take a break from traditional brownies and try something different, this cheesecake brownie recipe is the perfect one to bake up. These are decadent and delicious… if you love cheesecake and if you love brownies, cream cheese brownies will be a favorite!
Chocolate and cream cheese holds a special place in my heart. Next to chocolate and peanut butter, this is my favorite dessert combination. I love how the richness of the chocolate is cut with the slight tang and cool creaminess of the cream cheese. I can’t wait until you try these cheesecake brownies so you can find out for yourself!
If you have followed me a bit, you may recognize this as a sort of inverse of my beloved Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake. Whereas that recipe gives us a creamy cheesecake with bites of chocolate – the base here is a thick, chewy brownie with swirls of cream cheese that nobody can resist.
Getting the pan ready
We use an 8-inch square pan for this recipe, and this metal pan is my absolute favorite for brownies. Not only are its sides are perfectly straight, but I also find that it doesn’t overbake as glass pans sometimes do. (Note: If all you have is a 9-inch pan, you can use that, but the brownies will be a bit shorter and the baking time will be less.)
To prep the pan, I spray it with non-stick cooking spray, then line it with parchment paper. Adding the spray first helps the parchment paper “stick” in place and not slide around. Also, be sure you have a little overhang on the sides, to make it easy to remove the cooled brownies for cutting!
How to Make Cheesecake Brownies
First, the brownie batter!
This is a super straightforward brownie batter and comes together quickly.
First, you’ll whisk together your dry ingredients.
Then, melt together the chocolate and butter (I recommend microwaving & stirring in 30-second increments at 50% power), whisk in the butter and vanilla extract and let the mixture cool a bit, then whisk in the eggs one at a time.
Finally, you’ll add the dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture and gently whisk to combine.
Now, the cheesecake mixture:
Grab a bowl and add all of the filling ingredients (cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and egg yolk) and beat until totally smooth. That’s it!
Time to layer and swirl!
We do two sets of layers to get the gorgeous marbled brownie look here.
First, you’ll spread half of the brownie batter into the pan and dollop on top about half of the cream cheese filling. Repeat with the remaining brownie batter and cream cheese filling, then use a butter knife to gently swirl the batters.
These should be baked for about 50 to 60 minutes; depending on your oven, checking their doneness at 45 minutes is recommended. A toothpick or cake tester should come out with a few moist brownie crumbs on them.
Once the brownies have cooled to room temperature, they will be chilled for at least 3 hours so they can set up fully. (And if you’re looking for another brownie recipe that calls for refrigerating before eating, check out Ina’a Outrageous Brownies – they are seriously phenomenal!)
Layering and Swirling Tips for your Cheesecake Brownies
There is a fine line in swirling brownies – you need to do it enough so that you can see the different layers, but you don’t want to mix so much that you end up with a muddied-looking mixture.
Use a butter knife (or chopstick, skewer, or toothpick) to create the swirls. Make small circular motions as you drag the knife through the layers. Once you have made a swirl – don’t go back! Going back through will start to get the mixture looking muddled up; however, if you get overzealous with your swirling, they will still taste amazing!
Mix-Ins and Variations
Cheesecake brownies are absolute perfection on their own, but you may want a little extra something extra, or maybe you are making these for a friend with a different kind of sweet tooth!
To add a different swirl topping, you will pour all of the brownie batter in the bottom layer. and top it with all of the cream cheese layer. Then, you can dollop and swirl to your heart’s content!
Peanut Butter swirl (add some confectioners sugar, peanut butter, vanilla, and some butter to make a sweeter, creamier blend)
Peppermint or mint frosting
Storing and Freezing Cheesecake Brownies
Storage: The cheesecake brownies can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. (If they make it that long!)
Freezing Instructions: Wrap brownies individually in plastic wrap, then place in an airtight container or freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature or in the refrigerator before biting into them!
Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Fold two 16-inch pieces of foil lengthwise to measure 8 inches wide. Fit 1 seet in the bottom of the greased pan, pushing it into the corners and up the sides of the pan (the overhang will help in removal of the baked brownies). Fit the second sheet in the pan the same way, perpendicular to the first. Butter the foil; set aside.
Whisk the flour, salt and baking powder together in a small bowl; set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the chocolate and butter. Microwave in 30-second increments at 50% power, stirring after each, until completely melted and smooth. Whisk in the sugar and vanilla extract; allow the mixture to cool slightly. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Continue whisking until the mixture is completely smooth. Add the dry ingredients and whisk until just incorporated.
Make the cream cheese filling by beating the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and egg yolk together in a small bowl until evenly blended.
Pour half the brownie batter into the prepared pan, spreading it in an even layer. drop half the cream cheese mixture, by spoonfuls, over the batter. Repeat, layering the remaining brownie batter and cream cheese filling. Use a butter knife to gently swirl the brownie batter and cream cheese filling, creating a marbled effect.
Bake until the edges of the brownies have puffed slightly, the center feels not quite firm when touched lightly, and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out with several moist, fudgy crumbs adhering to it, 50 to 60 minutes.
Cool the brownies in a pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove the brownies from the pan using the foil handles. Place the brownies on a wire rack; allow them to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours. Cut into squares and serve. The brownies can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerate for up to 5 days.