I've been slacking. Avoiding a certain chore that must be done. You know, the one we can't avoid? Taxes. Let's be honest, most of us would rather do anything than do our taxes. The folks that want to do their taxes? They generally end up starting their own companies and doing our taxes for us. After a gentle reminder this past week, I finally buckled down to sort, arrange and integrate all the crap that goes with filing. However....the only way I could do it is if I rewarded myself and my tax preparers with the gift of brownies. Cheesecake Brownies.
You know they need all the sugar they can get from now until April 18th to tackle the insane complexity that is our tax code. I'm a huge brownie fan but in truth, usually as a device to deliver nuts with some chocolate around them. Unfortunately with so many folks suffering from nut allergies I generally don't make brownies with nuts unless I know everyone eating them will be nut allergy free. So I cranked my Cook's Illustrated Best Recipes and decided the Cheesecake Brownies would be more appropriate. Let's hope my tax preparers like them.
CREAM CHEESE BROWNIES
Makes 16 2-inch brownies
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs, plus 1 yolk
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position, and preheat oven to 325 degrees. Whisk flour, salt, and baking powder in a small bowl; set aside. Coat an 8-inch-square baking pan with cooking spray, and, fit an 8-by-16-inch sheet of aluminum foil in bottom of pan. (Foil overhangs both sides of the pan; use as handles to remove baked brownies from pan.) Coat foil with cooking spray.
2. In a medium heat-proof bowl set over a pan of almost simmering water, melt chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally until mixture is smooth. (Alternatively, melt chocolate and butter in microwave oven.) Remove melted chocolate mixture from heat; whisk in 1 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla; then whisk in 3 eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Continue whisking until mixture is completely smooth. Add dry ingredients; whisk until just incorporated.
3. In a small bowl, beat cream cheese with remaining 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and egg yolk until of even consistency.
4. Pour half the brownie batter into prepared pan. Drop half the cream cheese mixture, by spoonfuls, over batter. Repeat layering and swirling with remaining brownie batter and cream cheese filling. Use blade of a table knife or a spoon handle to gently swirl batter and cream cheese filling, creating a marbled effect.
5. Bake until edges of brownies have puffed slightly, center feels not quite firm when touched lightly, and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into center comes out with several moist, fudgy crumbs adhering to it, 50 to 60 minutes.
6. Cool brownies in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. , Use foil sling handles to lift brownies from pan. Place brownies on wire rack; allow them to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours. (To hasten cooling, place brownies in the freezer for about 1 1/2 hours.) Cut into squares and serve. (Do not cut brownies until ready to serve. Whole bar can be wrapped in plastic wrap, then foil, and refrigerated up to 5 days.)