Let me tell you a little bit about cheat days. First being – they’re awesome.
Now, generally I live a pretty healthy lifestyle (Captain Obvious, anyone?). Lots of water-rich foods, lean proteins, very little saturated fats and carbs. But, just like every other red-blooded human being, I get cravings. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing!
It’s just science. If you absolutely, 100% restrict yourself from something you’re REALLY craving, it’s all you’ll think about. And then, by the time you give in, you’ll power through a basketball-sized bowl of Chicken Alfredo, feel like the blueberry girl from Willy Wonka, and your stomach will screaming “NOOOOOOOOOOOO!” with more emphasis than Luke Skywalker in the wait-you’re-my-daddy? scene.
I don’t take a cheat day every week, I only take one when it’s calling to me in extreme measures. And even so, I don’t go so far off the path that I can’t recover. For example, I’ll eat some pasta for lunch, and then have a really light dinner and x-nay on the desserts. Net net, when I do want something like, say, CREAM CHEESE BROWNIES, dammit, I’m gonna make ‘em.
Now, I’m not completely sinful. I used Neufchatel Cheese instead of full fat cream cheese, because I never keep regular cream cheese in the house. Same goes for regular white sugar – I NEVER use it when I make things for myself, I prefer Coconut Palm Sugar which has a much lower Glycemic index. But, it’s cheat day people. If you want a brownie made with real sugar, make it with sugar and don’t feel bad about it. I kept the butter, eggs, and pretty much everything else the same.
This particular recipe is one of the richest I’ve ever TASTED, much less made. Which is great for me – in all honesty, I’m done after one itty bitty square.
I found this recipe on Joy of Baking, and they had some REALLY good tips on how to keep the recipe really thick and fudgey, just how brownies should be. Apparently the less air you let into the batter, the better. Which means shelve that electric mixer people, get out the wooden spoon and channel your inner pilgrim.
Fudgey Cheesecake Brownies
Adapted from Joy of Baking
Makes 16 brownies
1/2 c. butter, cubed
4 oz unsweetened baking chocolate (the better the quality, the better it will taste!)
Scant 1 c. Coconut Palm Sugar (or regular white granulated sugar)
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 c. flour (I used all-purpose, but you could try spelt to up the nutrient factor)
1/4 tsp. salt
Cream Cheese Layer
8 oz Neufchatel Cheese (reduced fat cream cheese)
1/3 c. sugar (if watching sugar, add about half and taste for sweetness, you can get away with using less)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
Preheat the oven to 325 and spray a 9×9 pan with cooking spray.
Make the fudge layer: In a double boiler (or a glass bowl set atop of a large pot of boiling water), melt the butter and chocolate together until smooth. Remove from heat, and use a wooden spoon (no electric mixers, people!) to beat in add sugar and vanilla. Once incorporated, add eggs one at a time and beat thoroughly after each addition. Thoroughly as in, your arm should hurt. Count it as part of your workout.When ready, the batter should be smooth and glossy. Remove 1/2 c. batter and set aside. Pour the remaining batter into the prepared pan.
Make the cream cheese layer: Use a hand mixer (briefly!) to cream the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla together. Now bust out that wooden spoon again – you other arm deserves some love, too! – and beat the egg into the cream cheese mixture. Pour the cream cheese layer over the fudge layer and use a spatula to even out the batter so it cooks consistently.
Dot the cream cheese layer with small spoonfuls of reserved fudge layer (I used about 9). Then use a knife to swirl the top layer of the two batters together. Pretty much no matter what you do this will turn out looking pretty – I am the least artistic person ever and mine still looked all fancy-like.
Bake in preheated oven for about 25-40 minutes. After about 30 minutes, check on them every 5 minutes or so to make sure they’re not getting too brown. This can be a little tricky the first time, I normally like my brownies super moist so I tend to undercook them. But since this recipe is really super moist by nature, I ended up having to put mine back in the oven because they were, quite literally, still batter in the middle. Basically, you want the edges to pull away from the sides, and the cream cheese layer to be golden brown. If the middle is still jiggly when you take it out of the oven, it needs more time. You’d have to seriously overcook these to dry them out.
Let the pan cool about 15-20 minutes, and then transfer to the fridge for a couple of hours. If you try and cut these warm, you’ll make a giant mess. I know this from experience.Use a SUPER sharp knife to cut them, once completely cooled in fridge. I usually cut mine in 4×4 rows, which makes 16 total brownies (yep, I passed math, people.)
(I’m not posting the nutrition facts on these because it’s cheat day, and you shouldn’t feel bad about it! If your curiosity is really burning, send me and email at firstname.lastname@example.org I can give them to you.)