Saturday, October 09, 2010

Cheesecake Brownies

Has it really been a couple of weeks since I posted anything new on this blog? Time sure flies when you are having fun- and I've been busy knitting myself a sweater, reading some interesting books (more on this at the end of the post), teaching and learning fun new things and generally taking a short unplanned break from blogging. Which can be ever so refreshing and an antidote to blogger's block.

Anyway. It seems quite logical that one might pick out a fabulous recipe, go shopping for the ingredients and then cook or bake. My method is often less romantic and more pragmatic. Food wastage makes me feel wretched, so I poke around the fridge and look for ingredients that must be used before I go hunting for recipes.

Several weeks ago, I stocked the fridge with Everything Possible for my guests and found myself with leftover cream cheese and sour cream. Yesterday came the opportunity to dispatch the cream cheese by making quick and easy cheesecake brownies- a little treat to celebrate a happy event: Neighbor Girl getting the job of her dreams.

Two bowls, pantry ingredients + cream cheese, 5 minutes of mixing and 30-40 minutes in the oven, and you have yourself a pan of swirly brownies.

Cheesecake Brownies
(adapted from this recipe from delish)

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line an 8x8 pan with parchment and grease lightly.

2. This is the cream cheese portion. In a medium bowl, beat together
  • 6 oz. cream cheese (3/4 of a standard slab), softened
  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
The cream cheese and the butter can be softened by setting them on the counter, or by microwaving them for a few seconds.

3. This is the brownie portion. In a large bowl, beat together
  • 7 tbsp. melted butter (the rest of the stick after removing a tbsp. for the cream cheese portion)
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

4. Layer most of the brownie portion in the prepared pan. Pour the cream cheese portion on it. Dollop on the rest of the brownie portion. Run a knife tip through the dollops to create pretty swirls.

5. Bake for 30 minutes or until a tester comes clean (with only some crumbs attached). Cool for an hour, then slice into 16 squares. Stand back and let your family and friends fight over how to divide up the squares.


The sour cream and a partial bag of frozen blueberries went into this quick bread from King Arthur. I can't seem to make enough quick breads, they are very popular around here.



On The Bookshelf

When I mention books in this space, it is because I enjoyed them and want to recommend them. But here is a book that I really looked forward to reading, where I loved the premise of the novel but was utterly disappointed with the book when I was done reading it.

They say to not judge a book by its cover, but look at that inviting slice of cake- I had to read The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender. The concept of the book is a young girl who can taste the emotions of the person who has prepared the food she is eating. For instance, her mother is outwardly cheerful but a taste of her chocolate-frosted lemon cake fills the girl's mouth with the horrid taste of sadness and dissatisfaction. She finds herself having to eat packaged snacks made in gigantic factories, untouched by human hands, because everything else is brimming with the darkest emotions and secrets of the person who made it. In the end, the story fizzled out and made no sense to me and the book left me with a deep sense of dissatisfaction, probably tainting the dinner I made that evening ;)

On some level, I believe that the emotions of the cook certainly have an effect on the food. "Made with love" is more than a tired cliche. Mostly because I am in a good mood, I am more likely to focus on the process (whether cooking or something else), take my time and produce higher quality results. This is why I am utterly mortified when I see chefs in food-oriented TV reality shows shouting expletives, throwing things around and arguing violently in the kitchen- the food they make feels toxic to me, in spite of the high end ingredients and fancy presentation. Give me some rice and beans that have been cooked with love and respect instead, chefs. Hold the drama, please.

Have a lovely weekend; I'll be back early next week with a post brimming with vegetables and grains and other good things, plus the latest tales of one Mr. Dale.

25 comments:

  1. Just going to make afternoon tea how i wish i had a slice of that super delicous looking brownie.

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  2. Absolutely Nupur. We should all feel wretched about throwing away food. I love what you managed with leftovers lying in the fridge.

    Another lesson in not judging a book by its cover or perhaps life itself?

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  3. Nupur both your bakes look delish. You make the cheesecake sound so easy. Bookmarking it.

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  4. Ur right about feeling wretced about throwing food.. I have come to a point where I don't buy many things, just because I might throw them later 1/2 used or not at all! The brownies are delicious looking, love the swirly pattern.
    The quick bread will do so well for tea time or just one slice snack!
    Look fwd to Dales Tales and how about an update on the cooking class u conducted?

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  5. I SO agree on the book! I was excited, especially with that title, for a good food-themed book, and it turned out to be such a dissapointment. Towards the end, I almost felt like the author shouldn't have even bothered writing the book! lol...
    Have you read 'The Last Chinese Chef'? I'd recommend it. It's definitely far more food worthy! :)
    - Neha

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  6. Gorgeous looking bakes, yummy..

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  7. the book sounds wonderful so it is sad to see it didn't deliver

    am sure the cream cheese brownies did deliver - they look wonderful - have never made these sort of brownies but am always dreaming of doing so

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  8. Oh my goddess! amazing brownies, looks very delicious.

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  9. Lovely swirly brownies...The blueberry bread looks perfect for teatime...
    Like the way you used what you had to come up with really lovely looking bakes...

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  10. cake looks so good,..enjoy the festival cee u soon,

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  11. Cheesecake brownies look yummy.. I bookmarked that quick bread on KAF too, it looks lovely. Enjoy rest of ur weekend and have a great week.

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  12. I have agree with you on emotions getting in the way of cooking. I often notice myself doing a terrible job when I am mentally "there" in my kitchen!

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  13. reading the cover it sounded like an interesting book with a unique story-line; too bad it didn't catch up.

    on the sweeter side though, cheesecake brownies look utterly delicious and tempting!

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  14. Hey Nupur.. the dessert looks fabulous. Congratulations to Neighbour Girl! Thanks for pointing out this blog Delish. I have enjoyed browsing it last few times.

    I have not read the book you mention. But it would seem more logical that such a girl would quickly learn to cook for herself, gain some insight and perspective into her own feelings, than eat packaged food!

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  15. I've always loved the swirly marbled effect in cakes - looks perfect.

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  16. Very true - as my byline says, if you cook with a smile, the food will be happy! :)

    That is one lovely bread - and cheesecake brownie - why haven't I heard of this before!

    and yes, you were missed - Real life gets in the way doesnt it! :)

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  17. cheesecake brownies look too good..

    the premise of the book seems very interesting, a nice idea wasted if it wasn't dealt with well enough:(

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  18. Cream cheese brownie looks awesome. I could kill to have a slice of that. Hmm, as an after thought, maybe I should just hone my culinary skills and try this recipe ;)

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  19. You could call this a marble cheesecake brownie. Love the swirls.

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  20. A really good novel about food and cooking: Monique Truong's The Book of Salt, written from the PoV of a chef in Paris. And Truong's new novel Bitter in the Mouth (out this month) features a protagonist who can taste words. I haven't read the book, but I'd still recommend it if you're looking for the same ingredients done right :) She is that good!

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  21. You are so right about love adding its own sweet flavor (and possibly the most significant one) to the food. The simplest food (plain dal and rice) made by Mummy tastes like heaven to me. And I find that taste surfacing in the food I cook at home too. Very few restaurants can even hope to get a smidgen of that havenly taste in their cooking.

    Lakshmi

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  22. I totally agree with the made with love concept too and I am also mortified by the reality food shows on TV.
    Love the brownie recipe.

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  23. Your brownies were delicious!! I've made them three times since yesterday just to keep up with the demand from my family!! :)

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