Peanut Butter Cheesecake Swirl Brownies

Happy 2012!  If you were expecting a healthy low-cal recipe, I am afraid you’re in for a disappointment.  For those of you who are taking your New Year’s resolutions to lose weight seriously, you’ll need to pass on this recipe.  Personally, I have an all-year-round resolution to eat healthy foods and then indulge as the case may be, so January 1 doesn’t change that for me.

We spent a relaxing New Year’s Eve with friends and kept the food simple.  I brought a salad and dessert—and, when I asked if there were a preference for a dessert, was told that anything that involved chocolate and peanut butter would be great.

I set about combing through my voluminous peanut-butter-chocolate file.  I wanted something different from the traditional peanut butter brownies I had made previously and an alternative to the peanut swirl brownies as well—wonderful as both those brownies were.  Lo and behold, I came across this recipe for peanut butter cheesecake swirl brownies—score!

These brownies are decadently fudgy with cream cheese in both the brownie and the cheesecake swirl, yet I didn’t find them overly rich.  The contrast between the almost black brownie and the golden-colored peanut butter cheesecake swirl made for a striking presentation, not that anyone will want to look at them for long without devouring one.  Have some milk ready!

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Swirl Brownies

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Ingredients for the Brownies

  • 14 tbl. unsalted butter
  • 6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Hershey’s Special Dark)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 oz. cream cheese, softened (I microwaved briefly for ease of mixing)
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

Ingredients for the Peanut Butter Cheesecake Swirl

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 6 tbl. sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with overhanging foil (so that you can remove the brownies from the pan easily for cutting) and spray lightly with cooking spray.  To make the brownie batter, combine the butter and chocolate in a large heatproof bowl set over simmering water.  Heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is completely melted and smooth.  Remove the bowl from the heat.  (I combined the butter and chocolate in a microwavable bowl and followed the microwave directions on the package of chocolate.)  Whisk in the cocoa powder, sugar, eggs and softened cream cheese until smooth and well blended.  Mix in the vanilla and salt.  Add the flour to the bowl and whisk just until incorporated.  Pour the brownie batter into the prepared baking dish and smooth the top with a spatula.

To make the peanut butter cheesecake portion, combine the cream cheese, peanut butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat on medium-high speed until completely smooth, about 2-3 minutes.  Blend in the egg and vanilla until incorporated, scraping down the bowl as needed.

Drop spoonfuls of the peanut butter mixture over the brownie batter in the pan, creating a cobblestone appearance.

Use a knife or wooden skewer to gently swirl together the peanut butter mixture and brownie batter.

Bake 30-35 minutes, until the center is just set.  (My oven tends to run a little fast, but it took the full 35 minutes for the brownies to bake.)  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature.

Cover and refrigerate until well chilled before slicing and serving.

Fran’s Notes

If your taste in chocolate candy runs to milk chocolate rather than dark chocolate, I would suggest substituting the 6 oz. of bittersweet chocolate for 6 oz. of semisweet chocolate to lighten up the intensity of the dark chocolate.  It wasn’t an issue for our friends or this household of chocoholics but just thought I’d mention.

Source:   Adapted from an Annie’s Eats recipe

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