I love brownies, but had never tried a recipe that worked for me. See, I am very picky when it comes to brownies - favoring chewy, almost under baked brownies and detesting the cakey ones. The number of batches I have tested and proceeded to dump in the trash is countless, and I have to confess that no recipe I've encountered comes close to my favorite kind of brownie - the boxed mix kind (I know, I know...) - until now. Add some pumpkin cheesecake filling (inspired by this) to the top of this scrumptious brownie batter and you are left with the most soft, chewy, moist brownie you have ever come across (or at least that I have come across). And who doesn't love cheesecake, chocolate, and pumpkin? During the Fall? This one's a winner.
Pumpkin Cheesecake-Swirl Brownies
Makes 24 servings
For Pumpkin Cheesecake Batter:
1 cup pumpkin puree (you can add a few more tablespoons if you want a more pungent pumpkin flavor - I like mine to be subtle so I opted for 1 cup)
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Blend all the ingredients together with a handheld mixer or standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Once smooth, set aside.
For Brownie Batter:
(Recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated)
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine (I used Ghirardelli 100% Cacao)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 extra-large eggs plus 2 extra large egg yolks
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoons salt
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, cut into 1/2-inch chunks (I used Tollhouse chocolate chunks)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line aluminum foil in a 13 x 9 inch baking pan (make sure to keep foil hanging over the edges, that way you can pull the whole brownie out easily with the foil tabs). Butter the baking dish/foil, dust with unsweetened cocoa power, remove excess powder.
Whisk cocoa powder and boiling water together in a large bowl until smooth, then add 2 ounces unsweetened chopped chocolate and whisk until the chocolate is melted. Whisk in oil and butter (the mixture may look a little curdled at this point). Then add eggs, egg yolks and whisk until smooth (this is when the curdled look will go away and the mixture will resemble a batter). Whisk in sugar. Then fold in the flour and salt with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, until combined. Fold in the semi-sweet chocolate chunks.
Pour 3/4 of the batter into the baking pan. Then, dollop spoonfuls of the pumpkin cheesecake mixture to resemble a grid pattern (I used a standard kitchen spoon to do this). Then, run a knife through to create a marbled look.
Add the remaining brownie batter on top. Repeat and add more pumpkin cheesecake dollops, and again run a knife through to create the marbled effect.
Bake at 325 degrees F for 35 minutes. (*My oven runs a little high, so you may want to bake yours a few minutes longer - depending on your oven. Once the edges pull away from the pan, and a toothpick comes out clean when tested about 1 1/2 inch from the edge, the brownies are done. Don't overbake!!)
Cool at room temperature for an hour. Then, cool in the refrigerator for at least an hour, but overnight for best results.