Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Cheesecake Brownie Bars

Easter dinner is usually the same every year: at my aunt and uncle's house with ham, potatoes, deviled eggs, rolls, Jell-O jiggler eggs, and green beans for dinner with frosted sugar cookies and chocolate bunny cakes for dessert. This year, Auntie Vicki wanted us to do something different than the bunny cakes. My mom was already going to do a two-toned pink cake that she found in a recent issue of Family Circle and she (or Auntie Vicki) suggested that I make the cheesecake brownie dessert that I made a few years ago for Memorial Day. A Google search found that the dessert was also in Family Circle (which I somewhat remembered from the first time). Unfortunately, the FC website wouldn't let me view the recipe so I just grabbed it from one of the food blogs that posted it (my mom later told me where to find the hardcopy that I had used 4 years ago. I have yet to locate it).

Cheesecake Brownie Bars (Family Circle, June 2010)

Cheesecake Layer:

  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 packages (8 ounces each) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Brownie Layer:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 5 squares (1 ounce each) unsweetened chocolate
  • 1-3/4 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 bag (12 ounces) bittersweet chocolate chips (I was only able to find a 10 ounce bag, which worked out)

Optional Toppings:

  • 3 tablespoons strawberry jelly (I used raspberry - it's a mutual favorite in the family)
  • 1 package (12 ounces) strawberries, hulled and chopped (I just thawed some raspberries from our freezer)
  • 1/4 cup hot fudge sauce, heated (I just bought a jar and heated based on the directions. Hot fudge is always good for ice cream toppings)
  • 1 container (8 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • Chopped hazelnuts, for garnish (optional)

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan with foil. Coat foil with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
2. Cheesecake: In large bowl, whisk cornstarch and sugar until blended. Add cream cheese, and beat until smooth. Beat in eggs, sour cream and milk. Stir in vanilla; set aside (because we just have the KitchenAid, I started doing this in a regular bowl. I ended up transferring the ingredients to the KitchenAid once I added the cream cheese)
3. Brownie: In large microwave-safe bowl, combine butter and chocolate. Microwave for 1 minute, 30 seconds. Stir. If necessary, continue heating in 30-second increments, stirring after each, until chocolate is melted.
4. Whisk in sugar, then eggs. Whisk in flour, baking powder and salt until smooth. Stir in vanilla and chocolate chips. Spread evenly into prepared pan. Pour cream cheese mixture over brownie mixture. Spread gently until smooth.
5. Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour and 5 minutes or until center is set. Cool on wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours. Transfer to refrigerator and continue to cool 2 hours.
6. Topping: Heat jelly in microwave-safe bowl for 15 seconds. Stir in berries. Heat fudge sauce in a glass cup in microwave for 25 seconds, until drizzling consistency. (I for some reason skipped over the word "heat" for the jelly-and-berries topping. It still turned out OK)
7. Cut cheesecake brownie into 32 squares. Dollop each square with about 1 tablespoon whipped topping, then some of the strawberries and fudge topping. Sprinkle with nuts, if desired.
Despite how much was left (which my parents and I have been working on all week), everyone loved the bars. Not sure if I'll make them again for a small crowd, though.

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