These cheesecake swirl brownies are chocolatey, decadent, and delicious. Made with a swirl of cream cheese on top, these brownies taste even better than they look.
This post was first published on Savory Experiments, where I'm a contributor.
I didn’t think it was possible to make brownies better until I tried cheesecake swirl brownies. These brownies are decadent and fudgy, with silky smooth cream cheese swirls on top. Not only do these cheesecake brownies taste a treat, but they also look gorgeous.
If you thought that brownies are already the best thing ever, wait until you try these cheesecake brownies! If you love rich, decadent chocolate as much as you love silky smooth vanilla cheesecake… then this recipe is for you!
These brownies are the ultimate 2 in 1 dessert, with a brownie base and a swirl cheesecake layer on top. Don’t be fooled by looks though, as these cheesecake brownies are really easy to make.
Why I love these cheesecake swirl brownies
- The cheesecake makes the chocolate flavor even more intense
- Only needs two bowls: one for the brownie batter and the other for the cream cheese
- Takes only minutes to prepare
- It’s 2 recipes in 1, brownie and baked cheesecake
- Makes the fudgiest brownies and silkiest cheesecake
- It looks like a showstopper with the cream cheese swirls on top
The ingredients needed for this recipe are very simple, and most can be found in your pantry.
- Chocolate – use high quality chocolate, the type you like to eat. Using a combination of milk and dark chocolate will balance the sweetness.
- Butter – I recommend using unsalted butter, so you can control the saltiness. Use full fat butter, not spread.
- Sugar – I like to use a combination of plain and soft brown sugar. Soft brown sugar helps the brownie become fudgy and gooey.
- Eggs – use large eggs, preferably organic. Make sure they’re at room temperature before adding to the batter.
- Flour – all-purpose flour is all you need. Self-rising flour is not recommended as it’s tricky to control the rise.
- Cocoa powder – Dutch processed cocoa powder is darker in colour and has a very intense chocolate flavour.
- Instant coffee – I like to add little coffee to boost the flavour of the chocolate. Don’t worry, you won’t taste the coffee at all in such small quantities. You can substitute instant coffee with 1 tablespoon of strong espresso.
Fun fact: Before the invention of Dutch cocoa powder in Europe, cocoa was used mostly just for beverages, not for baking.
Best cream cheese for this recipe
You can use any type of plain cream cheese you would normally for a baked cheesecake. For best results, I recommend using a cream cheese with fat content of at least 33%. You can check the percentage on the back of the pack under nutritional values.
Low fat cream cheese is too soft for this recipe and will not make a cheesecake as creamy as full fat.
No matter what cream cheese you use, remember to leave it at room temperature for 30 minutes. This way it will whip much quicker and become fluffier, perfect for the cheesecake brownies.
How to make this recipe
Before starting the recipe, make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature – especially the eggs and cream cheese. Melt the butter in the microwave and let it cool down to room temperature (30 seconds are more than enough).
Pro tip: lining the tray with parchment paper will make it easier to remove the cream cheese brownies.
1. Pre-heat your oven to 320°F (160°C) fan assisted or 360°F (180°C) without fan. Prepare a rectangular baking pan by lining it with parchment paper and greasing it with butter or cake release.
2. Melt the milk chocolate in the microwave in short intervals of 15-20 seconds. Give the chocolate a quick mix in between to help it melt. Remember to let the chocolate cool down to room temperature before adding it to the batter – we don’t want scrambled eggs!
3. In a large bowl, place the melted butter (cooled), sugar and cocoa powder. Give it a mix with your whisk, then add the eggs and coffee and mix again. At this point the mixture will be quite runny, but sticky.
4. Sieve the flour and salt into the batter, using a spatula to fold it in. To fold simply run a spatula under the batter and fold it over itself. Repeat until the batter is fully combined. By folding instead of mixing you avoid overworking the flour, which can make brownies tough instead of gooey.
5. Save around ½ cup of the batter to use for the swirls on top. Add the dark chocolate into the remaining batter, folding it in. Pour the batter into the pan, smoothing it out with a spatula. Set aside while prepping the cream cheese.
Pro tip: rap the baking pan on the work surface a few times to level it completely flat.
1. Now we can begin prepping the cheesecake layer. Whip the cream cheese on medium speed for 2-3 minutes, slowly adding in the sugar and vanilla extract. Once the cream cheese is fluffy, add the eggs in one at a time. Only add the next egg once the previous one has been fully mixed in.
2. Pour the cream cheese on top of the brownie batter in the pan. Add 1 tablespoon of hot water over the reserved brownie batter, mixing to thin it out.
3. Place small dollops of brownie batter over the cream cheese, in random spots. Make as many or as little as you wish. Use a thin knife, skewer, or spatula to create swirls on the surface. I like the swirls to be more defined, so I only go over the same area once or twice.
4. Bake the cream cheese swirl brownies for 30-35 minutes. With both brownies and cheesecakes, the skewer test does not work. The cheesecake swirl should have a small wobble on top, but not too jiggly.
Pro top: Less is more! The more you go over the same swirls, the less defined they will look as the colours merge.
How to get cut brownies for sharp edges
It’s easiest to cut the cheesecake brownies after removing from the tray. This is where that baking paper or parchment is really handy!
The most important thing to remember is to refrigerate the cheesecake swirl brownies for a few hours. This is important for the fudgy brownie, but also the creamy cheesecake swirls. If you try to cut whilst still hot, the cuts can be quite messy.
After refrigerating, dip a sharp knife in hot water, then cut into desired shapes. After each cut, dip the knife into the hot water and wipe it clean.
You can cut the cheesecake swirl brownies into squares, rectangles or my favourite – triangles!
How to store
Although plain brownies can be kept at room temperature, cream cheese brownies need to be refrigerated. The cheesecake brownies can spoil if left outside for too long. Store the cheesecake brownies in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days.
For longer storage, cover the brownies in plastic wrap, then a layer of aluminium foil. Aluminium prevents against freezer burn. You can then also place them in an airtight container for extra protection.
How to store
Cream cheese brownies contain dairy, which needs to be refrigerated. See storing recommendations above.
Cream cheese brownies are suitable for freezing. See storing recommendations above.
For best results use full fat cream cheese. I recommend using cream cheese with 33% fat. You can check the % on the nutritional label of the package.
Yes, you can use brownie mix for this recipe. Follow the instruction on the box for best results.
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Cheesecake Swirl Brownies
- 100 grams milk chocolate (⅔ cup)
- 50 grams dark chocolate (⅓ cup)
- 180 grams unsalted butter, melted (¾ cup)
- 100 grams granulated sugar (½ cup)
- 50 grams soft brown sugar (¼ cup)
- 2 eggs, large
- 120 grams flour (¾ cup)
- ¼ teaspoon instant coffee
- 1 tablespoon water, boiling
- 350 grams cream cheese (1 ½ cups)
- 60 grams sugar (⅓ cup)
- 2 eggs, large
- 7 grams vanilla bean paste / extract (1 teaspoon)
- Pre-heat your oven to160°C (320°F) fan assisted. Line a 23cm (9 inch) brownie baking pan with baking paper and grease it with butter.
- Melt the milk chocolate in the microwave in small intervals of 20 seconds until fully melted. Let the melted chocolate cool down to room temperature.
- Place the melted butter, sugar, and cocoa powder in a large bowl, mixing until fully combined. Add in the eggs and whisk well to combine.
- Dissolve the instant coffee in the boiling water, then add it into the butter mixture. Mix in the melted chocolate.
- Sieve in the flour and salt, folding everything with a spatula. Reserve about ½ cup of batter for later. Add the dark chocolate chips to the remaining batter, then pour it into the baking pan.
- Beat the cream cheese at medium speed for 2-3 minutes or until fluffy. Slowly add in the sugar, salt and vanilla, mixing at low speed to incorporate. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing them in well.
- Pour the cream cheese mixture on top of the brownie batter in the tray, levelling it with a spatula.
- Add 1 tablespoon of hot water over the reserved brownie batter to thin it out.
- Randomly place dollops of the thinned brownie batter over the cream cheese. Use a skewer or knife to make swirls on the surface.
- Bake the cream cheese brownies for 30-35 minutes. Let the brownies cool down fully, then chill in the oven for 1-2 hours before cutting.