Yet one more cookie for the cookie plate I’m bringing to my neighbor’s Christmas dinner (if I can get myself shoveled out). I made them in haste this morning while I was waiting for the snow to stop – hah! But here they are; the original recipe is from Cooking Light.
Candy Cane Cheesecake Brownies
1 (8-ounce) block 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract (see note)
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
Red food coloring (optional)
4.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 cup) I weighed the flour, and it was about 7/8 cup. I expect different flours have different weights.
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups packed brown sugar
1/4 cup canola oil (see Note 2)
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
1 large egg
Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9 inch square baking pan with cooking spray.
The cheesecake batter: place softened cream cheese in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Add granulated sugar and peppermint extract; beat well. Add 1 egg and 1 egg white; beat well. Add 1 tablespoon flour; beat mixture just until blended. If you want the candy cane look, put half of the cream cheese batter into a separate small bowl and tint to the desired shade with the food coloring. (You can skip this step and make the cheesecake layer all white – or any color you wish). Set aside
The brownie batter: weigh or lightly spoon 4.5 ounces flour into a dry measuring cup. Combine the flour, cocoa, and salt in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Combine brown sugar, oil, buttermilk, vanilla, 2 egg whites, and 1 egg in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium-high speed until well blended. Add flour mixture to brown sugar mixture; beat at low speed just until blended.
Assembly: Reserve 1/2 cup of brownie batter. Pour remaining batter into the prepared baking pan. Carefully spoon reserved white (or all if you’re not tinting) cheesecake batter over top making the layer as even as possible and extending it to the edges. Dot white cheesecake batter with the pink cheese cake batter and then with reserved brownie batter. Carefully swirl the layers of batters together using the tip of a knife. I went across about 4 times and down 4 times and it made a nice pattern:
Bake at 350° for 25-28 minutes or until top is set. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Cut into pieces. This is one of those recipes that called for 16 brownies, but they were huge, so, like with other bar cookies, I halved them. This thus made 32 brownies at about 4 grams of fat/brownie.
Note: The recipe called for ¼ teaspoon of mint extract, but it wasn’t very minty. I read the reviews of the recipe online, and several said it wasn’t minty enough, so I increased the amount. I suggest that you add the mint extract gradually, and taste after each addition, so that you get the flavor that you want.
Note 2: As you may know, usually I partially replace the oil in baked goods with applesauce, leaving a tablespoon or so of oil to bind the flour. But it’s tricky replacing fats in cookies; sometime they turn hard as rocks. So I left the oil in, and reduced the fat by making the bars smaller, putting them in the acceptable 4 gram ranges (and making them fit on a cookie tray.)
Variation: I think it would be pretty sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of crushed candy can or hard mint candies over the top of the brownies while they are still warm, pressing them in gently. And you could certainly vary the colors.
Confession: These are not the best brownie I have ever tasted. They were tasty, but they weren’t rich and chocolaty, and the texture wasn’t quite right. Maybe they needed to bake a little longer, but I think I am going to try the cream cheese topping over a really good brownie. I also thought the colored swirls looked a bit garish when the brownies were cut into pieces.