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Layered Cream Cheese Brownies

by on June 24, 2008 · 25 comments

Today’s recipe is based on one from The Red Hat Society Cookbook — a book I’ve enjoyed reading because of the pithy quotes and goofiness of the red hat ladies.  Those ladies know how to have a good time.

Anyway, in the book they called these “Surprise Brownies” but honestly, the cream cheese filling isn’t much of a surprise when cut. So I’m calling them “Layered Cream Cheese Brownies”. It’s a good recipe, though. There’s a high proportion of cheesecake to brownie. Also, the cheesecake filling is “hidden” in the middle rather than swirled through so the brownies have a unique look when cut. The only thing is, you may want to put some embellishment. I did not, but now I wish I’d laid some sliced almonds on top.

Layered Cream Cheese Brownies

Layered Cream Cheese Brownies

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 oz unsweetened chocolate
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour (about 3 oz)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8 inch square metal pan with foil and spray foil with cooking spray.

Beat cream cheese and sugar together in a medium bowl. When smooth, beat in egg and vanilla. Set aside.

Melt chocolate and butter together in a saucepan.

Beat eggs and sugar together in a medium bowl. When egg mixture is light and frothy, beat in vanilla, salt and baking powder. Beat in the melted chocolate/butter mixture.

Add flour and stir until smooth. Pour half of brownie batter into pan. Pour cream cheese batter over brownie batter. Pour remaining brownie batter over top.

Bake on center rack for 35- 42 minutes (see note). Let cool to room temperature on cooling rack, then chill for at least an hour (preferably longer) before serving. A longer chill will make for a smoother filling.

Cut into 9, 12 or 16 squares.

Note: I cooked mine for 45 minutes. The brownies were good, but I think it might be better to cook them for a shorter period. So check the brownies at 35 minutes. Cook them until they are just-done and let them cook internally while cooking and resting.

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Published on June 24, 2008

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Angelica at Butter&Beans June 24, 2008 at 1:35 pm

Gimme gimme gimme! Cream cheese brownies are the best!

Jenine June 24, 2008 at 1:23 pm

Anna – how the heck do you stay so thin???? Those brownies look so tempting.

VeggieGirl June 24, 2008 at 1:29 pm

Wow, those brownies are filled with layers and layers of goodness! :0D

beth June 24, 2008 at 2:30 pm

These look really good. Never tried cream cheese brownies before!

Joanna June 24, 2008 at 3:09 pm

Anna, I just got the 42nd Pillsbury Bake-off Winners recipe book and when I saw your recipe and picture, I got so excited. I was so surprised that you didn’t win with a dessert, but I have to try the baked chicken and stuffing- it looks delicious.

Carol A, June 24, 2008 at 3:34 pm

Oh, now you’ve done it! I’m not going to be able to resist these, and I have everything in the house to make them, too. In fact, I was just at Trader Joes and bought unsweetened baking chocolate “just in case”, as I usually don’t keep it on hand, and cream cheese because I had a feeling I’d need it. Am I psychic, or is Anna?

I had a recipe that I can’t seem to find anymore that was of the swirl variety. Eaten warm, it was like a decadent rich restaurant dessert. And cut into squares after cooling, yummy cream cheese brownies, of course. I like this layered variety and can’t wait to make it and EAT it!!!

judi0044 June 24, 2008 at 3:51 pm

I have the cookbook and have tried two main recipes for potlucks that were big hits: Slow Cooker Chicken and Corn Bread Dressing (perfect for a holiday gathering) and Slow Cooker Pizza Casserole – each so simple and pleased everyone. I spent more time looking for the golden mushroom soup at two stores than I did in prep for the chicken dish I think!

Anna June 24, 2008 at 5:19 pm

Jenine, I don’t eat big portions and I exercise. Sorry it’s a boring answer ;). Still, I think I might be putting on some pounds with age. The women in my family are not naturally thin. They also like food.

Joanna, dessert is the toughest category for Pillsbury. Or at least that’s what I’ve heard.

Carol, if you find the recipe, let us know. There are SO many swirled brownie recipes out there. I’m sure someone like Dorie Greenspan or Nicole at Baking Bites has a stellar one, but I haven’t found it. This one is pretty good and has a nice look to it. I need a second opinion, though.

Rina June 24, 2008 at 5:59 pm


These look divine! I have tried a wonderful cream-cheese swirled brownie recipe from Smitten Kitchen, it is very moist and more fudgy than cakey:

I haven’t tried to scale down the recipe (though the leftovers weren’t much of a problem in my house).

Debbie G June 24, 2008 at 6:07 pm

Wow…those look great. I will definitely have to try them. Hope I have better luck with them though than I did with the blueberry muffins I just made. It is frustrating when a recipe doesn’t work for whatever reason. Hate to see the blueberries wasted!!!! You have a great site and I really enjoy it. Thanks!!!!

bakingblonde June 24, 2008 at 6:50 pm

I love that these have such a high ratio of Cream Cheese to brownie! I bet they would be great with some chocolate chips or chopped PB cups stirred in as well. I love PB and chocolate……… you can tell where my mind is tonight!

Clumbsy Cookie June 25, 2008 at 2:53 am

It’s like an oreo cookie in the shape of a brownie, must be good good!

Sorina June 25, 2008 at 8:12 am

It look’s to good to be through I am definitely going to try this

Louise June 25, 2008 at 10:11 am

Hi Anna,

I don’t know whether I can “do” brownies with cream cheese. Although, I enjoy them both, I’m not quite sure I can do them as one. However, the recipe seems easy enough and they sure do look delectable.

Perhaps, you have convinced me to give them a try.

Cathy - June 25, 2008 at 12:40 pm

YUM – These look amazing – I just want to reach thru the screen and grab one.

Love it


Steph June 25, 2008 at 3:49 pm

Don’t you just love it when you can make one of the richest desserts ever, even richer!

tori June 25, 2008 at 5:30 pm

I made these last night to bring to my doctor today. I forgot them, but my kids and husband thought they were delicious!

giz June 25, 2008 at 9:21 pm

Gawd…I can’t even look at this stuff without feeling like I’m busting out of my jeans. The whole pan wouldn’t last an evening for me

HeartofGlass June 26, 2008 at 3:35 am

Okay, after all of the talk about calorie counting I plugged in the info to Nutrition Data and it came out to 389 for nine servings but 219 for 16, so like Anna said, portion control I guess is key–filling still intimidates me, though, so I think I will try a more standard brownie first.

Sarah June 26, 2008 at 8:18 pm

These look delicious! I’d love to try making them, but I’m not sure what softened flour is. Can you use regular all purpose flour?

Allison August 6, 2008 at 3:09 pm

Hi Anna,

I used the cream cheese filling portion of this recipe, a brownie mix from the box, and a reduction of some frozen Marionberries that I had handy to make a batch of Marionberry Cheesecake Swirl Brownies

–yeah, I swirled it all around instead of layering…call me lazy!

They turned out quite well, but I think the additional juice from the berries watered down the brownie mix a bit, and they turned out more like chewy fudge because I didn’t realize they hadn’t cooked as much as I needed them to.

At any rate, I wanted to let you know that the filling works pretty well as a top layer swirl too. It did crack a little bit, but mine cracked right where I was going to slice it anyway (lucky me!)

Amanda February 24, 2009 at 5:27 pm

These were amazing! I used semi-sweet chocolate instead of unsweetened (don’t know if that really makes a difference in taste).

I didn’t layer the brownies, but marbled them instead. Delicious! I will deffinitley be making these again.

ILikePaperCutting July 15, 2010 at 11:19 pm

thank you for the recipe. I am going to try it out this week for my hubby’s birthday.

x3Baking September 23, 2010 at 5:55 pm

The layers are beautiful. This is an easy way to make cheesecake too. :)

Joe from Bemis December 26, 2010 at 8:39 am

I’ve been trying to make brownies like I found in a small deli in Birmingham, Al in the 1980s. These look like them.

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