Layered Cream Cheese Brownies

This recipe, Layered Cream Cheese Brownies, 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.

layered cream cheese brownies

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”. 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 embellish the top a bit. I did not, but now I wish I’d laid some sliced almonds on top.

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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  1. Joanna says

    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.

  2. Carol A, says

    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!!!

  3. judi0044 says

    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!

  4. says

    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.

  5. says

    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!!!!

  6. says

    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!

  7. says

    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.

  8. says

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

  9. says

    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

  10. HeartofGlass says

    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.

  11. Sarah says

    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?

  12. Allison says

    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!)

  13. Amanda says

    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.

  14. Joe from Bemis says

    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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