Whole Wheat Swirled Cheesecake Brownies

I’m in the midst of a big magazine purge and my latest victim is a stack of Eating Wells from 2004. Turn, turn, read, turn, read, rip, read, rip. I’ve been doing this during dinner while we eat. Nobody cares. Anyway, last night I came across this recipe and ripped it out immediately. There’s no shortage of cream cheese brownie recipes out there, but this one was so elegantly lightened, with the use of Neufchatel cheese in place of regular, whole wheat pastry flour in place of white, and creative appropriations of egg whites. I had to make these immediately.

swirled cream cheese brownies

Despite the fact Eating Well strives for wholesome ingredients, I was determined to cut some of the sugar and tested the brownies with a mixture of sugar and Fibrelle – a sweetener with no aftertaste and the same mass and bulk as sugar. Fibrelle is still mail order only (unfortunately), but if you have a favorite sugar substitute, I’m sure it would work too.

The other change I made was to use a 9 inch square pan. I don’t even think I own a 7×11 inch pan, and if I do it’s glass, which I only use for casseroles. So 9 inch was perfect. And since I liked the brownies so much, I made a second batch, halving the recipe and using a 9×5 inch loaf pan. So if you only have 4 oz of cream cheese in the house, you can do that. Another thing I learned was that the chocolate batter tends to rise up and over the white batter, so it’s best to put almost all the batter in the pan (rather than half, as the recipe states) and just save enough regular chocolate batter to dot over the cream cheese.

These were really good and don’t taste at all healthy save for the tiny bit of graininess you get from the whole wheat pastry flour. I kind of liked that, though.

Here’s the original version and below is how I made it.

Swirled Cheesecake Brownies

4 oz Neufchatel (or 1/3 Less Fat Philly) Cream Cheese
1/4 cup granulated sugar or equivalent artificial sweetener
1 large egg
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Brownie Layer
2/3 cup (3 oz) whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
2 large egg whites,
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar (or 1/2 plus 2 brown and 1/2 plus 2 artificial sweetener)
1/4 cup extra light olive oil (because I don’t care for canola)
1/4 cup strong brewed coffee
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a 9 inch square metal pan with non-stick foil or line with regular foil and spray with cooking spray.

Mix the cream cheese, sugar (or sweetener), egg, flour, yogurt and vanilla together in a small bowl and set aside.

Mix the whole-wheat flour, cocoa and salt in a bowl.

In a mixing bowl, beat the egg, egg whites and brown sugar (or artificial sweetener) until smooth. Add oil, coffee and vanilla; beat until well blended. Add the dry ingredients and stir or beat just until well blended, stopping once to scrape down the sides.

Scrape all but about 3 tablespoons of brownie batter into the prepared pan. Pour the topping as evenly as you can over the top. Drop the reserved brownie batter in large dollops over the topping. Draw the tip of a sharp knife or skewer through the two batters to create a swirled effect (I just skipped this because I wanted more white to show).

Bake the brownies until the top is just firm to the touch, about 20 to 25 minutes (mine took 25). Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Chill thoroughly. Lift from pan and cut into 16 squares.

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  1. says

    Sounds like a good recipe to try.
    I made brownies today, too. Nutella Brownies–the only chocolate in them is Nutella. I actually think they’re really good. Some brownies I think can often been too sweet and grainy from all the sugar, but these have less sugar since Nutella already has some.

  2. says

    Thanks for posting some healthier alternatives! I’m afraid my brownies won’t hold together if I use all WWPF, but yours look fine. Also, I’ve heard Olive Oil cuts cholesterol so it must cancel out the yolks!!! For those people who might shy away from a recipe calling for coffee, use decaf crystals. You get the same flavor enhancing properties and no caffeine (or only a trace.)

  3. says

    I’ve used white whole wheat flour in brownies before, and olive oil, but have never made a lower fat cream cheese variety! Love the way that it looks much more decadent than it actually is–I always find it interesting that what we think of as reduced-fat cream cheese was actually the original fat percentage–it was made ‘fattier’ in America to suit local tastes. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neufch%C3%A2tel_%28cheese%29

  4. Louise says

    From an organizational point of view, what do you do with the ripped recipes? I don’t like to tear selected recipes out of old magazines as I find that what interests me today probably isn’t the same as I liked a year ago, so if I use/liked a recipe, I record it in my index book. I have a bookcase in the basement of old magazines, grouped by year. (30 yrs worth) November/December issues have a special place.

  5. says

    Morgan, let me know what you think. And thanks for the comment!

    Katrina, I’ll have to check that out. Thanks.

    Gloria, thanks for the tip on decaf crystals. You could get away with using hot water, even. As for the olive oil, I’ve been buying the extra light Crisco olive oil which has very little (if any) flavor. It’s more expensive, but I use it in small amounts so it’s worth it.

    Mary, thanks for the interesting link. I had no idea! But I do know reduced fat cream cheese works as well as regular in most things. The fat free cream cheese is another story. I wish they’d improve on that or make a new cream cheese somewhere in between with added protein.

    Louise, I rip them out and put them in colored folders. It’s still not very organized, but I love going back and looking through the folders because everything in them is something I’d actually consider making. Once I made something, it goes into a different colored folder — one that stays in my kitchen drawer. If I really like something, I laminate it.

  6. Louise says

    Anna, I have four folders too, but they aren’t something that come close to fitting in a kitchen drawer, unless you have a couple of huge bread boxes. They’re multi-pocket, expanding folders which I have subdivided by topic, like “sour dough bread”, “sandwiches”, “seafood”, etc. Three are ones of recipes I’ve used and one is potential stuff. If I made something and it didn’t work out, I mark it like that and keep the recipe. Otherwise, a couple of years from now, it may look good to me again and I’ll forget that it was a loser recipe. And I keep notations like GTW with an up or down arrow (Goodness to Work) if something was either too much or very little work for the result.

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