Complete with brownie bites baked into this cheesecake and piled high on top,
this Brownie Bite Cheesecake is an impressive dessert to serve to company!
It’s one of the world’s greatest debates. I’m not talking Backstreet Boys vs. ‘ N Sync here. Nor am I talking about Mario vs. Luigi. It’s all about brownies today here on Spiced! (Well, brownies and cheesecake. But we’ll get to the cheesecake part in a bit.) So how do you like your brownies? Do you like your brownies to be nice and chewy, or are you on the cakey brownie side of this battle?
For me, I’ve always favored the corner pieces of a pan of brownies. (I’ve also always favored the end pieces on loaves of bread.) You can have those center pieces. Just leave me the four corners, and I’ll be one happy camper! But I think I may have discovered an even new favorite way to eat brownies. That’s right…in a cheesecake! I told my wife that I was planning on making a cheesecake, and I asked her what variety she would like. After thinking for a moment, she came back with Brownie Bite Cheesecake.
Hmm. Brownie Bite Cheesecake, eh? Not at all what I was expecting, but then again it sounded like a great idea! The gears in my brain starting turning (they were a bit rusty, so it was slow going), but I realized that I could make a pan of thin brownies. Then just fold half of those brownies into the cheesecake batter. The other half could get piled on top. Ok, maybe the other half minus the few that I snacked on. Oops. (I know you nibble when you make recipes, too. Don’t lie.)
For this cheesecake, I used Fat Daddio’s 8″x3″ round cheesecake pan. This pan has a removable bottom (perfect for cheesecakes!), but it’s also deeper than most cheesecake pans. That means this pan is your go-to for either regular cheesecakes or those nice and tall “mile high” cheesecakes like you find in restaurants. Who doesn’t want restaurant quality cheesecake for dessert tonight?? I went with a normal-sized cheesecake for this Brownie Bite Cheesecake because I knew this cheesecake was destined for greatness. It was destined to be piled high with brownie bites!
But let’s talk about baking cheesecakes for a minute. I knew they are a bit more challenging than a standard cake. Cheesecake ingredients are pricey. And then there’s the whole baking them in a water bath thing. Sounds like a pain, huh? Not at all! Here’s a couple of easy tips that I’ve picked up over the years:
- The water bath is important! As the cheesecake bakes, the water evaporates which creates a nice steam-filled environment inside the oven. But how do you fill the baking pan with water, you ask? Easily! Just wrap the bottom of the cheesecake pan in foil and then place it on a standard baking sheet. Put the tray most of the way into the pre-heated oven and then use a teapot to pour hot water into the baking sheet. Slide that baking sheet on into the oven and close up the door. 80-90 minutes later you’ll have a perfectly baked cheesecake!
- Use softened cream cheese. Pull the cream cheese out of the fridge an hour or so before you plan on baking the cheesecake. If you use cold cream cheese, then you’ll end up with a lumpy batter full of chunks of cream cheese.
- Scrape down the mixing bowl…several times! I know it might seem like overkill, but use a spatula to scrape down the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl after pretty much every step. This is key to creating a smooth batter. And smooth batters lead to deliciously creamy cheesecakes.
- Make the cheesecake the day before you want to serve it. Why is this? Because it leads to perfect triangular slices of cheesecake. I’ve tried the whole trick of using dental floss to slice the cheesecake. Sure, it kinda works. But the best trick I’ve found is freezing the cheesecake overnight. As soon as the pan is warm enough to touch, just wrap the entire thing up in plastic wrap and put it in the freezer. The next day, the cheesecake pops out nice and easy (kinda like a hockey puck). Put it on a nice pretty plate and let it thaw in the refrigerator. While the cheesecake is still partially frozen, go ahead and pre-cut your slices. Because it’s still frozen in the center, you’ll end up with a perfectly clean slice with a nice point at the end. It’ll look like it came from a restaurant!
- Use good quality bakeware. This one should go without saying. If your cheesecake pan is poor quality, then you can follow all of the tips in the world and your cake still might not turn out well. As you guys have probably noticed, I’m a huge fan of Fat Daddio’s bakeware. Their Professional Series line features an anodized aluminum material. My wife is a metallurgist (seriously!), and she confirmed that aluminum does indeed heat faster and cool quicker than other common bakeware materials. The anodized process means that the pans will not rust, peel, chip or flake. This means that your professional-quality pan will last for many, many cheesecakes!
Ok, enough of the nerdy tips on how to bake the perfect cheesecake. Let’s turn our attention back to this tasty Brownie Bite Cheesecake! This bad boy is the perfect way to satisfy both chocolate fans and cheesecake fans. Not only are there brownie bites piled on top of the cake, but there are bites hiding in the cake as well. So here’s to delicious desserts and perfectly chewy brownies!
What is your favorite type of brownie? Have you ever put brownies inside of a cheesecake? (If not, go do it. #TrustMe)
Brownie Bite Cheesecake
For the Crust
- 7 full-sized chocolate graham crackers ~1½ cups
- ¼ cup light brown sugar
- 6 Tbsp unsalted butter melted
For the Brownie Bites
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 3 oz. unsweetened chocolate
- 1¾ cups semisweet chocolate chips divided
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ Tbsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
For the Cheesecake
- 24 oz cream cheese room temperature
- ¾ cup + 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
- 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- 3 whole eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- ¼ cup sour cream
- ½ Tbsp vanilla extract
For the Crust
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- In a food processor or mini-chopper, pulse the graham crackers until finely ground. In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar and melted butter. Stir until fully combined.
- Press mixture into bottom of 8” cheesecake pan. (Tip: A flat-bottomed glass helps pack the crust mixture down evenly.)
- Bake crust at 375°F for 7 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let cool.
For the Brownie Bites
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Grease and flour a 9”x13” baking pan; set aside.
- Using a medium saucepan, add the butter, unsweetened chocolate and 1 cup of chocolate chips. Place over medium-low heat, stirring often, until butter and chocolate have fully melted; set pan aside to cool.
- In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, sugar and vanilla. Stir the egg mixture into the warm chocolate mixture.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture.
- Stir the remaining ¾ cup of chocolate chips into the batter.
- Pour batter into prepared baking pan. Bake at 350°F for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the brownies comes out mostly clean.
- Set pan aside to cool.
- Once cool, cut the brownies into ½”-1” cubes.
For the Cheesecake
- Using a countertop mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until completely smooth (~3 minutes).
- Add the sugar and mix well. (Tip: Don’t forget to scrape the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl to fully incorporate the sugar.)
- Add flour and mix well.
- Whisk the eggs and egg yolks together and add to the bowl in 3 additions, mixing fully after each addition.
- Add the sour cream and vanilla. Mix until fully combined. (Tip: Use a spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure the filling is fully mixed.)
- Carefully fold ~¼ of the brownie bites into the batter. Place remaining brownie bites in an air-tight container.
- Pour the batter on top of the cooled crust.
- Wrap the bottom of the pan with a piece of aluminum foil and place in a large baking pan. Fill pan with about 1/2”-3/4” of water. Bake at 325° until center of cake is just barely set (about 80-90 minutes). (Tip: Pull the cheesecake out of the oven when there is about 1" ring of "looser" filling left in the center of the cake.)
- Remove cake from oven and cool for 10 min. Wrap entire pan in plastic wrap and freeze overnight.
- The next day, remove the cake from the freezer and pop the cheesecake out of the pan using the removable bottom.
- Transfer the cake to a serving platter and defrost in a refrigerator for 4-5 hours.
- Top cheesecake with the remaining brownie bites before serving.
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