Hi there! Happy Friday! Things have been a little hectic here but in a good way - we are working on some really fun stuff at the studio, and I’m off to Palm Springs tomorrow to visit my bestie. All good stuff. I have so many fun recipes tucked up my sleeve that I can’t wait to share with you as we head into the holiday season! I went to a baking class the other night with King Arthur and we learnt all about puff pastry, including incorporating alternative / freshly milled grains into puff pastry, and I left all kinds of inspired to make loads of dough this holiday season!
I have a couple of really complex recipes in mind coming your way, so I wanted to also pop in a couple of simple but elevated options for the upcoming holiday baking period (my very favourite time!!). These brownies are just a riff on my regular brownie recipe, which is a very slight adaptation from Sarah Kieffer’s Book. I swirled a solid amount of cream cheese through the batter, giving it the most amazing marbled cheesecake brownie finish, and then I finished off the top of the brownie with a big swirl of peanut butter caramel, which is super easy to make - the process is the same as a regular dry caramel, but you mix some peanut butter into the warm cream mixture and use that to deglaze the caramel. It is perfectly peanutty, and compliments the fudgy brownie and the swirls of the cream cheese so well. These brownies are easy to make and store well in the fridge - they are a slightly easier but still very delicious dessert option to add into your holiday baking plans!
A few wee tips:
There is an aggressive amount of cream cheese in these which is 1) very delicious, and 2) means that they will take a little longer than regular brownies to bake, so don’t be alarmed if they still seem a wee bit jiggly!
You want the cream cheese to be super room temp so that when you whip it up with the cream, it is a good consistency to fold through the brownie batter without getting clumpy.
These cut best if you make sure that you give them adequate cooling time once they come out of the oven.
If you don’t want to add the peanut butter caramel or the cheesecake brownie, leave one or both out! Just watch the baking time as it will be different if you make an alteration.
You can make the peanut butter caramel ahead of time, but you want to bring it to room temperature or warm it slightly before adding to the top of the brownie so that it is the right consistency for swirling.
Peanut Butter Caramel Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies
- Makes about 16 brownies, or one 9” x 9” pan of brownies -
Brownie Base Recipe adapted from ‘The Vanilla Bean Baking Book’
Peanut Butter Caramel
200g granulated sugar
90g unsalted butter, at room temperature
120g heavy cream
100g creamy peanut butter
1 tsp salt
Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies
113g cold unsalted butter
250g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
50g extra dutched cocoa
140g all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
4 large eggs, at room temperature
120g neutral oil
100g brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
450g (two 225g packages) full fat cream cheese, at room temperature
2 Tbsp heavy cream
- PROCESS -
PEANUT BUTTER CARAMEL
Place the heavy cream in a small pan, and warm gently. Add the peanut butter and whisk to combine - if it seizes a little, you can add a small splash more cream, but it will smooth out once you add it to the caramel. Set aside.
Place the sugar in a medium heavy bottomed saucepan. Heat on medium, whisking occasionally. The sugar will start to form clumps, then begin to melt. Cook until is it amber in colour, then remove from the heat and immediately add all of the butter. Be careful as the caramel will bubble rapidly. Once the butter is incorporated, add in the peanut butter and cream mixture, and the salt. Whisk until emulsified. Transfer to an airtight container and leave to stand at room temperature until cooled, or store in the fridge until ready to use (you may have to re-warm slightly to swirl on top of the brownies)
CREAM CHEESE SWIRL BROWNIES
Preheat the oven to 350˚f / 180˚c. Grease a 9” square baking tin and line with a parchment paper sling.
Melt together the butter and chocolate in a medium pan over low heat, stirring well until smooth. Add the cocoa powder and mix well to combine, then set aside to cool.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, oil, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla. Mix until well combined. Add the chocolate mixture and mix until combined. Gently fold in the dry ingredients until just combined.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the cream cheese and cream until it has a whipped texture. If you find that the cream cheese is a little stiff, add a little more cream and whip in to loosen it up slightly.
Fold the cream cheese mixture through the brownie batter in three additions, taking care not to over incorporate too much - you want some big blobs of cream cheese remaining.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking tin. Drizzle 200g of the peanut butter caramel over the surface of the brownie and swirl in using a knife or a toothpick. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the top of the brownie is set and a skewer inserted comes out with still a few crumbs attached. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.