I know what you are thinking, raspberry and chocolate again? Yes, I could try and rationalize this decision with all of you, but truly it's more like a disease and I'll fully admit to it. Once I started with this flavor combination in my ice cream I just couldn't stop. I kept coming across all sorts of yummy recipes featuring both of these ingredients. So, I figured I could torture you all one more time and I promise (maybe) that I will stop after this recipe.
This recipe comes courtesy of Cuisine at Home which appears to be my new go-to magazine. In case you have not heard of them you are missing out. Their magazines are full of great recipes and best of all, the pages are not cluttered with advertisements. Anyway, back to the bars, how could I resist a fudge brownie layer, a smooth cream cheese layer and to top it off, raspberries. Nope, not possible, even if I tried. This bar is what dreams are made out of and I'm almost ashamed to admit that I ate more than my share of these little delights.
The bars are made pretty quickly and don't require any special skills. The brownie layer by itself is utterly amazing and is almost more reminiscent of real fudge than a brownie. It starts by melting unsweetened chocolate, butter, cocoa powder and instant espresso powder in the microwave (or a double boiler). Sugar, vanilla and salt are mixed in and then eggs are incorporated one by one. Finally flour is folded under without overmixing the batter. It gets spread in a 8-inch square pan and set aside while you get started on the cheesecake layer. Cream cheese is mixed with just a bit of sugar, lemon zest and juice, and one egg until creamy and smooth, then carefully spread over the already prepared unbaked brownie layer. The final touch is a cup of fresh or frozen raspberries that are added on top of the cheesecake before baking. The brownie bakes for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the cream cheese layer is lightly golden and set. After that comes the hardest part of the recipe - the wait time. The brownie has to cool to room temperature and after that time is over it must then be refrigerated for at least another 8 hours or overnight, which means pure torture! Before serving you can sprinkle the bars with powdered sugar but it's certainly not a necessity, they are good as is.
The reward is seriously an amazing flavor combination of sweet, dark chocolate with a light tasting cheesecake layer and heavenly raspberries. True decadence at its best. Besides me eating more than my fair share of these brownies, my kids also went absolutely nuts over them. I think the brownies make a beautiful presentation and would be lovely served for all kinds of occasions when entertaining. I will definitely be baking these again, but first I have to kick up my workout schedule to work off the extra calories I inhaled from these!
Raspberry Cheesecake-Truffle Brownies
(adapted from Cuisine at Home)
For the brownies:
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 stick unsalted butter, cubed
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
For the topping:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Minced zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Pinch of salt
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
Sifted powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat an 8-inch square baking pan with nonstick spray.
Melt chocolate, butter, cocoa, and espresso powder for the brownies in a large bowl in the microwave oven on high power, stirring every 30 seconds, or in a double boiler. Remove mixture from heat when chocolate is nearly melted; stir unti it's smooth.
Stir in the 1 1/2 cups sugar, vanilla, and the 1/4 tsp. salt. Add the 3 eggs, one at a time, blending well after each addition.
Fold in flour, mixing just until blended. Spread batter into the prepared pan; set aside.
Using a hand mixer on medium speed, beat ream cheese, the 1/4 cup sugar, zest, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt for the topping in a bowl until smooth, about 5 minutes.
Blend in the 1 egg, then spread cheesecake batter over unbaked brownie batter.
Top cheesecake layer with raspberries. Bake brownies until cheesecake is set and golden around edges, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Cool brownies in pan on a rack to room temperature, about 45 minutes. Cover brownies with plastic wrap; chill 8 hour or overnight in the refrigerator.
Dust brownies with powdered sugar before serving, Cut brownies into small squares with a lightly oiled knife.