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Cheesecake Brownies with Glazed Mixed Berries

Photography by Heather Ellicott (click photo to view her portfolio)

Mary Anne here. As I cruised the aisles of my greengrocer, I was inspired by the bounty of plump blueberries and the fattest, reddest, ripest raspberries I’ve ever seen. My wheels started churning and I found myself caught betwixt cheesecake and brownies, hence this most holy of matrimonies.

Cherry-picking a few ideas from my mom’s famous Chocolate Mint Brownies and her Ultimate Cheesecake – that’s no hyperbole – I concocted this ooey-gooey, oh-so-creamy dessert. And rest assured, it sates the sweetest of sweet tooths and the most raging of chocoholics. Any berries will do for this new family treasure, so swap in strawberries, blackberries, fresh currants or whatever strikes your fancy.

Not to “gild” this already gorgeous lily, but fruit glazes are truly a terrific addition when preparing tarts, open-faced pies, or simply a bowl full of fresh berries. Glazing is a very basic technique but I feel compelled to share it for those of you who are new to the baking scene. It enhances the rich color of the fruit and its sheen reflects the light, creating, well…eye candy. Alternatively, if you want to skip the glaze part, scatter the berries over the brownies and dust their tops with some confectioner’s sugar.

As for Michael’s opinion on this berry merry batch?  He’s already scheduled 10 extra trips to the gym as atonement for scarfing down these bad boys. But he swears they’re worth every extra cal!

Cheesecake Brownies with Glazed Mixed Berries
Makes 24 Large Brownies

Note: You will need a 9×13 brownie pan and a hand mixer.

Ingredients for the Brownie Layer:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened – stock
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted – $1.60
2 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, melted – $0.80
2 cups granulated sugar – stock
1 cup flour – stock
2 Teaspoons vanilla – stock
4 large eggs, lightly beaten – stock

Ingredients for the Cheesecake Layer:
8 oz. bar of cream cheese, softened – $1.79
¾ cup granulated sugar – stock
1 egg, lightly beaten – stock
2 Teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice – $0.40
1 Teaspoon lemon zest – included above
¼ teaspoon salt – stock
½ Teaspoon vanilla – stock
2 Tablespoons flour – stock

Ingredients for the Glazed Berry Topping:
1-pint fresh raspberries – $3.99
½ pint fresh blueberries, rinsed and picked over for stems – $1.25
½ cup seedless fruit jelly/jam (whatever is in the pantry) – stock
1 Tablespoon Cointreau or any fruity liqueur on hand – optional
Grand Total Assuming Well-Stocked Pantry: $ 9.83
Total Per Brownie: $0.41

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter or “Pam” the brownie pan. Melt the chocolate either in the microwave, set on power level 3/defrost, for about 3 to 5 minutes, or in a double boiler set over simmering water.

2. Prepare the brownie layer. Using a mixer, cream the butter with the sugar until light. Slowly add the eggs, beating well after each addition until the batter is light and fluffy.

3. Add the vanilla and melted chocolate, mixing well to combine.

4. Using the lowest speed on the mixer, gradually add the flour, mixing just until incorporated. Finish folding in the flour using a spatula. Note: As in all things cake-like, don’t over mix the flour or the result will be a dry brownie.

5. Spread the brownie batter evenly over the prepared pan.

6. Using clean beaters, prepare the cheesecake layer. Cream together the sugar with the softened cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla, egg, and salt, mixing well to combine.

7. Add the flour and stir until well incorporated.

8. Spread the cheesecake mixture evenly over the brownie layer. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean or a few crumbs cling to the shaft. The cheesecake layer will be a very pale gold.

9. Meanwhile, as the Cheesecake Brownies bake, prepare the fruit glaze. Over very low flame, melt the jelly/jam, stirring frequently. Do not allow it to boil. Remove from the flame and stir in the liqueur. Spoon 2 or 3 Tablespoons of the glaze over the washed fruit, gently folding in the berries until lightly covered with the glaze. Note: Store the leftover glaze, refrigerated in a covered container. The glaze will keep for several weeks and can be used on toast or reheated and used once again as a glaze.

10. As soon as the Cheesecake Brownies come out of the oven, place the pan on a wire rack to cool and scatter the glazed berries in a decorative pattern (or wily nily!) over the top. Allow the brownies to cool completely, then cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Serve cold or at room temperature. A side of vanilla ice cream would sit quite nicely.