There is something undeniably special about recipes passed down through generations, especially when they’re as delicious and heartwarming as these cream cheese brownies. This recipe is more than just a dessert; it’s a cherished family tradition, a token of love, a sweet memory of my husband’s grandmother.

The chemistry of cream cheese brownies

Why cream cheese and chocolate? Chocolate, with its rich, deep flavors, offers a delightful contrast to the creamy, tangy profile of cream cheese. When baked together, the fat in the cream cheese provides a moist, dense texture to the brownies, while the slight acidity helps in balancing the sweetness of the chocolate. This combination not only pleases the palate but also creates a visually appealing marble effect that’s a feat for the eyes.

Cream cheese brownies on platter with one on a plate being eaten

Can you use light cream cheese for brownies?

Absolutely! Light cream cheese can be used as a lower-fat alternative, though it may slightly alter the richness and texture.

How do you get the perfect swirl in cream cheese brownies?

Use a butter knife to gently swirl the cream cheese mixture into the brownie batter. Don’t over mix; aim for a marbled look.

Why do my cream cheese brownies crack?

Cracking often occurs due to over baking. Keep an eye on your oven, there are visual cues when your brownies are done. As soon as the brownies no longer look shiny, they are probably done. To double check you can open your oven and tap the pan, if the brownies don’t jiggle in the middle, that is another sign your brownies are probably done. The last test is to perform a toothpick or fork test, stick one in the middle of your brownies, if a few moist crumbs come out, it is done. If nothing comes out, you have overdone your brownies.

Can cream cheese brownies be frozen?

Yes, they freeze well. Wrap them tightly and they can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. Just let the brownies thaw back to room temperature before enjoying.

What is in cream cheese brownies?

Granulated Sugar

Adds sweetness, provides a caramelized flavor and crisp texture. Sugar assists with rising when creamed with butter. It helps add moisture to your treat and helps it evenly spread as it melts into a liquid in the heat of the oven. Sugar also helps with naturally preserving your baked treat.

Unsalted Butter

It is always important to use unsalted butter when baking. If you use salted butter, you have no way of knowing how much salt you are adding to your dough or batter and it will result in an overly salted treat.

Butter adds fats to your dough or batter which helps with moistness, flavor and texture. Butter melts at body temperature, which creates a ‘melt in your mouth’ sensation.

When baking with butter the temperature is important. If the butter is too warm your treat will melt down too fast and overspread in the oven, leaving you with a greasy, flat mess. If your butter is too cold it will have the opposite problem and not melt down enough, leaving your treat too thick.

Eggs

Adds both a protein (egg whites) and fat (egg yolks). The egg whites help with rising because, when foamed, little air pockets get trapped inside the egg white mixture. The water content in egg whites encourages steam while baking, which helps with gluten formation, resulting in nice and thick treats. Egg yolks have emulsifying properties that bring batters and doughs together and help them from collapsing. Unless otherwise specified, always use large eggs.

Vanilla Extract

When using pure vanilla extract, as opposed to imitation flavoring, it will add the deep rich flavor that everybody wants in a treat.

Cocoa Powder

Provides a rich, sweet chocolate flavor. Creates a dark brown color in your treat. Absorbs water in your batter or dough at the same rate as flour. That means, if you add too much, you could end up with a dried, crumbly finished product.

Fine Sea Salt

Enhances flavor, adds balance, masks any bitter flavors. Salt is the most powerful and oldest preservative. Always make sure to use fine sea salt so it melts down at the right speed in the heat of the oven. If you use larger granule salt, it will not melt down fully when baked and will leave salt crystals throughout your treat, making it crunch like you dropped it into sand.

All-purpose Flour

Builds structure as it absorbs liquids and expands. All-purpose flour falls in the middle of bread flour (high in gluten) and cake flour (low in gluten). It’s exactly what it is named, all-purpose, the most universal flour that can be used in most baked goods.

Cream cheese

Provides a unique, tangy flavor. When baked it adds moisture to your treat.

How to store cream cheese brownies

Store the brownies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days. If you want to store them longer, you can refrigerate them for up to 7 days. They also freeze exceptionally well. Wrap them tightly in plastic wrap, then aluminum foil. They can last in your freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw the brownies out overnight in the fridge and then bring them to room temperature on the counter before enjoying.

Can you make these ahead of time?

These brownies are a great make-ahead option for parties or gatherings. You can prepare and bake them a day in advance. Just make sure you store them properly to maintain their freshness.

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Cream Cheese Brownies

5 from 1 vote
Author: Madison Reid
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 24 Brownies
Sweet chocolate and tangy cream cheese are a match made in heaven! Thesebrownies are perfect for any occasion.

Ingredients 

Brownies

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 10 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Cream Cheese Topping

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Instructions

Brownies

  • Preheat oven to350 degrees
  • In a standing mixer, combine sugar & butter together. Continue beating until lighter in color and fluffy in texture (about 2 minutes)
  • Stir in eggs& vanilla. Mix to combine
  • Add cocoa powder, salt & flour. Mix to combine
  • Pour batter in a greased 9×13 pan

Cream Cheese Topping

  • In a standing mixer or bowl with electric hand mixer put cream cheese & sugar in and mix until combined
  • Add egg &vanilla, mix until smooth
  • Fold in chocolate chips
  • Pour batter in ribbons on top of brownie batter
  • Cut cream cheese mixture into brownie batter with a butter knife. I like to make a swirl pattern
  • Bake brownies for 30 minutes
  • Let cool for 15+ minute before slicing

Nutrition

Calories: 266kcal Carbohydrates: 33g Protein: 3g Fat: 14g Saturated Fat: 9g Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g Monounsaturated Fat: 3g Trans Fat: 0.3g Cholesterol: 64mg Sodium: 93mg Potassium: 90mg Fiber: 1g Sugar: 26g Vitamin A: 413IU Calcium: 26mg Iron: 1mg

Have you tried this recipe?

I’d love to see it! Follow @_mrs.madi_ on Instagram and tag your photos with #mrsmadi.