Cream Cheese Brownies with My Easy Chocolate Frosting

so happy I got roses early to use in this pic

Valentines Day brownie

layered brownies

Valentines' Day roses - a bit early

The addition of a layer of cream cheese goodness raises the bar on this brownie recipe. Then when you frost it with a creamy chocolate frosting, you know you’re in dessert heaven.

We attended a Stone Soup Supper Sunday evening and I volunteered to bring a dessert (naturally). Anytime I get to be up to my elbows playing in chocolate is a fun day, right? Stone Soup Suppers are a great tradition in our church and various members host them each winter. I’ll chat more about them soon with a recipe for Stone Soup. But for today I must share a new brownie recipe I discovered in the brand new Betty Crocker Cookbook. I topped the brownies with my own chocolate frosting recipe which I’ll share below.

There were 13 people at the dinner and I was glad I had a big pan of brownies because they were not shy in their appreciation. Success! But the brownies were so rich I was able to cut them into 32 bars, so we had plenty. The recipe says to cut them into 48 pieces, but I thought they would be too small.

tip to substitute chocolate squares

First a tip – the recipe calls for 4 ounces of unsweetened baking chocolate blocks. I had only three, so I substituted 3 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder plus 1 tablespoon of butter for the missing block. This is a standard substitution, so feel free to tuck it away and use it.

cream cheese layer

Cream Cheese Brownies

Ingredients for Cream Cheese Filling
2 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened. (I used 1/3 less fat, which worked well.)
½ cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 egg

cream cheese spread over bottom layer

Ingredients for Brownie Layers
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
4 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
4 eggs
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
½ tsp salt
1 cup walnuts, chopped

plop random scoops of brownie over cream cheese

• Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
• Grease bottom and sides of a 9×13 inch pan.
• In a small sauce pan, melt the butter and chocolate over low heat, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and cool for five minutes.

• While the chocolate is cooling, make the filling layer. In a medium mixing bowl, beat all the ingredients for the cream cheese layer until smooth. Set aside.

• In a large mixing bowl, beat the chocolate mixture, sugar, vanilla and eggs for a minute.
• Beat in the flour and salt and mix just until incorporated – a minute or so.
• Stir in the nuts.
• Spread 1 ¾ cup of the chocolate batter in the baking pan and spread it evenly, reaching all the corners.
• Spoon the cream cheese filling over the bottom layer and smooth that out.
• Drop the remaining brownie batter randomly over the cream cheese layer.
• Carefully spread the top layer, using short strokes, to cover the cream cheese layer.
• The top may not look perfect, but do the best you can to cover it without mixing the layers together.
• Bake 45 – 50 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
• Cool at least 2 hours before frosting and cutting.

top layer won't look perfect

Nana Clare’s Chocolate Frosting

1 stick butter (1/2 cup), softened
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 TBS vanilla (I’m not shy about flavor)
Dash salt
2-3 TBS milk
2 ½ – 3 cups powdered sugar

frosting will smooth it all out

• Use a mixer to blend the butter and cocoa.
• Add vanilla, salt and milk and then gradually add the sugar.
• If the frosting is too thick, add more milk, one tablespoon at a time.
• If the frosting is too thin, add more sugar, ¼ cup at a time.

decadent brownie

This will yield a dark, rich chocolate frosting that will easily frost a layer cake, as well as a flat cake. If there is more frosting than you care to use, put some in a container in the fridge and spread on crackers for a great little treat.

The consistency of this frosting will remain soft and creamy, unlike a boiled frosting. It makes the cream cheese brownies seem that much more decadent as you lick it off your fingers.

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Bumps on Logs Updated

celery snack ideas

Celery is one of those lowly vegetables that just isn’t sexy. Sure, we add it to bulk up soups and Asian cuisine, but most if it goes rubbery and gets thrown away. Am I right? I have a few ideas to remedy this.

Eat celery for a snack. Oh yeah. When it’s fresh, it’s crunchy, juicy and has a little cup-like area to hold yummy stuff.

Tip: If you don’t like the stringy stuff on the bottom, just use a potato peeler and give it a quick peel.

OK, 3 quick serving ideas;

stuffing ideas

Bump- on-a-log the traditional way – fill with peanut butter, top with raisins.
Sweetened-up-bumps – strawberry cream cheese with craisins on top. (Use low fat)
Power food bumps – Vanilla flavored Greek yogurt with blueberries.

Perfect for the kids after school snack.
Perfect for when you are starving, but you have to make dinner.
Perfect for your afternoon snackfest.
Perfect to take to a potluck as an appetizer.

Warning – this may even take away your chocolate craving. I said May.

chop ends off celery

store celery ready to eat

Finally, store celery ready to eat: Tupperware has these amazing fruit and vegetable containers. Chop the ends off the celery and wash each stalk and let them drain. Then chop each stalk into two or three pieces and store in the containers with the lid sealed. They’ll last much longer than wilting in the bag you purchased them in.

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