Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Pecan Cheesecake Swirl Brownies

Is there anything better than spending a lazy Sunday afternoon than in the kitchen and filling the air with the irresistible scent of baked treats?

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I love the weekends (who doesn't?). They're a time to catch up with friends and family and run my weekly errands. They are also a time for me to unwind, and I usually do that in the kitchen.There is something so therapeutic about baking, with the measuring out of flour and sugar, creaming together of butter and the eggs, and being surrounded by the sweet embrace of vanilla, cinnamon, citrus or whatever ends up perfuming the kitchen that day.

With more time afforded to me than on the weekdays, I do like to involve myself in more complicated recipes, ones that take more time and work so that I'll feel even more satisfied when the end result comes out of the oven.

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Other times though, I just want something that's simple but equally delicious, recipes that'll allow me make two or three items throughout the day rather than just the one.

I instantly fell in love with Weekend Baking when I first came across it. With it's gorgeous photos, the book is filled with recipes that look and sound mouth-watering but have that homey feel to them without being old-fashioned. There are more than a handful of other recipes I can't wait to try out from the book, including Coffee and Pecan Cupcakes with Praline; Passion-fruit Sandwich Cookies; Cherry Marzipan Streusel Square; and Rosewater, Pistachio and Grapefruit Cake, amongst many others.

This past snowy Sunday, however, I wanted something super comforting and decadent, and that called for chocolate. These brownies are rich and super moist, with that lovely tang of cream cheese stirred throughout and the crunch and nuttiness of the pecans. It is simply beautiful.

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Pecan Cheesecake Swirl Brownies
Adapted from Weekend Baking by Sarah Randell
Makes 16 squares

2/3 cup pecan halves
3 1/2 oz. bittersweet chocolate (70% cocoa solids), broken into pieces
6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour

For the cheesecake swirl:
1 large egg
5 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper.

Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and toast in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Let cool, roughly chop the toasted pecans and set aside.

Melt the chocolate pieces in a small heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. Remove the bowl from the heat and let cool a little.

While the chocolate cools, place the butter and sugar in an electric mixer (or use a large mixing bowl and a hand mixer) and beat until combined. Gradually add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until incorporate. Mix in the vanilla extract. Sift in the flour and add the slightly cooled melted chocolate. Mix again until combined. Using a large wooden spoon, fold in the chopped pecans.

To make the cheesecake swirl, whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl until combined.

Tip the chocolate batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly with a spatula. Drop blobs of the cheesecake mixture on top and, using a skewer or the end of a teaspoon, briefly swirl the cheesecake mixture into the top of the chocolate layer.

Bake the brownies in the preheated oven for 3o to 35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the pan comes out barely clean (there should be a few crumbs stuck to it). Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Let cool completely before cutting into 16 squares.


Anonymous March 1, 2011 at 12:45 p.m.  

I love weekend cooking, there's just something relaxing about it. The brownie looks delicious, and I'm looking forward to seeing more recipes from that book.

Bonita March 8, 2011 at 9:19 p.m.  

Thanks Jing! This is a seriously beautiful book. I encourage anyone to pick it up. Lots of lovely baking projects in it.

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