Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Mom’s Cream Cheese Brownies

My mom wasn’t much for cooking when we were younger, but she can bake with the best of ‘em. Problem is, she rarely uses recipes. She knows the basic components of cookies, for example, so she can just throw ingredients in, adding what she wants, and they’ll turn out amazing or amazingly weird (or both).

One recipe that my mom makes better than anyone else is her cream cheese brownies. She used to make these when I was in high school, and it was a happy day when I’d open up the fridge and see a pan of these on the shelf. (Others may disagree, but I like these babies cold.) I’ve tasted other cream cheese brownies, but they don’t measure up. Maybe the cream cheese filling is too thin or too sweet, or it doesn't actually taste like cheesecake And no one throws in the extra chocolate chips like mom does.

I’ve tried to make this recipe several times, to no avail. In fact, my last attempt was a disaster. I was making these for a dinner party potluck, and I could not get the brownies to set. After two hours in the oven, they more closely resembled brownie pudding than brownies. I actually thought Mom might be sabotaging me. ("You can make all those fancy-pants meals, little girl, but you can't make my brownies! Mwa-ha-ha-ha." Yeah, I can totally see it.)

So I asked Mom – again – how she does it. I still got some pretty vague instructions, but one of these days, I’ll get it right. And this might be it.

Mom’s Cream Cheese Brownies
Serves 16

1 boxed brownie mix for 9x13 pan (or make homemade, if you have the energy)
Oil, water, and eggs as directed on package
½ c. or so chocolate chips

Cream cheese mixture
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 egg
½ tsp. vanilla extract
½ c. powdered sugar
¼ c. chocolate chips

1. Mix brownies as directed on package, stir in chocolate chips, and pour into prepared 9x13 pan.

2. In a small bowl, combine cream cheese, egg, vanilla, and sugar. Stir in chocolate chips.

3. Drop spoonfuls of cream cheese mixture on brownie batter, and swirl with a knife.

4. Bake brownies as directed on package.

5. Let cool and store in refrigerator.

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