Welcome to Chocolate Monday! During these lingering days of summer, I am always looking for something to help me cool off. These Brownies with Cream Cheese Topping are the perfect chilled treat, rich and satisfying and very easy to make!
I love the intense chocolate of the cocoa brownies combined with the creamy cheesecake-like topping. It is pretty much the perfect dessert anytime of the year but especially during the summer.
I really appreciate how easy this is to make and how well it converted to gluten-free. The brownies have enough moisture in them that I didn’t have to add any gums. They are rich and indulgent!
Both layers come together easily, but you need to wait for the brownies to cool thoroughly before adding the topping layer. If you want, make the brownies a day ahead and finish on the second day. The cream cheese topping will take about 8 hours or overnight to firm up enough to slice through cleanly.
One of the tools you need is a knife that is long enough to bridge the whole bar. With a 9-inch pan, a 10-inch knife is perfect. I love this carving knife. It has a thin blade that is very sharp and is long enough to gently press on both ends to make sure it cuts all the way through in one pass.
If you don’t already have one, a honing steel should definitely be part of your knife set. It helps keep the edge of your knives sharp by straightening them again, getting rid of any little burrs that might be present – a common occurrence. If you want to learn more about steels, take a look at this article from Serious Eats.
If you want perfect slices, follow the directions in the recipe. A clean, hot knife goes through the cream cheese topping and brownies extremely smoothly. Once you make a cut, just pull the knife straight out toward you and not back up through the frosting. Then clean and rinse the knife again before making the next cut.
I hope you make and enjoy these Brownies with Cream Cheese Topping ~ they are so good! I just finished the ones I used in the photos and loved every bite!! Happy Chocolate Monday!
Did you enjoy this recipe? Let me know in the comments, I love hearing from you!
Key Ingredients for Brownies with Cream Cheese Topping:
- Sugar, butter, vanilla, cocoa powder, eggs, gluten-free flour
- Baking powder, cream cheese, fresh lemon juice, heavy cream
Using a parchment sling is the perfect way to get brownies or other bar cookies out of the baking pan in one piece, giving you room to make clean cuts. Most parchment sheets are cut to fit into a half sheet pan, the ordinary pan used by home cooks. Fold it lengthwise to fit into your 9-inch square pan and leave the two longer ends extended over the edges. Use these “handles” to lift the cooled brownies out of the pan.
How to make Brownies with Cream Cheese Topping:
- Make the Brownies: Melt the butter and sugar, then mix in the salt, vanilla and cocoa powder; when cooled a bit add the eggs and beat in, scraping the bowl and beater
- In a bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder then add to the butter mixture and mix until fully incorporated; scrape the bowl and beater then mix the batter once more
- Pour batter into a parchment-lined 9-inch square baking pan easing it into the corners; bake at 350°F for 35 to 40 minutes, then cool to room temperature
- Make the Topping: Beat together the cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla, and salt, mixing until smooth; scrape the bowl and beater
- Whisk in the cream until thick and the whisk attachment leaves trails in the mixture, about 5 minutes; pour into a bowl, cover, and chill 1 hour
- Spoon the chilled and thickened topping onto the cooled brownie layer; cover with plastic and refrigerate at least 6 hours and up to overnight to firm up the topping
- To Serve: Run a knife around the edges of the pan and use the parchment sling to carefully lift the brownies out of the pan; set on a cutting board
- Use a long, sharp knife that you’ve run under hot water and wiped dry to make the first cut, then repeat the water/wiping and make another cut; repeat the cleaning of the knife between each slice
If the cream cheese mixture is really runny after chilling for an hour, you can serve the topping as a dip instead, serving it in small bowls for dipping the brownies into. It will be just as delicious and even more fun because you get to dip them!
Recommended Tools (affiliate links; no extra cost to you):
- Paring knife
- Citrus reamer
- 9-inch square baking dish
- Parchment paper sheets
- Stand mixer with paddle and whisk attachments
- Long, sharp knife
- Cutting board
You can adjust any recipe to gluten-free by using 120 grams of my favorite gluten-free flour blend per cup. This recipe was written using this flour blend. If you are using another brand of gluten-free flour, whisk the mix, spoon it lightly into a measuring cup, level off the top with a straight edge, and weigh the flour. Use that weight as your standard per cup of that specific flour. Commercial blends such as Pamela’s, Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1, or King Arthur Measure for Measure are all good choices.
- 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt (leave out if using salted butter)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cup (90 g) gluten-free flour or all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
Cream Cheese Topping
- 8 oz package (228 g) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp (75 g) granulated sugar
- 2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tsp vanilla paste or pure extract
- Pinch kosher salt
- 3/4 cup (170 g) cold heavy cream
- Chocolate shavings, sifted cocoa powder, mini chocolate chips, drizzled ganache or caramel sauce, etc.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan and line with parchment. Leave the ends hanging over two edges to create a sling to help lift the brownies out of the pan.
- Make the Brownie Layer: In a saucepan, combine the sugar and butter, heating over medium heat until butter is melted, stirring often. Cook about 3 more minutes, stirring often, to partially melt the sugar. Pour into the bowl of your stand mixer and add the salt, vanilla, and cocoa. Mix on low with the paddle attachment until blended and cooled slightly, then add the eggs and beat until shiny. Scrape the bowl and beater(s).
- Whisk together the flour and baking powder, then mix into the batter until fully incorporated. Scrape the bowl and beater and mix again. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it with a spatula into the corners.
- Bake about 35 to 40 minutes or until the top is set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.
- Note: If you are using gluten-free flour, this cooling will help the brownie layer not collapse in the center under the weight of the cream cheese layer.
- Can be baked a day ahead and finished the following day. When cooled, cover and set aside.
- Prepare the Cream Cheese Topping: In the bowl of your stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla and salt. Mix on low until blended, then increase speed to medium and beat until smooth. Scrape the bowl and beater.
- Switch to the whisk attachment and pour in the cream. Mix on low to combine, then increase speed to medium-high and whip until thick and the whisk leaves trails in the mixture, about 5 minutes. Pour into a bowl, cover, and chill for about an hour. * (see step 11)
- Spoon the thickened mixture on top of cooled brownie layer, smoothing to the edges with an offset spatula. Cover with plastic and refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight to fully firm the topping.
- To Serve: Remove plastic and garnish if desired. Run a knife around the edges to release the brownies from the pan. Use the parchment to carefully lift the bars out of the pan and set on a cutting board. Use a very sharp, long-bladed knife. Run under hot water, wipe dry and make the first cut. Repeat between each cut for the cleanest slices. Serve cool or cold. Store, covered, in the refrigerator.
- * If you don't have a high power mixer or if the cream cheese mixture is really runny after chilling for an hour, you can serve this topping as a sweetened cream cheese dip instead. Whip as well as you can, chill to thicken, then serve alongside the brownies in small bowls. Just as delicious and maybe even more fun because kids get to dip them!!
- Recipe Source: The Heritage Cook
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 302Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 51mgSodium: 172mgCarbohydrates: 48gFiber: 2gSugar: 33gProtein: 7g
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