The ummm..Best Peanut Butter Cheesecake Swirl/Chunk? Brownies..EVER! | Parsley, Sage, and Sweet

The ummm..Best Peanut Butter Cheesecake Swirl/Chunk? Brownies..EVER!

August 4, 2009 at 8:19 am | Posted in Bars/Brownies, Dessert | 87 Comments
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The ‘ummm’ in the title refers to the fact that I don’t believe there is a ‘best’ of anything, especially when it comes to food, but it’s a term that’s used quite often in many situations to spark people’s curiosity enough to take a look at and maybe try it.  My original title was going to be ‘Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownies’.  How original and witty!!

pbbrownies

My quest for the perfect peanut butter cheesecake swirl brownie came about when I wanted to create something for someone I used to know who loved peanut butter, cheesecake and dark chocolate.  Well, that someone is no longer a someone in my life, so, if you want to look at it in a spiritual sense, that batch of brownies not turning out the way I had hoped was for a reason.

Brownie kismet, perhaps?

Now it was time to literally start over and give this brownie another few shots.  Another few shots is actually an understatement, since it took 4 more tries before I was satisfied with the results.

IMG_68991

This was my first attempt back in April.  WHERE’S THE CHEESECAKE?  They tasted good and were super tender and moist - but it wasn’t even close to what I was striving for.

The first attempt was back in late March-early April, the last 4 attempts were in a span of one week.  I usually keep a clean work space (well, try to) when cooking and baking, but by the 4th attempt, as you can see below, I said “Fluck it!” and basked in a heavenly mess of chocolate, peanut butter, empty cartons, egg shells.. ad whaddamessitum!  I was getting peanut butter in my chocolate amd chocolate in my peanut butter.

Yes, it can happen in baking, but it’s a little far-fetched when some dude is walking down the street eating peanut butter from a jar and a gorgeous woman comes flying out of nowhere and slams into him, spiking her chocolate bar into his jar of peanut butter.  They fall in love, invent the peanut butter cup, and become multimillionaires – until he leaves her for the hot, young blonde in his office who turns him on to Mentos.

I even stepped on a few empty, cracked egg shells that hit the floor and ignored the smushed little white bits of *calcium, some of which stuck to my shoes – occasionally leaving a trail of little white specks for my cats to swat.  I was in a zone!  The world could have ended, and I would have still been melting, mixing, beating, swirling, as I disintegrated into ash.

IMG_6971

What I wanted was an obvious cheesecake bite and texture in my brownie – heavy on the peanut butter flavor in the cheesecake batter.  In a lot of cheesecake swirl brownies, the cheesecake batter kind of melts into the brownie batter, a swirl or bit here and there, along with a slightly tangy, moist bite, which isn’t a bad thing at all – BUT, I wanted a big bites of cheesecake.   Think of a cheesecake with a brownie crust, but divide and swirl both together.  In other words, creamy chunks of cheesecake easily distinguishable visually, texturally, and palatably throughout the moist, dense fudgy brownie.

batter

I searched online, and was surprised to see that there weren’t many PEANUT BUTTER cheesecake swirl brownie recipes.  In fact, I found just three along the lines of what I envisioned, one from Bon Appetit, which was just a layer of brownie topped with a peanut butter cheesecake-chocolate swirl…so, no.  The second was from Anna at Cookie Madness, which look great, but no chunks, and the last one at Baking Blonde’s Weblog, which are topped with Reese’s peanut butter cups –  BUT, as mentioned above, I wanted those cheescake chunks and more peanut butter.

From there, I decided to just look for plain cheesecake brownies ( 1 TRILLION hits), and ended up at David Lebovitz’s Cheesecake Brownies, which was exactly what I was looking for – a good amount of thick, creamy cheesecake distributed throughout the brownie.  Now the conundrum – how was I going to incorporate the peanut butter seamlessly, and what adjustments do I need to make to get that same bite and effect, with a distinct peanut butter flavor, in the cream cheese batter?  This is where my journey to the last four attempts began.

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I tried several different amounts of peanut butter and cream cheese, and whole eggs versus egg yolks, until I finally came to what I think is pretty close to the ultimate ‘loaded’ peanut butter cheesecake brownie.  One trick to get those lovely swirl/chunks of cheesecake, is to pour half the brownie batter into the bottom of the pan, then spoon several dollops of the peanut butter cheesecake batter on top.  DO NOT swirl/marble them together.

Yep, you read that right, no swirling allowed in step one!

Step two..gently pour/scrape the remaining brownie batter on top of those dollops of peanut butter cheesecake goo, spreading it delicately, and top the remaining brownie batter with more dollops of the remaining cheesecake batter.  NOW you can swirl away.  Just the top though, although it’s ok if the first layer gets swirled a bit, just not too much, as you want those cheesecake chunks (well, I know I do.).


I brought some of my attempts, and the final brownies, to my gym.  Veering wayyyy off topic for a moment, I’m now doing my PT in this awesome, state of the art gym.  Heat treatment and deep knee massages prior to getting my booty whipped, vibrating electrode ice treatments after getting my booty whipped.  Top of the line work-out machines, all with digital cable TV’s and Ipods, (although the music they blast in the gym is awesome, a lot of classic rock) loads of great classes (just signed up for Pilates and Kickboxing), a driving range out back, along with one of my favorite ‘sports’ to play..ever, miniature golf.

Is that considered a sport?

That said, knee massages sound great, right?  Well, it’s painful while it’s happening, but in a good way.  It’s what you feel the next day that isn’t good.  The first three sessions, the post massage mornings were hell.  They’re manipulating my knee in ways it’s never been manipulated, not to mention my quad, which needs to be built up again to support my knee, since it was pretty much atrophied for quite a while.  However, the pain doesn’t last too long, and is starting to ease up, depending on which Physical Therapist massages it, so no complaints here since……

I can WALK again!

We’re talking without a brace, walker or cane!  So what if I walk like Herman Munster for now, and it isn’t easy yet?  I can finally freakin’ walk!!  I’ll touch on that more in my next entry, along with a funny story regarding two women, one of them moi, and most men’s obsession with two women.


Back to the brownies.  Everyone who tasted them, especially the final brownie, said I should sell them, so I’ll take that as a good sign that maybe they could be the ‘best EVER’?  Nahhh, they’re just really good – if you love a sinfully rich brownie loaded with peanut butter cheesecake.

If you refrigerate these brownies prior to eating them, the peanut butter cheesecake really pops.  I prefer these made with milk chocolate, but as I’ve mentioned in previous entries, I usually bake with dark chocolate since it seems to be a favorite of many. I mostly bake for others, not myself – except when I crave peanut butter and chocolate in the wee morning hours.

Yes, Peanut Butter Freak, I Am.

* One of my favorite Julia Child ‘gems’ used to come after she or a guest chef cracked an egg and a piece of shell fell into whatever she or they were preparing – “Oh, just leave it in there, extra calcium.”

                                Peanut Butter Cheesecake Chunk Brownies

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Swirl/Chunk Brownies
Brownie Layer
Recipe from David Lebovitz, with my two tiny revisions

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 ounces milk chocolate, or bittersweet chocolate or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup flour
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Swirl

8-ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
**1 whole, large egg OR 1 egg yolk.. if you want a really dense cheesecake batter

DIRECTIONS FOR THE BROWNIE LAYER:
1.  Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-inch square pan with foil or parchment paper, making sure it goes up all four sides. Use two sheets if necessary. Mist with non-stick spray or grease lightly.

2. Stir chocolate and butter in medium saucepan over low heat until smooth; cool 10 minutes. Using electric mixer on low speed, or stir in with a wooden spoon – sugar, eggs, and vanilla into cooled chocolate mixture, until uniform.   Stir/beat in flour and salt. Spread half the batter in pan.

DIRECTIONS FOR THE PEANUT BUTTER CHEESECAKE SWIRL:
1. In a separate bowl, beat together the cream cheese, peanut butter,whole egg or egg yolk, sugar, and vanilla until smooth.  DO NOT OVER BEAT!

ASSEMBLE AND BAKE:
1. Drop large spoonfuls of the peanut butter cheesecake batter across the top of the first layer of brownie batter. Don’t swirl them together.  Cover the peanut butter dollops with the remaining brownie batter and the remaining peanut butter cheesecake batter in dollops, then take a knife, spatula, spoon handle, or whatever you have on hand that can ‘swirl’ well, and swirl the TOP layer of peanut butter cheesecake batter with the brownie mixture. Lift up some of the brownie batter to insure the brownie mixture swirls in as much as possible, since it can be little heavier than the peanut butter cheesecake batter, depending on whether you use a whole egg or just the yolk.  As mentioned above, it’s ok if some of the first layer of both batters swirl together, just not too much.

2. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the batter in the center of the pan feels just set, or a skewer contains a few moist brownie crumbs sticking to it (you would stick the skewer in a chocolate area).

3. Let cool, then lift the brownies up and out using the foil or parchment paper and peel it away/off. Cut the brownies into equal squares.

Makes about 16 brownies, depending on how large or small you cut them.

*Although I didn’t use it, I think Natural and/or Organic peanut butter would give you a better texture and pure peanut butter flavor, minus all those additives in your basic (rhymes with Blippy, Bif or Beter Ban) supermarket PB.

**The first photo of the cheesecake dollops and last photo are the brownies in which I used 1 egg yolk in the peanut butter – cream cheese batter.  All other brownie photos (including the unbaked swirl photo) were made using one whole egg in the peanut butter - cream cheese batter.  The whole egg produces a smoother, creamier peanut butter cheesecake texture, whereas using just the yolk produces a more dense peanut butter cheesecake texture, like NY cheesecake..as you can clearly see in the photos.

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  1. Oh, my! Chocolate, peanut butter and cheesecake, 3 of my favourite things in the world! And if it’s in brownie form, so much the better! I’m impressed with how much research you did for this dessert! (I’d probably settle for the simplistic road: take yummy ingredients, mix together, bake, devour). I will DEFINITELY try this when I get the chance to indulge!

  2. MMMmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm! Those look delicious! Great combination (it always is, isn’t it?!) Thanks for doing all the leg-work on this dessert. I can’t wait to try it :D

  3. Ok, I love that you have been working on a peanut butter & brownie recipe–I’ve been looking from time to time over the years, trying to find the perfect recipe. So I have to say a BIG THANK YOU for doing all the leg work (ha ha, no pun intended towards your knee) and I will be trying out this recipe soon! Great pictures, as always, and I really love the one that showed your “work baking mess”. I myself can cover all the counter space I have with what some people call a MAJOR MESS, but I like to think of it as being in the BAKING ZONE. :)
    P.S. I can’t wait to read the rest of the story involving the men’s obsession…lol

  4. FINALLY!! I’ve heard so much about these…finally you share! Just wish I was actually eating one, okay two. Seriously, Lisa these look and sound insanely good! I already added it to this weeks must try list which means sometime this month I’ll be calling you with kudos and a figurative high five!
    ~ingrid

  5. Brownies as an Australia I ask what are brownies we don’t have them here but I definitely think we are missing a great indulgence. I love how you attack (can’t think of a better word) a concept you want to create into reality. I’m also very very picky when it comes to the food I make for myself(like the macaron recipe I’m trying to prefect) so I can totally understand your mania to get it the way you imagine it in your mind. Since I have no experience with this treat I can’t help. Your photos like so good and show off the various attempts. Love that picture of oozing lavas of yumminess. BTW thanks for you wonderful comments on my blog about my one year of blogging. Hope you perfect the recipe when you do I will try it for sure and see what the fuss is all about…..Cheers from Audax in Australia

  6. Good Gosh woman, what’re you trying to do?!
    I’m supposed to be on a DIET!
    *mumble*

    These look awesome! Brilliant job on putting it all together :)

  7. OMG, I am drooling! Cream cheese, chocolate and PB are threemof my favorite things, so your Brownies are made for me!!! To die for!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  8. Good Grace,
    How can I resist this?

  9. The thick, swirly layer of cheesecake looks great! I think you’ve definitely perfected it.

  10. Rule #1 — Never visit Lisa’s blog while hungry.

    What’s wrong with me?! I know better. ;-)

    I can not WAIT to make these. And I am both shocked and saddened to see Audux’s comment about no brownies in Oz!? This must be fixed immediately. :-)

  11. Lisa this peanut butter cheesecake looks amazing and delicious! I love peanut butter cookies and sandwiches with peanut butter and strawberry jam, I promise to do this recipe soon.=)

  12. What a wonderful combination! If only I could have one now – Yum.

  13. What a magnificent obsession! Hard to figure how they might be improved. Gorgeous photos, too!

  14. Great job! Those look fantastic! Can I have one? :) I love the photo of the eggshells with the peanut butter and chocolate smudges on them! So great! My kitchen is always a mess when I bake and I always end up covered in flour, which is weird because I am otherwise a complete and utter neat freak.

  15. I have tried the cheesecake brownies… and I love it! With the peanut butter, it’s just will be a perfect brownies :)

  16. I was just reading a book called Tululah in the Kitchen, a kids book. She drops an egg shell in her pancake mix. She instructs the readers to just go ahead and put something crunchy intot he batter so no one will know when they hit the egg shell.

    Love these. They are brilliant, gorgous, and begging to be eaten. Oh man I got to have one of these.

  17. Oh, brilliant. Will be making them now. And I support you on your spiritual brownie making… the brownie is for you, because you yourself are worth the development of such a perfect recipe. Perfect.

  18. Wow I feel so privileged that you’ve shared your recipe with us! After all 4 attempts to make it is no small feat. Thankyou for the recipe! I have got to say, I love the swirl detail :D

  19. LOL I loved your MESS! I always have a few of those around!

    Those brownies are awesome looking and I can’t wait to try them. And let me know how you like the bo luc lac when you get a chance to make it – if you decide to eat it on a salad, you should try the vinegared onions, they go with the meat incredibly well.

    Now…where’s that jar of peanut butter?

  20. Lisa, this is a wonderful recipe! I just printed it and make sure it will go right into my kitchen sometime during the weekend. Well, obviously a must-try. Look at the photos, I can’t resist :-)

    Try baking this peanut butter cheesecake brownies one more time when you are feeling relaxed, probably on a nice weekend afternoon. I won’t be surprised you will see your “new man” from the outcome of your brownie… The past has gone, embrace the new!!!

    Regards
    Kris

  21. I don’t even like sweets but here you go putting my two favorites together.

  22. These bars look excellent!

    I don’t like peanut butter but my husband does! So, this is a winner in his book!

  23. Lisa, I would like to dedicate my latest post to you. Please follow this link:

    http://bakeinparis.blogspot.com/2009/08/swan.html

    Have a great day!

    Regards
    Kris

  24. I’m so impressed with your brownies and your perseverance! I like the tips on making swirl brownies.

  25. When this is the first site I open in the morning after days and days of salad and other types of horse feed, I see this. OMG. Clearly I need a fix of something chewy with lethal amounts of chocolate in it. Looks like breakfast material for me — unfortunately, I’m staring flax cereal with blueberries square in the face. LOVE your writing — you pack so much into it and have me cracking up. The gym sounds fab, but I’m wincing on the pain — especially after grinning over the brownies. The mess shot is my fave ; )

  26. I believe you .. these look absolutely yummy and so delicious.

  27. Wow, great job. You are a one woman test kitchen. I am not even a cheesecake fan, but you made me want to make these. They look awesome!

  28. Wow, those look great! I love all your tips.

  29. yummmm, these are so cuteeeeee!
    Looks terrific, wtg

  30. Lisa,
    I just fell in love with this recipe! I have never tried to do swirl brownies…but now I have to! I love peanut butter and cheese cream, yours look so beautiful!
    Great pics!
    Cheers!

  31. Ummmm…Ummmm… four time is super charm! And super delish too… and bookmarked ;)

  32. oh wow, 3-in-1! Definitely love the sound of it.

  33. I love your persistence to get something the way you want it. I can completely relate that that! ;) I often find I can spend 10 times longer researching something, than actually doing it. But it’s so worth it. The satisfaction when you’re done! Delicious looking brownies. Not a fan of cheesecake so much, but you got me at the peanut butter! :)

  34. Peanut butter, cheese and chocolate?! Yum!!

  35. Oh my goodness. These sound beyond wonderful. I have got to try them!

  36. I baked these yesterday, using the whole egg and oh my god, they are so decadent and the peanut butter flavor really explodes with the chocolate!! There’s only one left, and I’m trying to keep myself from eating it1 Oh, i used a combination of milk and semisweet chocolate in the brownie part, and it was a perfect pairing! Thank you for sharing this recipe!

  37. If there is peanut butter and chocolate, we will be there…like for sure. The swirl’s great. How’d you not eat all of them?

    • Chrystal and Amir– I’m not a huge dark chocolate fan, so it was easy, although I did take one and attack the peanut butter cheesecake parts – kind of akin to squeezing chocolates in a box of candy to see what’s inside :P

  38. Holy rich chocolate, peanut butter, cheesecake delicious!!

  39. Now, that’s what I’d call a Brownie Adventure! Congratulations for reaching such wonderful results!
    I’ve got a just average brownie recipe, and I think this will be a great opportunity for me to make a tremendous change!
    I’ll try this recipe, next time I bake brownies, and will try using milk chocolate. Luckyly, Brazilians’ taste is sweeter than North American’s or European’s taste.
    Oh, yes… And About my Baked Alaska, I did try to light it up, but my liquor didn’t help much and almost didn’t burn…

  40. OMG! Are you for real?

    My wife’s on this diet and if I even venture near the oven, she jumps to fight! I’m so going to do this and take it to work!!!

    And Yankees seem to be doing great today against the sucker Sox! :D

  41. OMG!!! I’ve got to try these. They sound so delish! Thanks for sharing your wonderful receipe ; )

    • You’re very welcome, Barbara! Let me know how they turn out!

  42. hahaha I’ve created so many recipes for “someones” as well… but you know, it’s nice to have that encouragement please a loved one when experimenting in the kitchen. It gets the creative juices flowing. The important thing is not to associate the recipe to the “someone” so much that when they go we lose appetite for it.
    I have to say, it’d be hard to not want these brownies, they look fudgey and delicious. And in the tight little niche of peanut butter cheesecake swirl brownies, i’m sure these are the best!!!!

  43. I wish you had entered this recipe in the Peanut Butter Exhibition hosted by The Peanut Butter Boy (co-hosted by yours truly)… these would have been at the top of my list!

  44. My husband would love me forever (and always) if I made these for him.

    Fabulous!

  45. Mmmmmmm….this looks TOTALLY awesome! So yummy and delicious. I’m going to bookmark this and will have to make it.

  46. I hear ya. I don’t usually believe in ‘best ever’ anythings either, but those photos and the sound of those brownies.. oh my!

  47. Ooh! These look lovely. I’m going to keep an eye on your blog from now on.

  48. Lisa, the only thought that’s been repeating itself in my mind throught the time I was reading this post is “I’ve got to make these brownies”!
    And I am. :)
    They’re gorgeous, and the thought of peanut butter cheesecake and chocolate (all my favourites) is really something my waistline doesn’t need right now. But I’m going to make these.

  49. [...] Peanut Butter Cheesecake Swirl Brownies at Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line [...]

  50. WOw! This looks sooo good!

  51. Ummm….your peanut butter swirl is GORGEOUS!! I am drooling all over my keyboard. Delish!

  52. i made these for a party yesterday and they wre a HUGE hit! Thanks for the inspiration!

  53. Your marbling looks perfect. And the chocolate peanut butter couldn’t hurt, it looks delicious

  54. those brownies look good!!! I’ve been wanting to make a gourmet brownie and I think I found the recipe I want to try. I was listing potential ingredients to include in a brownie recipe and cream cheese and peanut butter were both on that list.

  55. OMG – these are indeed droolworthy – probably the most droolworthy brownies I have sene in a while.

  56. These bars look so delicious…peanut butter, chocolate and cheesecake…yummie! Love your pictures!

  57. As I said before, Yum. Those look delicious! I’ve got something for you over at my blog =D.

  58. Wowowowow they look amamzingly creamy, chocolatey! Thanks for sharing your recipe!

  59. This cheesecake looks delicious!
    Cream cheese, chocolate and peanut butter, how can I resist?

    Tes photographies sont absolument magnifiques!
    C’est toujours un grand plaisir que de faire une petite visite sur ton blog!

  60. uhmmm… *slurp*

    xoxoxoxo

  61. These look killer! Love all 3 flavors! Thumbs up!

  62. Oh these look just too, too good, Lisa! I have to admire your persistence in making and remaking them until you got them just right. Brilliant.

  63. Whoa, YUMMM! I was just about to comment about your POM ribs, when I saw these and somehow missed them when you first posted them. DE-LISH!

  64. Aww, I knew that I shouldn’t have read this, since I’m going gluten-free right now. Those pictures are TO DIE FOR, especially the one of the raw batter in the pan just before it’s baked.

    Glad you can walk and can’t wait to hear about your gym story!

  65. Now these babies are the definition of “drool-worthy”! Man, they’ve got it all going on in terms of flavor, AND they look stunning!

  66. Ooooh my! Three of my all time favorite words are 1. cheesecake, 2. peanut butter, and 3. brownie. And you’ve managed to mesh them into one fantastic looking morsel of dessert nirvana.

    I will DEFINITELY be trying these. Thanks for all of your hard work and dedication in the kitchen :)

  67. OMG!!!
    These are amazing…. I am looking for a good recipe to make, and here I am with these gorgeous looking cheesecakes…
    I will make them soon, and let you know…

    Iam taking a five, I’ve been pickling since Sunday, so far made 6 kinds… still have two to go…

    thank you for this recipe…

  68. Those look crazy good.

  69. I haven’t made a chocolate, peanut butter brownie in ages. This one looks better than any I have made which means I have to try it.

  70. Somehow I missed this post WAY back when, but I’ve seen it now and WOW, those look DE-LISH! Perfect. Yum. Great job.

  71. Just made these and they turned out great! Thanks for the recipe!

    • You’re very welcome. Micah – so glad you liked them!

  72. I happened upon your blog by complete and total accident while searching for a recipe for brownies such as these. I made them last night and just wanted to say that although I don’t know you, I now consider you a Goddess of the highest culinary skill. I went to pastry school and none of the recipes I have for these come even close. MY GOD these are DELICIOUS! And as a humble PB and Chocolate worshiper, I will forever be in your debt.

    ThankyouThankyouThankyouThankyouThankyou!!!!!

    • WOW, Melynn..I’m so flattered and incredibly happy that you liked them. They definitely are peanut butter – chocolate decadence. and I have to curb myself from making them on too many whims!

  73. this sounds sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo good!

  74. Could I double this recipe and put it in a 9X13 pan? Would it turn out the same? Thanks!

    • Sure! There shouldn’t be any problems. If there is, just make two pans of the recipe. Let me know how they turn out in the larger pan :)

      • awesome! Thanks :) Also, I have some mini reeses pieces that I had wanted to throw into the mix somewhere. Do you think I could add the pieces to the brownie mixture, peanut butter mixture, or shoud I just sprinkle them on top? Thanks again!

      • I would mix them in. A surprise crunch with more creamy PB in each bite. However, on top would be nice too, aesthetic wise :)

  75. [...] but I tried my hand at it this weekend.  I made Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownies that I saw at Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives.  I had the help of a lovely [...]

  76. Good piece, bookmarked this page, I will come back for more.

  77. “Just pour off the oil.” Are you serious? You are supposed mix the oil back into the peanut butter solids, giving it a creamy (peanut buttery) texture. You are no peanut butter connoisseur, I see!

    • In order to get really good chunks of peanut butter cheesecake in this particular recipe, you have to pour it off. If the oil is stirred back in or you use regular supermarket brand peanut butter, you just get swirls. For any other use..of course I stir it back in! :)

  78. Oh, I made these with half nutella and half dulce de leche. Wow, now I have to try peanut butter, love it Lisa!


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