Cream cheese fudge brownies for laughing girls

I found stunning century-old family photos of picnics in the mountains. This is what I would bring

Published June 8, 2010 1:01AM (EDT)

The laughing girl, dressed in a fresh white linen dress, joins her friends for a picnic in the mountains. She puts on her favorite straw hat over her long brown braid. The terrain is rugged, especially for a lady outfitted as a lady. The men are willing to help a young lady across the stream.

Part of being the only girl in a small family is inheriting the family history. These are pictures from my grandfather's photo album, snapshots from the 19-teens when he left Ohio and toured the West. The family thinks the pictures were made in Colorado.

I wish I knew who the girl was; she has such a fresh face. White linen dress, big black bow, face framed by a floppy straw hat. I imagine she has a long brown braid under the hat. The pictures are from a picnic in the mountains and these are the most interesting: Which gentleman will carry the pretty girl across the river?

Imagining this grand day, I realize the romance factor has dwindled from my picnics. These days, Clarks sandals and a clean T-shirt and shorts are the order of the day. I like my straw hat, but rely on sunscreen to shield my face because I don't like hat hair.

But there are always brownies. These are luscious, fudgy brownies, made rich with cream cheese, though they started as a failed attempt to make a cream cheese marble swirl in my regular brownie. I made both batters, swirled them to perfect marbling, and placed the pan in the oven. Then I saw the bowl of three eggs, waiting to be used in the brownie batter. Ooops! Out of the oven, batter dumped in a bowl, eggs whisked into the now-combined cream cheese and brownie batter. You need to walk an extra mile to burn off these calories, but it's well worth it. After all, you're in your Clarks and not high-button boots.

Fudgy Icebox Brownies

These brownies are super-rich, and as good as they are warm, they are divine cold, so place them at the bottom of the cooler, and finish off the picnic on a high note. 


  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¾ cup natural cocoa powder (I use Hershey's)
  • 2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat  the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch-square metal baking pan.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Off the heat, stir in sugar, then the cream cheese, followed by the eggs and vanilla. Slowly stir in the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt, until the batter is smooth and free of lumps.
  3. Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick or a skewer inserted ¾ inch into the center of the brownies comes out with just a few moist clumps clinging to it, about 40 minutes. Let the brownies cool completely in the pan on a rack.
  4. Cut into square s. Store the brownies, covered, in the refrigerator. 

By Lucy Mercer

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