I've never met a boxed brownie I didn't like. No matter how you mix it, their texture is always perfect, they stay fresh for a long time, and those boxed brownie edges are a thing of real beauty. I'm a baker but I never thought I'd meet a homemade brownie that I preferred to a boxed brownie for as long as I lived.
But then I met cocoa brownies. Cocoa brownies are made with cocoa powder, along with the usual eggs, butter, and sugar, instead of melted chocolate. They are chewier with a deeper chocolate flavor. In my opinion, they more closely resemble the texture of the boxed version. And you can make cocoa brownies all in one pot. Just melt the butter and the sugar together and stir in the rest. Brownies that include melted chocolate are denser and sweeter with and less chocolate-forward. While both are nice, cocoa brownies are just right tucked under a super-rich cheesecake layer. The contrast makes them exceptional.
This recipe takes the boxed brownie vibe to the next layer but if cheesecake isn't your thing, multiply the brownie recipe by 1.5 and bake it solo. You won't be disappointed. The cheesecake layer is customizable too! Instead of raspberry jam, try dulce de leche, chocolate-hazelnut spread, or even citrus curd.
One word of caution: Do not over-bake these guys. Look to the cheesecake for your doneness cue. It will be lightly browned but still a little jiggly. The brownie underneath may still be a little soft, but underdone is better than overdone in this case. No one wants a dry brownie. — Samantha Seneviratne
Watch the recipe
Raspberry Cheesecake Brownies
For the brownies:
- 8 tablespoons (113 grams) unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (64 grams) all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup (71 grams) cocoa powder, Dutch-process or natural
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
For the topping:
- 6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 large egg
- 3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 2 to 3 tablespoons raspberry jam
- Heat oven to 350°F. Butter and line a 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides.
- Prepare the brownie layer: In a medium saucepan combine the butter and sugar, and heat over medium until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat and whisk vigorously until well combined.
- Once the mixture has cooled a bit, whisk in the eggs one at a time. Whisk in the vanilla. Add the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt, and stir to combine.
- Prepare the cheese mixture: In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, egg, sugar, and flour.
- Spread the brownie batter in an even layer in the pan. Top with scoops of the cheese mixture and swirl with a butter knife to create a decorative pattern. Top with small dollops of jam and swirl again.
- Bake until the top looks dry and set, 20 to 22 minutes. Do not over-bake. Gooey is always better than dry.