The next few posts will be about the many cookies I made for an event at church. We have an "Alternative Gift Market" every year which gives congregants a chance to make gift donations to local and international charities. (Hey, Dad and Sharmyn, we made a donation to "our" Guatemalan coffee cooperative towards helping them buy roasting equipment. Merry Christmas!)
As a member of the organizing committee, I was asked to put my "special gifts" to work and bake cookies for the event. "Now's my chance!" I thought. "I can get a bunch of Maida recipes taken care of in one fell swoop!"
These brownies were the first on the list, and I believe they were also the first to disappear. After all, what's not to like? A nice fudgy brownie with lots of pecans and coconut (think German Chocolate Cake), topped off with a chocolate cheesecake layer and a sprinkling of cocoa.
Here are the finished brownies in my messy kitchen, ready to make their debut. Don't they look nice?
These are super rich and should be cut in small squares: even the smallish squares I made here were pretty generous. Sami compared them to truffles. They are also best served cold.
Here's the recipe, doubled for a 9x13 pan, which makes a ton of brownies. If you don't have a crowd to bake for, halve the recipe for a 9-inch square pan.
Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
8 oz. (2 sticks) butter
1/8 t. salt
2 scant cups (12 oz.) sugar
1 t. vanilla
4 large eggs
2/3 c. (3.3 oz.) flour
8 oz. (2 cups) toasted pecan halves
4 oz. (1 cup) coconut
Heat the oven to 350. Get out a 9x13 pan and line it with aluminum foil; spray the foil. (Now is also a good time to get out the cream cheese for the topping, if you haven't already.) Put the butter and chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 2-3 30-second bursts, stirring in between. When all is melted and smooth, add the salt, sugar, and vanilla. Then add the eggs one at a time, stirring well after each and making sure they don't cook. Then add the flour and finally the nuts and coconut. Spread into the prepared pan and set aside while you make the cheesecake part.
16 oz. (2 bricks) cream cheese, room temperature (I used one regular and one low-fat)
1 scant cup (6.5 oz.) sugar
6 T. (1.1 oz.) unsweetened cocoa
1 t. vanilla
2 T. flour
More cocoa powder, for dusting
In your mixer, beat the cheese until it is soft, then add the remaining ingredients one at a time. (I bet you could also do this in the food processor.) Pour this on top of the brownie layer, then put all that in the oven and bake it for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool to room temperature. Then use a small strainer to sift some cocoa on top. Now you need to unmold these babies. Run a knife around the edge of the pan to make sure nothing is sticking Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper and turn the brownie pan upside down on it. With luck, the brownies will come right out. Take off the aluminum foil and turn the brownies right side up again. Then put them in the fridge or freezer to chill until firm. When they're nice and firm, cut them into as many as 64 small squares. Enjoy the looks on people's faces when you serve them these!