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Cream Cheese Brownies

"The Best Recipe" is a wonderful book put out by the editors of Cook's Illustrated magazine. They developed this recipe after their usual exhaustive testing. It's best to cut these only just before you're ready to serve them -- otherwise, they dry out.

Brownie base:
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs

Cream cheese filling:
1 8-ounce brick cream cheese, room temperature (do not use low-fat or no-fat)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk

To make the brownie base: Preheat oven to 325 degrees and set oven rack at lower middle level. Stir together in a small bowl the flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside. Coat an 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray and fit an 18- by-16-inch sheet of foil into the bottom of the pan (it will overhang the sides, which you will use as handles later to remove the brownies). Coat foil lightly with cooking spray as well.

Over very low heat, melt together the unsweetened chocolate, bittersweet chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally until completely melted and smooth. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.

Whisk into the chocolate mixture the sugar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Add dry ingredients and whisk until just incorporated.

To make the cream cheese filling: In a small bowl, beat together all the cream cheese filling ingredients until of smooth, even consistency.

To finish: Pour half the brownie batter into the pan. Drop half the cream cheese mixture, by spoonfuls, over the batter. Repeat, layering remaining batter and filling. Use blade of table knife or spoon handle to gently swirl together the batter and filling, creating a marbled effect and smoothing out the top.

Bake at 325 degrees on the lower middle oven rack for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out with several moist crumbs clinging to it. Cool brownies in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes, then use foil sling "handles" to lift brownies from the pan. Place brownies on wire rack and allow them to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours (to hasten cooling, place brownies in freezer for about 90 minutes). Cut into squares and serve. Makes 1 dozen bars.

Thursday, August 31, 2000

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