Pass the Cocoa

Cheesecake-Swirled Brownies

Yields: 16 brownies

Brownie batter adapted from Alice Medrich’s Cocoa Brownies


For the Brownie Layer

10 tablespoons butter, cubed

¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 cup granulated sugar

½ teaspoon instant coffee

2 eggs, cold

¼ teaspoon baking powder (optional, see note)

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup all-purpose flour

For the Cheesecake Swirl

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 tablespoons sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg yolk


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line an 8x8 inch square pan with aluminum foil, and then grease the foil.
  2. For the brownies, place the butter, cocoa powder, sugar, and instant coffee in a large microwavable bowl.
  3. Microwave until the butter is completely melted, stopping every 30 seconds to give it a stir. The mixture will be fairly thick.
  4. Stir for about a minute to cool the batter slightly, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Beat the mixture until it is smooth, shiny, and glossy. Mix in the baking powder, flour, and salt.
  5. Pour the batter into the pan.
  6. Make the cheesecake swirl. Beat together the cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla extract, and then the egg, until just combined.
  7. Spoon large dollops of the cheesecake mixture on top of the brownie batter. Run a skewer through the cheesecake to create a swirl pattern.
  8. Loosely cover the pan with a piece of foil (this will prevent the cream cheese swirl from browning), and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10, until the center is just set. (When you insert a toothpick into the center, it won’t come out clean; you want it to be thickly coated with moist crumbs).
  9. Let cool completely, slice, and serve!


You can omit the baking powder for a denser brownie (they are still pretty fudgy and chewy with the baking powder), but I find that the brownie complements the cheesecake swirl better when it has a tiny bit more lift.