Zebra Cheesecake Brownies

Did you ever find a recipe and get excited, because it looked so good, and then tried it out and had your excitement turn to horror as it quickly became obvious that your budding creation was not shaping up the way it was supposed to? And so then you worried about it, and pulled your hair a bit and bit a nail or two. And then the horror/anxiety eventually subsided into relief when you realized that, although what you were making looked nothing like the pictures, it had still turned out pretty doggone good?

That, in a nutshell, is the story of myself and the following recipe.

I found it at Tracie’s Culinary Adventures, under the title of Black & White Cheesecake Bars. They looked fabulous. As ramblingly mentioned above, however, what came out of my oven bears very little resemblance to the original.

Yet they are delicious. Don’t ask me where I went “wrong”, because I haven’t the foggiest idea. But hey… all’s well that ends well.

Given these strange facts, I am christening my version with a different title. They are way more brownie than bar, and look rather zebra-ish, so I’m going with Zebra Cheesecake Brownies. Yum, eh?

Zebra Cheesecake Brownies

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted


Spray a 9 x 13 baking pan with cooking spray. Line the pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on the long sides, then spray the parchment with cooking spray.

Sift flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt into a large bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until smooth. Add 2 eggs and 2 teaspoons of vanilla to the butter mixture and beat until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture. Once all of the flour is incorporated, increase mixer speed to medium and beat until fully incorporated. The batter will be heavy!

Preheat over to 325 F. Set aside 1 cup of the cookie dough – cover and refrigerate. Press the remaining dough into the prepared baking pan. Chill for 30 minutes then bake until the base is set and the edges are puffed, about 25 minutes. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, combine the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, 1 egg and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla in a medium bowl. Spread over the cooled base. Remove the reserved cookie dough from the fridge and let it soften slightly. The cookie dough can be crumbled on top of the cheesecake layer or, if you prefer, you can use a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip to pipe the dough in diagonal lines (going both ways) over the top of the cheesecake layer. (Note: I highly recommend not being like me and thinking you can make the piping method work without the pastry bag. It’s a messy story. Don’t ask.)

Bake until the filling is set, 25-30 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Once cool refrigerate briefly then, using the overhanging parchment, lift the bars out. Trim the edges and cut into individual bars (about 20).


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