something that being married has taught me about myself is how much i actually like to cook and bake. this may have taken my mother by surprise also. i was infamous in that house for burning things (and not just burning them, but sitting next to them as they burn with my nose in a book). part of it was the fact that ryan is such an awful cook (read: kraft macaroni and cheese) that someone had to do something. ryan didn't care. he even offered to make hamburger helper (his "fancy" meal) on sunday nights. no, thank you.
so i was plugging away, looking for recipes and actually watching the food so it didn't burn. i think we ate a lot of spaghetti those first few months. then i found my mother's favorite (and now mine), ca website and magazine called cook's illustrated. cook's illustrated is amazing. they look for the perfect recipe and then they write an article with the recipe to talk about how they got there and what their taster's thought. i love these magazines. anyway, since i love food much more than i had first supposed, i thought i'd start writing about it. then you could see the things i love. besides, i love it when people put their stuff up.
so last night, i made cream cheese brownies for ryan to hand out to people he hopes to impress. i try to make one thing a week and then package it up and he goes and hands them out. they are good. they are rich and chocolatey and the cheesecake-cream-cheese part is really good.
2/3 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
1 stick (8 ounces) butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs, plus 1 yolk
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position, and preheat oven to 325 degrees. Whisk flour, salt and baking powder in a small bowl; set aside. Coat an 8-inch-square baking pan with cooking spray. Fit a long piece of foil in to the baking pan, leaving pieces hanging over the sides to be used as "handles" when pulling the entire brownie out. Coat foil with cooking spray.
2. In a medium heat-proof bowl set over a pan of almost simmering water, melt chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally until mixture is smooth. Remove melted chocolate mixture from heat; whisk in 1 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract; then whisk in 3 eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Continue whisking until mixture is completely smooth. Add dry ingredients; whisk until just incorporated.
3. In a small bowl, beat cream cheese with remaining 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and egg yolk until of even consistency.
4. Pour half the brownie batter into prepared pan. With a spoon, drop half of the cream cheese mixture over batter. Repeate layering with remaining brownie batter and cream cheese filling. With the blade of a kitchen knife, gently swirl the batter and cream cheese filling, creating a "marbled" effect.
5. Bake until the edges of the brownies have puffed slightly and the center feels not quite firm when touched lightly, 50 to 60 minutes.
6. Cool brownies in pan on wire rack for 5 minutes. Using the foil handles, left brownies from the pan and place on wire rack. Cool until room temperature. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours. Cut into squares and serve.