Monday, September 26, 2005

Mondays with Maida - Cream-Cheese Brownies

Page 76 in the old book / page 124 in the new book

I've never been fond of cheesecake, so I approached these brownies with some suspicion. I know I should give cheesecake another chance, and indeed the cream cheese mixture in these brownies was quite nice. Overall, though, I was disappointed with the brownies - mostly because of their texture.

In a later recipe Maida cautions against overbeating the eggs, because that creates a cakelike texture. Yet with this recipe you are instructed to beat the egg and sugar mixture for 3 to 4 minutes on high speed. My guess is that the intention is to make the brownie part of the cookie more similar in texture to the cream cheese portion of the cookie. I could have been happy with a cakey inside if there had at least been a little crunch on the outside. But in spite of that beautiful, glossy exterior, there was no crunch whatsoever.

I also thought that the brownies weren't especially chocolatey, but with 4 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate (I used 51% Callebaut semi-sweet) for a 9-inch pan of brownies, I think it was the texture rather than an insufficient amount of chocolate that got in the way of my chocolate experience.

The ratings were a mixed bag again this week...

Suzanne: "What could be better? Cream cheese, chocolate brownie and walnuts. The brownie was cake-like and the cream cheese was moist. Great brownie! Rating - 5"

Denny: "Very very good. Not too chewy maybe needed a little more cream cheese. Rating - 4.8"

Laura: "Moist and tasty, but I guess I don't really prefer cream cheese in with my brownies. I'm more of an 'All Chocolate Brownie' gal. Rating - 3.0"

Phil: "These attractive, marbled morsels underscore the fact that good looks only get you so far. While still flavorful, the cream cheese tended to crowd out much of the rich chocolate and nut flavors so prominent among the heavyweights in this field. Rating - 3.4"

Overall rating by the panel - 4.1

Next week - Fudge Brownies

Nutrition Facts


Nic said...

Not being a huge cheesecake fan, I find the taste much nicer when it's topping a brownie. My mom has a recipe (somewhere) that she always takes to potlucks and such. From the photo, I'm guessing that hers have a bit more cheesecake than Maidas.

Reid said...

Hi Cathy,

I don't like cream cheese brownies either. Judging by the looks of these, I think I'll have to agree with Phil on this one.

Anonymous said...

Well, they LOOK wonderful! I love cheesecake, so I'd probably like these a lot more than you.

Niki said...

I made the cream cheese brownies in Nigellas Domestic Goddess once, and I wasn't so sure about them. They had slices of Philly cream cheese in the middle, which didn't melt and provided quite a sour-ish tang. My grandmother loved them, but I wouldn't make them again for me.
Although, I would like to try this recipe bc the cheese is mixed with other ingredients rather than just shoved in naked.

Cathy said...

Hi Nic! Some have quite a bit... this picture will give you a better sense of the cream cheese to brownie ratio.

Hi Reid! I didn't mind the cream cheese, but I did feel that it took up room where there could be chocolate!

Hi Alice! Yes, the sheet of them really was pretty. I do think that the people that were predisposed to liking cream cheese and cheesecake enjoyed these brownies the most.

Hi Niki! That does sound like a heavy dose of cream cheese! I'll bet you'd like these - they were only slightly tangy.

Anonymous said...

From your picture, I can tell these were overbaked, too. Your oven is too hot and needs to be recalibrated. I think that you might have more success with your baking if you read each recipe well first, did a mise en place and then, read and followed the recipe as you went along. Perhaps you do do that, but you have posted otherwise from time to time.
I have so many questions for you!
1. Do you sift your flour when Maida tells you to?
2. Do you use solid measures for solids and liquid measures for liquids?
3. Do you cool your cookie sheets inbetween each batch?
4. Are your ingredients at the right temperature when you start out?
5. Times for cookies are there as a guide but you must cook with all your senses. Do you watch them and smell their progress. You can't leave cookies in the oven and go off to do something else.

Cathy, I hope you don't mind my comments. I commend you for your efforts and find your blog to be most enjoyable. Maida Heatter is my favorite baker and I have corresponded with her in the past. She even wrote back!

Tonight, I made her Sour Cherry Chocolate Torte from "Maida Heatter's Book of Great Chocolate Desserts", page 116. It is excellent.

Cathy, after this project, do you plan to bake your way through another Maida Heatter cookbook? I would love to encourage you to do so. I have learned so much by baking from all her cookbooks.

Pie Susan