Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies
Decadent and delicious, cream cheese swirl brownies have layers of texture and flavor in every bite! The chocolate-y, fudgy brownies are topped with a cheesecake-like mixture that creates a beautiful swirl. This dessert bar is easy to make from scratch!
One of my favorite things to do when baking is put two desserts in one (have you seen my cookie dough Oreo brownies?!). For this dessert, the combination of homemade brownies and cheesecake is a treat duo your tastebuds will love! Try this recipe for Valentine’s Day, Christmas, birthdays or whenever you’re craving something sweet!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Reliable recipe. The base of this recipe comes from my tried-and-true brownie recipe. I use it in countless variations, such as my strawberry brownies and Bailey’s brownies.
- Excellent texture. It’s hard to beat biting into a fudgy brownie or creamy cheesecake. Now combine the two and you’re in for a treat!
- Delicious flavors. The decadent brownies taste unbelievable with the rich cheesecake mixture. It certainly satisfies the sweet tooth!
- Eye-catching dessert. That stunning swirl on top is enough to stop anyone in their tracks. And it tastes as good as it looks!
- Chocolate: Good quality chocolate is a must for the best flavor. I prefer Ghirardelli.
- Cocoa powder: Similarly to the chocolate, use a good quality cocoa powder that is unsweetened.
- Eggs: Make sure your eggs are room temperature for easy mixing and a smooth batter.
- Cream cheese: Block-style cream cheese is best for baking. It is richer and denser, which makes a creamier texture that is less likely to thin.
- Confectioners’ sugar: Also known as powdered sugar, confectioners’ sugar is used in the cream cheese mixture to sweeten it.
Refer to the recipe card for detailed ingredients and measurements.
Add some mix-ins. Stir in 1/2 cup chopped nuts, chocolate chips or candy to the brownie batter. I personally love some m&m’s or white chocolate chips.
Switch up the brownie flavor. For a mocha effect, add 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder when whisking in the cocoa powder. You can also experiment with peppermint by adding 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract when adding the vanilla.
Flavor the cream cheese topping. The lovely thing about the cheesecake mixture is that it adapts well to other ingredients. Mix in 2 tablespoons of any of the following ingredients: creamy peanut butter, Nutella, fruit jam or salted caramel.
How to Make Cream Cheese Brownies
- Melt chocolate and butter in a makeshift double boiler. Remove from heat and whisk in cocoa powder. Set aside.
- Beat sugar and eggs together until light in color, about 1 minute. Mix in vanilla and salt.
- Add melted chocolate to sugar and egg mixture. Stir in flour just until combined.
- Set aside 1/4 cup brownie batter. Transfer remaining batter to an 8×8 baking pan lined with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Make the topping. Beat cream cheese until smooth and creamy.
- Add egg, vanilla and sugar, then mix until combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary.
- Drop dollops of cream cheese mixture on top of the brownie batter in the pan. Spread into an even layer.
- Drop dollops of reserved brownie batter on top. Use a knife or toothpick to swirl the two mixtures together. Bake at 350 F for 25 to 30 minutes. Cool completely before slicing and serving.
Use room temperature ingredients. For easy mixing, bring all ingredients to room temperature. This ensures a well-textured batter, which results in chewy, fudgy brownies and creamy cheesecake topping.
Use good quality ingredients. This makes all the difference in flavor and texture. I prefer Ghirardelli chocolate and I highly recommend using full-fat, block-style cream cheese. It’s creamier, richer and yields a better texture.
Perfect the swirling technique. Drop dollops of the reserved brownie batter on top of the cream cheese mixture. Use a clean toothpick or knife and swirl a figure eight swirl into the batter. Avoid over-mixing or using too much pressure.
Do not over-bake. The bars are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few fudgy crumbs. The top should be very light golden in color.
Store cooled brownies in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Keeping them chilled will also guarantee a soft and moist texture! Cream cheese brownies are okay to keep at room temperature for a few hours while serving.
Freezing: After the brownies have cooled completely, wrap them in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator before serving.
Yes, but the cheesecake texture will be slightly less creamy. I recommend using full-fat if you have it.
Yes, in a pinch, boxed brownie mix may be used instead of making the brownies from scratch. I prefer the Ghirardelli brand.
For this recipe, chill the brownies first so the cream cheese layer is firm. Take a sharp knife and run it under very warm water for about 10 seconds. Wipe dry and cut the brownies. Remember to wipe the knife clean between cuts.
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Get the Recipe: Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (200 g) good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped, (or chocolate chips)
- ½ cup (113 g or 1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into quarters
- 3 tablespoons (18 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 ¼ cups (250 g) granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (125 g) all-purpose flour
Cream Cheese Swirl
- 1 cup (226 g or 8 oz) block cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- ¼ cup (50 g) granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Line an 8 by 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper and lightly grease with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a makeshift double boiler over low heat, melt chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally. Remove pan from the heat and whisk in the cocoa. Set aside to cool slightly.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together eggs and sugar on medium-high speed for 1 minute. Reduce speed to low and add vanilla and salt until combined, about 15 seconds. Keep mixer on low and slowly pour in chocolate mixture into the egg mixture (you can also stir it in by hand).
- Remove bowl from mixer and stir in the flour with a wooden spoon until just combined.
- Set aside ¼ cup batter. Pour remaining batter in prepared baking pan. Spread evenly.
- For the topping, use an electric mixer to beat cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Add egg, sugar and vanilla. Mix until combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary.
- Drop dollops of cream cheese mixture onto prepared brownie batter. Spread into an even layer. If the reserved batter became stiff, give it a good stir, then drop spoonfuls of the batter on top. Use a knife to swirl the batter into the cream cheese layer.
- Bake the brownies for 25 to 30 minutes. Let the brownies cool completely in the pan before cutting and serving.