Saturday, October 30, 2010
Oreo Cream Cheese Brownies
I still remember the first time I decided to share one of my baked goods. I was a junior in high school and my AP Music Theory class was having a party for some reason (only we called it a "Cultural Gathering" because that made it more school appropriate, of course). I baked Peanut Butter Cookies, packed them ever so carefully in my mother's tupperware containers, and sat with them in my lap on the bus all the way to school.
At the beginning of our cultural gathering, I gingerly opened the tupperware and set my cookies on the table surrounded by generic bags of chips and a few odd pieces of candy. I was nervous - what if nobody ate my cookies? What if I had mutant tastebuds and for some reason the cookies that I thought were so delicious were actually really, really gross?
I mentally bit my nails in apprehension, and then the test of all tests: my music teacher took a cookie. She also took a chocolate chip cookie that someone else in the class had made. After a few minutes of chewing and thoughtful deliberation, she said, "Wow, sorry to whoever made these peanut butter cookies, but these chocolate chip cookies OWN them." (Needless to say, she wasn't the most considerate person I've ever met.)
But my heart was crushed. My cookies were lame. I didn't bake for anyone outside of my family for years after that, and on the rare occasion that I did, I would get ridiculously nervous.
Since the start of this blog, however, I've become more confident with my baking skills and I'm almost positive I don't have mutant taste buds (although my preference for peanut butter in my oatmeal might make some question). Because of this, I decided to bring brownies to one of my classes this semester.
This particular class, a 15 person seminar taught by an honest-to-goodness professor, is way WAY out of my comfort zone. I'm used to being taught by grad students. I'm used to being nearly invisible amongst the 300+ students in my lecture halls. I'm used to absorbing information, rather than giving my imput. Basically, this class is scaring the living daylights out of me.
But I've started bringing my baked goods with me, and this small action has helped me chip away at my fears, because it gives me an entrance talking point, rather than having to jump into dense, complicated Chinese politics right off the bat. Now my mind can rest easy knowing that even if my intellectual comments might not be the most insightful in the room, at least I make gosh darn delicious desserts.
If you are thinking of taking something to share with others and you are scared about mutant taste buds, you'll have nothing to fear with these cream cheese oreo brownies. I'm glad I took them to class, because I honestly think my roommate and I would have eaten the entire pan in the course of a day. The chocolate brownie base is crunchy from the cookies, but the cream cheese topping gives the brownie a creamier, more decadent flavoring. My only gripe with this recipe is that I couldn't really taste the oreos. It may have been due to the generic brand I opted for, but my advice is to increase the oreo amount a little bit and definitely stick with the name brand.
Adapted from Annie's eats
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch or natural is fine)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2- 1 3/4 cup coarsely chopped Oreo cookies
6 ounces room tempurature cream cheese
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line an 8 x 8 baking pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking oil.
2. In a small sauce pan, mix butter and sugar over medium heat. Bring to a boil, making sure to whisk frequently. Let boil for 1 minute, then remove from heat to cool slightly.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, and salt. In the pan with the cooling butter/sugar mixture, add the eggs. Whisk until well blended. Add milk and whisk until well blended. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and stir until just incorporated. Fold in the chopped Oreos and spread batter in the pan.
4. For the cream cheese topping, combine the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla in a bowl. Mix until well blended and smooth. In small dollops, drop the cream cheese mixture on top of the unbaked brownie batter. Using the blade of a knife, drag the blade through the batter to make pretty designs and create a marbled effect.
5. Bake 22-24 minutes (mine took closer to 30). Allow to cool completely before serving. (I found that refrigerating them helped me cut them more neatly. If you don't intend to eat the entire pan at once, you should also consider keeping the leftovers in the fridge due to the cream cheese topping.)