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Caramel cream cheese swirl brownies

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The Pastry Chef's Baking

(Read caption) These rich, moist brownies have a marbled swirl of cream cheese baked into the batter.

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This is another brownie I made for my fellow Relay for Life walkers. This is from the oldest brownie book in my collection, going on 24 years or more. 

I decided to dress it up a bit and in addition to the cream cheese swirl, I marbled in salted caramel on top of the cream cheese mixture. This didn't have the dark chocolate flavor you'd get from using unsweetened chocolate or cocoa so it's more of a semisweet brownie sweetened further with the cream cheese and caramel. 

It was moist, both due to underbaking (must always underbake brownies) and the caramel. I always forget though that the Trader Joe's salted caramel has a tendency to incorporate itself into the brownie batter so rather than distinct ribbons of caramel running through the cream cheese and fudge brownie, it bakes into the brownie itself so it's somewhat indistinct. Still good though, but rich so you might want to cut these into small pieces.

3 tablespoons butter
4 ounces semisweet chocolate or 2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 3-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon flour
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/3 cup caramel, optional

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8-inch square pan.

2. Melt together 3 tablespoons butter and chocolate over low heat; set aside to cool. Using electric mixer, cream 2 tablespoons soft butter with cream cheese until fluffy. Beat in 1/4 cup sugar, 1 egg, 1 tablespoon flour, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. In a separate bowl, with wire whisk, beat 2 eggs until foamy. Add 3/4 cup sugar, beating until well-blended. Stir in 1/2 cup flour, baking powder, and salt until combined. Blend in melted chocolate mixture, vanilla, chopped almonds and almond extract. Spread 1/2 of chocolate batter evenly in pan. Spread cream cheese mixture over top. Drizzle caramel over cream cheese, if using. Drop spoonfuls of remaining chocolate batter on top of cheese layer, swirling top layers gently with a knife to marbleize.

3. Bake about 45 minutes, or until top is golden and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

 4. Cool completely in pan before cutting into bars. Store in refrigerator.

Recipe adapted from The Brownie Experience by Lisa Tanner.

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