Claire’s Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies


Makes 16 2-inch square brownies

These are what I like to call “grown woman” brownies. These are not PTA bake sale brownies. These are dark, rich, knock-your-socks-off chocolate brownies. I was actually bribed for this recipe before the publication of this cookbook. How’d I do it? I have a friend Claire Perez, a French-trained pastry chef, to thank. It may seem counterintuitive to seek assistance from a chef who worked with the master chefs of butter and confection, Jacques Torres and Pierre Hermé, for a “lightened up” brownie recipe. But Claire delivered the goods!

Super easy

Claire’s Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies


For 1 Batch(es)


  • 4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese
  • 1 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cups cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1/4 cups canola oil
  • 6 ounces best-quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Claire’s Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 325°.
  2. Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, the 2 tablespoons of sugar and the vanilla, stirring until creamy and smooth.
  4. Separate one of the eggs, reserving the white for later use, and add the yolk to the cream cheese mixture. Stir to combine, then set aside.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; set aside.
  6. In a medium saucepan, heat the oil and chocolate over medium heat, whisking until the chocolate is melted.
  7. Whisk in the remaining 1 cup sugar and stir until melted.
  8. Add the buttermilk, applesauce and vanilla. Remove from the heat.
  9. Add the remaining whole egg and the reserved egg white, whisking constantly until incorporated to prevent the eggs from curdling.
  10. Add the reserved flour mixture, mixing until just combined.
  11. Transfer brownie batter to the prepared pan.
  12. Using a tablespoon, drop 9 dollops of the cream cheese mixture on top of the brownie batter. Draw the tip of a sharp knife or skewer through the two batters in a criss-cross fashion to create a swirled effect.
  13. Bake the brownies until the top is just firm to the touch, rotating halfway through baking, about 40 minutes.
  14. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.
  15. Coat a serrated knife with nonstick cooking spray and cut into 16 squares.
  16. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 3 days.

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