Cheesecake brownies are always a crowd pleaser because they combine two desserts into one delicious bite – and one delicious bite that you can pick up and pop into your mouth, rather than having to eat with a knife and fork. It’s a win-win dessert. I’ve been making cheesecake brownies for years and, while I’ve made variations on my basic cheesecake brownie many times to include Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies, Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies and Zebra Cheesecake Brownies (that recipe is in The Baking Bites Cookbook!), they all use cream cheese as the base for the cheesecake portion, when there are many other ingredients you can use to make a cheesecake. These Ricotta Cheesecake Brownies are the perfect recipe when you’re looking for a cheesecake brownie with a twist.
The brownie base is fudgy and loaded with chocolate flavor. It is thick enough to ensure that it stays beneath the cheesecake layer, for the most part, but not so thick that the two batters are difficult to swirl together to make an attractive finished presentation. The cheesecake uses ricotta cheese, not cream cheese. It has a slightly lighter texture to it than a “traditional” cheesecake because of the consistency of the ricotta, though it still forms a rich cheesecake layer that is a wonderful contrast to the rich brownie batter. The combination of creamy cheesecake and fudgy brownie is amazing, and having ricotta cheese just adds a little something extra to set them apart from ordinary cheesecake brownies.
Many ricotta cheesecakes are flavored with lemon zest or with cinnamon. Both of these flavors can be a nice addition to the cheesecake layer, though I happen to be a fan of simple vanilla in my cheesecakes and only used vanilla extract. The light, floral flavor of vanilla highlights the natural sweetness of the ricotta cheese very nicely. The brownies are best when they are chilled, so pop these in the refrigerator to firm up a bit before slicing them and serving. In the event that you have leftovers, they will keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for several days after baking.
Ricotta Cheesecake Brownies
1/2 cup butter
2-oz dark chocolate, chopped
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
8-oz ricotta cheese (pref. full fat)
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp all purpose flour
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8×8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil and lightly grease.
Prepare brownie batter: In a small, heatproof bowl, melt butter and chocolate together in the microwave. Stir with a fork until very smooth. Stir in cocoa powder until well-incorporated. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs and vanilla extract. Whisking steadily, pour chocolate mixture into sugar mixture. Stir until smooth. Stir in flour and salt, mixing until ingredients are just combined and no streaks of dry ingredients remain.
Pour into prepared pan and set aside.
Prepare cheesecake batter: In a medium bowl, beat ricotta cheese, sugar, flour, egg and vanilla extract until smooth. Drop in dollops onto prepared brownie batter. Gently swirl two batters with a butter knife.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until brownies and cheesecake are set. A sharp knife inserted into the cheesecake mixture should come out clean and the edges will be lightly browned.
Cool in the pan completely, then refrigerate until ready to serve. Brownies should be completely cooled before slicing.
Brownies can be refrigerated, covered, for several days.
Makes 25 brownies.