Years ago, I worked at a café known for its desserts. A cream cheese brownie topped with a paltry smattering of caramel and pecan pieces caught my eye. A recipe make-over was in order, and I knew just what to do to make this tasty dessert even better.
My Cheesecake Caramel Pecan Brownies taste wonderful and are simple to make. I begin with my favorite brownie recipe, which fills a 9 x 13 baking pan and will provide a thinner cheese cake layer. Use a 9 x 9 pan if you want a thicker cheesecake layer.
After mixing the brownie batter (from scratch, of course) and pouring it into the baking pan, I make a cheesecake batter with cream cheese, egg, sugar, and vanilla. This is spread onto the brownie batter in a smooth layer and left as a plain cheesecake layer. After baking for about 45 minutes, the brownie goes onto a rack until completely cooled. Then I blanket the brownie with a layer of caramel sauce – from a jar warmed in the microwave – spread into the four corners of the pan. Next, a cup of chopped pecans is added to the caramel
and topped with a chocolate layer.
I had been thinking of giving some of these brownies as gifts and recently decided to experiment with ways to increase the wow factor. My first experiment was to cut the brownies into rounds with a drinking glass, then place them into Ball quilted jelly jars. The cutting process went fine, but the dessert fell into two pieces when I tried to remove it from the jar. So much for that idea. Next time, I will bake the brownies right in the canning jars.
Not to be defeated, I reassembled the two halves, melted chocolate chips, and poured the chocolate onto the caramel pecan layer. At least I could test the new topping, which I thought would harden more than the fudge topping I generally used. I was so impatient to taste my new creation, I could not wait to let the melted chocolate cool. Truth be told, it was not as good as I wanted it to be: The chips were a bit too high in cocoa content for my taste. A milk chocolate
chip would have provided a better flavor and the firm topping I wanted.
The last experiment was chocolate fudge, again from a jar. OK, not really an experiment so much as a forced choice due to lack of variety in the grocery aisle. The chocolate fudge is not bad, but did not set up as well as the hot fudge sauce. Yet Colleen, who sells me eggs for my breakfast and baking needs, told me the brownies were the best she had ever had. Bill said they were very good and was not disappointed at what I thought was a thin cream cheese layer. John says he brought them home to share with his wife
Christine, but I have not heard from her. I think John kept them for himself.
What do you think my next dessert experiment should be?