What’s Baking? is a group of food bloggers who, each month, bake to a theme. Each member of the group takes turns hosting, which includes selecting the theme for the month and then posting a round-up of everyone’s contributions to the theme.
The month of September was my month, and for our theme I chose “Family Favorites,” encouraging What’s Baking? members to tap into old favorites from generations prior or even current favorites that are always a hit with their loved ones. I’d like to thank everyone who participated! Next month, check out the “Fall Flavors” theme hosted by Angela at The Tiny Tyrant’s Kitchen! What should I make?
Carrie, from Carrie’s Sweet Life, made this delicious-sounding Apple Crisp. It sounds like an easy-to-put-together crowd pleaser, and it takes advantage of the incredible abundance of in-season apples.
Cara from The Boys Made Me Do It also made a Chocolate Cream Pie! This one started as her mother’s recipe (made in the microwave!) and often-requested by her uncle and cousin, and now Cara makes it on the stove and her husband loves it.
Melissa from I Was Born to Cook made her Nana’s Lasagna, the only savory contribution to this month’s spread, and a delectable one at that! It has a couple of unusual-sounding ingredients included in the recipe, but Melissa swears that they’re an integral and delicious part of the final product.
Jade from The Mess Pot made Pineapple Upside Down Cake, a recipe that came from her mother-in-law’s mother. It looks amazing, but I’d have a hard time not eating all the cherries before I got them on the cake!
Yudith from Blissfully Delicious made Pumpkin Nut Belgian Waffles, a family favorite for fall breakfasts. I’ve had a waffle maker on my wish list for awhile, and this one’s making the desire even greater!
Jill from JBean Cuisine had to give a lot of thought to the theme this month, as she’s shared so many of her family favorites already. These Nanaimo Bars ended up being the chosen recipe, and look incredible!
And finally, my contribution to my own theme? It was a rough one to decide upon, to be honest, but when I thought about family get-togethers over the years and the dessert spreads, there was only one long-time constant: Aunt Cheryl’s Brownies. I’m a sucker for brownies, and these are no exception!
I love my Aunt Cheryl!
They’re rich and fudgey, but have an additional layer of cream cheese mixture that adds a little tartness and makes the flavors more complex. Sometimes Aunt Cheryl adds chocolate chips, sometimes not, but regardless, they’re always delicious. The night that I threw these together I spotted a container of mini peanut butter cups in my baking pantry and decided to toss some of them on top. Blew.my.mind. Peanut butter mixed directly with the cream cheese portion would be pretty amazing, too. This is a recipe that’s open to customization!
You’ll note that this recipe starts with a box mix, something you won’t see very often around here. But when it comes to brownies, I have yet to find a homemade version that measures up to the boxed mix. If you have a from-scratch recipe that you love, by all means, use it! But I used Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie mix* – a constant in my baking pantry! Confession: I occasionally make brownies just so that I can eat the batter. It’s a sickness.
Cream Cheese Brownies
Source: Aunt Cheryl, originally from KRAFT Foods
1 pkg. (19 to 21 oz.) brownie mix (13×9-inch pan size)
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Optional Add-ins: chocolate chips, peanut butter, peanut butter cups, M&Ms
Preheat oven to 350*. Grease pan and set aside.
Prepare brownie batter per package directions and spread evenly into the bottom of the pan.
Beat cream cheese with a hand mixer until creamy and lump-free. Add in sugar, egg and vanilla, mixing well. Drop the cream cheese mixture by spoonfuls over the brownie batter. Use a butter knife to swirl the cream cheese and brownie mixtures together, creating a marble effect.
If desired, top with mix-ins.
Bake 35-40 minutes, or until cream cheese is lightly browned. Cool the pan completely before cutting to serve. Store in the refrigerator (if they last that long).
*NOTE: The recipe calls for a brownie mix that makes a 13×9-inch batch. This Ghirardelli mixture makes an 8×8 or 9×9 batch, so I just halved the cream cheese mixture and made a smaller pan. To make the original quantity, double the boxed mix.