Something you may not yet know about me is that July is my birthday month. Officially, I just turned 21. I can legally drink now! Unofficially, that might not be entirely accurate.
Being born in July means I am a Cancer. Cancer is a crab and according to astrology, that means I am kind, nurturing, imaginative and sympathetic. On the other hand, I am also moody, hypersensitive, depressed, and clingy. Sweet. Aren't you glad you married that, honey?
Being a Cancer, I supposedly also gravitate toward other Cancers. Now, I've never been big on astrology. I'm not sure I believe that a star and planet can control my life, but it is a fact that I have a few friends who are celebrating birthdays this month, including my sassy ex-coworker Milla.
I only sort of met Milla at first. She and I shared a computer at the company we worked for in San Francisco. She was night shift and I was day. All I knew of her at first was that she had drink label stuck on the computer that said "Big Cran" so I always pictured this voluptuous redhead - which turned out to be pretty accurate.
Soon she moved down south, and then I moved down south and we ended up down the street from each other. Now we've been here several years and have graced numerous occasions at each other's houses, even though she's moved all the way up like, several more blocks, which is really far for me.
Milla throws a good party, so I look forward to her birthday every year. My contribution is to find some delicious dessert to make for her to repay her for all of the alcohol I am about to consume at her party.
This year I chose to make cheesecake brownies. Not only were they pretty and marbly, but I couldn't say it better than the recipe itself, which said: "The only bad thing about cheesecake and brownies is that when you eat one, you are not eating the other." So these allow you to eat both.
In making them I used this chocolate I found that is great for baking. It is called Endangered Species Chocolate. 10% of their profits go toward helping protect endangered species. The baking chocolate is an 88% cocoa content dark chocolate that comes in rounds of three ounces apiece, with each round scored into thirds so you can easily break off the amount in ounces that you need.
Milla's Birthday Cheesecake Brownies (from Gourmet, June 2007)
INGREDIENTS - BROWNIE BATTER:
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup all purpose flour
- 8 oz. cream cheese, well softened
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan.
3. Heat butter and chocolate in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, whisking occasionally, just until melted.
4. Remove from heat and whisk in sugar, eggs, vanilla, and a pinch of salt until well combined.
5. Whisk in flour until just combined and spread in baking pan.
6. Whisk together cheesecake batter ingredients until smooth.
7. Dollop over brownie batter and then swirl in until it's mixed in a marble pattern.
8. Bake until edges are slightly puffed and center is just set, about 35 min. (Mine only took 30)
9. Serve warm or at room temperature.