Espresso Cheesecake Brownies

When it comes to sweets, I have a terrible time choosing what to make.  It’s really bad.  Part of the problem is that I don’t really have a formal list of things I want to bake so I’ve got this revolving door in my brain of ideas moving in and out.  Sitting down to flip through a cookbook to randomly look for a recipe these days makes me crazy anxious because I seriously want to make all the things.  All of them.

Espresso Cheesecake Brownies

Thank goodness for Kyle.  In the middle of the great flood…err, Memorial Day weekend…he blindly plucked a cookbook off the shelf, flipped through a few pages, and within 3 minutes (THREE!) landed on these espresso cheesecake brownies.  All he said was, “Want.”  How do men have the capability to do that?!  Anyway, we made them together and 4 hours later (yes, lots of chill-time here, unfortunately) we had two of our favorite things wrapped up in one dessert: a creamy coffee cheesecake on top of a fudgy brownie base.  These are rich and luxurious brownies but they couldn’t be more simple to make and if you can fill all that chill-time with say, 3 or so DVR’d episodes of Revolution and a buffalo chicken pizza, you’ll never agonize over the time you’re waiting to stuff your face with them.  (Just sayin’.)

Espresso Cheesecake Brownies

Total Time: 4 hours

Yield: 16 brownies

If you're not a fan of sour cream topping on cheesecake, you can totally skip it here. We may or may not have scraped a brownie or two clean of the topping and they were excellent that way as well.


    For the brownies:
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of table salt
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 4 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • For the espresso cheesecake:
  • 1 ½ tsp instant espresso powder
  • 1 tbsp very hot tap water
  • 8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • For the topping:
  • 1 ¼ cup sour cream
  • ¾ cup confectioners' sugar, sifted


  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter and flour a 9-inch square baking pan or spray the pan with baking spray.
  2. To make the brownies: Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside. Melt the butter and chocolate together over medium-low heat in a medium saucepan, stirring with a rubber spatula until the two have melted into each other. Take care not to heat the mixture too much - you don't want the butter to separate. Turn off the heat and remove the pan from the stove.
  3. Whisk in the sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat well after each addition. Whisk in the vanilla extract and whisk vigorously for just a few seconds. With a rubber spatula, gently stir in the dry ingredients, taking care to scrape the bottom of the pan. Stop mixing when the dry ingredients have only barely disappeared into the batter. Set the pan aside while you make the cheesecake batter.
  4. To make the cheesecake: Stir the espresso powder into the hot water until it has dissolved; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or with a hand mixer and large bowl, beat the cream cheese on medium until it is smooth. Beat in the sugar and continue beating for 2 ½ to 3 minutes. Stir in the vanilla extract and espresso-water mixture; scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat each for 1 minute before adding the next and moving to the next step, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl after each addition. Reduce the mixer to low, stir in the sour cream and then the flour. The batter should be smooth.
  5. Stir up the brownie batter a couple of times and spread ¾ of the batter out in the bottom the prepared baking pan - the batter should cover the entire bottom. Pour all of the cheesecake batter over the brownie batter and using a spoon or offset spatula, cover the brownie batter entirely. Dollop the remaining brownie batter over the cheesecake batter by the tablespoonful and using a knife, just barely swirl the brownie batter around, taking care not to dip the knife into the bottom layer of brownies.
  6. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. The brownies should just pull away from the sides of the pan and be slightly browned on the edges and puffed all over. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Transfer the brownies to the refrigerator and chill for 2 hours.
  7. To make the sour cream topping: In a small sauce pan over low heat, warm the sour cream and sugar together, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved. Pour the topping over the chilled brownies and using an offset spatula, push the topping just out to within ¼-inch of the edges - don't let the topping spill down the sides. Chill the brownies for another 1 hour.
  8. To cut the brownies, run a long sharp knife under hot water and dry with a towel. Cut the brownies into quarters with the hot knife, cleaning and reheating before you make each cut. Remove the quarters from the pan and cut each into quarters. Keep the cut brownies chilled and bring to room temperature before serving.