I grew up in a simpler time. It was an era when your mom might say, “I made brownies,” and you would rejoice, knowing exactly what to expect: a long, shallow aluminum pan in which a gleaming, featureless plain of chocolate frosting rested. It would be just slightly set; a finger touched on the surface would leave a little divot. Touch it even more gently and you’d create just a perfect fingerprint. Many more crimes would be solved if the whole world were drenched in brownie frosting.
Beneath the frosting was a half-inch of wonderful. The consistency of the brownie was somewhere between chocolate cake and fudge. Dense and dark, it was the after-school snack in its purest, most perfect form. Plato’s philosophy of Ideal Forms would have made a lot more sense if it had been about brownies, instead of shadows flickering on the wall of a cave. (What the hell are you even talking about, Plato? I’m going to go ahead and guess that Plato’s mom never made brownies for him. Probably because he was such a little smarty pants.)
Back in the day, our one variation on the standard brownie was the “blonde brownie.” Basically it’s a glorified chocolate chip cookie. Which is in no way a bad thing.
It’s a different world now. Type the word “brownies” into the search box on Pinterest and you are presented with an endless catalog of baked confections with the word “brownie” attached to them. Keep scrolling; you’ll never, ever reach the end. Among the novelties listed one finds these truly alien species:
- Lemon Brownies
- Banana Bread Brownies
- Neopolitan Brownies
- Red Velvet Brownies
- Apple Brownies
- and even the absurdly decadent Toffee Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies (which, I’m not going to lie, sound pretty damned amazing)
There are times when a woman needs to make a stand, to uphold cherished traditions, to fight back against those who seek to destroy our American Way of Life.
This is not one of those times.
Frankly, a country where I’m not allowed to put a layer of caramel in my brownies is not a country I want to live in. In this brave, new world of innovation, does it really matter if our brownies are brown, or white, or made with bananas? (Actually, that does matter. Bananas don’t belong in brownies; we’re not savages). Anyway, I’m pretty sure there’s a profound metaphor in there someplace.
And so, with that triumphant Declaration of Independence, I offer you …
Tastefully Simple Truffle Fudge Brownie Mix
½ stick butter, melted
Tastefully Simple Blackberry Bliss Cheese Ball Mix
2 oz. pkgs. cream cheese, softened
¾ cup granulated sugar
5 eggs, lightly beaten
¼ cup milk (I actually used half-and-half, because I had some on hand and BECAUSE I’M NOT FAT ENOUGH ALREADY, OKAY?)
½ cup fresh or frozen blackberries, mashed
Grease an 8 x 8 baking pan and preheat oven to 350°F.
Mix Truffle Fudge Brownie Mix as directed on package with eggs and melted butter. Spread half of batter into the bottom of the 8×8 pan.
Using an electric mixer on medium, beat together cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Gradually add in eggs and milk. Add the Blackberry Bliss Cheese Ball Mix. When thoroughly mixed, pour half of the mixture over the brownie batter in the 8×8 pan.
The apparently shamelessly Photoshopped “layered” brownies that led me astray. Fraud! Fraud!
In some alternate reality where such things are possible, spread the remaining brownie batter over the cheesecake mixture.
FULL DISCLOSURE: While this sounded like a great idea in theory, and one of the recipes I consulted showed a brownie with a layer of cheesecake in it, anyone well-versed in liquid dynamics physics – or any human person who has interacted with the natural world – will tell you that you cannot spread a viscous substance over a highly fluid substance. You’d think I would have anticipated that. In the end, I dolloped spoonfuls of the batter on top of the cheesecake batter.
Stir mashed blackberries into the remaining cheesecake batter and pour the batter on top of the brownie/cheesecake/brownie layers.
Bake for 50-60 minutes (I used the full 60), until set and brown at the edges. Note: Mine was still pretty jiggly in the center.
Remove from oven and allow to sit undisturbed on baking rack for one hour. Chill for 2 hours. Serve with tasty sauce (I used Raspberry Divine Sauce), fresh berries and whipped cream.