I've always been a fan of goat cheese in desserts; its mellow funkiness is more interesting than plain cream cheese. I use both here — cream cheese to make sure the topping is creamy enough, and goat cheese for serious flavor. Raspberries are a classic pair with goat cheese, and I love them with chocolate, so I swirled them into the topping, and baked them into the brownies themselves.
And now, let's talk about those brownies. The brownie base here is thick and fudgy, although not the melt-in-your-mouth candied texture I usually prefer. The base needed to be a bit sturdier to hold up all that creamy, fruity goodness. But the texture is still on the moist, dense, and fudgy side, getting even moister as the brownies sit overnight underneath that topping. No cakey, crumbly brownie here. (Because, in my book, a "cakey brownie" is just another way to say, "failed brownie.")You can use fresh raspberries or frozen; both are quite good. If you use frozen, defrost them before using.
And there you have it: A brownie that will get even my attention on the dessert table: Dark chocolate, with a swirl of cream and hot pink. A Valentine, from me to you.
Dark Chocolate Brownies with Raspberry Goat Cheese Swirl
Makes about 30 small brownie squares
2 cups raspberries, lightly mashed
2 tablespoons brandy or Kirsch
8 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1/2 cup milk
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Raspberry Goat Cheese Swirl
8 ounces goat cheese, softened at room temperature for an hour
4 ounces cream cheese, softened at room temperature for an hour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened at room temperature for an hour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Heat the oven to 350ºF and lightly grease a 9x13-inch baking pan (or any 3-quart dish, like the gratin dish I use here) with butter or baking spray. Place the raspberries in a bowl and stir in the brandy or Kirsch. Set aside.
Melt the chocolate and butter until liquid in a 3-quart (or larger) saucepan over low heat. When the chocolate is completely melted, remove from the heat, whisk in the milk, and cool for about 5 minutes. Stir in the sugar and vanilla. Stir in the eggs one by one. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt and fold in until just combined. Fold in about half of the raspberries and spread this brownie batter in the prepared pan.
In the bowl of a stand mixer (or with hand beaters, or by hand with a heavy whisk) beat the goat cheese with the cream cheese, butter, egg, sugar, and almond extract until light and fluffy. Gently fold in the other half of the raspberries and their juices. Drop the goat cheese mixture on top of the brownie batter in spoonfuls, then swirl it through the batter with a knife. Bake for 30 minutes or until just barely set. The top will be just turning light brown. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing.
Store at room temperature, well-covered. The flavor and texture of these brownies really bloom when you let them rest overnight.
(Images: Faith Durand)