When you first start dating someone, you’re still polite and friendly, you choose your words wisely, and you try to show your best side to that person.  When I first met boyfriend Alex, I had to hold back on ordering multiple desserts when we went out to eat.  (Note: When dining out with family and close friends, they are well aware of the routine: order a bunch of desserts and share so I can sample everything.)

So on my first date with Alex, we split a mousse au chocolat noir (dark chocolate mousse).  It was fancy, delicious, and decadent.  It was the perfect dessert to end our perfect meal!  We shared one dessert, which I guess is normal for a first date.  But I really wanted to try their creme caramel (caramel custard) and profiteroles with ice cream and chocolate sauce.  Of course, I didn’t tell him.  I kept it to myself and told my roommate about it instead.  A year later, we ended up going back to the same restaurant.  Except this time, he knew the drill.


He ordered a sampling of their most popular desserts.  He also knew to order me a coffee or a decaf espresso at the end of meal, as well.    You may wonder, do I actually finish ALL the desserts?  No, not really.  As a pastry chef, I like to taste everything.  I like understanding the flavor profiles, combinations, and methods of integrating them together. (Geeky?  Maybe.) Alex knows that we’ll have to box up whatever we don’t finish because I’ll want it for breakfast the following morning.


Anyway, to alleviate such dating dessert dilemmas, here is my one of my favorite combos: cheesecake brownie!

It combines two desserts into one!  Everyone loves cheesecake and who can say no to a brownie?!  I added in some espresso powder to heighten the chocolate flavors.  While the espresso flavor isn’t very pronounced, it’s there to make your chocolate taste more chocolately.   This pairs well with dark beers, red wines, and of course, coffee.

I think I’ll make a batch of these for our next date night.

Cheesecake Swirl Brownies, makes 9×13-inch pan



16 oz cream cheese (2-8 oz packages)

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp espresso powder

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup heavy cream

2 large eggs


1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

2 cups granulated sugar

1 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp fine sea salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp espresso powder

4 large eggs

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups dark chocolate chips (or semi-sweet)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with parchment paper.  Light grease and set aside.

2.  Cheesecake: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, whip cream cheese until smooth.  Scrape down bowl as needed.  Add sugar, flour, and espresso powder.  Mix until incorporated.  Then add vanilla and heavy cream.  Add eggs and mix until combined.  Set aside.

3. Brownies: In a medium bowl, whisk together cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, baking soda and espresso powder.  Set aside.

4. In a large sauce pot, melt butter over medium heat.  Once melted, add sugar.  Continue to heat and mix until mixture is shiny.  Remove sauce pot from heat.

5.  Add dry mixture into pot.  Stir to combine.  Add eggs and whisk to combine.  Add flour and fold to combine until mixture is smooth.  Add chocolate chip and mix until incorporated.


6.  Take about half of chocolate brownie mixture and transfer to prepared baking pan.  Spread into an even layer.

7. Top with cheesecake layer.  Spread into an even layer.

8.  Dollop remaining chocolate brownie mixture on to top of cheesecake layer.

9. Using a mini offset spatula or a knife, swirl together the top brownie layer and cheesecake layer.

10.  Bake for 40-50 minutes until center of brownies are no longer jiggly and the edges have slightly pulled away from the pan.  Do not over bake the brownies, as they will dry out.  Let brownies cool to room temperature before slicing.


Maryanne’s Chic Tip: Want perfectly clean-cut brownies?  Let the brownies chill in the fridge to firm up.  Then you a sharp knife to cut brownies.  Clean knife with a kitchen towel with each cut.