Homemade Fudge Brownies
1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter
8 ounces coarsely chopped semi-sweet chocolate
1 and 1/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Mint Cheesecake Layer
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 drops green food coloring
2/3 cup mini chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 11 x 7 inch baking pan (or 13 x 9 inch baking pan for thinner brownies) with cooking spray. Set aside. Set out 8 ounces of cream cheese for the cheesecake layer and allow to soften as you prepare the brownies.
2. Make the brownies first: Melt butter and semi-sweet chocolate in a medium saucepan on medium heat, stirring constantly (about 6 minutes). Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature (about 15 minutes). You may also stick the chocolate/butter mixture into the refrigerator to cool to room temperature quicker.
3. Stir sugar into cooled chocolate/butter mixture until combined. Add in the eggs one at a time, whisking until smooth after each addition. Whisk in the vanilla. Gently fold in the flour and salt. Pour batter into prepared pan, reserving 1/4 cup of batter.
4. Make the cheesecake swirl: With a hand-held mixer on medium speed, beat the softened cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar, egg yolk, 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract, and 2 drops of food coloring in a medium bowl until completely smooth - about 1 minute. Manually stir in the mini chocolate chips. Dollop spoonfuls of the cream cheese mixture on top of the prepared brownie batter. Cover with the last 1/4 cup of brownie batter. Glide a knife through the layers, creating a swirl pattern. Add more mini chocolate chips on top, if desired.
5. Bake brownies for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out almost clean. Check them at the 30 minute mark to be sure. Allow brownies to cool completely before cutting into squares.
Note: Taste the mint cheesecake mixture after you mix it - if it needs more peppermint flavor, add 1 more drop of peppermint extract. If you'd like it to be a brighter green, add more food coloring.