Do you have a food that you crave constantly, sort of as your baseline?  For me, that food is brownies.  About once a day or so I think, “I should bake brownies!”  In reality I actually make them about two or three times per year since, for me, they come packaged with a total loss of self control.  Recently though, I was in need of a little baking therapy.  Brownies were an obvious starting point but rather than just make my favorite classic version, I was in the mood for something with a bit of flair.  In this case, the flair came in a layer of espresso flavored cheesecake and a sweet, rich sour cream topping.

Part brownie, part cheesecake (my other favorite dessert) plus coffee thrown into the mix?  Heaven, I tell you.


For the brownie layer:
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. baking powder
Pinch of salt
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 5 pieces
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
½ tsp. vanilla extract

For the cheesecake layer: 
1½ tsp. espresso powder
1 tbsp. very hot tap water
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
½ tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
¼ cup sour cream
1 tbsp. all-purpose flour

For the sour cream topping: 
1¼ cup sour cream
¾ cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted


  • 01

    Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line an 8 x 8-inch baking pan with foil.  Lightly grease the foil.  In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.  Whisk to blend, and set aside.  Combine the butter and chocolate in a large heatproof bowl.  Microwave in short intervals (about 20-30 seconds), stirring in between, until the mixture is just fully melted and smooth.  Add the sugar to the chocolate mixture and whisk to blend.  Whisk in the eggs and vanilla extract.  Blend in the flour mixture just until incorporated and no streaks remain.  Spread the batter into the prepared pan in an even layer and set aside.

  • 02

    To make the cheesecake layer, combine the espresso powder and water in a small bowl and whisk until the powder is dissolved.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed until light, about 2 minutes.  Gradually blend in the sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes more.  Blend in the vanilla extract, and then the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition.  Add the dissolved espresso mixture to the bowl and blend in.  Beat in the sour cream and then the flour.  Pour the cheesecake batter over the brownie layer and smooth into an even layer.

  • 03

    Bake about 30-35 minutes, just until the center of the cheesecake layer is set and doesn’t shake much when lightly jiggled.  Remove the pan to a wire cooling rack.  Once cooled to room temperature, cover and chill at least 2 hours in the refrigerator.

  • 04

    To make the topping, combine the sour cream and confectioners’ sugar in a small saucepan.  Warm over low heat, stirring occasionally, just until the sugar is dissolved.  Spread the mixture over the cheesecake portion of the brownies and smooth into an even layer.  Chill once more, at least 1 hour before slicing and serving.

  • Wow! They look really good! :)

  • HalfBakedHarvest

    Only 3 times a years! Oh man, that seem like so little! I think I bake brownies every other week. LOl! Then again, we have no self control over here!
    These look amazing! All those layers look incredible!

  • Sara Plavic

    Oh wow these look so delicious! I’m soo in need of a baking therapy … The only thing it do is studying for my final exams of medschool and I really need to see something different than all the questions of Step 2 :D Thanks for sharing! Sara

  • Aimee from AL

    How do you get your brownies cut into such perfect squares? Mine always look like a hot mess.

  • Tracy

    I’ve missed your sweet treats Annie! These brownies combine all good things into one – chocolate, coffee, and cheesecake; I can’t wait for the perfect occasion to whip them up!

  • Warm Vanilla Sugar

    I love the sound of these. Sometimes a small piece of something with big flavour is exactly what I need!

  • emily

    how do you cut into your desserts so perfectly? i try to make mine look nice and they always smear into each other.

  • Liz N.

    Lordie, you’re killing me! I have one more week until I complete the Whole30 and this will likely be the dessert I indulge in. It’s exactly up my alley, for the same reasons that you love it. What a beautiful dessert to behold! I’m all in next week!

  • Annie Standing

    Oh wow! I’m so into coffee at the moment and cheesecake and brownies are always amazing, so these must be to die for!!

  • Harriet B

    Help! I always see “espresso powder” and even though I have googled, I can never figure out exactly what this means! Instant espresso? Espresso grounds? Can anyone link to a picture, tell the brand, tell me where to find it? Thanks!!

  • annieseats

    Please see the FAQ page. Thanks!

  • annieseats

    I use a large chef’s knife and wipe the blade clean between each slice.

  • Amber

    You read my mind! I had been craving chocolate and made brownies yesterday, and was eating it tonight with a piece of cheesecake. Coffee is the perfect finishing touch! I’m guessing those are choc covered espresso beans? Where did you get them. I’ve never seen them come in the pretty copper color.

  • OMG! Seriously, you have wrecked me. I’m going to want to make these every single day! What a great combo of flavors. And a stunning photo as well! Just beautiful. Well done!

  • Mimi

    Brownies are completely and totally my weakness. These look like some serious deliciousness!

  • BeccaHeflin

    I can’t even begin to describe how amazingly delicious these look, Annie! WOW!

  • Alison Lewis

    this looks delish!

  • Emma

    yum these look delicious and very sophisticated!! I’ll give them a go! x

  • Ashley Parrish

    Uuuum these look beyond delicious! Definitely putting them on my “To Bake” List :) Thanks for the recipe!

  • Love the look of these! Annie- I have to say that it’s refreshing that you only post one or two (mouth-watering) pictures of your dishes. Sometimes it seems like bloggers post ten picture of the same dish from slightly different angles and post them one after another. Your recipes, descriptions and photos are clean and concise. :)

  • I highly doubt Chotchkie’s had anything like THIS on the menu. They look absolutely divine, and I can’t wait to make them!

  • mireille

    It is essentially instant espresso, used mostly for baking, not so much for drinking. I’ve found some in my local grocery store. I’ve also substituted instant coffee but increased the amount of coffee for a stronger flavour, with delicious results. Good luck!

  • Ruthi

    What are the fun candies on top?

  • Liz @ Tip Top Shape

    You were right about calling these heaven. They look amazing!!!

  • Mia

    I am in the process of making these now – the pan is in the oven baking as I type. While I read and reread a recipe before I make it, I did not pick up on this error in the recipe until I was in the process of making them. For the cheesecake section, the recipe calls for the espresso powder mixed with the hot water, but in the instructions for the cheesecake portion there is no mention of when to incorporate the espresso mixture into the batter for the cheesecake. I did mix it in with the vanilla because it seemed the most logical place. Every recipe that I have made from your site has been fantastic and I doubt these cheesecake bars will be any different. I wanted to make you aware of the oversight, if you haven’t been already.

  • Jamie Martin


    Where did you get those multi colored chocolate covered espresso beans? (at least I’m assuming that’s what they are?)

  • marcie @ flavor the moments

    These look absolutely irresistible! I love all those luscious layers, and espresso in brownies is a must in my book!

  • annieseats

    They are from Fresh Market.

  • annieseats

    They are chocolate covered espresso beans.

  • annieseats

    Haha! You are very kind. We’re definitely on the same page about that. I always laugh a little when I have to flip back and forth between two “different” pics that are so similar, I would swear they posted the same pic twice.

  • I think my baseline craving is probably ice cream but anything cheesecake is a close second…add brownies into the mix and yeah…it’s pretty heavenly.

  • annieseats

    Yes, I’d say ice cream is a close second for me. Mmm, brownies and ice cream together. Now that’s the best!

  • annieseats

    Thanks for catching that! I’ve corrected it.

  • annieseats

    These are from Fresh Market. I love theirs because of the blend of colors!

  • annieseats

    I use a large chef’s knife and wipe the blade clean between each slice. Also, be sure they are well chilled for a clean cut.

  • Oh wow, these look incredible! I love cheesecake, and brownies, and coffee… add a chocolate chip cookie on top and you have the ultimate awesome.

  • Christine Chong

    I totally made these when Tara @ Smells Like Home posted it. They are to die for! I can never manage to make mine as pretty as you ladies do though. :)

  • Lori

    Where do you get espresso powder? I’ve looked everywhere for it and can’t find it? Do you purchase it online?

  • Harriet B


  • Jackie Cooper

    nice pic

  • Roxana | Roxana’s Home Baking

    Chocolate cheesecake is my #1 dessert and brownie cheesecake is definitely my 2nd.
    Yours looks spectacular Annie, love the coffee touch!

  • Jackie Cooper

    nice pic

  • annieseats

    Please see the FAQ page or the Annie’s equipment section for more info. Thanks!

  • shannon weber

    what a lovely combination of flavors! these are gorgeous, and include all of my favorite things. I’ll definitely be making them in the near future.

  • Jackie Cooper

    Hi Annie

    I was wondering when I use my printerfriendly button on my browser, I can’t get a picture of the recipe along with the instructions.

  • annieseats

    Unfortunately at this time, the print function is not capable of printing photos.

  • Anna

    These look so yummy but my husband HATES coffee flavor. I happened to have some fresh raspberries in the fridge so I added those to the cheesecake. Then I changed the sour cream topping to 1/2c powdered sugar and 1/4c cocoa powder. It was amazing… and I made it gluten free by using Pamela’s baking mix instead of flour.

  • loretta laurie

    Oh no you didn’t….

  • Jenny Liu

    I made these for a coworker’s bday and they were amazing! Thanks for yet another wonderful recipe! The only thing is that the sour cream topping turned out a bit thin and runny after heating it up briefly in the saucepan. Then they didn’t set and chill as well in the fridge, even after refrigerating it overnight, and still turned out a bit runny. Is there any reason to not just blend the sugar into the sour cream with a mixer, rather than heating it over the stove?
    Thanks so much Annie!

  • Caroline Kokenge

    What’s the little ball on top of the bars?

  • annieseats

    Chocolate covered espresso beans.

  • *gasp!* MUST MAKE! This looks so delicious!

  • annieseats

    I think the reason is to make it extra smooth, since the sugar is actually dissolved. Mine held up pretty well after chilling even though it seemed runny after heating. A touch more powdered sugar would probably help firm it up, or you could just forego the heating.

  • Amber

    These look delicious and I hope to make them this weekend! I did a quick check on the FAQ and didn’t see it, so I apologize if I missed it, but what is the reason for the foil lined pan? Is that to pull it out easier?

  • annieseats

    Yep, it just helps you get them out of the pan without destroying one/several.

  • Teresa

    Maybe some helpful info….I made these on Saturday morning. When I checked it late in the evening I too had the runny sour cream problem. I still tried a small spoonful, but I thought the sourness of the sour cream layer over powered the dessert. I thought I should have used more sugar. Here in Germany the sour cream can be thick or thin depending on what you buy. I had thin sour cream so I thought that caused the runny problem. I didn’t warm it up either because I was afraid it would make it worse. As it happened I checked the cheesecake Sunday evening, about 24 hrs later, and then the sour cream was set and it tasted much better. Maybe sometimes it just takes much longer to set.

  • Sarah

    Hi Annie! Are we supposed to bake the brownie layer before we add the cheesecake layer? If so, for how long? If we didn’t bake it won’t the brownie and cheesecake layer mix together? I plan on making these for Christmas this year! They look absolutely divine!

  • annieseats

    No need to bake the brownie layer first, just make as directed in the recipe. Enjoy!

  • Hi there Annie! I just made this amazing cheesecake :) I don’t like coffe much so i made it with an irish cappuccino and it is just amazing! Will be posting some pics on my blog sou you can see it :) Thanks for the great recipe!

  • Tiffani

    So I printed this recipe a LONG time ago but am just now getting around to baking it. Unfortunately, I printed it before the error about the espresso powder was fixed. So mine didn’t get mixed in. I didn’t even notice the bowl of powder and water still sitting on my counter until they were in the oven and almost done. So my question is, do you think the icing would be good with the espresso flavor? Or should I just call these Cheesecake Brownies this time and try for the espresso flavor next time?

  • annieseats

    Oh yeah, I would just go ahead and add it in elsewhere. Enjoy!

  • Hope

    Is the brownie more of the cake-type brownie or is it more fudgey?

  • annieseats

    It is on the fudgey side of the brownie spectrum.