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.

  • Yield 16 servings


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.