These chocolate hazelnut cream cheese brownies start out with a decadent Nutella brownie layer and are then topped with a rich cheesecake layer that is swirled with even more Nutella.
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Unsalted Butter: For this recipe, we will brown the butter before adding the sugar. Browning the butter gives it a delicious nutty flavor. Check out this blog post from Baker Bettie for more information about using brown butter in baked goods.
If you have never browned butter before, check out this video from America’s Test Kitchen.
Melting the butter also stops air bubbles from forming when it is mixed with the sugar. Adding additional air to the brownie will make them fluffy, which we don’t want.
Nutella: In this recipe, we are using Nutella and just Nutella no additional chocolate is necessary. I really wanted the hazelnut flavor in these brownies to be strong. Nutella’s already smooth and creamy texture adds to the brownie’s gooeyness.
Brown and White Sugar: Both brown and white sugar are used. Brown sugar adds moisture along with some delicious caramel notes. White sugar ensures a crunch shiny crust on top.
Whole Large Eggs + an Extra Egg Yolk: Eggs act as a binding agent and also add structure and leavening. There are no chemical leaveners in these brownies ensuring that they remain thick and fudgy rather than cakey. The extra fat from the additional egg yolk adds extra richness to the brownie.
Hazelnut Liqueur: The hazelnut liqueur helps to intensify the hazelnut flavor. Who doesn’t like a slightly boozy brownie?
All-Purpose Flour: All-purpose flour is the perfect flour for these brownies. There isn’t much flour in these brownies and all-purpose flour adds just enough structure. When adding the flour you want to be careful to not over-mix the batter. Over-mixing creates gluten which will develop into a tougher brownie.
Kosher Salt: Just a little bit of salt enhances the chocolate flavor and sweetness.
Cream Cheese: I recommend using full fat cream cheese and it needs to be at room temperature so that when you cream it together with the sugar it will be nice and smooth with no lumps.
Kitchen scale: Kitchen scales make baking faster and neater. Accuracy matters in baking. Scales are more precise than measuring cups. Too much flour or not enough sugar can dramatically change a recipe. The most accurate way to bake is to measure your ingredients by weight rather than volume.
A kitchen scale also reduces the number of dishes you will need to wash because you are measuring each ingredient directly from the container into the mixing bowl without the use of measuring cups.
This scale from OXO is the one I use after it was recommended by Alton Brown. What makes this scale great is the display pulls out to make viewing measurements easier when using a large bowl.
Stand Mixer: I have a stand mixer from KitchenAid. My mom and brother bought it for me for my birthday almost 15 years ago. I use it weekly and it still works just like it did when it was brand new. It makes so many kitchen tasks easier and comes with a variety of attachments.Sign up for KitchenAid’s Newsletter to receive 10% off your next order!
Mixing Bowls: These are some of my favorite mixing bowls. They come in a huge range of sizes, nest together for easy storage, and are easy to clean.
Rubber spatula: For folding batters together, I prefer a stiffer spatula like this one from OXO. It fits comfortably in my hand, is dishwasher safe, and is heat-resistant up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit. Both the handle and head are silicone coated which makes it easy to clean and safe to use with my non-stick cookware and bakeware.
Large serrated knife: A large serrated knife makes cutting even clean pieces much easier.
Line a 9 x 9-inch baking pan with parchment paper allowing the ends to extend over two of the sides. Grease pan with cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and position an oven rack in the middle of the oven.
Slice the butter into pieces and melt it in a light-colored skillet over medium heat stirring or whisking constantly. Once melted, the butter will begin to foam. Continue stirring/whisking for about 5-7 minutes, the butter will become a deep amber color. Remove the browned butter from the heat, and pour it into a bowl. Allow the butter to cool for 30 minutes.
In a large bowl, mix the butter, brown and white sugar, eggs, egg yolk, hazelnut liquor, and Nutella until combined.
Add the flour and salt and stir until just combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish. Prepare your cheesecake topping.
In a medium bowl whisk the cream cheese, sugar and salt together until smooth. An electric mixer and softened cream cheese will make this step easier.
Stir in the eggs and vanilla extract until well combined.
Pour the cheesecake batter over the brownie batter.
Heat the Nutella in the microwave for 30 seconds to soften. Drizzle the Nutella over the cheesecake batter and use a knife to swirl the two together.
Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with very moist crumbs clinging to it. Remember the brownies will continue to bake as they cool.
Cool completely before using the parchment paper to lift the brownies from the pan and cut them into squares.
Frequently asked questions
Light-colored metal pans make the best brownies. Glass or dark-colored metal pans heat unevenly and can cause the edges to overbake or even burn.
If a glass or dark pan is all you have, reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees F and keep an eye on the brownies as they bake.
Baking times for all recipes are only suggestions. The actual baking time will vary depending upon your oven. It is helpful to know your oven and worth purchasing an inexpensive oven thermometer.
Oven temperatures can vary as much as 50 degrees plus or minus. This recipe recommends a baking time of 25-30 minutes But depending upon the accuracy of your oven you may want to start checking the brownies after 20 minutes or so.
When brownies are done they will start to pull away from the sides of the pan. There will also only be a slight jiggle in the center.
One way to check to see if brownies are done is to insert a toothpick into the middle of the brownies. Raw batter will be shiny and glossy. Cooked batter and melted chocolate are duller.
You will want to remove the brownies from the oven when an inserted toothpick comes out with no raw batter and a crumb or two stuck to it.
Brownies “carry-over bake,” Meaning they will continue to cook after you take them out of the oven. With this in mind, you should remove the brownies from the oven a few minutes before they are fully done. A slightly under-baked brownie is always better than an over-baked brownie in my opinion.
Always grease the pan thoroughly with shortening, softened butter, or cooking spray. To make brownie removal easy, after greasing the pan, line it with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Cut the pieces longer than the pan so that the sides hang over the edge of the pan creating a sling. Grease the lining to make sure it will easily peel away from the brownies.
For neater slices, allow the brownies to cool for at least an hour before cutting. This will allow the chocolate and fat to set. Use a large serrated knife to easily cut even pieces. You may need to wipe the blade clean in between slices.
How to check brownies with a digital thermometer
The most accurate method for checking brownies is to use a digital thermometer. Brownies must have a temperature higher than 136 degrees Fahrenheit which is the temperature at which bacteria such as salmonella dies.
Brownies won’t set until they are at least 144 degrees Farenheight, so unless you want brownie soup, you need to keep baking until they reach this point.
The optimal temperature for these Nutella cheesecake brownies is 165 degrees Farenheight.
How to store brownies
If you are planning to store the brownies rather than eating them right away it is best to wait to cut them until you are ready to eat them. Cutting the brownies exposes them to air causing them to dry out.
Air is the enemy when you are trying to keep brownies moist. Tightly wrap the brownies in plastic wrap or place them in an airtight container.
Because these brownies contain cream cheese they should be stored in the refrigerator. They will stay fresh for at least 3-4 days.
For even longer storage brownies can be frozen. Wrap the brownies tightly in plastic wrap and then place them in a zip-top bag. Label the bag with the date and contents. Frozen brownies will stay fresh for up to three months. Allow the brownies to thaw in the refrigerator before eating.
- For accuracy, use a kitchen scale and measure ingredients in grams. Weight measurements are more accurate than volume measurements and will give you the most consistent results. This is my favorite kitchen scale because the display pulls out so that is easy to view when measuring in large bowls.
- Use room temperature ingredients. They are easier to incorporate.
- Do not over beat the batter once the flour has been added. Over mixing traps more air creating a lighter less fudgy brownie.
- Bake the brownies on the middle rack.
- Err on the side of under-baked brownies rather than over-baked brownies. Brownies will continue to bake even after they have been pulled out of the oven. After they have cooled for about 15 minutes use the ends of the parchment paper to lift them out of the pan and place them on a cooling rack to continue cooling down.
- Do not slice the brownies until they have cooled completely. These brownies can be sticky so allowing them to cool before cutting will create neater slices.
Thanks for Reading!
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