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Cheesecake Brownies with a Cranberry Orange Swirl

Craving something sweet and tangy for the holiday season? Let’s whip up Cranberry Cheesecake Brownies, a delightful twist on a classic cheesecake recipe. In this post, we’ll blend the tartness of cranberries and fresh orange with a rich cream cheese layer for a dessert that’s sure to dazzle your holiday dessert table.

cranberry Cheesecake brownie with a bite out

It’s the time of year when many of us find ourselves with an abundance of cranberry sauce, often unsure of how to repurpose it. These brownies offer a perfect solution!

Incorporating the cranberry sauce into a decadent cheesecake layer that sits atop a delicious brownie base. The tartness of the cranberries perfectly complements the creamy richness of the cheesecake layer!

We’ll start with the base, instead of a graham cracker or gingersnap crust this recipe calls for a layer of fudgy brownies. Then we layer on a creamy orange scented cream cheese mixture. Our cranberry mixture adds a beautiful tart flavor, perfect for balancing the sweetness of the cheesecake layer.

Make these easy cranberry cheesecake bars for your next holiday gathering or Thanksgiving meal!

3 cranberry cheesecake brownies arranged on a white plate

Kitchen Equipment:

  1. Mixing Bowls: Various sizes for preparing brownie batter, cheesecake mixture, and cranberry sauce.
  2. Measuring Cups and Spoons: For accurately measuring ingredients.
  3. Hand Mixer or Stand Mixer: To mix the cheesecake filling.
  4. Rubber Spatula: For scrapping the sides of the mixer.
  5. 9×13 inch Baking Pan: Suitable size for layering the brownies and cheesecake.
  6. Parchment Paper: For lining the baking pan for easy removal and cleanup.
  7. Binder clips: Seriously the best way to keep the parchment paper in place!
  8. Offset Spatula: For evening out layers.

Cranberry Cheesecake Brownies Ingredients

Brownie Layer:

  • 1 box of your favorite brownie mix (and the ingredients it requires, usually oil, water, and eggs)
Brownie ingredients, mix, egg, orange

Cheesecake Layer:

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cranberry Sauce Swirl:

  • 1 cup pre-made cranberry sauce (homemade or store-bought)

Instructions:

Preheat Oven and Prepare Pan: Preheat your oven to the temperature specified on the brownie mix box (usually 350°F or 175°C). Line a 9×9 inch baking pan with parchment paper or lightly grease it.

Prepare the Cranberry Sauce: In a small bowl stir cranberry sauce and 1 tbsp fresh orange juice until combined. Set aside.

Prepare the Brownie Batter: Place brownie mix in a medium bowl, prepare the brownie mix according to the package instructions. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan, spreading it out in an even layer.

bowl of brownie batter

Make the Cheesecake Mixture: Using a hand mixer or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the cream cheese, sugar, egg, and vanilla extract until smooth and creamy.

bowl of cheesecake mixture

Assemble the Brownies: Pour the cheesecake mixture over the brownie layer in the pan. Using an offset spatula smooth the cream cheese filling evenly over the top of the brownies.

Add the Cranberry Swirl: Drop small spoonfuls of cranberry sauce on top of the cheesecake layer. Using a knife or a toothpick, swirl the cranberry sauce into the cheesecake mixture to create a festive marbled effect.

Bake: Bake in the preheated oven for the time specified on the brownie mix box, usually around 35-40 minutes, or until the center of the brownie cheesecake layer is set and the edges are lightly browned.

Cool : Allow the brownies to cool in the pan, then place them in the refrigerator for at least an hour to set completely.

Cut into squares and serve: Enjoy the delightful combination of rich chocolate, tangy cranberry, and creamy cheesecake!

simple cheesecake brownie squares

This easy and delicious dessert is perfect for when you want something special without too much fuss. It’s a great way to use leftover cranberry sauce and add a festive twist to a classic treat!

Enjoy your cranberry sauce swirl cheesecake brownies! They’re sure to be a hit at any gathering, or just as a special treat for yourself.

Can You Put Cranberry Cheesecake Brownies in The Fridge to Cool?

Yes, you can put brownies in the fridge to cool. This is actually a common practice, especially when you need the brownies to cool down quickly for slicing or if you’ve made a version with a cheesecake or frosting layer that needs to set.

top view of brownies

Here are a few tips for cooling brownies in the fridge:

  1. Let Them Cool Slightly at Room Temperature: Before transferring the brownies to the fridge, it’s a good idea to let them cool in the pan at room temperature for about 10-15 minutes. This prevents condensation from forming, which could make the brownies soggy.
  2. Use a Cooling Rack (If Possible): If your brownie pan is safe to place directly on a cooling rack in the fridge, use one. This allows air to circulate around the pan, cooling the brownies more evenly.
  3. Cover Them Lightly: To protect the brownies from absorbing any fridge odors and to prevent them from drying out, cover the pan loosely with aluminum foil or plastic wrap.
  4. Check Consistency: If your brownies have a cheesecake, ganache, or another soft topping, chilling them in the fridge will help set the topping perfectly. However, for regular brownies, keep an eye on them so they don’t become too hard.
  5. Bring to Room Temperature Before Serving: If you prefer the texture of room-temperature brownies, take them out of the fridge a little while before serving.

Remember, chilling is great for certain types of brownies, especially ones with added layers or frosting, but for classic brownies, enjoying them at room temperature often yields the best texture and flavor.

How Long Do Cranberry Cheesecake Brownies Last In The Fridge?

Brownies typically last in the fridge for about 3 to 4 days while maintaining their best quality. Here’s how to store them to ensure they stay fresh and delicious:

  1. Cool Completely: Before storing, let the brownies cool completely to room temperature. This prevents condensation inside the container, which can make them soggy.
  2. Airtight Container: Store the brownies in an airtight container. This keeps them from drying out and absorbing odors from the fridge.
  3. Separate Layers with Parchment Paper: If you’re stacking brownies in the container, place a sheet of parchment paper or wax paper between each layer to prevent them from sticking together.
  4. Room Temperature Option: If you prefer, brownies can also be stored at room temperature for about 1 to 2 days, which can often help retain a better texture, especially if they’re a fudgier type.
  5. Freezing for Longer Storage: For longer storage, you can freeze brownies for up to 3 months. Wrap them individually in plastic wrap and then place them in a freezer bag or airtight container.

When you’re ready to enjoy the brownies from the fridge, you can eat them cold, or let them come to room temperature for a softer texture. If you like them a bit warm, just heat them up in the microwave for a few seconds.

How do you keep the cheesecake layer from cracking?

Cheesecake is delicious but can be a bit tricky, especially when it comes to preventing cracks in the top layer. Here are some tips to keep your cheesecake layer from cracking:

  1. Avoid Overmixing: Overmixing the batter can incorporate too much air, which can cause the cheesecake to rise too much during baking and then crack as it cools. Mix just until ingredients are combined.
  2. Room Temperature Ingredients: Make sure your cream cheese and eggs are at room temperature before you start. This ensures a smoother batter that’s less likely to crack.
  3. Water Bath (Bain-Marie): Place your cheesecake pan inside a larger pan and fill the larger pan with hot water, about halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan. The water bath helps to evenly distribute heat and keeps the oven moist.
  4. Don’t Overbake: Cheesecake should still be a bit wobbly in the center when you take it out of the oven. It will continue to cook as it cools. Overbaking can lead to cracks.
  5. Cool Gradually: Sudden changes in temperature can cause cracks. Let your cheesecake cool in the oven (with the door slightly ajar) for about an hour after turning off the oven, then move it to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Loosen the Sides: Once out of the oven, run a knife around the edges of the cheesecake to loosen it from the sides of the pan. This prevents the sides from pulling away and cracking the cheesecake as it cools and contracts.
  7. Chill Before Serving: Refrigerate your cheesecake for at least four hours, but ideally overnight, before serving. This helps the cheesecake set properly and can also help close any small cracks that may have formed.

Remember, even if your cheesecake does get a crack, it will still taste delicious.Happy baking!

How Can You Cut Cranberry Cheesecake Brownies Cleanly?

Cutting brownies cleanly can be a bit of a challenge, especially if they’re fudgy or have a gooey layer. However, with the right technique and some patience, you can achieve clean, neat cuts. Here are some tips:

  1. Cool Completely: First and foremost, let your brownies cool completely after baking. Warm brownies are more likely to crumble and stick to the knife.
  2. Use a Sharp Knife: A sharp, thin-bladed knife is best for cutting brownies. A serrated knife can also work, but it may create more crumbs.
  3. Chill the Brownies: If you’re aiming for very clean cuts, consider chilling the brownies in the fridge for a while. This firms them up and makes cutting easier, especially for fudgy or layered brownies.
  4. Heat the Knife: Run your knife under hot water, then dry it off. The heat helps it slice through the brownies more smoothly. Reheat and wipe the knife clean after each cut.
  5. Use a Plastic Knife: For certain types of brownies, a plastic knife can actually work better than a metal one. Plastic doesn’t stick to the brownies as much.
  6. Wipe the Knife Clean: After each cut, wipe the blade clean with a damp cloth or paper towel. This removes any sticky crumbs that could make the next cut less clean.
  7. Use Parchment Paper: If you baked your brownies in a parchment-lined pan, you can lift the entire slab out for easier cutting.
  8. Let Them Set: If you’ve added toppings like chocolate ganache, let them set or harden a bit before cutting.

With these tips, you should be able to cut your Cranberry Cheesecake Brownies more cleanly and with less hassle. Happy baking and enjoy your neat, delicious brownie squares!

stacked cranberry cheesecake brownie
Yield: 24 Brownies

Cheesecake Brownies with a Cranberry Orange Swirl

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

Meet the ultimate holiday treat: Cranberry Cheesecake Brownies! We've taken leftover cranberry sauce and swirled it into a luscious cheesecake layer, all sitting atop a rich, fudgy brownie base

Ingredients

  • 1 box of your favorite brownie mix (and the ingredients it requires, usually oil, water, and eggs)
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup pre-made cranberry sauce (homemade or store-bought)
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice, fresh

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to the temperature specified on the brownie mix box (usually 350°F or 175°C). Line a 9x13 inch baking pan with parchment paper or lightly grease it.
  2. In a small bowl stir cranberry sauce and 1 tbsp fresh orange juice until combined. Set aside.
  3. Place brownie mix in a medium bowl, prepare the brownie mix according to the package instructions. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan, spreading it out in an even layer.
  4. Make the Cheesecake Mixture:
  5. Using a hand mixer or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the cream cheese, sugar, egg, and vanilla extract until smooth and creamy.
  6. Pour the cheesecake mixture over the brownie layer in the pan. Using an offset spatula smooth the cream cheese filling evenly over the top of the brownies.
  7. Drop small spoonfuls of cranberry sauce on top of the cheesecake layer. Using a knife or a toothpick, swirl the cranberry sauce into the cheesecake mixture to create a festive marbled effect.
  8. Bake in the preheated oven for the time specified on the brownie mix box, usually around 35-40 minutes, or until the center of the brownie cheesecake layer is set and the edges are lightly browned.
  9. Allow the brownies to cool in the pan, then place them in the refrigerator for at least an hour to set completely.
  10. Cut into squares and serve. Enjoy the delightful combination of rich chocolate, tangy cranberry, and creamy cheesecake!

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