Birthday Brownies

These pretty cheesecake brownies are another hit from David Lebovitz. His cakes, cookies and other sweet treats always turn out superbly for me so I know I can trust his recipes, even when making them for the first time as a birthday gift for a friend.

I made these brownies for Liva, one of the few good friends I am fortunate enough to have since I moved to Toronto. Our children are similar in ages so it’s great to have a friend who relates to all the angst associated with raising babies, toddlers and picky eaters. Four years ago, we were merely two young mothers raising our children on our own in a new city that we just moved to; we didn’t know many people then and it was a really isolating experience, to say the least. Having someone else that was going through the same experience as I did to talk to was relieving in some ways, and I’m just so thankful that we had each other during those difficult days of early motherhood.

This year for my birthday, Liva gifted me some gorgeous cookies that she baked herself. They are a Latvian specialty, where she is from. These cookies resemble an unshelled walnut and are a work of art; have a look. The outer shell is a thin and delicate cookie that encases a rich dulce de leche filling inside. With each bite yielding a mouthful of crispness and gooey goodness all at once, these cookies are a sweet birthday treat I will never forget.

So, for her birthday, I want to repay the favour. Liva loves cheesecake and chocolate; with the cream cheese marbling such pretty Florentine swirls in the brownies, I think these beautiful cheesecake brownies make for the perfect birthday treat for her. Plus, brownies keep well for several days. She totally loved them.

And of course, I couldn’t resist giving an entire platter of brownies away without sampling one, can I? My daughter would never allow me to do that even if I tried. We shared one of the brownie squares and it indeed tasted as good as it looked. The cream cheese provided a light, tangy foil to the sweet and deeply chocolaty brownie; they go really well together. Since I baked my brownies in a ceramic dish (the only 9-inch dish that I have), I was cautious to take them out of the oven at least 5 minutes before the stipulated baking time is up; the ceramic dish retains heat that will continue cooking the brownies well after they’ve been removed from the oven. And my brownies turned out perfectly done: gooey and moist like a true brownie should be.


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