Most nights I harbor a little guilt for our dinnertime tv habit. I was raised at the dinner table. We conversed. We listened. We passed plates. Now, we pass judgment on the Underwoods while trying to understand Doug Stamper’s self-loathing.
Yet, as I balanced my dinner plate in one hand and pressed the projector power button with the other, a feeling of gratitude defeated the guilt. It was a time-pausing feeling, similar to déjà vu, but unlike déjà vu, this feeling of “been here before” was very identifiable.
Night after night, one of us carries out the plates or the wine glasses, and the other hits the power button. As I turned on the projector, our guilty habit filled me with comfort. This was our routine, our normal, our guilty habit (well, I may be alone in the guilt factor). Powering the projector made me realize just how intertwined we had become, how comforting normal can be. Some might cast self judgment and bemoan, “oh god, we’re getting so old,” but if age is what snaps us into the little moments worth appreciating, then let’s be old souls with a few routines!
Or, better yet, let’s have the chocolate snap us into the moment! Chocolate and cheesecake swirls take me back to elementary school, when my mom would ask me what I wanted to bring to school for my birthday. Year after year, my answer was the same- self-filled cupcakes!
Those swirls were my tradition, so when it came time to share an extra birthday treat back in January, the choice of what to make was an easy one!
Here’s to the comforts of repeated routines and recipes!
Self-Filled Mint Brownie Bars / Mint Chocolate Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies
About this Recipe: I grew up calling the cupcake equivalent of this a “self-filled cupcake,” but the bar form adds a more grown-up feel and really showcases the swirls. Pure mint extract adds that coveted thin mint flavor, and sprouted spelt flour makes these a whole grain indulgence! They taste just like childhood only better for you!
16 ounces organic Neufchatel cheese or full-fat cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup organic raw cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
2 eggs + 2 egg whites (organic/cage-free)
2 Tablespoons organic sprouted spelt flour (One Degree Organics)
2 cups organic spelt flour (One Degree Organics)
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs (organic/cage-free)
2 cups organic brown sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup organic heavy cream or half & half
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°F and line a 9×13 inch pan with foil and spray well with cooking spray.
For the Cheesecake Batter:
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add peppermint extract, and mix well.
Add eggs and egg whites, and mix until incorporated.
Stir in flour. Set batter aside.
For the Brownie Batter:
Add flour, cocoa powder, and salt to a bowl and whisk to combine.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs and brown sugar until combined and creamier in color. Add the olive oil, heavy cream, and vanilla, and mix until smooth.
Slowly mix in flour mixture until completely combined.
Pour all but 1/2 cup of brownie batter into the prepared pan and smooth into a base layer.
Spread cheesecake layer evenly on top of the brownie layer. Drop tablespoons of reserved brownie batter on top of the cheesecake layer. Use a knife or wooden skewer to swirl the batter.
Bake about 25-30 minutes, until the top is set. Allow to cool completely before cutting into bars.
Store in an airtight container, keep refrigerated.