I love box mix brownies. I rarely make brownies from a recipe because box mix brownies are already so freaking good. So we recently got a box of Pillsbury Cheesecake Swirl brownie mix. The only thing cheesecake could possibly to do brownies is improve upon them, so this had to be a good thing, right?
I made the brownies according to instructions. OK, I added food coloring because I had a bunch sitting around that really wanted to get used up. The same went for sprinkles, for that matter. The brownies ended up looking like they had a light layer of crispy pepto-bismol on top of them:
First off, it’s weird how the visual aspect of food can really impact flavor. Eating these, I had a really hard time convincing myself that the cheesecake mixture wasn’t cherry-flavored. Also, I never should have put those sprinkles on.
See, the cheesecake swirl topping was less “cheesecake” and more “frosting that is cheese (errr, and cherry) flavored.” Admittedly, all of those sugar crystals didn’t help a bit, but even aside from those, the cheesecake topping was excessively sweet. Part of this might just be my tastes – I’ve always preferred cheesier cheesecake over sugarier cheesecake. The same goes with brownies; I just don’t like them to be too sweet. To me, the essence of a good brownie is being chocolaty, not sugary. In fact, I will happily pick off the glob of frosting that comes on some grocery store brownie bites.
There was also the cheesecake to brownie ratio here. My photo is pretty bad, so it may be difficult to tell this, but the ratio was around 1:3. The photo on the box depicts the cheesecake more as a thin glaze on top. Now, 1:3 wouldn’t be a big deal at all had the cheesecake actually tasted like proper cheesecake, but it just didn’t. I struggled deeply with this, but in the end, I’d hole out the brownie part and left the cheesecake part for Drew to eat. The brownie part was delicious as always, at least.
And the sad thing? Sitting in the fridge was a block of cream cheese that would have loved to be converted into a delightful cheesecake topping. I think I should try combining box brownies with cheesecake from a recipe one of these days, just to make sure that combination is appropriately delicious and I’m not simply deluding myself here.