Slutty Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies
Creativity has many definitions, but one of my favorite variations of this definition was once described to me as the combination of two generally unrelated things.
We all know a creative, or rather a person who is able to identify making that unexpected combination happen. Whether it’s that coworker you always pull into a brainstorming session or a friend who goes all out when decorating for a party, they are the people you always want on your team because they think outside of the box. They push beyond the boundaries of what everyone fixates on and often strike that “lightbulb moment” in conversation that nobody thought to do.
I believe that good chefs cook to sustain, but great chefs are creatives that entertain. They bring ordinary foods or flavors together in a way unimagined. A great example of someone who does this well is Spanish chef, restaurateur, and philanthropist, José Andres. At his former restaurant (RIP), Fish, there was a shrimp appetizer on the menu with grapefruit and brown mustard in the dish. When I first saw that menu item, I was rightfully skeptical. I remember thinking: shrimp, grapefruit, and mustard on the same plate? Ew.
That combination of flavors still plays in my mind of one of the most memorable meals. It was so eccentric and somehow worked so beautifully together. It was the epitome of creativity on a plate.
I raise the topic of creativity because these pumpkin cheesecake brownies are a bit of a stretch. Pumpkin and chocolate is not a perfect match in my mind, but that’s all part of the fun here.
These brownies are filled with texture, hints of fall's familiar spices, and rich chocolate throughout. They will not disappoint the most basic of the basics out there (you know who you are).
Finally, let’s address the elephant in the room. The slutty part. Truthfully, I wish there was a captivating story behind that part of the title, but it simply means there is a layer of Oreos baked in these brownies. Sorry to disappoint, boys.
As always, may the inspiration found here find light in your kitchen. Stay creative, friends.
for the brownies…
2 boxes Ghirardelli chocolate brownie mix
Unsweetened applesauce (to replace oil in brownie mix)
1 pack Oreos
for the cheesecake…
1/2 cup pumpkin purée
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sour cream
1 egg (room temperature)
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
How to make it happen:
In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients for both boxes of brownies as instructed on the packaging. Substitute unsweetened applesauce for the same amount of oil that the brownie mix requires (tastes much better and not to mention, is healthier).
Pour half of the brownie batter into a lined baking pan. Spread evenly. Place a layer of Oreos over the brownie batter. Then, pour the remaining brownie batter over the Oreo layer. Set aside.
In a separate mixing bowl, beat sugar, vanilla, and cream cheese together for about 2 minutes.
Add sour cream, pumpkin, and egg, then mix again until evenly combined.
Place all spices in the bowl with the cornstarch and stir until evenly combined.
Pour about 10 dollops of the cheesecake batter, scattered, over the brownies and Oreos. Using a toothpick, make swirls in the pan to combine the brownie and cheesecake batters on the top of the pan. Be careful to not latch on to the Oreos.
Bake at 325°F for about 40 mins. Let cool once done.
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving, but preferably overnight. Cut into squares and enjoy!