The highlight of this indulgent Junior’s brownie swirl cheesecake is its dark chocolate brownie crust and blobs of brownies baked right into the cake. On top is a titillating swirl of bittersweet chocolate.
Two of perhaps the most indulgent desserts collide lovingly in this insanely rich, fudgy, creamy Junior’s brownie swirl cheesecake creation based on a constant at New York City’s famous Junior’s deli. The dark chocolate brownies form both the foundation of the cheesecake as well as intermittent punctuation marks throughout the cheesecake batter. A swirl of dark chocolate at the very top only hits at the loveliness lurking beneath.–Renee Schettler Rossi
Junior’s Brownie Swirl Cheesecake
For the brownie crust and chunks
- 8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
- 2 sticks unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 extra-large eggs
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
For the cheesecake
- Three packages cream cheese (use only full fat), at room temperature
- 1 1/3 cups sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 extra-large eggs
- 2/3 cup heavy cream plus 1 tablespoon for brushing (optional)
- 2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
- 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)
Make the brownie crust and chunks
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan and an 8-inch square baking pan. Line the baking pan (but not the springform) with parchment or waxed paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang over the sides. Wrap the outside of the springform with aluminum foil, covering the bottom and extending all the way up the sides.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the chocolate with the butter and let cool.
- In a small bowl, combine the flour and salt. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with an electric mixer on high until light yellow and thick, 3 to 5 minutes. With the mixer still running, gradually add the sugar, then the chocolate mixture and vanilla. Reduce the speed to low and blend in the flour mixture just until it disappears.
- Spread 2 cups of the batter in the springform to make the crust and spread the rest in the baking pan. Bake just until set around the sides, 15 to 20 minutes for the springform pan and 30 to 35 minutes for the baking pan. (The centers will still be slightly soft.)
- Let the brownies cool on a wire rack for 1 hour. Leave the brownie crust in the springform. Lift the brownies out of the square pan onto a plate, using the paper hanging over the sides as handles. Cover both the crust and the square of brownies with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- Cut the square of brownies with a serrated knife into 3/4-inch squares.
Make the cheesecake batter
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl with a handheld electric mixer, dump 1 package of the cream cheese, 1/3 cup of the sugar, and the cornstarch. Beat on low until creamy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl several times. Blend in the remaining cream cheese, 1 package at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition.
- Increase the speed to medium and beat in first the remaining 1 cup sugar and then the vanilla. Blend in the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after adding each one. Beat in the 2/3 cup of cream just until completely blended. Don’t overmix!
- Transfer 1 cup of the batter to a small bowl and set aside for the chocolate swirls.
Assembler the brownie swirl cheescake
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
- Cover the chocolate brownie crust in the pan with small brownie bites (12 to 16), covering as much of the crust as possible. Use only 1 layer of brownies. (Yep. You get to nosh on the rest of the brownies!) Gently spoon the cheesecake batter over the brownie bites.
- Now make the chocolate swirls. Melt the chocolate and stir into the reserved white batter until completely blended. Using a teaspoon, drop the chocolate batter on top of the white batter, pushing it down slightly as you go. Using a thin, pointed knife, cut through the batter a few times in a swirling figure eight design, just until chocolate swirls appear.
- Place the cake in a large shallow roasting pan. Pull out the oven rack a couple inches and place the pan on the rack. Carefully add enough hot water to the pan to reach 1 inch up the sides of the springform. Slide the rack back in the oven and bake until the edges are light golden brown and the top of the cake has golden and dark chocolate swirls, about 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 25 minutes. If the cake seems to be browning too much, loosely cover the pan with aluminum foil.
- Remove the cake from the water bath, transfer to a wire rack, and let it cool completely, about 2 hours. (Just walk away so you’re not tempted to fuss with it.)
- Leave the cheesecake in the pan, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until completely cold, at least 4 hours and preferably overnight.
- To serve, release and remove the sides of the springform pan, leaving the cake on the bottom of the pan. Place on a cake plate.
- If using walnuts, brush the remaining 1 tablespoon cream in a 1-inch border around the top edge of the cake (this helps keep the nuts in place). Sprinkle the walnuts over the cream, pressing the nuts down gently, making a 1-inch border around the top outside edge.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve. Slice with a sharp straight-edge knife, not a serrated one. Cover leftover cake and refrigerate, or freeze up to 1 month.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
Junior’s brownie swirl cheesecake is divine. Fun, festive, and perfect for entertaining or a special family occasion. The recipe is easy to follow, broken down into manageable sections so it’s quite simple to throw together during a busy week.
When making the brownies, I needed to beat my eggs another minute or so before they were light yellow and thick. Be aware that the pan will be quite full. The brownies are quite delicious in their own right and I will definitely be making them again to serve on their own. You will not need the full pan of brownies for the recipe, so enjoy those leftovers.
I’m not usually a fan of cheesecakes that are full of other ingredients. I love a good classic cheesecake and I think a lot of them are cloyingly sweet or overly rich. This wasn’t like that at all. The texture of the brownie and the cheesecake melded beautifully and the taste was decadently balanced. I highly recommend this recipe. It would serve 8 to 10.
This cheesecake was quite good. It had a firm, very creamy texture after an overnight chilling in refrigerator. (I believe the cornstarch might have been responsible for the smooth, creaminess, but I’m not really sure.) I was glad to see the recipe had no sour cream in it, as that seems to me to take away from the firm way a cheesecake “breaks” apart when a fork is used to take a bite. (I would suggest decreasing the cornstarch a little.) But it was still good. I will wait a day to see if that changes. Cheesecakes, it seems, tend to develop more texture after a while in the fridge. (Next day: After being refrigerated for 2 days, the texture didn’t seem to have changed too much.
I couldn’t resist putting more than the suggested number of brownies in the bottom of the pan. (They were sooo good.) But I would still, I think, increase the cheesecake amount by about 1/2 at least.
I melted the butter in the microwave and then added the broken-up pieces of chocolate to the very warm butter. It still had to be heated a little more in the microwave to get the chocolate to melt completely.
I thought the amount of the saved-and-set-aside aside white cheescake batter to mix with the chocolate could have been decreased to about 2/3 cup or maybe a little less. It seemed there was a little too much chocolate/cheesecake ratio in the whole cake. But I just love plain cheesecake without much adornment–except fresh strawberry sauce!
I was glad to see that there wasn’t a side crust on this recipe. It isn’t really necessary with a cheesecake being so rich to start with.
I thought there were about 12 servings in this recipe. However, smaller pieces could be cut to make more servings.
Junior’s brownie swirl cheesecake made a smooth, delicious, decadent cheesecake with swirls of chocolate and a brownie crust that was to die for. The Brownie Crust recipe makes moist, chocolatey, and delicious brownies. I will be using this recipe the next time I want to make some brownies and kissing the store-brought brownie mixes goodbye.
I omitted the walnuts because my husband cannot eat them.
This recipe would easily serve 12 to 15 people, depending on the size of the pieces of cake. I would recommend smaller pieces since the cheesecake is very rich and filling.
I’ve ordered Junior’s cheesecakes online for special occasions and holidays. This recipe yields a very close, if not exact, version of what you’d get from Junior’s at one of their restaurants or via online ordering.
The number of servings will vary based on the size of the slices, but it will be at least 12 normal size cheesecake servings.
Originally published March 20, 2020