Updated: Dec 6, 2020
I received free samples of California Walnuts mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by California Walnuts and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.
Smooth or crunchy? How about both! Cherry Cheesecake Walnut Brownies provide the soft texture of cream cheese with the crunch of walnuts and essentially please everyone.
These brownies combine four favorite flavors: walnuts, chocolate, cherries, and cream cheese.
I made these for Easter when my husband and I were quarantined. I had given up sugar for Lent, and this was the dessert I chose to break my fast with. I wasn't disappointed.
I'm much more of a nuts and chocolate girl while he loves fruit-based dessert- especially cherries- and cream cheese frosting. So I thought, "Why not put them all together and see how it turns out?"
It's no mystery that walnuts enhance the flavor and mouthfeel of fudge. They balance out the richness of cocoa and the sweetness of sugar.
A handful of California walnuts is a versatile snack and can satisfy any taste preference, from savory to sweet. Regardless of your flavor preference, walnuts are the only nut to provide an excellent source of the plant-based omega-3, ALA (2.5g/oz). Remember- these are good for your eyes, your heart, and infant brain development.
Meanwhile, cherries in cheesecake helps to cut the fat with a bit of tart sweetness. I used a can of no-added-sugar red tart cherries. They were pitted and simply packed in water. I drained them to keep from making the cream cheese too runny.
For the cream cheese you can use a reduced fat cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese. Even with the reduction in fat, the cheesecake topping is still creamy, and the difference in flavor is unnoticeable.
I like to think of myself as a purist. I'm not usually a fan of mixing chocolate with fruit. They each have their place- just not together. However, for the sake of pleasing both of us and trying something new, I approached this with an open mind.
Turns out, the four flavors worked together superbly! This dessert was heavenly. The richness of the cocoa and cheese was there, but in the same bite the earthy walnut taste and tart cherry flavor balanced it out so I wasn't reaching for a quenching glass of water after each bite.
Most recipes start with pre-heating the oven, however, I recommend saving some energy and waiting until after you prepare the cheesecake topping. Your oven should have plenty of time to heat up while you prepare the brownie batter.
The plan is to make the cheesecake topping first, followed by the brownie batter. However, the brownie batter will be poured into the pan first with the walnuts...
followed by cherries...
...cheesecake topping, and then some more cherries.
Depending on how much and how dark the cherry juice is, you can either swirl just the red juice of the cherries in the top layer of cream cheese, or you can pull brownie batter from the bottom and create a swirl effect with chocolate.
This recipe was made with a gluten-free flour so it accommodates those with celiac disease, gluten/wheat sensitivity, or a wheat allergy.
There are no peanuts, soy, fish, or shellfish in this recipe. However, it does contain nuts, milk (in the cheese), and eggs.
This is a vegetarian (but not vegan) dessert.
Without further ado, here is the recipe.
Cherry Cheesecake Walnut Brownies
Prep Time: 45 mins.
Bake Time: 30 mins.
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Yield: 15 brownies
Cheesecake Topping: 2- 8 oz. packages of reduced fat cream cheese, softened 3/4 cup sugar ½ cup gluten-free flour 2 eggs 1 tsp vanilla extract
Brownie Batter: 1 ½ cups sugar 1 ½ cups gluten-free flour ⅓ cup cocoa powder 1 ½ tsp salt 1 tsp baking powder 1 cup Canola oil 4 eggs 2 Tbsp agave syrup 1 tsp vanilla extract 1 cup California walnuts
half of a 14.5 oz can of cherries (no added sugar), drained and chopped
Grease a 9"x13" pan.
Make the cheesecake topping by mixing all of the ingredients together with an electric mixer, stand mixer with paddle attachment, or a food processor. Cheesecake topping should be smooth without lumps.
Next, in a separate bowl, make the brownie batter by whisking the dry ingredients (sugar through baking powder) together.
In a third bowl, beat the brownie batter wet ingredients together (Canola oil through vanilla).
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk just until blended.
Fold walnuts into the brownie batter with a spatula.
Pour brownie batter into the greased pan and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Spread half of the cherries over the brownie batter.
Pour the cheesecake topping over the brownie batter. Add remaining cherries on top.
If cherries have sufficient red juice, you can swirl the cherries and juice into the cheesecake topping using a butter knife. If not, use the knife to lift of brownie batter from the bottom and swirl the chocolate into the cheesecake topping.
Bake for 30-35 minutes. Brownies are done when an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool for 20 minutes before cutting.
Nutrition per brownie
Calories: 476 Protein: 8g Carbohydrates: 53g Fiber: 1g Added Sugar: 32g Fat: 27g Saturated Fat: 5g Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g (omega-3: 1g, omega-6: 3g) Cholesterol: 91mg Sodium: 412mg