And I’m not going to say that if you still haven’t decided what to make for Valentine’s Day, that you should make these brownies.
Mostly because I think that chocolate desserts on Valentine’s Day should be rich and fudgy and decadent. And these brownies are not. Instead, they are light and cakey and intriguingly flavored with citrus. And they are addicting.
And if I can give you one word of advice regarding Valentine’s Day, is that you should avoid being around addicting foods. Because you don’t want to spend your day (and night) stuffing your face with cream cheese brownies. Just don’t.
May I also suggest sharing these brownies with a few other people, and not just you and your date, because the more people who taste these brownies and give you accolades for how delicious they are, the more it’s going to be worth it that you accidentally burned your hand from taking these brownies out of the oven. They’re really worth the burn mark.
(Take note that injured hand means less mobility and less chances of you reaching for more brownies).
But seriously, share the love with these brownies. The citrus flavors, provided by lemon-flavored hazelnut spread, orange zest, and Cointreau, shine through, nicely complementing the sweet cream cheese and the deep chocolate flavor. The brownies are airy and soft, and the cream cheese swirl adds a textural contrast.
I received a sample of Nudo Dark Chocolate Spread with lemon – think Nutella but darker, made with olive oil, and amped up with a hint of lemon – and as soon as I tasted it, I knew it would work well with a baked good.
And like my other baked goods with booze, the Cointreau here is very minimal so it only lends a subtle alcohol hit, but it does add another bright citrus flavor.
Dark Chocolate Citrus Brownies with a Cream Cheese Swirl
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons orange liqueur
1 cup dark chocolate hazelnut spread (I used Dark Chocolate Crema with Lemon but you can use other chocolate hazelnut spread and just add lemon extract)
Cream Cheese Swirl
4 oz (1/2 package) cream cheese
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a small bowl, combine flour and salt. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, cream butter until light and fluffy. Add in sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, and orange liqueur. Mix well, then fold in hazelnut spread (if you’re using Nutella or some other brand, add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon extract). Stir in flour mixture.
In a separate bowl, combine cream cheese swirl ingredients together. Beat together until smooth.
Spread 3/4 of brownie batter in buttered 8×8 pan. Spread cream cheese mixture on top brownie batter. Spoon remaining brownie batter over filling. Cut through mixture with knife several times for a marbled look.
Bake 30-40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in brownie 1 inch from side of pan comes out almost clean. Cool brownies completely, and cut into squares.
Do you have a favorite brownie recipe? Links are welcome! And if you insist on making a fudgy bar, how about these Salted Nutella Rice Crispy Smores Bars?
PS – If you’re interested in attending Taste of the Nation Boston this year, here’s a Valentine’s Day discount that will give you 20% off general admission and VIP tickets: LOVEBOSTON. I’ve been attending this fantastic event for the last couple of years (see my recaps here and here) and I’m looking forward to the event in April!