brownie, cheesecake, sour cherry

sour cherry cheesecake browniesSpecifically, double chocolate chunk brownies with vanilla bean cheesecake and homemade sour cherry swirl… it’s a delicious mouthful.

Sour cherry season is one of the most fleeting—alongside garlic scapes and ramps and fiddle-heads—and for that, magical. Arriving each year for a couple weeks at most, I hoard them, freeze them, and seek ways to celebrate their unmatched sweet-sour-floral pop. They play well (very well) with buttery cakes and crusts, which is why you most often see them used as filling for pies and galettes (like this dreamy sour cherry galette recently shared by How Sweet Eats).

The last few years, I’ve taken to working sour cherries into a sauce for an over-the-top brownie cheesecake dream. The sourness of the cherries slices through the rich layers of cake and is nothing short of extraordinary. Having been asked for the recipe a dozen times now, I’m writing it down. It’s a simple combination: classic brownies, plus classic cheesecake, plus classic cherry jam (with a bit less sugar) that I dreamed up swirling tasty things into a pan one summer.

I have my go-to cheesecake and brownie recipes, but you should use those that work best for you. Both types of cake bake in a 325-350 degree F oven for just short of an hour, making this a forgiving, simple recipe for even a novice baker.

sour cherry cheesecake brownies

Double chocolate chunk brownies with vanilla bean cheesecake and homemade sour cherry swirl

Makes one 9×13 pan (20 small, rich slices)

The title is a mouthful and that’s part of the charm. The recipe seems complicated with multiple components, but because brownie and cheesecake batter are so speedy to make, the prep comes together in under an hour, even if you’re making the sour cherry sauce on the spot. The sauce can be made up to a week in advance and stored in the fridge; spoon leftovers on ice cream and stir into plain yogurt.

sour cherry cheesecake brownies


For the sour cherry sauce

  • 2 pints sour cherries, pitted
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar

For the brownies

Recipe adapted from Food & Wine’s Classic Fudge Brownies

  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips or chunks, to your preference

For the cheesecake

Recipe adapted from Philadelphia Cream Cheese back-of-the-box cheesecake recipe

  • 1 package full-fat Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup granulated or icing sugar (I prefer the latter as it dissolves effortlessly)
  • 1/2 whole vanilla bean, scraped insides (you can substitute vanilla extract, but a real bean takes this over the top)


For the sour cherry sauce

In a small saucepan, combine cherries and sugar. Cook at a gently rolling boil until the cherries slump and some liquid evaporates, about 30 minutes. There’s not enough sugar in this recipe to reach a jam consistency; it will be more like a mid-thick sauce. Set aside to cool.

For the brownies

In a metal bowl set over simmering water (i.e., a double boiler), melt chocolate with butter. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

In a medium bowl, combine sugar, eggs and vanilla. Add the melted chocolate and fold over until smooth and glossy. Stir in flour, salt and chocolate chunks. Do not over-mix! In practice, use no more than 50 strokes to combine the dry ingredients. Set batter aside.

For the cheesecake

In a stand mixer, combine cream cheese and sugar until fluffy. Add the egg and beat until mixture is glossy. Add the scraped vanilla bean until it evenly flecks the batter. Set aside.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with parchment paper for easy lifting.

Spread brownie batter evenly as first layer. Dollop cheesecake batter over brownie batter. Spoon tablespoonfuls of cherry sauce at random intervals, about 6 tablespoons total.

Using a thin butter knife, swirl the mixture, taking care to move some of the brownie batter to the surface. More swirling will mean a marbled effect, less swirling will leave distinct layers of brownie and cheesecake. I go somewhere in-between (the photos in this post are from two separate baking sessions; you’ll see I opted for a deeper swirl in the second version).

Bake on your oven’s middle rack, checking after about 40 minutes. The cheesecake should be just golden and springy to touch in the centre. Depending on your oven, the cake may bake for up to an hour.

Cool completely in the pan (ideally in the fridge overnight) before removing from the pan and slicing.


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