Short and Sweet: Creamed Cheese Brownies with Salted Dark Chocolate Topping


Who am I kidding?  There’s nothing short about that recipe name!  But it IS sweet!  And this post will be short. Together: short and sweet!

Short post today because I’ve been up to my plant-powered eyeballs all week: prepping food samples for my book launch at Chapters tomorrow, preparing for in-laws visiting, and planning for when I take off to Summerfest.  Add that to daily life as a mom-of-three and the word “busy” just scratches the surface.

So, enough jibba-jabba.  Today you’re getting the recipe for my Creamed Cheese Brownies with Salted Dark Chocolate Topping (from LTEV).  Despite the name, there is NO vegan cream cheese in them (remember, I don’t use these vegan subs in LTEV).  These brownies are being tweeted left, right and centre lately, so here they are!

Creamed Cheese Brownies with Salted Dark Chocolate Topping wheat-free, soy-free RECIpage link here.

No processed vegan cream cheese to be found in these deep, rich, fudgy brownies. Cashews stand in for a cream cheese–like layer, which takes these brownies to, “OMG these are freaking good!” ’Nuff said—go make them.

Creamed Cheese Layer:

1 cup soaked cashews

2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 tbsp water

1 tbsp  pure maple syrup

2 tbsp vanilla non-dairy yogurt (if using coconut yogurt instead of soy, add another 1 tsp lemon juice)

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/8 tsp (rounded) sea salt

Brownie Layer:

1 cup + 2 tbsp sifted (or light) spelt flour

¾ cup unrefined sugar

½ tsp sea salt

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1 ½ tsp baking powder

1 tbsp arrowroot powder

3 tbsp pure maple syrup

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

¼ cup + 1 tbsp plain or vanilla non-dairy milk

3½ tbsp neutral-flavored oil


1/3 – ½ cup chocolate chunks (use a good quality dark chocolate bar, and break/ cut into small chunks)

Few pinches coarse sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8-inch square cake pan with parchment paper. Prepare cream cheese layer: Puree all those ingredients with an immersion or high-speed blender until very, very smooth (a mini food processor can also be used, but it usually doesn’t produce as smooth a texture as does an immersion blender). Process for several minutes, if necessary, until very smoothed out. Prepare the brownie layer: In a separate bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt, and sift in the cocoa and baking powder. In a small bowl, first combine the arrowroot with the maple syrup, stirring until smooth, then add the vanilla, milk, and oil. Add the wet mixture to the dry. Stir until evenly mixed and thick. Transfer about two-thirds of the mixture to the prepared pan. Use a square of parchment to help the press mixture into the pan evenly and spread it out. Spread the cream cheese layer over the top. Then, as best as you can, spread the remaining brownie batter over the cheese layer. You can take pieces and lightly spread first with your fingers and place in patches over the cream cheese layer—and it doesn’t have to fully cover; there can be spaces—most will fill in and come together while baking.  Add the topping: Place the chocolate chunks on top, and then sprinkle with the salt. Bake for 28 to 30 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan, running a spatula around the outer edge to loosen. (The brownies will appear not fully cooked, but do not cook longer—I repeat, do not cook longer! Instead, let cool and they will become fudgy!) Once cooled, score the brownies with a sharp knife to ease cutting the chocolate before it completely hardens. Then refrigerate brownies to cool more, cut into squares and dig in!  Makes 16-20 brownies.

If This Apron Could Talk: Trust the baking process! The amount of batter used for the base—and then topping— looks like it cannot possibly fill out to form a beautiful brownie. Lucky for us, the oven creates some magic in about half an hour!

Enjoy your weekend, and enjoy the brownies.  Tweet ‘em, stumble ‘em, pin ‘em… just be sure to BAKE ‘em!  :)(and for those of you asking, here is how you can subscribe to my posts!)

26 Responses to Short and Sweet: Creamed Cheese Brownies with Salted Dark Chocolate Topping

  1. Kathleen says:

    Hi Dreena,
    Putting my Christmas cookie list together and would love to add these! I don’t use added oil so do you have a recommendation for what I could sub in the brownie layer? Also, I don’t ever buy non dairy yogurt so in an effort to avoid buying it for a few Tbsp any suggestions on a sub for that. Thank you!!!!

  2. katie keener says:

    Wow! Made these tonight for my Sunday treat (trying to do dessert only on Sundays). So good! Definitely a “bring to a gathering” sweet.

  3. Stacey says:

    I was afraid that switching the flour might ruin the recipe, so I went out and bought spelt flour. I followed the recipe exactly and thought these were delicious. My only issue was spreading the chocolate batter since it was SO thick. Also, I was afraid the chocolate/cream cheez ratios would be off. But, I was really happy with these.

    The ‘cream cheez’ was very tasty. As my significant other loves carrot cake, I’m thinking of using this the next time I bake it for him. The recipe I used last time called for Tofutti in the frosting. I’m thinking that reducing the amount of water would make this a bit thicker and more ‘frosting-like.’

    Thanks so much for the recipe!!

  4. Stacey says:

    Is it possible to make these brownies with regular flour–meaning whole wheat pastry flour? I have about a zillion flours in my house, but not spelt and don’t want to stock up on any more! ;-)

    • Dreena says:

      Hi Stacey, yes, but the measure of flour will change slightly. Usually for 1 cup of w/w pastry flour, you need about 1 cup of whole-grain spelt + 3-4 tbsp. So, I’d try just 1 cup of w/w pastry flour. I haven’t tested it that way, but estimate that this measure should work okay. Please let me know how they turn out!

  5. Lisa says:

    Hi! Just wondering what is your favorite / the best brand of chocolate to use? I am very new to this type of cooking / eating. Just bought your book and am so excited!



    • Dreena says:

      Hi Lisa! I keep a variety on hand. ;) Best to experiment with a few good quality brands, like endangered species, zazubean, terranostra – and then there are other vegan dark chocolate bars at places like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, etc. I try to opt for the fair trade varieties when I can, and I also tend to like the very dark, dark chocolate for eating. For this recipe, anything with about a 65%+ cocoa will be good – just always need to read labels, even within brands (ex: not all zazubean flavors are vegan). Hope that helps. Enjoy experimenting with LTEV! :)

  6. Ohmygoodness, these brownies are probably my favorite dessert in the book (I have to specify dessert because I have favorite muffins, salads, dressings, dips, cheese spreads, veggie sides, casseroles, you get the picture…. :) ) I have been craving them something terrible and must make them again soon!

    And, I wish I could find my way to Summerfest. Unfortunately it’s not in the cards for me. :(


  7. I’ve got these in the oven now .. I’m hoping to have one for breakfast – that seems like a good way to start the day! :)

  8. Julie says:

    Oh, these look so tasty! However, my kids and hubby all have serious nut allergies…so can’t do cashews. Is there any way I can make this nut-free?

    • Dreena says:

      Julie, you can make them without the filling, just straight up fudgy brownies with the salted choc topping. Also, Let Them Eat Vegan has another brownie recipe “Berry Patch Brownies” – berrylicious! :)

  9. Tiffany says:

    Hi Dreena,

    I made your Cashew Chive Spread today and it is incredible!! Thank you so much for the recipe.

    I love your cookbook! My favorite thing about your book is that all the recipes use simple, whole, healthy ingredients!!!

    I’m starting a summer class in a couple days and I wanted to ask what would you pack for lunch and snacks? I want something easy and portable…( I was thinking grain/quinoa/whole wheat pasta salads or sandwiches. and for snacks fruit/nuts).

    I hope you one day have a cooking show of your own. It would be a great way to encourage people to use whole/unrefined and healthy ingredients.

    By the way I saw your post on FB this morning…I’m a bit confused is FB charing for having a page now?

    Hope you have a wonderful weekend! :)

    • Tiffany says:

      Sorry I forgot to ask….

      I halved the Cashew Chive recipe so it made about a cup but just in case the family doesnt finish it within the week can it be put in the freezer? (I’m sure it will be gone by tomorrow :) )

      I hate to see good food go to waste.

      Thank you :)

      • Dreena says:

        For sure, I freeze cashew cheese all the time, usually double the batch and then freeze in smaller portions. Thaws BEAUTIFULLY! You’re saved. ;)

    • Dreena says:

      Tiffany, that is very sweet of you. Thank you. Re the lunches – have you read the ‘plant-powered lunchbox’ section in LTEV? If not, check into it, b/c there are a lot of ideas in there that might be useful for you. :) As for FB, well, we can still post for free, but our audience is not as easy to capture now. If people aren’t ‘liking’ or commenting on someone’s posts, fb views it as disinterest and won’t put the posts in their feed anymore. FB will show feed that they ‘think’ people like based on activity. The only way for me to ensure my posts go to my entire audience now is to pay a fee to ‘promote the post’. It’s mind-numbing!!

  10. Barbara says:

    I just took these out of the frig and finally got to taste them. They are so delicious that I can hardly keep from eating more, well, all the rest probably! Thanks so much for the great recipe!

    • Dreena says:

      yahoo!!! That’s great to read Barbara… just store them waaaay back in the fridge – makes it a little more work to give into temptation too often, haha! :)

  11. Melissa says:

    How long do you recommend soaking the cashews?

    • Dreena says:

      Hi Melissa, I explain this in more depth in my book, but for cashews the soaking time is about 4 hrs. It’s useful to soak more than you need, so you can store extra in freezer! :)

  12. I fear making that cream cheese because I might eat it out of the bowl :) Can’t wait to try these!

  13. Jane says:

    They are brilliant even if you add the arrowroot to the dry ingredients because you weren’t reading the recipe closely……
    Was going to make them again but got derailed by making Raw Banana Nut Squares With Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting…woo! yummo! and the frosting hasn’t even set properly yet (but my family couldn’t wait….)

    only thing is i think we need some snappier names – i know i’m going to be saying “shall i make those banana thingos?” cos i’ll never remember the full title. Hmmm…

    • Dreena says:

      hi Jane, that’s wonderful to read!!! And, those raw banana nut squares – top my fave list, LOVE them! And re the names, haha, I know, I need to delegate recipe naming to another person – not my forte! Oh well, as long as you’re loving them, call ‘em what you like! ;)

  14. Dreena says:

    absolutely Tiffany! Don’t let that hold you back!! :)

  15. Tiffany says:

    Hi Dreena,

    I don’t have arrowroot powder on hand…can I substitute cornstarch instead? Thanks :)

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