This fabulously delicious Caramel Cream Cheese Brownie Tart is ridiculously easy to make, comes together in minutes and looks like a work of art from a fancy bake shop!
Had you been a little mouse, hanging out in my kitchen a few weeks ago, I'm pretty sure you would have laughed your furry little head off. It was the first time I was testing this Cream Cheese Brownie Tart. When I peeked into the oven towards the end of the baking time, I let out a little squeal and said right out loud (even though no one else was home), "WOW, WOW, WOW"! It was so beautiful and the mouth-watering aroma that greeted me was intoxicating!
I adapted this Caramel Cream Cheese Brownie Tart from an Epicurious recipe that came through my email earlier this fall. The picture of the pretty dessert captured my attention but the name had me a little confused; Cajeta Cream Cheese Brownie Tart. Cajeta? What in the world is that? I clicked on the link to find out.
The article explained that "cajeta is related to caramel but is a much closer cousin to dulce de leche. It’s luscious, sticky, and so sweet." It goes on to say that cajeta "is essentially goat’s milk that has been reduced to a very thick and viscous syrup that you can enjoy as a topping on your favorite desserts." The recipe included a link for purchasing cajeta on Amazon.
A general rule of thumb for me, when creating new recipes, is that I have to be able to find the ingredients at my local, small-town grocery store. So a fancy caramel sauce like cajeta wasn't going to cut it. But still quite smitten with the beautiful brownie tart, I decided to try it with my homemade Caramel Sauce.
The result was crazy delicious and just as pretty as the Epicurious dessert! I've also tried it with a good quality grocery store-bought caramel sauce and also with purchased Dulce de Leche. Both substitutions worked well and the tarts have brought rave reviews from everyone who's tried them.
In addition to cajeta, the Epicurious recipe calls for a special Mexican chocolate. I've found that regular semi-sweet baking chocolate works great for this Cream Cheese Brownie Tart.
Lastly, after testing the recipe a few times, I found that the directions were a little more complicated than necessary so I streamlined the direction for my adaptation.
If you're new to our website, you might not know that Ridiculously Easy is one of our trademarks here at The Cafe. Yep, we have an entire (BIG) collection of recipes with this moniker. Why? Because we love the idea of "looking like a kitchen rock star with minimal effort". That's the definition of Ridiculously Easy in a nutshell. You can read more about the specifics of these recipes in this post and check out the whole collection here.
This Cream Cheese Brownie Tart definitely fits into the RE category!
The easy swirls
How do you get those pretty swirls? That was my question when I saw a picture of the Epicurious tart. So easy! This is how it works:
- Make the easy, one-bowl brownie batter and pour almost all of it into the pan. Reserve about ¼ cup.
- Make the easy three-ingredient caramel/cream cheese mixture (again just one bowl and a whisk - no fancy equipment).
- Spread the caramel layer over the brownie base.
- Dollop the remaining brownie batter over the top.
- Use a small sharp knife or a skewer and have at it, swirling as you work your way around the batter. So fun and so rewarding!
Okay, it's your turn to make any resident mice at your house laugh. Make this easy Caramel Cream Cheese Brownie Tart and when the tantalizing aromas spread through the house, open the oven and take a peek. I'm pretty sure your mouse will be laughing when he (or she) hears and exclamation of, "WOW, WOW, WOW"!
One last thing, if you need to cook gluten-free, for yourself, family or friends, my nephew, Steve, developed a delicious version of this tart just for you. Check it out here and while you're on his site, be sure to do a bit of perusing! He's an expert on all things gluten-free... and so much more!
Cafe Tips for Making this Ridiculously Easy Caramel Cream Cheese Brownie Tart
- I've used both full-fat and reduced-fat cream cheese for this recipe with good success. I don't recommend no-fat cream cheese.
- The cream cheese needs to be very soft as this recipe doesn't require a mixer. You can let the cream cheese sit at room temperature to soften but if your kitchen is cool, it would be better to use the microwave. To soften, set the microwave to 10% power then cook for 1-2 minutes until the cream cheese is nice and soft in the microwave
- You'll need a 9 or 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom for this recipe. Tart pans are reasonably priced and can be used for lots of sweet and savory recipes.
- If you use a 10-inch tart pan the finished tart will be a little shorter in height.
- It's important to spray your tart pan with baking spray so it releases easily from the pan. Baking spray is different than regular non-stick cooking spray in that it is a combination of flour and shortening instead of oil.
- You'll also need to line the bottom of your pan with a circle of parchment paper, again to facilitate easy removal from the pan. I love these pre-cut circles of parchment. Being a little lazy, they save me time and extra effort.
- When swirling this Cream Cheese Brownie Tart before baking, don't go overboard. When you think it looks pretty, stop! It's easy to end up with a muddy-looking mess if you swirl too much.
- As mentioned above, use any good quality caramel sauce for this recipe. I like Smucker's Sea Salted Caramel Sauce, Coldstone and Trader Joe's makes an excellent caramel sauce. You can also make your own. Butterscotch sauce would also work well in this tart (you might need to change the name though).
- This recipe calls for "coffee or water". Coffee enhances the flavor of chocolate. If you use coffee, it will not have a coffee flavor but there is a slight intensity in the chocolate taste. Use whichever you prefer.
- This recipe calls for melting the butter and chocolate in the microwave. If you don't have a microwave, feel free to use a medium size pot on the stovetop. After the mixture is cooled down, you can make the rest of the brownie base, right in the pot!
Thought for the day:
Behold, a virgin shall be with child,
and shall bring forth a son,
and they shall call His name Emmanuel,
which being interpreted is,
God with us.
What we're listening to for inspiration:
If you enjoy this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It’s so helpful to other readers to hear your results, adaptations and ideas for variations.
- 2 ½ ounces semi sweet baking chocolate
- ¼ cup room temperature coffee or the same amount of water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup butter I use salted
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 large eggs
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- 8 ounces very soft cream cheese full-fat or reduced-fat (not no-fat)
- ½ cup caramel sauce homemade or storebought
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Spray a 9 or 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom with cooking spray, line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper then place the tart pan on a large baking sheet.
Place the coffee (or water), chocolate sugar and butter in a medium size microwave-safe bowl. Cook on high for 1 minute then stir well. Cook on high for another minute and stir. Continue cooking, checking every 30 seconds until the butter and chocolate are melt and the mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes.
After the 5 minutes, add the cocoa powder and stir to combine, then whisk in the eggs, vanilla extract, and salt.
Stir in the flour and set aside.
Whisk the softened cream cheese until it’s nice and smooth and lighter in texture, about 30 seconds. Add the caramel sauce and stir well to combine.
Add the egg and vanilla extract and stir until combined.
Pour the brownie batter into the prepared pan, reserving about ¼ cup. Spread the cream cheese caramel layer over the top, try to cover the sop as well as you can.
Dollop the reserved batter over the top of the cream cheese layer. Using a skewer or sharp knife, swirl the tart all around until the brownie and cream cheese are swirled and marbled together.
Bake in the preheated oven for 22 to 28 minutes, until slightly puffed and the tart is set and no longer jiggly.
Let the tart cool to room temperature,. Remove the tart from the pan before serving.
I like to serve this dessert with a dollop of whipped cream and sprig of mint. For a delicious splurge, you can also add a drizzle caramel sauce!
See Café Tips above in the post for more detailed instructions and tips to ensure success.
If you prefer to use Metric measurements there is a button in each of our recipes, right above the word “Instructions”. Just click that button to toggle to grams, milliliters, etc. If you ever come across one of our recipes that doesn’t have the Metric conversion (some of the older recipes may not), feel free to leave a comment and I will add it.
Recipe adapted from Epicurious