Thursday, March 11, 2010

Cream Cheese Brownies

Guess what? I finally got the fancy schmancy camera of my dreams. I can now take amazing photos of my culinary creations that will make you want to lick your computer screen. Well, that is until I first learn how to use the camera. I've read the manual, watched the accompanying DVD, and browsed through countless Web sites about photography. I think it's going to take me a bit longer than I expected before I start producing photos I'm satisfied with.

So, I wanted to bake something and try out the camera. We invited some friends over for dessert, and I had my opportunity. I decided to make Cream Cheese Brownies, a new family favorite. 

After the brownies cooled, I cut them, and put some on a plate. I took a bunch of photos and downloaded them onto the computer. I was not very happy with the results. Each photo had something wrong. Some had bad lighting, some were blurry, and some were at an odd angle. 

As I murmured to myself  at the computer, Liam came and looked over my shoulder and said, "Dad, I like your photos. The food looks real." 

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"Well in magazines and cook books. The food is perfect and you know they use weird ways to make it look that way."

My twelve year-old son who has an unnatural gift of remembering odd facts then spouted off a list of the tricks of the trade, most of which were certainly new to me.

Did you know that...
  1. Blowtorches and brown shoe polish are used to brown meat and create grill marks.
  2. Cotton balls soaked in water and then heated in a microwave are used to create steam coming from food.
  3. Lipstick is used to make strawberries look perfectly ripe.
  4. There's a good chance the ice cream is actually mashed potatoes, and the chocolate syrup on top might be motor oil.
  5. White glue is used instead of milk for cereal.
Well, I'll be! Liam certainly has a knack for knowing how to lift those around him, and I certainly felt better about my photos. So, here it is. I promise you each and every out of focus crumb is real, and tastes yummy!

I feel a Snarf-fest coming on!

Cream Cheese Brownies



  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • ⅔ cups unsweetened cocoa
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt


  • 1 block cream cheese (8-oz.)
  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (14-oz.)
  • 1 egg
Preheat oven to 350˚. Grease the bottom only of a 9"x13" pan. In a mixer, beat butter until fluffy. Add sugar and vanilla; beat until well blended. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add cocoa and milk, beat well. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Add flour mixture to cocoa mixture; beat on low just until blended. Pour batter into pan.

For topping, place cream cheese in a large bowl, and beat on medium until smooth. Add cornstarch, vanilla, sweetened condensed milk and egg. Beat until smooth. Spread evenly over batter.

Bake for 35 minutes or until set. Cool in pan on a wire rack.


  1. Those look good!

    My sister used to work as a food preparer for a photographer and she used to stick lit cigarettes into the food to make it look like steam was coming off of it.

  2. Lois--Thanks. Lit cigarettes? Eww. I think the cotton balls would smell better.


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