Difficult: No way.
Timely? About 30 passive and 20 or 30 active
The Buckeyes whooped up on Wisconsin last week. And more importantly, Michigan this week (leading the Bucks to a 12-0 season!). But last week our friends had a house warming slash Buckeye football party and of course I had to find something fabulous to bring. When I asked my husband what he wanted, he came up with "brownies with amaretto." His requests never fail to exasperate me (previous requests have included soft gingersnaps, soft thin mints, and Mississippi mud brownies like he likes but can't describe). Fortunately, amaretto brownies were an easy request. Some quick googling led me to my recipe of choice.
This is a 3 layer dessert. Decadent doesn't even begin to describe how rich, fudgy, and tasty these turned out. The brownie layer is made from a box mix (*gasp*), and I just grabbed a fudgy generic box from Aldi's. The middle layer is like cheesecake and adds so much flavor and dimension to the dessert - I suppose you could leave this out if you wanted, but really, who doesn't like cheesecake? And I topped mine with ganache, although the original recipe called for just straight up melting chocolate over top and smoothing it around (last time I tried that I was not too successful).
A word about ganache: Ganache calls for heavy cream for a reason. The milk fat in heavy cream helps the ganache set properly. Using skim or 2% milk doesn't have enough fat and is not an adequate substitute. Maybe you could use half-and-half? I don't really know. But I do know that if you don't have heavy cream on hand when you decide to make ganache on a whim, you can make your milk fatter by adding butter. To end up with 1 cup of "heavy cream," melt 1/3 cup of butter into 3/4 cup of milk. I did this and I didn't love how my ganache turned out but I had no complaints from the people eating the brownies....so do what you gotta do :)
For the brownies:
1 package chewy fudge brownie mix (around 19 ounces)
2 eggs, plus 1 yolk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup Amaretto or other almond-flavored liqueur
For the cheesecake:
8 ounces cream cheese or neufchatel cheese, room temperature
3 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon Amaretto or other almond-flavored liqueur
For the ganache: (Bakerella's recipe)
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1. Make ganache - place chocolate chips in a medium bowl and set aside. Put heavy cream and butter in a small saucepan and stir over low heat until the butter melts. Just when it starts to bubble and boil, remove from heat, pour over chocolate chips, let sit for a minute, then stir to combine. Set aside.
(Note: I like to make the ganache first so that it has a chance to cool and thicken before I pour it, but you can make it last if you worry that it will set up and harden too much in the down time)
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 13x9" baking pan with foil, spray with cooking spray, and set aside. (You don't have to line with foil, but I like to so that I can lift the bars out of the pan to cut, and I don't have to wash the pan!)
3. In a small bowl, lightly beat the two eggs and extra egg yolk. (*Note: my brownie box directions called for 2/3 cup oil, I only used 1/2 cup and decided to add the extra egg yolk)
4. In a large bowl, mix eggs, oil, amaretto, and brownie mix until just combined (over mixing will result in cakey brownies - that's why you beat the eggs before adding to dry ingredients). Pour into prepared baking pan
(Note: you are basically just making a box of brownies, replacing the water in the recipe with Amaretto - I made some adjustments with the eggs/oil for a better brownie texture)
5. Using a hand mixer, cream the cream cheese in a medium bowl, add butter and continue to cream. Add sugar, eggs, flour, and amaretto - mix until smooth and combined (there may be very small lumps of cream cheese, but that's ok).
6. Pour the cream cheese mixture over the brownie batter. Smooth the cream cheese layer evenly making sure it spreads to the edges and corners.
7. Bake for 30-35 minutes (a toothpick inserted 2 inches from the edge of the pan will come out clean).
8. Pour ganache over the cheesecake/brownies and let everything cool to room temperature and set. I stuck mine in the fridge to speed up the process.
9. Remove from pan by lifting any foil overhang, transfer to cutting board, and slice into desired sizes. I cut 9 rows by 4 rows for 36 bars, but then cut each bar in half because they were so rich. Store in the refrigerator.
This recipe was adapted from Viking.