Makes 40 brownies
Active time: 45 minutes
Start to finish: 6¾ hours (includes chilling)
More than brownies, these are an elegant, richly layered little dessert. A chocolate and espresso base supports a sweetened cream cheese layer (spiced with the barest hint of cinnamon) and a chocolate glaze. Pure pleasure.
For brownie layer:
8 ounces good bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped
1½ sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder, dissolved in 1½ tablespoons boiling water
1½ cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (3 ½ ounces) walnuts, chopped
For cream cheese layer:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
¾ stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1½ cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 ounces good bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), finely chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup heavy cream
1½ tablespoons instant espresso powder, dissolved in 1 tablespoon boiling water
Make the brownie layer: Put a rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 13-by-9-inch baking pan, knocking off excess flour.
Melt chocolate with butter and espresso mixture in a medium metal bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove bowl from heat and cool for 10 minutes.
Whisk sugar and vanilla into chocolate mixture, then add eggs one at a time, whisking until batter is smooth. Stir in flour and salt until just combined, then stir in walnuts.
Spread batter evenly in baking pan. Bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center comes out with some crumbs adhering, 22 to 27 minutes. Cool completely in pan on a rack, at least 2 hours.
Make the cream cheese layer: Beat together cream cheese and butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Sift in confectioners' sugar, then add vanilla and cinnamon and beat until mixture is well combined.
Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over cooled brownie layer. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
Make the glaze: Combine all ingredients in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water and heat, stirring, until chocolate and butter are melted and glaze is smooth. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.
Pour glaze over cream cheese layer, then spread evenly. Refrigerate brownies, covered, until cold, about 3 hours. Cut into 40 bars and remove from pan while still cold. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
The brownies keep in one layer in an airtight container, refrigerated, for up to 5 days.