These peanut butter cheesecake brownies are made with a pretzel crust. It’s the perfect sweet and salty treat anytime.
Ever crave something indulgent but can’t decide on salty or sweet? Then you need this recipe! This is the best of both worlds with the classic flavors of chocolate, peanut butter and pretzel.
Peanut butter and chocolate is one of my favorite combinations. I love my peanut butter stuffed chocolate cookies and peanut butter swirl brownies. And now I’ve thrown cheesecake and pretzels into the mix to excite those tastebuds!
I know you might be thinking that making two different batters and a crust doesn’t sound as simple as just making plain brownies. Trust me though, it’s not so bad and the extra effort is worth it.
You can always substitute a boxed brownie mix for the brownie batter if you want to save some time.
Ingredients for Pretzel Crust Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownies:
Common dry ingredients: All purpose flour, baking powder, salt.
Pretzels: It doesn’t really matter what shape you buy because you will have to crush them. It’s best to pulse them in a food processor so they are evenly crushed. Just be careful not to crush it into a fine powder or leave too many large chunks.
Unsalted Butter: Always use unsalted butter so you can control the amount of salt. You will need butter for both the crust and the brownie batter.
Granulated sugar: You will need this for the crust, brownie batter and cheesecake batter. You can use brown sugar in the crust instead if you would like a deeper caramel flavor.
Cocoa powder: I always use Dutch processed cocoa powder in my brownies because it reacts better with the baking powder. If you can’t find it, it’s ok, just use a good quality brand.
Eggs: You will need eggs for both the brownie batter and the cheesecake batter for structure and moisture. Be sure to use room temperature eggs.
Cream Cheese: Use full fat cream cheese that is completely at room temperature. Cold cream cheese is difficult to mix and will leave lumps.
Peanut Butter: I use processed peanut butter in all my baking not the natural type.
How to Make These Brownies:
It’s always easier to prep and measure out all your ingredients before you make anything but especially when you have multiple components. Be sure to keep your crust and both batter ingredients separate from each other.
Prepare the pan and crust layer first. Mix the crust ingredients well, they should hold together well when you press the mixture in your palm. Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan and pre-bake it for 10 minutes.
While the crust is cooling, mix up the brownie batter as instructed in the recipe card below. As suggested earlier, you can always use a box mix for this layer and follow those instructions.
Set the brownie batter aside and mix the cheesecake batter ingredients according to the instructions below. Mix only until the batter is smooth.
Top the brownie batter with the peanut butter cheesecake batter and smooth it out. Drop the remaining brownie batter randomly by the spoonful all over the pan.
To create a swirl effect, first spread only ¾ of the brownie batter over the cooled pretzel crust. It helps to use an offset spatula to make it even and get into the corners and edges.
Using a butter knife, run through the brownie batter drops in one continuous motion then switch to the perpendicular direction and repeat.
Bake the brownies for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer poked in the middle comes out clean. Let it cool completely in the pan before removing and cutting.
For the best results, chill the entire cooled pan in the refrigerator overnight. This will make it easier to remove the entire slab at once and cut neat squares.
For more details and tips on how to cut brownies see my post on How to Cut Perfect Brownies
How to Store Cheesecake Brownies:
Cheesecake brownies should be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days. I recommend removing them 20 minutes before eating because they taste better at room temperature.
They can also be frozen for up to 1 month. Layer the cut brownies between parchment paper in an airtight container. Allow them to thaw to room temperature before serving.
For the Pretzel crust:
- 2 ½ cups crushed pretzels
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, melted
- ⅓ cup sugar
For the brownie batter:
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup all purpose flour
Peanut Butter Cheesecake Batter:
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- ½ cup creamy peanut butter
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 egg
For the Pretzel Crust:
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Prepare a 9x13 inch pan by greasing the bottom and sides with butter. Line the bottom with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on the two longer sides. Grease the parchment.
- Combine the crushed pretzels (see note), sugar and melted butter in a medium sized bowl and mix well.
- Press the crust mixture into the bottom of the pan. Be sure to go all the way to edges and into the corners and that the crust is evenly spread.
- Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it cool.
For the Brownie Batter
- Heat the butter in a large saucepan over low flame. Once the butter has melted, add the sugar, increase the heat to low-medium and stir 1-2 minutes. Do not boil.
- Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and vanilla. Transfer it to a large bowl to cool faster. Let it cool for 5 minutes.
- Whisk in the eggs, and then flour. Mix until smooth. Set aside.
For the Peanut Butter Cheesecake Batter
- Using a paddle attachment on an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until it is smooth and free of lumps.
- Mix in the peanut butter, sugar and egg until well incorporated.
Prepare the Brownies:
- Spoon ¾ of the brownie batter over the pretzel crust and spread evenly.
- Top the brownie batter with the peanut butter batter and spread.
- Drop the remaining brownie batter on top of the cheesecake in random spots a spoonful at a time.
- To create swirls: Drag a skewer or butter knife through each brownie drop in one constant motion up and down the pan. Repeat, by dragging the skewer through each drop again in the perpendicular direction.
- Bake the brownies for 35-45 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center.
- Let it cool. Run a knife around the edges. Cool completely. (It’s best if let it chill overnight before cutting.)
I use two metal binder clips to hold the parchment paper overhangs to the side of the pan and keep them from touching the batter while baking.
To crush pretzels, it’s best to pulse them in a food processor. Be careful not to over crush and create pretzel dust. The amount needed to get 2 ½ cups crushed will depend on the shape of pretzels you use.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 24 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 346Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 84mgSodium: 245mgCarbohydrates: 36gFiber: 1gSugar: 24gProtein: 5g
This nutrition information is only an approximate provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. Information comes from Nutritionix, an automated nutrition calculator.