Whew! Thank goodness today’s food holiday celebrates a dessert. It’s been two whole days! (Even though we ate our molasses bars for breakfast). Today is National Cream Cheese Brownie Day.
Brownies are delicious. Cream cheese is great. Combining the two verges on genius, if you ask me!
I already discussed the history of brownies back on January 22nd, when we celebrated National Blonde Brownie Day. Chicago World’s Fair, Bertha Palmer, yadda yadda. No need to rehash the past. I guess that means I’ll have to focus on cream cheese instead! Early versions of cream cheese date back to the 16th century, but the American version was another of those happy accidents. In 1872, New York dairy farmer William Lawrence was attempting to make a batch of Neufchatel, a type of soft white cheese popular in France, but screwed up the recipe. His cheese was richer and contained cream, so he capitalized on his mistake and called it “cream cheese.” As if that were his intention all along. Typical entrepreneur! He ended up purchasing a Neufchâtel cheese factory and mass-producing cream cheese with his business partner, Samuel Durland. In 1880 a cheese distributor named Alvah Reynolds began selling Lawrence & Durland cheese, and he created a new brand name for it: Philadelphia Cream Cheese, based on that city’s reputation for making really good
movies about down-on-their-luck boxers named Rocky cream cheese. Eventually Philadelphia merged with Kraft, and to this day those silver rectangular boxes are considered to be the gold standard of cream cheeses. Neufchâtel, by the way, is still manufactured, usually as a reduced-fat version of cream cheese, since it contains 33% less fat and a higher moisture content. Tara, in fact, is quite fond of Neufchâtel. The first time she bought it, I asked her where the “real” cream cheese was. I’ve since learned not to question her in matters of cheese. Cream cheese brownies consist of regular chocolate brownies with cream cheese swirled in to the mix.
Before I get to our brownies, I wanted to mention that once again we had a surprise visitor to the blog. Or a pair of visitors, actually: Alfredo and Ilse Di Lileo, the grandchildren of Alfredo Di Lileo, the inventor of Fettuccine Alfredo. I told his story here, and his grandkids happened upon the article and dropped by to say hi. They gave me a little information on what happened to their grandfather after his pasta dish achieved acclaim, and offered a slight correction, letting me know the current name of the restaurant in Rome is Il Vero Alfredo. We were honored and humbled that they would stop by and take the time to write us. This blog continues to surprise us in unintended ways!
So, the cream cheese brownies. What can I say? What else is there to say?? They were, of course, fantastic!