Happy Endings

August is a great month for entertaining. The weather is warm and people are in the mood to celebrate summer before it's gone. This month's recipe is meant for celebrating. Golden River Brownies, named for the swirls of golden caramel meandering over the top, are great when served chilled on a summer evening. You can have them warm too, but the chilled chocolate, peanut butter, and cheesy filling take on an almost ice cream-like quality when chilled. Take advantage of it!

If you've got someone to help you, have them start the caramels melting while you prepare the brownie base and cheesy filling. Melting the caramel takes a lot of time, but don't give in to the temptation to turn up the heat because the slow melting insures that the caramels don't burn or take on a funny taste. Melting them over low heat imparts a smooth creamy texture to the melted caramel.

While this isn't a diet dessert, using some low fat ingredients helps keep it from making it a diet disaster. You can enjoy a piece with some iced coffee and leave any guilt by the door. If it's a cool evening, finish your evening with a brisk walk through the woods. Now that's a bit of heaven!

Golden River Brownies

  • 1 pkg. brownie mix
  • 1/2 c. margarine, softened
  • 1/3 c. creamy peanut butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 pkgs. reduced fat Neufchatel cheese
  • 1/3 c. creamy peanut butter
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 3 T. flour
  • 1/3 c. nonfat sour cream
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 12 unwrapped caramels
  • 3 T. heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease the bottom of a 9x13" baking pan.

In a large bowl, combine brownie mix, margarine, 1/3 c. peanut butter, and egg. Mix with electric mixer until soft dough forms. Using a clean spatula, press the dough into the bottom of the baking pan. Clean the mixing bowl, spatula, and electric beaters.

Using the mixing bowl again, combine Neufchatel cheese and remaining peanut butter. Beat until smooth. Add sugar, flour, sour cream, and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until well blended. Using the spatula, spread the cheese mixture over the brownie base.

Place the caramels and whipping cream in a small saucepan over low heat. Mix constantly until caramels are melted and blended. Spoon caramel over the top of the cheese filling and pull knife through batter in wide curves to swirl.

Bake at 325 degrees for 35 minutes or until the center is firm and the edges are light golden brown. Cool for at least 30 minutes. If desired, refrigerate for an hour before serving for a summer treat.

  • Yields: 9x13" pan
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes