Notes from the Test Kitchen:
Loved the crunchy bottom crust of the brownies. I chose to go for spring colors - wouldn't that look great on your Easter table? The color combinations are endless - Christmas, Halloween, the big game with team colors... just imagine!
I did wrap the spring form pan in aluminum foil. I would recommend you do this too ... even two layers of aluminum foil.
One Bowl Brownies (crust/ bottom layer)
Pre-heat oven to 350F.
Grease springform pan.
Microwave (or double boil) chocolate and butter in large bowl for 2 minutes or until butter is melted.
Remove from heat. Stir chocolate and butter until chocolate is melted (off heat).
Stir sugar into the chocolate mix, until well blended.
Mix in eggs and vanilla.
Stir in flour until well blended.
Pour into pan and bake 30- 35 minutes.
Let brownie crust cool in pan.
NOTE: If you want a thinner layer of brownie crust, you may want to pour only half into the spring form pan and decrease the time until it is chewy- do not over cook! Left-over mix can be used to make a small batch of brownies, or divide the mix to make two brownie cheesecakes, using smaller springform pans.
Change the oven temp to 325F.
Beat the cream cheese on medium speed with a hand-held mixer until smooth. Add 1 1/4 cups sugar and beat just until light and fluffy, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.
Slowly beat in 3/4 cup sour cream, then eggs, 1 tablespoon vanilla and lemon zest (optional).
Do not over whip.
Divide your cheesecake filling into your desired coloring amounts (I divided mine into 3- one I left alone, one I colored pink, and one I colored purple). Color your filling with gels.
Spoon colored filling onto brownie crust. There is no rhyme or reason. Just build up the filling in almost a layer approach (spoon out a blob of one color onto another color). This creates a varied, and artistic look.
Bring a medium saucepan or kettle of water to a boil. Gently place a roasting pan (for water "bath") in the oven (don't pull the rack out of the oven). Pour in enough hot water to come about halfway up the side of the springform pan. (You may want to put foil on the outside of your springform pan before you pour the cheesecake filling into it).
Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 10 minutes---the outside of the cake will set but the center will still be loose (you may have to adjust the temp depending on your altitude or oven).
Remove cheesecake from the roasting pan to a rack. Run a knife around the edges and cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
Bring cheesecake to room temperature 30 minutes before serving.
Remove the springform ring. Dip a knife in warm water, wipe dry before slicing each piece.