If you have ever hungered for chocolate cottage cheese, then today’s recipe is for you!

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These are Marbled Cocoa Squares!

Marbled Cocoa Squares
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • Cheese Mixture:
  • 1 cup small curd cottage cheese
  • 1 egg, well beaten
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips (optional)
  • Cake:
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup cocoa
  • ¼ cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
Instructions
  1. Cheese Mixture:
  2. Blend cottage cheese with remaining ingredients, set aside.
  3. Cake:
  4. Into small mixing bowl sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar and cocoa.
  5. Combine butter, eggs, milk and vanilla; add to dry ingredients. Beat 2-3 minutes.
  6. Pour half of batter into buttered 8-inch square pan; spread evenly.
  7. Top with Cheese Mixture, then remaining cake batter in dollops. Draw knife or spoon through layers to give a marbled effect.
  8. Bake 30-40 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Test multiple areas to check for done-ness, as cheese mixture may make some areas take longer to bake.
  9. Cut into squares and serve warm or cold.

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All joking aside, this is actually a pretty fascinating recipe. I first encountered it in this booklet from the American Dairy Association Test Kitchen, Creative Cooking With Cottage Cheese, which was published some time during the 1950’s.

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There isn’t an exact date given, but the illustrations inside are definitely from the 50s.

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Cottage cheese all mixed up!

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I mixed the batter by hand, with some help from Alex.

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In case you didn’t get a good enough look at the photo of the “squares”in the American Dairy Associate booklet, they are also featured on the back.

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When I first saw the picture and realized those little white bits were cottage cheese, I laughed out loud. I thought it would be a great recipe to try for the blog, and thought it would probably be on the gross side. Imagine my surprise on baking day when I actually took a closer look at the recipe and realized that the cottage cheese isn’t supposed to be stirred into the batter at all like the staged photo represents, but ribboned in like cream cheese brownies.

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In an interesting culinary history side note, cream cheese brownies are credited to the General Foods Test Kitchen and were developed to sell Baker’s German Sweet Chocolate. I found a few different dates for the first publication of a cream cheese brownie recipe from the General Test Kitchen, the earliest being in 1962. And while I was digging through my archives, I also found this:

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This is a recipe card sent out as part of a promotional pack from the American Dairy Association, and it includes a picture of the very same “squares” from the cottage cheese booklet. But here they are used to illustrate, completely inaccurately, a slightly tweaked and renamed recipe “Marbled Brownies”. These cards are also undated, but I am guessing 1958. But I might be wrong. So I wonder, were these the precursor to Baker’s Cream Cheese Brownies? Or were these cards released later and did the Dairy Association change their Marbled Cocoa Squares to reflect the suddenly popular Cream Cheese Brownies?

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Thrilling culinary history questions, right?

Eh. Maybe.

Or maybe we should just see if these ended up being any good.

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They were very moist, and a lot better looking than the photos from the booklet!

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“So, how is it?”

“Wait. Wait. Isn’t there cottage cheese in these?”

“Yep.”

“Then why are they so good?”

The Verdict: Surprisingly Good

From The Tasting Notes –

Or maybe it isn’t such a surprise, considering the deliciousness of cream cheese brownies. Though these weren’t brownies by any means, more of a moist chocolate cake, we still thought they were better than they looked in the original picture.  I thought the cottage cheese taste would be overwhelming, but there was only one time when I stumbled over a curd of cottage cheese that threw me off a bit. This would be completely eliminated if you used the brownie version of this recipe above, as the cottage cheese is pressed through a sieve to smooth it out. Overall, this is a good moist cake that is not very sweet and a bit light on chocolate flavor. These are really good. The cottage cheese ribbon adds a good creamy sweetness and keeps the cake moist.  If you would mix mini chocolate chips into the cottage cheese layer or frost the finished squares with a chocolate frosting, they would be excellent.

Sources:

Creative Cooking With Cottage Cheese, American Dairy Association, 1950-1960

Dairy Dishes Cards, American Dairy Association, 1958?

American Century Cookbook by Jean Anderson

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