I remember as a kid, my folks sent my brother and I away to camp during our long summer breaks. I don’t remember how old I was, but I think I was roughly 11 when I first started at this incredible North Tahoe region summer camp. As the years moved on, my time there would increase with each summer. My 17th summer was entirely spent there; most of it as a volunteer teen counselor. I spent most of my time in the kitchen carving watermelons and making M&M infused granola for the campers.
Up until this point, I’d been working weekends at a fancy European Chateau, near Yosemite. It was all fancy food and spaetzle. This was the first time I’d seen a production kitchen for hundreds of children, daily. A wildly different gig, to be sure! LOTS of pasta, huge sheets of pizza, frozen burritos, massive cans of condensed soup, frozen nuggets of pressed chicken shaped like chicken, and on the list went.
One of the main staples in feeding armies of children and cantankerous teens came down to bar cookies. This is where I learned to make my first lemon curd, to layer over a salted butter crust for hundreds of lemon bars. Brownies were common, as were Blondies. We’d also take Chocolate Chip Cookie dough, grease a tray and press the dough into the tray, making massive stacked hills of Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars. Finally, a favorite, and one I’ve never forgotten …
… Bayou Brownies!
A Bayou Brownie, near as I can tell, is essentially a Pecan Blondie, topped with Cheesecake, then baked! The end result is a sweet nutty combination between a salty, nutty cake and the dense sweet cream cheese of the cheesecake topping. Separate, these parts are quite lovely. Together? Pheeee-nominal!
Chewy Note: I included an optional super wonky/random ingredient that is completely and toooote-ally optional! You’ll notice there’s a 1/2 cup (120 mL) of polydextrose in the brownie layer. I personally view a brownie as a treat with a modicum of gooeyness to it. Without a goo-factor, it’s just a cake. However, without sugar or grains, “gooeyness” is very difficult to accomplish. The white chia seed does a decent job at boosting and holding moisture, but it doesn’t much hold a candle to the PolyD!
Polydextrose is a slightly sweet powder that is treated largely like fiber in the body. It adds moisture, mimicking fat, and boosts texture in baked goods. It is particularly good at lending a gooeyness, without much impact on blood sugars. It’s also good in jams and ice cream. It’s a great ingredient to know about, but … beware … too much of it can cause a confounding and uncomfortable case of the toots. TOOT TOOT!
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time4 hrs
- 8 oz. package cream cheese room temperature
- 1/2 cup powdered sweetener
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 tsp salt
Note: It’s best to use warm temperature ingredients for the cheesecake layer. If you haven’t already, set the cheesecake layer ingredients somewhere warm (like above the preheating oven).
Preheat oven to 325°F (163°C).
Grease a 13”x9” (33c x 23baking pan and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine chopped pecans, sweetener, optional polydextrose, ground chia, almond flour, coconut flour, protein powder, baking powder and salt. Whisk to combine.
To the mixing bowl, add the eggs, almond milk and vanilla. Whisk to start combining. While whisking, pour in the melted butter. Combine the ingredients, then quickly pour into the greased baking pan. The chia seeds will start to absorb moisture and thicken the batter, so the quicker you are, the better. The batter is best thickening in the pan.
In a clean large mixing bowl (an electric mixer is best for this), add the room temperature cream cheese, powdered sweetener, sour cream, eggs, vanilla and salt. Whip the ingredients until smooth. If there are any lumps, you can always push the cheesecake batter through a strainer.
Gently spoon the cheesecake batter over the top of the brownie layer. With a plastic spatula evenly smooth and spread the cheesecake over the top.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the cheese mixture has a mild tan and has solidified. Once they’re done, leave the pan in the oven, but turn the oven off and allow them to cool slowly. Go check out DJ Foodie’s Facebook page for a while, then get lost in his recipes.
A few hours later, return to the oven, remove the tray, slice and share with friends!