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[Photographs: Erin Jackson]

Just in time for Valentine's Day, when chocolate consumption might as well be federally mandated, Starbucks released a new cheesecake brownie ($2.25). The two layer treat has a fudge brownie base, topped with a thick layer of cheesecake and a swirl of chocolate ganache.

For the most part, I find Starbucks' policy of posting calorie counts on their desserts counter-intuitive. Knowing the exact caloric damage is almost always enough to dissuade me from purchasing something sweet (compounded by the fact that I've never had anything truly great from the pastry case), but the cream cheese brownie was an exception. It looked so good, I didn't even glance at the calorie count, or the price, before purchasing it.

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Cream cheese brownies are a serious personal weakness, and this one met all of my expectations. The brownie is moist, fudgy, and rich, with crunchy little pieces of chocolate chips scattered throughout. The cream cheese layer is a tasty complement; it's a bit tangy, and applied thickly enough that the texture really comes through. Unlike brownies where the cream cheese is swirled throughout the batter, this version tastes like two desserts stacked on top of each other. They're distinct, but totally in harmony.

One tip: you might want to specify exactly which brownie you want. Not all are created equal. On my visit, there were two in the display case, and on the other, the ganache was applied much more sparingly.

I'd order the cream cheese brownie again without any hesitation. It's well worth the price, and at 300 calories, the impact isn't too severe, especially compared to the double chocolate brownie, which has over 100 additional calories.

About the author: Erin Jackson is a food writer and photographer who is obsessed with discovering the best eats in San Diego. You can find all of her discoveries on her San Diego food blog EJeats.com. On Twitter, she's @ErinJax

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