Red Velvet Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies

Wild thing, you make my heart sing!

Wild thing, you make my heart sing!

Red velvet cake is sublime; tangy, mild, hinting of cocoa and boasting exceptional moistness. The cream cheese icing that is traditionally paired with it – and for good reason! – elevates this excellent cake into a thing of beauty. Translating this amazing dessert into brownie format was something I’d never considered! I crossed paths with a photograph of some delectable red velvet brownies with cream cheese baked right into the top, and vowed then and there to make these. My word, but I imagined they’d be fabulous!

Yummily-yum in my tummily-tum.

Flowery phrases couldn’t capture the panache of these brownies.

After scouring recipes, I wound up making my first batch the day after first discovering this wonderful new concept. As with so many recipes, there was a process in deciding which recipe to use. Ultimately, I chose one that incorporated melted chocolate into the batter, because I’d never tried any red velvet recipe that did that instead of using cocoa powder. This recipe lacked the things that give red velvet its signature flavor, however. Going by my favourite Cakeman Raven red velvet cake recipe, I added vinegar and buttermilk, halved the number of eggs, and doubled the amount of food colouring and vanilla. I also increased the amount of sugar in the cream cheese portion, reasoning that cream cheese icing always has a surprising amount of sugar in it and yet is quite stellar.

Le sigh. I like red, don't you?

Le sigh. I like red, don’t you?

I’m so glad I made the changes I made, because these brownies would otherwise have tasted nothing like red velvet! They would simply have been red-tinted chocolate cream cheese brownies, which would have been great, but not what I was going for. The brownies after I got done tinkering with them were more chocolate-y than the traditional red velvet flavor, but the red velvet magic really came through. You just can’t get the mellow tang of this flavor without using buttermilk and vinegar. They tasted even more strongly of red velvet after a day, and these ultimately became red velvet brownies with a slightly stronger chocolate flavor than you’d expect. They are excellent. The cream cheese topping is succulent, tangy, sweet, and oh-so-creamy. The red colour isn’t as ruby-bright as Cakeman Raven’s cake, but that’s the only complaint I have with these! Oh, and that they are insanely addictive. I would grab one with the intention of eating only that one, and eat three or four. They are so moist and tender! The smooth cream cheese topping, which manages to be both dense and light simultaneously, is the perfect choice to counter that insanely moist brownie.

Moist and loveable. That's what I'm going with.

You make everything groovy!

I think these would actually make an excellent accompaniment for coffee. They made their debut during an afternoon tea, which suited them down to the ground. 🙂

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Red Velvet Cream Cheese Brownies

Yield: 9 – 16 brownies (depending on cut size)

Ingredients:

For the brownies:
1 stick unsalted butter
2 – 3 oz. chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 TBS red food colouring
1 tsp. white distilled vinegar
1/4 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt

For the cream cheese topping:
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature*
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Method:

For the brownies:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8″ pan with aluminum foil, allowing the edges of the foil to overhang the pan. Spray foil with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat chocolate and butter on medium-low heat until fully melted and incorporated, stirring occasionally to ensure the chocolate doesn’t scorch. Meanwhile, stir together the flour and salt in a small bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, egg, vanilla, food colouring, vinegar, and buttermilk. When the chocolate mixture has melted fully, whisk into the sugar mixture until completely blended. Stir in flour mixture until just blended; do not stir overmuch, or the brownies will be tougher than you’d like.

For the cream cheese topping:
Immediately after placing the brownie batter into the prepared pan, make the cream cheese topping. In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar, egg, and vanilla until completely blended and smooth. Dollop large spoonfuls of this mixture atop the red velvet batter and use a sharp knife to swirl the cream cheese into the brownie batter.

Bake 35 – 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack. Lift the aluminum foil out of the pan and cut the brownies into 9 or 16 squares. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

*If the cream cheese is not at room temperature, the cream cheese topping will be lumpy and will brown more than you want it to. I speak from experience.

Sources: Heavily adapted from Offally Tasty, drawing from Cakeman Raven‘s red velvet cake recipe

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One thought on “Red Velvet Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies

  1. Pingback: Red Velvet Cheesecake with Cream Cheese Icing | KitchEnchanted

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