Decadent red velvet brownies swirled with cheesecake.
Today was the first time I’ve ever made a red velvet dessert before. Actually, my first time was on Friday. I’ve made these brownies twice in the past 3 days.
Yes, they’re that good.
Truth be told, the first time I’ve ever really loved a red velvet a dessert was last year at my friend’s wedding. Before then, I’ve never really been too impressed. It’s hard to do red velvet just right and it just never really appealed to me before. Red velvet can be an unappetizing brownish red color, too scary looking with a creepy red color, or just taste sort of bland. I’d rather eat my calories in the form of funfetti!
But at my friend’s wedding last year, I was converted. I was stuffed to the brim with chocolate chip cannolis, king crab legs, and multiple visits to a sushi bar (!!!), that I hardly had any room for a piece of red velvet wedding cake. But I knew I’d regret not tasting it.
Bite after bite, I fell in love. Deep red cake that wasn’t quite chocolate and not quite vanilla, with each crumb enveloped with a thick layer of sweet and tangy cream cheese frosting… it was pure heaven.
After months and months deciding what kind of homemade red velvet recipe would be my first, I finally settled on a swirly brownie recipe. I found the recipe on the Food Network. Since I’ve never made a red velvet dessert before, it would have been nearly impossible to develop one myself.
For those unfamiliar with red velvet, let me take you through a quick briefing about what this gorgeous little dessert flavor is like. Traditional red velvet desserts aren’t vanilla flavored or chocolate flavored. They are a combination of the two with a slightly tart tang from the buttermilk used in most recipes. Red velvet cake is sort of like a dense buttery vanilla cake with a mild chocolate flavor. And when it’s done right, it’s darn good.
Today’s brownies are basically a fudgy chocolate brownie with lots of buttery vanilla flavors; I wasn’t up for making a lavish red velvet cake just yet. The brownie batter is red, dyed with red food coloring and a touch of white vinegar to make the red stand out against all the cocoa powder. They are beautifully swirled with sweet cream cheese and are quite dense like a typical brownie.
Chocolate, vanilla, and cream cheese swirls… no wonder I’ve made these twice in 3 days!
These brownies are so easy to make and are the perfect recipe for red velvet beginners. First, melt 1 stick of butter in the microwave. Combine it with white sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, a pinch of salt, red food coloring, white vinegar, and 2 eggs. Stir everything together by hand.
You will use 1 full Tablespoon of red food coloring in these brownies. The butter and cocoa powder mixed together are quite a dark brown, so it’s imperative to use quite a bit of liquid or gel food coloring to dye the batter the right shade of red. White vinegar is used to enhance the red color against all the brown. You’ll smell the vinegar as you add it, but you will not taste it at all. In fact, I even lowered the amount called for in the recipe just to be sure.
I am not a fan of brownish red velvet desserts (so unappetizing!), so I was pleased to see just how vibrant red the batter was in this step. *Be sure to wash your dishes immediately after mixing the batter together to avoid staining.
Mix in 3/4 cup of flour into the brownie batter. Remember, the more flour used in a brownie recipe, the more cake-like the brownie texture will be. I like to use as little flour as possible because I like my brownies quite dense and fudgy. If I want a cake-like brownie, I will just eat a piece of chocolate cake! Lots of melted butter, 2 eggs, and very little flour is a recipe for a successful fudgy brownie.
Next up is the cream cheese swirl. Isn’t it just gorgeous against the red brownie? Red velvet and cream cheese go hand in hand. Typical red velvet cakes are frosted with tangy, sweet cream cheese frosting. We’re recreating the same idea with these brownies.
The cream cheese swirl is SO simple to make. Whip out your hand-held electric mixer and beat one 8-oz package of softened cream cheese with 1/4 cup sugar, 1 egg yolk, and vanilla extract. Beat everything together until completely smooth.
Pour almost all of the red velvet batter into the baking pan, leaving a few Tablespoons behind. Dollop with the cream cheese mixture, then scoop the last couple of Tablespoons of brownie batter on top. Note: I topped the cream cheese mounds with more red velvet brownie batter because I was afraid so much cream cheese on top would brown in the oven. The picture below is before I covered with more red velvet batter FYI!
Swirl it all together with a knife. Now wasn’t that easy?
Bake time! The brownies take about 30 minutes in the oven at 350F.
The hardest part about today’s recipe? Waiting for the brownies to cool before digging in! Smelling them as they bake and then waiting to eat one is pure torture, I tell ya.
The whole recipe is so easy to throw together, taking about 10 minutes for the entire process before putting them into the oven. I was actually shocked how little time they took to make and wondered if I did something wrong. No worries, they are supposed to be easy! I also love that they make a small batch – only 16 brownies in an 8×8 baking pan.
Having made these brownies twice in 3 days, one would think I would be all red-velveted out, but that’s certainly not the case. I am now in love with red velvet and can’t wait to make more homemade recipes with this distinctive color and flavor.
Red Velvet Cheesecake Swirl Brownies
Chewy, moist, decadent red velvet brownies swirled with cheesecake.
Yield: 16 brownies
Red Velvet Brownies
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup (1 stick or 115g) unsalted butter
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup (32g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 Tablespoon liquid or gel red food coloring
- 3/4 teaspoon white vinegar
- 3/4 cup (95g) all-purpose flour
- 8 ounces (224g) cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup (50g) sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Spray 8x8 baking pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.
Make the brownie layer first. In a small bowl, beat the 2 eggs together. Set aside. Melt the butter in a large microwave safe bowl in 30 second increments until melted. Stir in 1 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, cocoa powder, salt, food coloring, and vinegar. Mix each of those ingredients into the batter in that order. Whisk in the eggs, then fold in the flour until completely incorporated. Do not overmix. Pour the brownie batter into prepared baking pan, leaving about 3-4 Tablespoons for the top.
Make the cheesecake swirl. With a hand-held mixer on medium speed, beat the softened cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar, egg yolk, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla in a medium bowl until completely smooth - about 1 minute. Dollop spoonfuls of the cream cheese mixture on top of the prepared brownie batter. Cover with the last few Tablespoons of brownie batter. Glide a knife through the layers, creating a swirl pattern.
Bake the brownies for 28-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow the brownies to cool completely before cutting into squares. Cover brownies and store at room temperature for 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 6 days. Brownies will freeze well, up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
Adapted from Food Network, with a few changes.
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