Sometimes, red velvet cakes are known more for their brilliant coloring than they are for their flavor because it is easier to simply make the cake look fancy than put together a great recipe. Flavor is unquestionably the most important thing for a baked good to have, but it sure doesn’t hurt to have a “wow” factor on top of that. These Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies definitely have an impressive look and a delicious combination of flavors to back it up.
Red velvet cake usually has a hint of both cocoa and buttermilk flavors to it and gets most of its color from the addition of red food coloring. For these brownies, I opted to leave out the buttermilk to keep a fudgy, brownie-like texture and add just enough food coloring to give these normally chocolate-colored brownies a deep red hue. The brownie batter is made with dark chocolate and you definitely get a much bigger chocolate hit from these than you might from a slice of red velvet cake. That said, the chocolate flavor is less intense than it is for some other brownie recipes – for instance, I usually add cocoa powder into my brownies as well – so you still get a little lightness to that chocolate flavor in a nod to the cake. The brownie itself is very fudgy and tender.
Red velvet cake is also usually topped off with a cream cheese frosting. It adds a contrasting color to the deep red cake and a lot of flavor. That cream cheese frosting appears here has a cream cheese swirl that is baked right into a cheesecake layer right on top of the brownie batter. The cheesecake is creamy and rich tasting, a great contrast to the brownie base. Take the time to swirl the cream cheese mixture into the brownie batter with a butter knife, rather than just simply pouring it on top, to get the best look from your finished brownies.
Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies
1/2 cup butter
2-oz dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp red food coloring
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
8-oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8- or 9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil and lightly grease.
In a small, heatproof bowl, melt butter and chocolate together. Stir with a fork until very smooth. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, vanilla extract and red food coloring. Add in the chocolate mixture and stir until smooth. Batter should be red. If a brighter red is desired, add an additional 1/2 tsp food coloring. Add flour and salt into the bowl and stir until everything is just combined and no streaks of dry ingredients remain.
Pour into prepared pan and spread into an even layer.
Prepare cheesecake mixture. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla extract until smooth. Drop in dollops onto prepared brownie batter. Gently swirl two batters with a butter knife.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, until brownies and cheesecake are set. A knife inserted into the cheesecake mixture should come out clean and the edges will be lightly browned.
Cool in the pan completely before slicing and serving, either at room temperature or chilled.
Brownies can be refrigerated, covered, for several days.
Makes 16 large brownies or 24 smaller brownies