These red velvet cheesecake swirl brownies combine two of my favorite treats in one, making these an irresistible treat for the festive season!
Need I remind you about how much I love yummy, fudge goodies? Brownies rule the roost in my book. Easy to make, no creaming, vigorous beating, no rising agents and fuss-free, yet so blissfully good to eat! And a good cheesecake – what’s not to love about how the sweet and tangy flavors tease your taste-buds?
I have posted earlier about my love for the classic pairing of cheesecake and red velvet here. These two desserts were simply meant to be together, don’t you think? I’ve made classic cheesecake swirl brownies before, but pairing red velvet and cheesecake is just so much more visually appealing.
These brownies are perfect for all seasons, but I love how festive they look this time of year. They would make for the perfect treat for a Christmas feast. I made these twice over the last few weeks, and they were finished on no time at all.
Now, in all honesty, I did struggle with getting the color right. I attempted these brownies twice and the first time, they looked more purple than red to me. On the second attempt, I increased the amount of food coloring just a tad bit, but the gorgeous deep red color still eluded me.
I put the intense red color down to two things:
- The quality and amount of red color used: Make sure you use a good quality gel food color, I use Sugarflair gel food coloring, which is very concentrated. Wilton is also a good option. A couple of drops should be enough to color a batch of batter.
- The combination of cocoa, buttermilk and vinegar: A classic red velvet cake uses a combination of all three ingredients, which when combined, intensify the red color. This recipe doesn’t call for buttermilk, which could make an impact on the intensity of the color. If you like a deeper red, reduce the amount of cocoa in the recipe, this can make the red color stand out better, instead of being weighed down by the cocoa.
But if you look beyond obtaining that perfect red color, it comes down to taste and texture. I added hazelnuts to the batter the first time I made these, and I think they were just perfect, a little nutty crunch to offset all that fudgey goodness. Omit the nuts if you’re not a fan, but if you’re like me, I say, more the merrier!
- 1 stick or 110 grams of butter (at room temperature)
- 2 eggs
- 220 grams sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- A couple of drops of red gel food coloring
- 1 teaspoon vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup or 25 grams cocoa powder
- 95 grams of all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup of coarsely chopped hazelnuts
- For the cheesecake topping:
- 200 grams of cream cheese
- ¼ cup or 50 grams sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- Preheat the oven to 180 C or 350 F.
- Prepare an 8x8 inch baking pan and keep it aside (see notes)
- Make the red velvet brownie layer:
- In a saucepan, melt the butter. Let it cool down.
- Once the butter has cooled, transfer it into a large mixing bowl, add the sugar and whisk it together.
- In a mixing bowl, sift together the cocoa, flour and salt. Keep it aside.
- To the bowl with the butter and sugar, add the eggs, red food coloring, vanilla extract and vinegar, whisking after each addition.
- Stir in the flour mixture into the liquid ingredients and give it a gentle whisk until just combined.
- Take out around ¼ of the batter and set it aside in a small bowl.
- Into the batter in the large mixing bowl, add the chopped hazelnuts and stir.
- Pour the batter into the prepared square pan and give the pan a few thumps to get rid of any air bubbles.
- Make the cheesecake layer:
- In a stand mixer or using a handheld mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until light and fluffy. Then add the sugar, 1 egg, and ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract and beat it together until well blended.
- This will take around 4-5 minutes.
- Now, spoon over the cheesecake mixture over the brownie batter.
- Using a spatula or the back of a spoon, smoothen the cheesecake batter gently, forming a layer over the brownie batter.
- Take the reserved brownie batter in the small bowl and drip it over the cheesecake batter.
- Using a toothpick, make random swirls in the brownie batter.
- Transfer the cake pan into the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the batter is set.
- Once baked, let the brownies cool completely and cut into squares.
If you prefer the red color to really stand out, you could reduce the amount of cocoa.
Hazelnuts can be replaced with almond, walnuts or pecans.
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