I might as well say it right off, but if you’re someone who would tell me your favorite cake flavor is red velvet, well, I’d instantly label you as “one of those people.” Red velvet cake is nice and all, but really, there’s no flavor. Either go deep, dark, complex chocolate, or pick nice yellow cake filled with yolks and perfumed with vanilla. Red velvet is that weird middle ground, with so little chocolate you can’t taste it, but just enough that any nice vanilla flavor is obscured. PLUS, it’s red, so there’s no more to say on the issue. I really have no idea why I’m so bitter about the whole thing; it’s cake for goodness sake!
In order to explore my deep-seated dislike of red velvet cake, I’ve decided to explore my motives. I suppose it’s because the thing represents all that I dislike about American food. An eternal obsession with things that lack flavor, lack punch. In a land of pizza and hamburgers, I eat raw ginger and garlic. Mwah ha ha ha!
On top of all this, what angers me most is that red velvet cake is considered to be so drastically different from other cakes. It’s red food dye, baking soda, and buttermilk people!
Now, you may ask, why Maddie did you make red velvet cream cheese brownies if you obviously dislike the stuff so very much? Well (and this rarely ever happens) it was because they looked good. As simple as that. I saw some nice photos. Yeah, I think the last time this happened was with the Battenberg Cake. Maybe the reason people like red velvet is because they are so obsessed with the color. Maybe that’s not a bad thing. Things that look nice can make you happy just to try them.
Taste wasn’t so big an issue with these though. In fact, they were pretty good. Not like a traditional dense chocolatey brownie, they are very moist, cakey and full of swirls of tangy cream cheese making them surprisingly light and fun to eat. Though the texture and the cream cheese are divine aspects, I would also like to suggest adding something to the red velvet batter. Maybe raspberry preserves, framboise, coconut, almond extract…It wouldn’t really be red velvet, but it would be pretty, plus it would have a unique taste.
Red Velvet Cream Cheese Brownies
Barely Adapted from Sweet Pea
1/2 cup butter (salted or unsalted)
2 ounces coarsely chopped dark chocolate (I used 60%)
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons red food coloring (I used the gel paste but in a smaller amount as it is much more concentrated)
2/3 cup all-purpose flour (I made them gluten-free, using 2/3 cup of an all-purpose gluten-free four blend that didn’t contain xantham gum plus 1/4 teaspoon of xantham gum).
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place a strip of parchment paper in the bottom of an 8 by 8 inch square pan, so that it covers two sides and hangs over. Grease the parchment and the uncovered sides well with butter or vegetable oil.
Melt butter and chocolate either in the microwave or on the stove, then allow to cool a bit. Beat the two eggs, sugar, vanilla, and food coloring with a whisk. If you wanted to add additional flavorings (coconut, almond extract, ect.) you would do so here. If making it with gluten flour, add the chocolate mixture, then just whisk in the flour and salt to combine. If making it with gluten-free flour, make sure that the xantham gum and flour have been previously mixed, and feel free to whisk the mixture more liberally.
Turn the mixture into the pan and smooth the top.
In a standing mixer or with an electric beater, beat the cream cheese, egg, sugar, and vanilla until smooth and homogeneous. Drop the cream cheese mixture in about 8 spoonfuls all over the top of the brownie batter, then swirl the two mixture together with a knife.
Bake for 35-40 minutes on the middle rack. Remove from the oven and let cool fully in the pan. I did find that using a glass pan led to a little overcooking on the edges but less cooking in the middle. Glass retains heat, so it might be good to put some extra parchment in your pan so you can take the brownies out after they have cooled for 10 minutes or so in the pan (I’d prefer undercooked to overcooked brownies). Hopefully, this wouldn’t mar these fragile brownies.