Recipe: Red Velvet Brownies with Cream Cheese Icing Drizzle

I spent last week in Memphis with my boyfriend, making the most of his week-long spring break. We spent a few quiet days in Arkansas, at an old hunting lodge/clubhouse his family is a member of, and spent the rest of the week at his family home. I ate some great food (including a homemade beef and cheddar hot dog in a soft pretzel bun from Hog & Hominy, a burger at Huey’s, and of course, cupcakes from Muddy’s), met some of his law school friends, had some “arts and crafts” time (we painted pottery and made glass dishes–both were a lot of fun to work on!), and visited a few galleries and museums. As a thank you to him and his family for hosting me, I thought it would be nice to bake brownies and send them down their way. I found this recipe for red velvet brownies and knew I had to try it out—I don’t generally play around with baking recipes because they are so precise and I find it hard to change and edit ingredients (it’s so much easier to mess up in baking than it is in cooking), so I left it as is, but added a little drizzle of cream cheese icing to give them a little more flavor (makes ’em prettier too). The resulting brownies were perfectly chewy and dense with a light, flaky top, just like a brownies should be, and the drizzle of icing added a little tangy flavor and creaminess to them.

Yields: 1, 9×13 inch pan of brownies (approx. 20 brownie squares)
Prep. time: 10-15 minutes
Baking time: 35-40 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients

For the brownies

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1&1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1&1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 oz. red food coloring (if you don’t have enough food coloring, add water to get the required measurement)
  • 4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2&1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 6 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s, because that’s all I could find, but a better quality brand will yield better brownies)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

For the cream cheese icing drizzle
  • 2 oz. cream cheese
  • Approx. 1/2 cup powdered sugar (or more, as needed)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp. milk
Directions
Preheat the over to 350*F. Spray a 9×13 inch clear, glass baking dish with cooking/baking spray. Using the paddle attachment in your mixer, beat together the butter and both sugars on medium speed until creamy, light, and fluffy (approx. 2-3 minutes). Add the eggs slowly, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Slowly add the food coloring and vanilla and blend on medium speed until the color is fully incorporated. In a medium bowl, add the flour, cocoa powder, and salt and whisk to mix. Slowly add this mixture to the mixing bowl on medium speed until it’s fully incorporated—be careful not too over mix though.  The batter should be quite thick and all of the flour should be mixed in. Pour the batter into the greased baking dish and spread evenly in the dish. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until done (insert a toothpick in the center—if it comes out wet with batter, the brownies need more baking time, but if it comes out clean or a little crumby, the brownies are done). Brownies should be a little flaky on the outside, but slightly moist on the inside. Set aside to cool.
While the brownies are cooling, add the the ingredients for the cream cheese icing drizzle to a small bowl and whisk to blend (you can use the mixer, once clean, to make this go a little faster and to mix it better, but I was too lazy to clean the mixer and ended up whisking together the icing by hand). The finished icing should be thick, but still be able to be drizzled easily. Cut the brownies into squares and, using a spoon, drizzle the icing as neatly as possible over each square (I actually used a squeeze bottle to get more precise drizzles; you can use an icing/pastry bag with a round tip for neater results). Let the icing set (it will not get hard, but rather, it’ll thicken and be a little sticky) for a few minutes.
Serve with a glass of cold milk or a mug of hot coffee, or whatever beverage you prefer. Perfect with a scoop of vanilla (or perhaps red velvet, for added red velvet-ness?) ice cream or with some fresh berries. Store brownies in an airtight container and avoid stacking them, if possible, because the cream cheese drizzle will get smeary and smudged.
These brownies are essentially your basic, everyday brownies, but the pop of red food coloring and the sweet and tangy cream cheese icing drizzle add a little pizzazz to them. Great for dessert, for a party, or an afternoon snack, these brownies are chocolaty, chewy, and absolutely delicious.
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