Red Velvet Marble Cheesecake Brownies

IMG_3239

I am pretty certain that this red velvet cheesecake brownie takes the cake for being an all-star red velvet recipe. If you’re at all familiar with what makes red velvet red velvet, you’ll know that it is a subtle balance of tang and cocoa. It’s chocolatey but not quite (from a scant amount of cocoa powder), sour but not quite (from the buttermilk). Another defining quality of red velvet cake is its cream cheese frosting. Last weekend, I happened to be in Grand Central and I bought a Magnolia red velvet cupcake to satisfy my craving. No dice – the frosting was a weakly flavored meringue frosting, ugh. My palate teased, I had to make some legit red velvet.

IMG_3240

This recipe though, was a winner. While it may not be a classic red velvet cake, it’s got the key elements in it – cream cheese and a cocoa-y tang. I love how simple it is to whip up – it didn’t require any finicky preparation method, and I enjoyed that the “frosting” in this brownie is dolloped onto the brownie batter and haphazardly swirled in. It ended up not looking too shabby even though I was supposed to reserve some of the brownie batter to layer on top of the cream cheese dollops so the swirls would be more refined.

The texture of the brownie is more cakey/fudgy than dense, like a traditional brownie. I personally like the brownies chilled since the cream cheese is a little more refreshing there. All those who have tried the brownies like it a lot (although I’ve learned to recalibrate the compliments I receive re: my cooking – very good means good, good means okay, okay means it was terrible.)

This recipe differs from the Food Network recipe it was derived from (which I made 4 years ago) in that there’s more butter in the brownie batter and less egg in the cheesecake filling, so it’s more moist and the cheesecake layer tastes less eggy.

IMG_3243

Red Velvet Marble Cheesecake Brownies
Makes 1 8×8 pan
Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

This recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction had grams pre-calculated – yess!

Brownie Batter
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (1 stick or 115g) unsalted butter
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup (21g) 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

Cheesecake
8 ounces (224g) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Line 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper. 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 (or a stand mixer, which is what I used), 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.

Red Velvet Cupcakes from Bobby Flay Throwdown

IMG_4262

After having a red velvet cupcake from Two Little Red Hens, my hankering for red velvet cupcakes was insatiable. It’s unfortunate how far away Two Little Red Hens is from my apartment, so it’s a rare treat that I have maybe a couple of times a year. I was desiring a red velvet cupcake up till a week after I had my first bite and had to quell the thirst immediately. For some inane reason there are no decent red velvet cupcakes within a ten block radius of my apartment.

IMG_4265

Making these cupcakes was also a bit of a triumph for me. My left hand had been bit by a dog in the last month, and the fracture I sustained with the inflexibility rendered by the deep scars meant I was still struggling to hold onto things with my hand, or carry heavy things.

These cupcakes are moist, and almost too oily for me. I think I had rather high standards after having a light and fluffy Two Little Red Hens cupcake, but well, I also don’t run a bakery. Other than that, the cupcake had a distinct red velvet taste – a balance between being tangy and cocoa-y. The frosting is creamy and delicious – I would suggest making sure it’s 100% lump-free before applying it onto your cupcake. I’d say these cupcakes aren’t deathly sweet and actually have a decent balance of flavor. I thought the batter was top-notch when I was licking it off the bowl, mmm.

IMG_4269

Red Velvet Cupcakes from Throwdown with Bobby Flay
Makes 14 cupcakes
Recipe from Cookie Madness

7 3/4 ounces all-purpose flour (1 3/4 cups minus a teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoons plus 1/8 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoons plus 1/8 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cups vegetable oil
6.5 ounces granulated sugar (1 cup minus 1 tablespoon)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk (Jin: as a substitute, I used milk and a tablespoon of white vinegar, let it sit for five minutes to curdle and used that)
1 egg plus 2 tablespoons beaten egg
1 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon red food coloring
1/2 teaspoons plus 1/8 teaspoons vinegar
1/2 teaspoons plus 1/8 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon water

For the cream cheese frosting:
6 oz cream cheese, room temperature
4 oz butter, room temperature
1/2 pound (1 ¾ cups) powdered sugar, sifted
3/4 vanilla extract

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.

Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder into a bowl and set aside.

With an electric mixer, beat oil, sugar, and buttermilk until combined. Add eggs, food coloring, vinegar, vanilla and water and mix well. Add the dry ingredients a little bit at a time and mix by hand until well mixed. Be sure not to overmix, or the batter will come out tough.

Line 14 cupcake cups with paper liners, scoop the batter into the liners dividing evenly (a little over halfway full) and bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean. Let cool.

For the cream cheese frosting:

Whip the butter and cream cheese together in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until creamed. Gradually add powdered sugar to the mixture and scrape down the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla and mix until combined.

Makes 14

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

IMG_3893I started my first real job out of college about a month ago, and now that a considerable chunk of my time is devoted to work, I have much less time to blog. I still cook and bake quite often – I recently made two chocolate cakes and a soy sauce chicken, but not having daylight to snap my food in makes blogging an afterthought. These red velvet cupcakes, however, were for a specific occasion. Every month, my work place hosts a birthday party for people born in that month. I wanted, nay, needed an excuse to bake up something more elaborate than a utilitarian chocolate cake that fulfilled my dessert cravings.

IMG_3897

The original recipe for these were for an 8-inch layer cake, but for ease of transport, I decided to make them into cupcakes. I’ve made the cake a few days ahead in time and froze them, and I intend to frost them in the office pantry. Transporting frosted cupcakes often require large, bulky carriers, and as a bike rider, I prefer to fit everything into my backpack as much as possible. I used all-purpose flour instead of cake flour for the cupcakes, and that contributed to a slightly coarser but more firm texture that’s transportation-friendly. I baked up about 18 cupcakes with the batter, and I would recommend checking for doneness at around 15 minutes and swapping the racks at half-time. Also, I cannot stress how important it is to sift your flour and confectioner’s sugar before mixing. It’ll help create a more uniform texture with less lumps and clumps.

IMG_1031

Red Velvet Cake
Makes 18 cupcakes
Adapted from Cookie Madness

Ingredients
4 oz unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 whole eggs, room temperature
2 slightly heaping tablespoons cocoa powder (natural)
2 ounces (1/4 c) red food coloring
2 1/4 c of cake flour (9 oz), sifted
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon white vinegar

Frosting for Red Velvet Cake
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1 stick (4 ounces) butter, softened
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (optional)

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 18 (or potentially more) cupcake moulds with cupcake liners.

In bowl of a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, cream butter, sugar and salt until light. Add the vanilla and the eggs beating 30 seconds after each egg is added. Make a paste of food coloring and cocoa and add to the creamed mixture. Add buttermilk and flour alternately, beating at low speed until mixed.

In a small cup, combine the soda and the vinegar and let it foam up. Pour the foaming mixture into the batter and stir until it’s mixed in. Immediately pour into the cupcake liners and bake for 15-20 minutes. When a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake emerges without crumbs, it is done.

Let cool for 10 minutes in pan set on a rack. Remove from pan and let cool completely. Make icing.

Beat the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Add confectioner’s sugar slowly, beating until smooth. For a little tartness, beat in some lemon juice.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

I don’t make carrot cakes very often, but when I do, I grate the hell out of a carrot and make sure it’s one moist cake. I happened to have a carrot lying around, and although I usually roast my carrots, I wanted to have my veggies in a slightly more delicious form: coupled with more carbs and fat. Carbs and fat makes anything taste better.

This cake, apart from the tedious grating of carrot, is really easy to make. I really like oil-based cake because it means I don’t have to cream butter and sugar. Everything’s just a simple swirl and mix with a silicone spatula. It’s really moist and I think this is a great base recipe. I used extra virgin olive oil because that’s all I had around, and I also omitted the ginger and nutmeg spices that the original recipe had. It still turned out pretty good, though. I still have trouble frosting a cake perfectly, but here’s what I think would help: freeze the cake, and chill the frosting for long enough so that everything stays firm.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Makes 1 two-layer 9-inch cake

2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups canola oil (I used EVOO with no problems)
4 large eggs
3 cups grated peeled carrots
1 cups coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)
1/2 cup raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Butter and flour two 9 inch round pans.

Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in medium bowl to blend. Whisk sugar and oil in large bowl until well blended. Whisk in eggs 1 at a time. Add flour mixture and stir until blended. Stir in carrots, walnuts and raisins, if using them.

Divide the batter between the prepared pans, and bake the layers for about 40 minutes each, or until a tester inserted into center comes out clean. Cool cakes in pans 15 minutes. Turn out onto racks. Cool cakes completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting
From AllRecipes

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioners’ sugar. Store in the refrigerator after use.

Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies

As meaningless as the words “red velvet” as a flavor might be if you’re not American, I was very intrigued by it. Red velvet. Doesn’t that sound luscious, calling to mind imagery of rich, sensuous, luxury? And red velvet desserts are often visually very striking as well. (Unless you make an albino red velvet cake, like I did.) I know it’s all food coloring, but for me, the best part of a red velvet cake is its cream cheese frosting. What really got me into baking was cheesecake. I think my first ever successful baking experiment was a rainbow cheesecake, which you can view here. Since then, cream cheese and I have had a great affinity for each other.

What better way to maximize the cheesecake effect than to incarnate red velvet in a red velvet cheesecake brownie form? This recipe is very easy to follow. Texture-wise, it’s not quite as fudgey as I’d like, but I wouldn’t call it cakey either. It falls squarely in the middle of the two, but gets fudgier if you chill the brownies before eating. I also have a pretty hard time getting the cheesecake layer to marble nicely, but I think that’s because I put too much of the brownie layer on top. I think the trick is to reserve less of the batter than you think you might need.

Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies
Adapted from FoodNetwork.com
Makes 1 8×8 inch pan

Red Velvet Brownie Layer:

6 tbsps unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup cocoa powder
Pinch salt
1 tablespoon red food coloring
1 teaspoon vinegar
2 eggs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour

Cream Cheese Layer:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter an 8 by 8-inch baking pan or line it with parchment/aluminum foil, and set aside.

Brownie layer: In a saucepan on medium heat melt the butter. Remove the butter to a large bowl and add the sugar, vanilla, cocoa powder, salt, food coloring, and vinegar, in that order, mixing between additions. Whisk the eggs in a small bowl and stir it into the cocoa mix. Fold in the flour until lightly combined. Stir in the walnuts and pour the batter into the prepared baking pan, saving 1/4 cup of the batter for the top.

Cream cheese layer: Blend together the cream cheese, sugar, egg, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Gently spread the cream cheese layer on top of the brownie batter in the pan. Dollop the remaining brownie batter over the cream cheese layer. Using a skewer or the tip of a knife, drag the tip through the cream cheese mixture to create a swirl pattern. Bake the brownies for 30 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely before cutting.

Cheesecake Brownies

Cheesecake brownies are a perfect way to use up your cream cheese when you only have a block or less. So I made some! I used a recipe from David Lebovitz and tweaked it to include less sugar in the brownie base. The brownie turned out to be not noticeably sweet, but the richness of the chocolatey base and the creaminess of the cheesecake layer made it feel like an adult brownie.

Cheesecake Brownies
Makes 1 9X9 inch pan
Adapted from David Lebovitz

6 tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 ounces (115g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup (70g) flour
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (80g) chocolate chips

8 ounces (200g) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk
5 tablespoons (75g) sugar
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Line a 9-inch (23cm) or 8-inch (20cm) square pan with foil, making sure it goes up all four sides. Use two sheets if necessary. Mist with non-stick spray or grease lightly.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (180C).

3. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate over low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and beat in the 1/2 cup sugar, then the eggs.

4. Mix in the flour, cocoa powder and salt, then the vanilla and chocolate chips. Spread evenly in the prepared pan.

5. In a separate bowl, beat together the cream cheese, the yolk, 5 tablespoons (75g) of sugar, and vanilla until smooth.

6. Distribute the cream cheese mixture in eight dollops across the top of the brownie mixture, then take a dull knife or spatula and swirl the cream cheese mixture with the chocolate batter.

Red Velvet (Albino) Half-Cake

I made a red velvet cake – without red food coloring. I love red velvet cake. I don’t know what is so irresistible about it. Is it the contrast between the deep red cake and the snow white icing? Or is it just the inexplicable flavor of the cake that you can’t put your finger on? Well, this cake I made proves that red velvet cake is delicious even without the red food dye.

It’s called a half-cake because I only made one layer and cut it into half. It is such a sumptuous treat for such a simple cake. There was no butter in it, but the oil made it very moist and flavorful (and a lot easier to mix up too – creaming butter without a mixer is a huge pain). The whipped cream frosting is very simple, and would be a lot simpler if I didn’t have to whip the cream by hand. But hey, the lack of fancy tools to aid my baking helps me to 1) bake less and 2) work out more! And oh, my frosting skills are not quite there yet.

One thing I noted was that the cake sunk a little bit in the center. I don’t know if it’s because I substituted out self-rising flour, or what it is.
Red Velvet Half-Cake with Whipped Cream Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Cookie Madness
Makes half a 9-inch round cake

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 7/8 teaspoons baking powder
5/8 teaspoon salt
(above three ingredients are substitutes for self-rising flour; original recipe uses 1 1/4 cups self-rising flour)
1 tablespoon natural (not dark) cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon red wine or any type of regular vinegar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons red food coloring
1 large egg
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cups granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9 inch round cake pan with parchment paper and grease and flour the sides.

Mix the flour, cocoa and baking soda together in a small bowl and set aside.

Mix the buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla and food coloring together in a liquid measuring cup and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg, oil and sugar. Using a heavy duty scraper or large spoon, add the flour mixture and milk mixture to the egg mixture alternately in three parts, stirring until flour is mixed in.

Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes or until a pick inserted in the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then carefully remove from pan. If using a springform, you can remove the sides and invert.

Let cool completely.

Whipped Cream Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Allrecipes
Frosts a half-cake, and then some

1 cup heavy cream
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

To make frosting, whip heavy cream till soft peaks form. Mix cream cheese, sugar and vanilla till creamy. Fold into whipped cream.

To make a layer cake, cut the cake round in half. Ice one half. Stack second half on top and ice the whole half-cake.

Note:
It’s easier to whip cream when the bowl, whisk, and cream is very cold. Adding a tablespoon or two of sugar from the 1 cup into the cream before whipping helps it whip up faster.