No one can resist these rich and decadent red velvet brownies with cream cheese frosting! Romantic and sweet, they are the perfect dessert to make for your loved ones on Valentine’s Day – or to enjoy for yourself.
Red velvet is a classic flavor that is perfect for Valentine’s Day. It is mildly chocolate flavored, with a little bit of tartness. So these red velvet brownies are rich and chocolate flavored, but have a more delicate flavor compared to fudge brownies.
The brownies are topped off with a thick, rich cream cheese frosting. The soft and creamy frosting blends with the red velvet flavor for a delicious treat. Whip up a batch today and share these sweet treats with your friends and family!
What is Red Velvet Flavor?
Red velvet is not just chocolate with red food coloring. It is more like a combination of vanilla and chocolate. It includes cocoa powder or melted chocolate, but less than you’d find in a chocolate cake.
Traditionally the recipe includes buttermilk or vinegar, which add some acidity and makes the cake just a little bit tart, which is the distinctive characteristic of red velvet.
For exact amounts needed see the recipe card below
Chocolate chips – I use melted semi sweet chocolate chips to flavor these brownies. Melted chocolate chips give the brownies a rich, chewy texture.
Apple cider vinegar – Vinegar is an important part of the classic flavor of red velvet. I prefer to use apple cider vinegar but any kind of vinegar will work.
“No taste” red gel food coloring – Some red food coloring can have a bitter aftertaste. Make sure you use one that is specifically labeled “no taste”. If it isn’t labeled that way don’t use it for this recipe!
The remaining ingredients for the recipe are baking staples like butter, sugar, vanilla extract, salt, baking powder and flour along with cream cheese and powdered sugar for the frosting.
Key Tips for This Recipe
Be sure to check out the step by step instructions
Don’t use red food coloring unless it is labeled as “no taste”.
Use room temperature butter and cream cheese.
Let the red velvet brownies cool completely before frosting.
How to Make Red Velvet Brownies
The batter will be easier to mix if you get the butter and cream cheese out of the refrigerator and let them come to room temperature. Make the brownies in a square baking pan, either 8 x 8 inches or 9 x 9 inches.
Line the baking pan with parchment paper and then butter the parchment paper or spray it with cooking spray. This will make it easy to get the brownies out and cut them into nice square bars.
2. Make Brownie Batter
Put the chocolate chips and butter in saucepan and melt them over low heat. Stir the chocolate frequently until it is completely melted and smooth. You can also melt it in the microwave, stirring after every 30 second interval.
Take the chocolate off the heat and stir in the sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring after each one. Then add the vanilla extract, salt and vinegar and mix everything together until the batter is smooth.
Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Gradually add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture, stirring after each addition. The batter will be thick and a light brown color.
Add 1 teaspoon of gel food coloring to the batter and stir it to mix. Then check the color and decide if you want to make the color brighter. The brownies will darken some as they bake, so if you want a nice red color you will likely need 2-3 teaspoons of food coloring!
Once the brownie batter is done pour it into the pan and level it off. Then bake for 45-55 minutes. The baking time can vary depending on the size of the pan and whether it is made of metal or glass.
So start checking for doneness after about 40 minutes. Insert a toothpick into the brownies and see if it comes out clean. Once the brownies are done let them cool completely before frosting.
You don’t have to add frosting to the brownies, but I always do! Cream cheese frosting is traditional with red velvet cake after all. The frosting will be easiest to mix with room temperature butter and cream cheese, so get them out of the refrigerator while the brownies cool.
When you are ready to frost the brownies mix the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer. Then add the vanilla extract. If you want your icing to be pure white use clear vanilla, since regular vanilla will give it a little bit of a cream color.
Finally mix in the powered sugar, a little bit at a time. Once it is all mixed spread a thick layer of frosting on top of the brownies and decorate them with sprinkles or sparkling sugar if you like.
How to Serve
Use the parchment paper to lift the brownies out of pan and cut them into 9 squares. These brownies have a delicate chocolate flavor which tastes amazing with the thick layer of cream cheese frosting. The pretty red color makes them ideal for Valentine’s day or for Christmas.
How to Store
Store the brownies in an airtight container. Because the frosting has cream cheese in it they should be kept in the refrigerator if you are storing them for longer than a few hours.
You can use liquid food coloring instead of gel, but you will have to add quite a bit to get a deep red color. If you are using the little bottles that come in a box you will likely need 3-4 little bottles of food coloring. Using a gel coloring is simpler and will give a more vibrant color.
The vinegar combines with the baking powder to help the cake rise. It also gives the cake part of its distinctive flavor, which is kind of a combination of chocolate and vanilla with a hint of acidic taste.
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- ½ cup Butter, softened
- 1/3 cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
- 1 cup Granulated Sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon Salt
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup flour
- 2-3 teaspoon no-taste red gel food coloring *see notes
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- ¼ cup butter, softened
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- Pinch salt
- Sprinkles or sparkling sugar, optional
Make the Red Velvet Brownies
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line an 8x8 inch or 9x9 inch pan with parchment paper and butter the parchment paper or spray it with cooking spray. Set aside while you make the brownie batter.
- Put a medium sauce pan over low heat and add the butter and chocolate chips. Stir frequently until they are completely melted and smooth. Then remove the pan from the heat. Or you can melt the butter and chocolate chips in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until smooth.
- Whisk the sugar into the melted chocolate mixture.
- Add the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly between each one.
- Stir in the vanilla extract, salt, and apple cider vinegar.
- In a separate bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
- Gradually add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture. Mix well between each addition. The batter will be thick.
- Add in 1 teaspoon red gel food coloring. Stir it into the batter and decide if the color is deep enough or not. If you want a richer red color add another teaspoon and stir until the color is evenly mixed. Continue to add food coloring and mix until you have a color you like.
- Pour the batter into your prepared pan, and smooth the top evenly.
- Bake the pan of brownies for about 45-55 minutes. Cooking time will vary depending on the size of your pan and what it is made of. After 40 minutes check for doneness by inserting a toothpick about 3 inches in from the edge of the pan and see if it comes out clean. If not continue to bake and check it again in 5-10 minutes.
- Once baked remove the pan from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
Frost the Brownies
- Wait for the brownies to cool completely before frosting.
- To make the cream cheese frosting mix the softened cream cheese and butter in a medium size bowl. Use a mixer to cream them together until smooth.
- Add in the vanilla extract. Then stir the powdered sugar in a little at a time, stirring in between each addition.
- Spread the frosting evenly across the top of the brownies. Top them with sprinkles or sparkling sugar if desired.
- Use the parchment paper to lift the brownies out of the pan and cut into 9 squares.
- Store in an airtight container. Refrigerate if not eaten within 2 hours.
It is important to use red food coloring that is specifically labeled "no taste". Some liquid or gel food red coloring can leave a bitter taste when used in large quantities.
Use room temperature butter and cream cheese to make the mixing process easier.
Let the brownies cool completely before frosting and cutting.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 472Total Fat: 23gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 115mgSodium: 287mgCarbohydrates: 63gFiber: 1gSugar: 51gProtein: 5g
Nutrition facts are estimates.