Tuesday, February 19, 2013

red velvet brownies with cream cheese frosting

"Meal Plan Monday" was missing yesterday for one reason:  frozen Brussels sprouts.

You see, it all started when the grocery store was out of Brussels sprouts.  Completely out.  I was planning on making what I imagined would be a glorious dish of Brussels sprouts, maple sausage, and craisins served over barley for dinner last Monday, but the grocery store simply didn't have any when I went.

Normally by the time I get to the grocery store on Monday, I just can't wait for the quick-and-easy meal that I've planned, but I had no easy back-up plan when I realized there simply weren't any fresh Brussels sprouts to be found.   Surely frozen ones would make a quick-and-easy substitute?

The answer:  absolutely not.  I couldn't even stomach swallowing one bite of them once I'd prepared them.  No wonder why they have a terrible reputation!

The rest of the meals worked out just fine--Tuesday was grilled salmon with a salad, Wednesday was double bean quesadillas, and Valentine's day was steak with baked sweet potatoes--but, by the time dinner rolled around each night, I was so hungry that I convinced myself that the frozen Brussels sprouts ruined the whole week's meal plan for photography and posting anyway.

Fortunately, though, I also made these brownies twice last week:  once for friends for Valentine's day and once over the weekend for visiting family.  The addition of the buttermilk gives them that traditional red velvet flavor that I feel like most "red velvet brownie" recipes lack, and they are very fudgy, especially if you "under-bake" them just a little (see the recipe for details).

Adapted from The Newlyweds Blog.

for the brownies
½ cup butter, softened
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons buttermilk
red gel food dye (optional)
for the frosting
½ stick butter, softened (¼ cup)
½ (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ to 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted


  1. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter, white sugar, and granulated sugar until fluffy.
  2. Slowly beat in the eggs and then the vanilla extract.
  3. Add in the flour, cocoa powder, and salt, and beat until smooth.
  4. Slowly incorporate the buttermilk.
  5. Add gel food dye until  you achieve the desired redness.  Mine is a very subtle red (in the pictures, you can hardly even see any red) because I used Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa powder, which is very dark, in the batter.
  6. Using an offset spatula, spread brownie mixture evenly in a greased 8-inch-by-8-inch glass baking dish.
  7. Bake brownies at 350 degrees F for 30 to 35 minutes or until the brownies look set and a cake tester comes out relatively clean.
  8. Let brownies cool before frosting.  You can speed up the cooling process by sticking them in the freezer for a bit.
  9. To make the frosting, beat together the butter and cream cheese until smooth.  Beat in the vanilla and then slowly beat in the powdered sugar until a nice, fluffy, and spreadable icing has formed:  start with 1 ½ cups powdered sugar and continue to add it by the spoonful after that until the frosting has reached the desirable consistency.
  10. For the prettiest brownies, slice the brownies first and then spread the cream cheese frosting on.  If you want, you can use a cookie cutter to cut them into shapes (I cut mine into hearts for Valentine's Day).
  11. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until serving.

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