Red Velvet Brownies with Cream Cheese Frosting

I miss handing out Valentine’s cards and candies every year. When I was little, I would slave away at my cards, picking out just the right one for each person in my class, making sure the candy was securely fastened to the card. The ritual of walking into school with a giant bag filled with goodies for my friends, so excited to give one to each and every one of my peers. I do that – I get elated when I can give something to someone else. It’s probably what I enjoy most about cooking and baking. Just knowing I can brighten someone’s day with a plate full of goodness made especially for them. 

As an adult, I wish we could still make Valentine’s cards and hand them out to all of our friends. But I might get funny looks if I walk door to door in my office handing out personalized cards with little hearts drawn on them and a box of candy hearts attached to it. So this year I will be giving out heart-shaped brownies and resisting my temptation to sit at home on a Saturday afternoon and make homemade cards all day. These brownies will have to do, and they do just fine.

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They take on this delicious, dense form of a brownie but still taste like a decadent red velvet cake. They are so easy to whip up – one bowl for the batter and another for the frosting. Then top with some cream cheese frosting and some fun sprinkles. Cut them into heart shapes if you wish, or eat them square if you’re not into the Valentine’s day mood. Either way – they are the perfect gift to your friends, your Valentine, or just to yourself.

INGREDIENTS

Brownies:
1 (4-oz.) bittersweet chocolate baking bar
3/4 cup butter
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1-oz. bottle red liquid food coloring
1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1½ cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9×9 inch pan, line with parchment paper or foil, then grease again.
  2. Melt butter and chocolate in a double boiler.*
  3. Remove from heat and whisk in the sugar. Add the eggs, whisking in one at a time.Add the flour, food coloring, baking powder and vanilla until fully combined.
  4. Pour the batter into the greased pan and bake for 40-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean.
  5. Allow to cool completely. Use a heart shaped cookie cutter to cut out hearts.
  6. Whisk the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Add the sugar and vanilla, and mix until combined. Frost the brownies once completely cooled.
*If you don’t have a double boiler (I don’t either!), make your own. Pout a couple inches of water in your smallest saucepan and place a heat-safe bowl (such as Pyrex) over the bowl so it is not touching the water. Bring the water to a simmer and there, you made yourself a homemade double boiler.

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