Valentine's Day really snuck up on me this year, it wasn't even on my radar until yesterday. Between having been away for the beginning of the month, and then getting sick, it just wasn't a priority. That said, I happen to think it's a fun holiday and we will be celebrating here. There won't be lavish gifts or an expensive meal out, it's definitely more low key than that for us. We'll cook a fancier-than-usual meal at home and then afterward probably settle in front of the tv to catch up on our favorite shows on the DVR. With candy, of course - Valentine's Day has some of the best candy (pass the Reese's hearts, please)!
If you're cooking at home too, and looking for a dessert idea, look no further. You simply can't go wrong with the combination of brownies and cheesecake. The brownie layer here is almost a cross between red velvet cake and traditional brownies - there's more chocolate flavor than you'd expect from red velvet, but not as much as most brownies. I was definitely a fan. The brownies are really fudgy in texture, and of course they're the perfect color for Valentine's Day. On top is a layer of creamy cheesecake, which is swirled into the brownies for effect. I did find the swirling a tad tricky because the brownie batter was much heavier than the cheesecake batter, but at the end of the day, not a big deal. Make sure you chill these well before attempting to cut them if you want neat edges - I was impatient at first and wound up with a lot of scraps to eat :)
Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies
from Baking Bites
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 oz bittersweet (or semisweet) chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons red food coloring
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 oz cream cheese (1 package), at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line an 8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on opposing sides to lift the brownies out afterward. Spray the foil/pan with nonstick cooking spray.
To make the brownies: Add the butter and chocolate to a small heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water. Stir occasionally until the mixture is melted and smooth. Set aside to cool slightly. Whisk the sugar, eggs, vanilla, and red food coloring together in a medium bowl. Add the chocolate/butter mixture and whisk until well combined. You can adjust the color here - if you want a more vibrant red, add up to an additional 1/2 teaspoon food coloring. Sprinkle the flour and salt onto the batter and fold with a rubber spatula until just barely combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, then spread in an even layer.
To make the cheesecake layer: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, sugar, egg, and vanilla until smooth. Drop dollops of the cheesecake batter onto the brownie batter then swirl the two gently with the tip of a butter knife.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted in the center comes out clean (the edges of the cheesecake will brown slightly). Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the brownies cool to room temperature then chill them thoroughly in the refrigeratore before slicing into squares. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.