I can't remember the last time I did any Christmas baking. It's been several years, for sure. With all the hustle and bustle of running a household, raising 2 (amazing) kids, the business, Christmas shopping, and, quite honestly, the fact that I bake on a regular basis, the idea of throwing together a pan of brownies just for fun has not really been high on the December to do list.
This week, as I was making chocolate covered Oreos, I found myself saying, "hey... this is pretty fun and relaxing and different". So, I decided that it was time to give good old-fashioned baking a go again. I always enjoyed baking. Mom wasn't an avid year-round baker, but I remember that For Christmas she would make Nanaimo bars, tweed squares, and these amazing gooey coconut bars. A family friend, Glenda, would send over her homemade "bits and bites". Aunt Muriel would send homemade sugar donuts. And, as young kids, we all disappeared when Dad said he was going to visit with Aunt Dot (my grandfather's sister) and Uncle Phonse, not because we didn't like her - she was the sweetest woman - but because we knew it would be at least an hour of looking at pictures and listening to stories while we'd sit there awkwardly and sweating profusely because the woodstove was cranked to cremation. And when Dad finally said it was time to go, she'd hand us a box filled with peanut brittle, coconut balls, peanut butter balls, and shortbread cookies. It's amazing how getting older changes you because I'd happily go over and chat and look at pictures with her today (and probably dress in layers - maybe even a tanktop) if she were still with us.
Yesterday I decided to give these Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies a go.
They're super simple to make, come together in minutes, and I got a thumbs up from my in house food critics. Here's the recipe:
RED VELVET CHEESECAKE BROWNIES (9-12 servings... or maybe just 2 - I won't judge)
1/2 cup butter, melted (I use salted, cause I think salt brings out the flavour in everything - but if you use unsalted, you'll want to add 1/4 tsp salt to this recipe)
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 TBSP red food colour
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar (or white if you don't have cider on hand)
3/4 cup flour
Preheat oven to 350F
In a large bowl, combine melted butter, sugar, cocoa, vanilla, and food colour. Stir until well combined. Add vinegar and stir again a couple of times. Whisk the eggs in a small bowl and add to the mixture. Stir to combine. Fold in the flour. Save 1/4c. of this batter and pour the remaining into an 8"x8" pan. Set aside.
1 (8oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
3 Tbsp white sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 large egg yolk
Whip all ingredients (I used my kitchen aid but you could also use electric beaters) until light in colour. Layer this on top of the batter in the pan.
Spoon the extra 1/4c of batter that you set aside on top of the cream cheese (place several blobs here and there). With a toothpick, make swirls to your heart's content. Bake for 25-30 minutes (mine baked for 25 and next time, I'll check at 22).
If you try these, let me know how you liked them! Happy Baking!