I grew up watching the Food Network, and there was a time when I was absolutely in love with it. I would sit in front of the T.V. every night glued to channel 110 (that was the food network number on my local satellite provider). Various personalities would come and go, and I would want to recreate practically everything they made. However, that was before I actually got into cooking. When the fire finally came within in me to step into the kitchen, I will admit that it was the Food Network that perhaps inspired me to start cooking in the first place. Yet, I quickly began to discover the flaws within the network’s programming. Too many of the personalities were not actual chefs, and the recipes were more show than actual deliciousness. I left for the rawness of public access chefs, cookbooks, cooking magazines, and yes, the beautiful blogosphere, a magnificent myriad of home cooks bringing creative ideas into their kitchens and then sharing them with the world.
Well if I am easily impressed by the home cooks of the blogging world, can I still not appreciate the celebrity home cooks of the Food Network? Maybe. In my opinion, it really depends on which of them have remained true to their roots. While I am not going to reveal who I think is phony and who isn’t, I will say that when I came across a picture of these red velvet swirl brownies by Sunny Anderson, I was instantly drawn in. I’m not going to lie, as much as I try to refute it, it is true that we eat with our eyes first, and these brownies were red! Red, people, red! It looked so unnatural yet so desirable at the same time, and they are not just called red velvet because they are red, but also because they retain flavor elements of the red velvet cake. A moist and fudgey chocolate layer is topped with a layer of cream cheese imbued with vanilla. As it all bakes, the layers fuse, yet remain separate, and when you bite into them, it’s absolutely beautiful. I just loved how the cream cheese was tangy enough to offset the sweetness of the chocolate, which by the way was not so sweet that your head will explode. It was more subtle to that note, and even the chocolate layer carries a slight sourness from the vinegar in the batter. The only problem is that these brownies were not that red, but that’s probably because the food coloring I bought was pretty bogus. I guess that people here in Denmark are not that into artificially coloring their foods, and you know what, that’s a good thing. The bottom line is that these brownies still taste like red velvet cake, and that’s all that matters. I’ll even go as far to admit that these are probably the best damn brownies that I have ever made in my life. Thank you Sunny Anderson. You allowed me to realize that not all Food Network “chefs” are bad.
Adapted slightly from this recipe by Sunny Anderson
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- pinch salt
- 1 tablespoon red food coloring
- 1 teaspoon vinegar (although I’m pretty sure that I ended up putting in a tablespoon)
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
Cream Cheese Layer:
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit ( about 180 degrees Celsius). Grease an 8X8 inch baking pan with nonstick spray or butter.
Brownie Layer: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Once the butter is melted, remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the sugar, vanilla extract, cocoa powder, salt, food coloring, and vinegar, in that order. Be sure to stir between additions. Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl and then mix with the other ingredients. Fold in the flour into the batter. Pour the batter into the baking pan, saving about a 1/4 cup for the top.
Cream Cheese Layer: Blend together the cream cheese, vanilla, sugar, and egg in a medium bowl. Spread the cream cheese mixture evenly over the brownie layer. Plop over the remaining brownie layer over the cream cheese layer. Using a knife tip or toothpick, drag the tip through the cream cheese layer to create a swirl pattern with the dollops of brownie layer you just put over the top. Bake the brownies for about 30 minutes. Allow them to cool completely before cutting.
- As I realized, you really don’t need the food coloring if you are not that into it. These brownies taste good, and that’s all that matters.
- Feel free to stir in chopped nuts or chocolate chips into the brownie batter if that’s what you wish.