red velvet & peppermint cheesecake brownies
Last year, I combined my love of peppermint and chocolate in black and white cheesecake brownies. This season, I’ve whipped up a new variation – red velvet and peppermint cheesecake brownies. The flavors of red velvet, peppermint, and cheesecake are perfectly balanced in these layered bars, complete with a red velvet swirl. I added Hershey’s Candy Cane Kisses too; I’m unable to resist their charm!
For a little holiday joy, curl up by the fire with one of these fudgy and creamy brownies plus a steaming mug of peppermint hot chocolate – I can’t think of a more wonderful way to spend a winter evening!
Red Velvet & Peppermint Cheesecake Brownies
Red Velvet Layer
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed
2 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp red gel food coloring
3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
8 ounces fat-free cream cheese, softened
4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp peppermint extract
2 large eggs
1 1/2 Tbsp flour
30 Hershey’s Peppermint Kisses, halved
Preheat oven to 350°F and line a 13 x 9-inch baking dish with 1 sheet of parchment, allowing 2 inches to hang over each end; spray with nonstick spray.
Combine butter and chocolate in a small saucepan over medium heat; stir until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, vanilla, and food coloring. Slowly whisk in cooled chocolate mixture. Whisk together flour, salt and baking powder in a small bowl; add to batter and stir just until incorporated. Reserve 1/3 cup red velvet batter; spread remaining batter evenly in lined pan.
For the cheesecake layer, place cream cheese in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Beat in sugar and peppermint; add eggs and beat until combined. Add flour and beat just until thickened. Carefully pour cheesecake batter over red velvet batter; spread evenly to edges. Dollop reserved red velvet batter over cheesecake layer and swirl top two layers together with a knife or wooden skewer. Top with peppermint kisses and bake for 22 minutes, until cheesecake is set.
Let cool completely on a rack, then cover and chill in the refrigerator at least 2 hours. When ready to serve, lift up the ends of the parchment and transfer the brownies to a cutting board; cut into squares with a sharp knife. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 2 days.
Yield – 24 bars (serving size: 1 bar)
Calories – 165
Carbs – 20