My first attempt at red velvet brownies incorporated a scaled-down version of my cheesecake batter which contains tofu and vegan cream cheese and bakes up beautifully as a full-size cheesecake. But it baked up a bit rubbery as a thinner layer. So, next I tried cashew cream, which I loved, but with which I had to experiment a couple of times to get the look I was after. Ultimately, I hope you agree that the results are beautiful, delicious, and textural marvels. Happy Valentine's Day to you and yours!

Red Velvet Brownies [Vegan]

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Serves

9 - 16 brownies

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Ingredients

"Cream Cheese" Layer (my quick sweetened cashew cream)
  • 2 cups raw cashews
  • 4 cups boiling water
  • *1/4 cup confectioner's sugar (plus additional for sprinkling if making layered brownies)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
Brownie Layer
  • 1/2 cup vegan butter
  • 1/4 cup vegan semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 ounces extra firm tofu, drained
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup natural sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) natural red food coloring
  • 1  teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider or white distilled vinegar
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Preparation

"Cream Cheese" Layer
  1. Pour boiling water over cashews, cover, and let sit for an hour.
  2. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the cashew water, drain, and place the cashews into bowl of food processor with the reserved water and remaining ingredients.
  3. Process about 10 minutes until smooth and significantly lightened in color and texture.
  4. Remove to a small bowl and rinse bowl, lid and blade of food processor.  *Though I typically bake with natural sugar, the confectioners sugar keeps the cashew cream a lighter color.
 Brownie Layer
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray an 8-inch square baking pan with non-stick spray.  In a medium bowl or saucepan, combine butter and chocolate chips and melt in microwave or over medium heat on top of the stove.  Pour into bowl of food processor, add tofu, and process a couple of minutes or so until very smooth.  In a medium bowl,  whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Make a well in the center and pour in non-dairy milk, food coloring, vanilla, and vinegar, along with butter-chocolate-tofu mixture from food processor.  Whisk until well combined and then stir 50 strokes with a wooden spoon.
  2. To bake, choose which type of brownie your prefer...
  3. For Layered Brownies (pictured):  Spoon half of batter into prepared pan and gently smooth top to cover bottom of pan.  Dollop "cream cheese" layer over brownie layer and smooth to cover.  Dollop remaining brownie batter on top of "cream cheese" layer and gently smooth to cover.  (An offset spatula is nice for these tasks.)  Drag a knife or skewer (my preference) in long zig-zagging motions through all layers not to create swirls, as the top will remain solid red, but to insure that layers are "locked" together.  Bake for 30 minutes or until top is set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, but a little moist. Cool on a wire rack. Slice, sprinkle with confectioners sugar, and serve; or cover until serving time.  Alternative serving suggestion:  frost with vegan cream cheese frosting and, if desired, drizzle with melted and slightly cooled dark vegan chocolate.
  4. For Swirled Brownies:  Spoon half of batter into prepared pan and gently smooth top to cover bottom of pan.  Dollop "cream cheese" filling and remaining brownie batter in a tight checkerboard pattern over the bottom brownie layer. Drag a knife or skewer (my preference) in long zig-zagging motions, about an inch apart both vertically and horizontally, through all layers to create swirls.  Bake for 30 minutes or until top is set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, but a little moist. Cool on a wire rack. Slice and serve; or cover until serving time.
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