Red Velvet Chocolate-Swirled Brownie Bars

Chocolate-Swirled Red Velvet Brownies — These easy red velvet brownies are topped with an abundance of chocolate and are velvety soft and smooth! They don’t call it red velvet for nothing! 

Red Velvet Chocolate-Swirled Brownie Bars {from scratch, not cake mix} - These easy bars topped with an abundance of chocolate are velvety soft and smooth! They don't call it red velvet for nothing!

Chocolate-Swirled Red Velvet Brownies

Red velvet fever has begun in advance of Valentine’s Day. It’s everywhere. Here’s my contribution.

These red velvet brownies are a cross between a brownie and a bar. Not over-the-top chocolaty to give them true brownie status, but much fudgier, denser, and richer than your typical bar.

Classic red velvet is known to have chocolate undertones, but isn’t overly chocolaty, and these easy cocoa powder brownies hit that mark. 

And they’re as far away from red velvet cake that you can get. Nothing light, fluffy, or cakey about them. They’re smooth, rich, dense, and supremely moist. 

Red Velvet Chocolate-Swirled Brownie Bars {from scratch, not cake mix} - These easy bars topped with an abundance of chocolate are velvety soft and smooth! They don't call it red velvet for nothing!

They’re an easy, no-mixer, scratch recipe that comes together in minutes. Just as easy as opening a box of red velvet cake mix, but so much better and more unique tasting.

The chocolate swirls on top help to accentuate the cocoa that’s stirred into the batter. The overall chocolate level is present, but not too dark or too intense.

They’re buttery, rich, and velvety soft and smooth. They don’t call it red velvet for nothing.

Red Velvet Chocolate-Swirled Brownie Bars {from scratch, not cake mix} - These easy bars topped with an abundance of chocolate are velvety soft and smooth! They don't call it red velvet for nothing!

What’s in Red Velvet Brownies? 

To make these red velvet brownie bars, you’ll need: 

  • Unsalted butter
  • Egg
  • Light brown sugar
  • Vanilla extract
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Red food coloring
  • All-purpose flour
  • Salt
  • Semi-sweet chocolate chips

Red Velvet Chocolate-Swirled Brownie Bars {from scratch, not cake mix} - These easy bars topped with an abundance of chocolate are velvety soft and smooth! They don't call it red velvet for nothing!

How to Make Red Velvet Brownies

I made them by adapting my trusty blondies base recipe. Melt 1 stick of butter, stir in an egg, brown sugar, vanilla, and then whisk in cocoa powder. 

Then I added the red food coloring, and lots of it. I bought two sets of  Betty Crocker gel food coloring (with red, blue, yellow, and green) in order to get two red vials needed. And lucky me, I have enough green on hand that I’m already ready for Saint Paddy’s Day projects, now and through the year 2020.

My grocery stores stopped carrying the old fashioned drops and gel is being sold, and in package sets. Get your hands on as much red food coloring as you can, gel or old-fashioned drops, because turning chocolate batter red is a big task.

After you get the batter as red as you like, stir in flour, turn it out into the pan, and drizzle with melted chocolate chips to create the swirling. I gave detailed instructions on how to make the easy swirled pattern in the recipe card below.

It’s challenging to determine when any kind of dark-colored food is done, and red and brown food is some of the hardest. I baked for 28 minutes. I recommend 28 to 30, or until the top is set and isn’t glossy. The chocolate swirls will be glossy, but not the batter.

Red Velvet Chocolate-Swirled Brownie Bars {from scratch, not cake mix} - These easy bars topped with an abundance of chocolate are velvety soft and smooth! They don't call it red velvet for nothing!

Can I Double This Recipe? 

You likely can, although I haven’t made a double batch of these red velvet brownies before. I imagine you’d simply need to double all the ingredients and bake the brownies in a 9×13-inch pan. 

Can I Omit the Food Coloring? 

Yes, although your red velvet brownies won’t have the same color as mine. But you’d still wind up with a batch of amazing chocolate-swirled fudge brownies! 

Red Velvet Chocolate-Swirled Brownie Bars {from scratch, not cake mix} - These easy bars topped with an abundance of chocolate are velvety soft and smooth! They don't call it red velvet for nothing!

Can I Make These Gluten-Free? 

I’ve only made these red velvet brownies as instructed in the recipe card below, so I can’t say for certain if / how to make this a gluten-free recipe. If you give it a go, please let me know how the brownies turn out! 

Can I Swirl a Different Type of Chocolate on Top? 

I don’t see why not! I used semi-sweet chocolate because I prefer richer brownies, but you could also use white chocolate or milk chocolate. 

Red Velvet Chocolate-Swirled Brownie Bars {from scratch, not cake mix} - These easy bars topped with an abundance of chocolate are velvety soft and smooth! They don't call it red velvet for nothing!

How to Store Red Velvet Brownies

These chocolate-swirled red velvet brownies will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Note that the brownies need to cool completely before being stored in a container. If you put the brownies in Tupperware before they’ve cooled completely, condensation will form in the container and will affect the texture of the brownies. 

Red Velvet Chocolate-Swirled Brownie Bars {from scratch, not cake mix} - These easy bars topped with an abundance of chocolate are velvety soft and smooth! They don't call it red velvet for nothing!

Tips for Making Red Velvet Brownies 

A few things to note when making these easy cocoa powder brownies: 

First, be sure to wait a minute or two before adding the egg to the melted butter. If you add the egg to hot melted butter, you’ll wind up with scrambled egg. 

Second, once you add the dry ingredients to the wet, you want to mix the batter just until everything is incorporated. If you over mix the brownie batter, you’ll wind up with dense, cakey brownies. 

Lastly, these red velvet brownies remind me of the Gingerbread Molasses Chocolate Chip Bars I made before Christmas and a longer cooling period is preferred. I urge you to allow them to cool in the pan for at least a few hours, or overnight. It’ll give the chocolate a chance to set up fully and for the bars to just rest so slicing is a neater job.

You’ll be rewarded with bars that are soft in the interior, with slightly firmer and chewier edges, and you’ll just want to sink your teeth into them.

Red Velvet Chocolate-Swirled Brownie Bars {from scratch, not cake mix} - Big chocolate rivers in every bite!! Velvety soft and so good!!!

Chocolate-Swirled Red Velvet Brownie Bars

Chocolate-Swirled Red Velvet Brownie Bars

These easy red velvet brownies are topped with an abundance of chocolate and are velvety soft and smooth! They don't call it red velvet for nothing! 

Yield: 9
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 28 minutes
Cooling Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 8 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
  • 2 vials red food coloring, or as needed (I used 2 red Betty Crocker gel food coloring vials)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • pinch salt, optional and to taste
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted

Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
    2. In a large, microwave-safe bowl melt the butter, about 1 minute on high power.
    3. Wait momentarily before adding the egg so you don’t scramble it. Add the egg, brown sugar, vanilla, and whisk until smooth.
    4. Add the cocoa and whisk until smooth.
    5. Add the red food coloring and whisk to incorporate. Keep adding until desired shade is obtained.
    6. Add the flour, optional salt, and stir until just combined; don’t overmix.
    7. Turn batter out into prepared pan, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula; set aside.
    8. In a small, microwave-safe bowl melt the chocolate chips, about 1 minute on high power. Stop to check and stir. Heat in 10-second bursts until chocolate can be stirred smooth.
    9. Drizzle the chocolate over the pan and swirl lightly with the tip of a table knife or a toothpick. To create the pattern shown, drizzle chocolate over batter in 5 wide, evenly spaced, parallel lines, each spanning the length of the pan. Like 5 rows of long train tracks. Rotate pan 90-degrees. With a toothpick, starting at the top of the pan, “draw” 5 evenly spaced lines through the chocolate. You’re dragging the toothpick perpendicularly through the first set of lines to create the swirling.
    10. Bake for about 28 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean, or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter.
    11. Allow bars to cool in pan for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving; however, for optimal results, cool overnight so the chocolate has a chance to fully set up fully.

Notes

  • I used 2 vials of red food coloring. I had to buy two sets of gel food coloring (red, blue, green, yellow) for the two reds I needed. Use any type of food coloring you like; you’ll need a lot of it because it takes a lot to turn a chocolaty batter red.
  • Bars will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

9

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 273 Total Fat: 14g Saturated Fat: 8g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 5g Cholesterol: 48mg Sodium: 31mg Carbohydrates: 36g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 25g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 3g

More Valentine’s Day Dessert Recipes:

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting — Extremely popular with readers and so many positive comments about these easy, no-mixer cupcakes.

Easy Chocolate Pots de Creme – No-bake, no-cook, and made in a blender in 5 minutes!! The PERFECT dessert! Rich, decadent, a chocolate lover’s dream, perfect for special occasions, and guaranteed to impress!!

Red Velvet Poke Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting — The cake is fast, easy, and it’s a poke cake so it’s automatically super soft and moist.

Soft Frosted Valentine’s Heart Cookies — These easy cookies are soft, chewy, dense, made in one bowl, and you don’t have to roll them out.

Red Velvet Gooey Butter Cookies — These chocolate chip red velvet cookies have a secret ingredient — cake mix! These cookies are super ooey gooey and ultra rich! 

Valentine’s Day Vanilla Pudding Sugar Cookie Bars – A sugar cookie crust topped with creamy vanilla pudding, whipped topping, and sprinkles!! A luscious and EASY Valentine’s Day dessert that will put everyone in festive spirits!!

The Best and Easiest Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes — One bowl, no mixer, so easy! The warm, gooey, fudgy chocolate lava cake center is heavenly! Better than any restaurant versions! Best chocolate cake EVER!!

Valentine’s Frosted Sugar Cookie Bars – Sugar cookie bars are so much FASTER AND EASIER than making sugar cookies!! The sprinkles and tangy cream cheese frosting help to make the bars a PERFECT Valentine’s Day treat!!

160 comments on “Red Velvet Chocolate-Swirled Brownie Bars”

  1. I’ve never really baked anything before but I saw these and am going to give them a go. For the butter, approximately how many grams is a stick? (Butter in the UK doesn’t come in sticks). And what is the volume of the cups you are using?
    Thanks!

  2. These are so perfect for Valentine’s Day! I will definitely try this recipe out. Just wondering, how would i modify this recipe to fit a 9×11 pan? Any tips would be greatly appreciated :)

  3. If you use food colour paste instead of gel you get that deep red colour without having to use as much colouring, using the end of a tea spoon as a spatula you only need two small blobs and the mixture will be wonderfully red with paste.

    • I used gel for these and used 2 tubes. It does take A LOT to get a really vibrant bright red shade like these, but you could probably use much less if you didn’t want it to be bright red. I agree though, gel vs other types, night and day in terms of intensity of the pigmentation.

  4. So….I decided to try this today and it didn’t really work. After adding three whole bottles of red food colouring to the batter it still wasn’t enough to turn the dark brown batter red, which is a shame. Presumably there are types of food colouring that work better than others, but once you add the cocoa powder the whole mix turns incredibly dark. Was this the case when you did it, or can you get cocoa powder which is of a lighter shade of brown?

    • I used gel food coloring which is more intense then other types. You need a lot as I indicated in the recipe. All cocoa powder varies in color. I used the lightest one I have which is from Trader Joe’s. I find that other brands, Hershey, Ghirardelli, etc are all darker.

    • Try red velvet emulsion. Works wonders for achieving red color without the taste of food coloring.

  5. Um. can we say yum?? I made these bars, not as red velvet but as plain brownies. Or more like incredibly rich, dense, chocolate-swirled heaven brownies. Their flavor and texture reminded me of the amazing rich brownies from a bakery that used to be around when I was a child, which my mother would buy as special treats for us! Thanks for the recipe!

  6. Like so many have said before these look absolutely amazing. I especially like the picture of the nine squares. Good job there.

  7. I’m glad these are the typical cakey red velvet… I’m all about the fudgy brownies. But the color of these is GORGeous!!! Loving the chocolate swirl on top too Averie. Perfect for valentines day. Pinned these bad boys and making for my sweeties {hubbie and little 21 month old son :)}

  8. I just adore how swirly and pretty these are, Averie! Happy Valentine’s Day to you- I hope it’s sweet :) xoxo= K

  9. So looking forward to try this recipe!!! But before that is it okay if i used BC red velvet cake mix instead of preparing one??will it give the same result??

  10. When you pour the melted chocolate on top of the batter, isnt there a chance that it will seep through and you wont get that chocolate swirl on top?

  11. can I substitute it with other colors(purple)? But I tried And like it, Averie

  12. The color turned out amazing – although they aren’t technically red velvet b/c red velvet flavor is buttermilk and vinegar with a mild cocoa flavor. Good call on the gel color

  13. Those photos make me want to dive into my screen! I have guests over tomorrow night and a million chores to do as I’m also leaving on holiday soon. As a baking lover, I hated the thought of having to buy dessert …. am so glad I found this recipe (and your blog!), will give this a shot early tomorrow morning and I’ll let you know how it turns out!

    • These bars were one of the best things I made all 2013 (well I made them during the 2013 holiday baking season). They were seriously amazing and I hope you get a chance to try them! Please keep me posted how it goes!

  14. I made these last night! Although they did come out tasty they didn’t come out like a bar. More or a cake. Not sure where I went wrong with the directions. Maybe a bit too much flour??? Anyway. I did enjoy them.

    • It could be the cocoa you used, or it could have been over-flouring, although over-flouring tends to make things denser, not cakier. I find that some brands of cocoa make things very airy and light and possibly even cakier. Also overbaking can do it. It’s my basic blondie recipe that I’ve literally adapted 50 times with other desserts/bars/blondies so I’m not exactly quite sure what happened with yours. Glad they tasted good still!

  15. So, I didn’t see anything in the comments, but these loom really delicious and I think I’m up to the challenge of making them. I love traditional red velvet cake so even without the cream cheese frosting, I’m wondering would white chocolate work

  16. I thought red food coloring was bitter unless you bought one specifically labeled “No Taste”. I made a cake entirely covered in red roses once= disaster! The bright red gel Wilton colors (what I have available) are all bitter! The “No Taste” is duller by comparison. Also, aren’t red dyes made with cochineal extract? I’m not the food police, but I’m starting to be more careful about some things.

    http://www.ajc.com/news/lifestyles/health/campaign-to-rid-foods-of-red-dye-made-from-bugs-is/nbRDS/

  17. They look delicious!

  18. I need to make this in a 9×13 dish, how do I adjust the recipe? Thanks.

  19. Hi Avery,
    These photos have surely brought out the sunshine on my day! I am just aching to bite into them!
    My tiny problem is that I am vegetarian and don’t eat egg. I generally use substitutes like yogurt, flax seeds, bananas…But the texture of these little nuggets of joy seem like they are tied to precise proportions.
    Could you plssssss recommend the right egg substitute for this recipe?
    Love!
    Vasudha

  20. I’m really looking forward to making these! I just had a question regarding how you store the bars overnight to rest? Do you leave them in the pan and cover them with foil? Or leave them in the pan without being covered?

  21. Wow. Just wow.
    I usually am not a big fan of red velvet but I just made these for my sister and I have to restrain myself from eating the entire batch they were so good.
    (Btw I made a double batch and baked it in a 9 by 13 inch pan for 30 minutes and they came out beautifully)

  22. You, who made this is a genious and I love you <3

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