Extra dark brownies look stunning with a creamy white swirl of cheesecake baked right into the top. You’ll love this black velvet cheesecake brownies recipe!
Darlings, there’s something so stunning about the cheesecake swirl in these gorgeous black velvet brownies. They’re almost as pretty to look at as delicious to eat. So this is a recipe I like to make when I want to serve something extra striking! Of course, they never last all that long, because they are delicious. With the black velvet flavor, they’re not too sweet, and the cheesecake layer adds a lovely creamy touch.
Why are these called black velvet brownies?
This cheesecake brownie recipe is a play on red velvet brownies. Only instead of using food coloring to make these red, I use the natural coloring found in dark cocoa powder to get the striking black color! In this recipe, I use a mix of black cocoa powder and natural cocoa powder.
You can find the black cocoa powder online, but if you’d rather not order something special, you can use the “special dark” cocoa powder found at most grocery stores. The brownies won’t be pitch black, but close enough.
What is black cocoa powder?
Cocoa powder is processed in a few different ways. Natural cocoa powder, what you usually find at the store, has the richest chocolate flavor and is lightest in color. Dutch-process cocoa powder is a little more alkaline and darker in color. It has less chocolate flavor, but a richer color.
Black cocoa powder is heavily dutched, so has a very light chocolate flavor, but a very very rich color. It’s a great cocoa powder to use when making my orange chocolate sandwich cookies if you want only a very slight chocolate flavor. Because the chocolate flavor is so mild, you wouldn’t typically use black cocoa powder on its own in recipes. It’s most commonly added for color and mixed with another cocoa powder to get a chocolate flavor.
This mild flavor is actually what makes black cocoa powder perfect for these black velvet cheesecake brownies! If you are familiar with the flavor of red velvet cake, you know that it’s not a red chocolate cake. Red velvet has a distinct tang from the vinegar and buttermilk and only a hint of chocolate flavor. Because the brownies are supposed to have a red velvet flavor, which is only supposed to have a hint of chocolate, this is great!
Tips for baking black velvet cheesecake brownies…
Thankfully, these brownies are pretty easy to mix up. You do have the added step of making the creamy cheesecake layer, but it’s easy. And once you put these brownies in the oven, there’s nothing else to do but wait!
I do want to share a few tips on getting the pretty swirls in the brownies though. It’s not quite as straightforward as putting the brownie batter in the pan and then putting the cheesecake batter on top. To get the nice clean looking swirls, you’ll want to reserve a bit of the brownie batter. Place most of the brownie batter in the pan, top with the cheesecake in dollops, then top each dollop of cheesecake with a bit of the reserved brownie batter. That way, when you run your butter knife or chopstick around the pan to make the swirls, you get some of the brownie batter sitting on top of the cheesecake. It makes for the prettiest swirls.
You’ll also need to wait a little bit before cutting after the brownies come out of the oven. That’s true in general with brownie recipes, but especially for this one! I actually like to let the brownies cool completely and chill them a bit before cutting. Store the extra brownies in the refrigerator in an airtight container because of the cheesecake.
Happy baking, darlings!
Black Velvet Brownie Batter
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (see notes)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons black cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (see notes)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened (see notes)
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg white (see notes)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat your oven to 350 F. Spray an 8x8-inch square pan with nonstick spray and line with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the cooled melted butter, sugar, and salt. Whisk in the eggs. Add the vanilla, cocoa powders, and vinegar.
- Stir in the flour until no white streaks remain, but no more. Pour 3/4 of the batter into your prepared brownie pan.
- In another mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar until fluffy and well incorporated. This is easiest with a hand mixer or stand mixer, but can be done by hand too. Add the egg white and vanilla and stir until well combined.
- Spoon the cheesecake mixture in spoonfuls over the brownie batter in the pan and top with the reserved brownie batter. Use a butter knife or chopstick to create swirls in the cheesecake batter. Don't stir too long to keep the swirls from looking muddy.
- Bake the brownies for 25-30 minutes until the center is just set and a tester comes out mostly clean (a moist crumb or two is okay).
- Place the brownies on a wire rack to cool completely before cutting into squares. Store extra brownies in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. Enjoy!
- If you don't have black cocoa powder, you may substitute dark cocoa powder (like Hershey's Extra Dark) for all the cocoa powder in the recipe.
- If you would like to use salted butter in the recipe, omit the salt
- To quickly soften cream cheese, unwrap the brick and place on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave for 15 seconds and it's ready to use!
- Using just the egg white gets you a brighter white color than using a whole egg or the egg yolk. Reserve the yolk for another use.
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