I'm kind of a red velvet fanatic. I guess anyone is who posts red velvet recipes in June instead of the appropriate month (February in case you were wondering--red velvet is often a Valentine's recipe). I don't know what it is about red velvet things. The good ones are dense with a tight, moist crumb, and just delicious. For some reason they're always tastier to me than the same recipe would be without the food coloring. And no, I don't know why. And, yes, maybe that's in my head. But, no, I don't really think it is.
I made these for our end of school piano recital and they were a hit (they were also really pretty for minimal effort). I'm really glad I had the pigginess to sneak one before we went to the recital because I did not get one once we were there.
They embody the red velvet cake in spirit while being much easier to make. Don't worry, you can complicate them if you wish. For the 4th of July, I'm thinking about making a pan of red and then a pan of blue and then we cut red cake with star shapes cut out and then blue stars and then we put the blue stars in the red cake and visa versa. Come on, it'd be crazy awesome. And, you know, just crazy (I mean, did you even follow that sentence--I almost got lost in it myself). I'll let you know if the madness overtakes me. If not, you could still keep with a nice red/white/blue theme--You could do these red bars with white frosting and blue sprinkles (maybe even blue star sprinkles) and then your holiday is complete and nobody has to be committed to the looney bin. That's what I call win win.
Red Velvet Bars
adapted from The Recipe Critic
Makes 1 9x13 inch pan
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Cool time: 1-2 hours
Cost: $6.85 (sounds expensive and it is compared to brownies or wacky cake, but still only about $.25/bar if you cut 24 bars)
flour: .40, cocoa: .25, butter: 1.00, sugar: .20, eggs: .10, food coloring: 2.00, other stuff: .10
cream cheese: 2.00, butter: .50, powdered sugar: .30
3 1/3 C flour
1/4 C cocoa
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 C butter, softened (quite a bit)
1 1/2 C sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp red food coloring (yup, it's a lot--about a 1-ounce bottle--those are the big bottles)
Cream Cheese Frosting:
2 8-oz cubes of cream cheese, softened
1/2 C butter, softened
1 Tbsp sour cream
2 C powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
For the bars:
Preheat oven 350 degrees. Line your pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper and then spray that.
Cream butter and sugar for several minutes--2-3. It should be light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, then vanilla. Add food coloring.
To this add your dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, salt,and baking powder). I always just throw them in and then give them a swirl together for my "sifting." However if your cocoa is chunky (as mine sometimes is), then sift it or get those chunks out.
Beat together dry and wet. It will make a sort of loose batter/soft dough. Press this into your pan. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs (I usually shoot for moist crumbs).
Cool before frosting (for reals or your frosting will melt).
Beat together cream cheese, butter, and sour cream. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat together until smooth.
Frost the cooled bars.