Preheat oven to 350° F (180º C). Line a square baking pan (9x9 inch) with parchment paper and lightly spray with baking spray. Set aside.
Melt butter and sugar together, in a large saucepan over medium heat, until sugar dissolves. Whisk in cocoa. Let the mixture cool slightly. Set aside.
Whisk together, in a mixing bowl, 2 tablespoons of water, 2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1 teaspoon oil; mix well to combine. Add buttermilk, applesauce, vanilla, and food coloring; whisk to combine.
Add the cocoa mixture to the buttermilk mixture. Add flour, the remaining teaspoon of baking powder, and salt; whisk to combine. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan.
Bake brownies for 35 - 40 minutes, or until set and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few moist crumbs. Cool completely before frosting and cutting.
Make the Frosting:
Beat cream cheese and butter until smooth and creamy. Add powdered sugar; beat until combined. Add melted white chocolate and continue beating until incorporated.
Remove brownies from pan. Spread the frosting over top of the brownies. Garnish with white chocolate curls, if desired (see notes). Cut into 9 large squares and serve.
Store: Store cut the brownie in an airtight container at room temperature; they're best eaten within 1 to 2 days. It is best to keep the brownies in the fridge if your kitchen is too hot; take them out of the fridge about an hour before you want to eat them to bring them to room temperature.Freeze the whole pan of uncut brownies well wrapped in plastic and foil and freeze for up to 3 months. If you wish to freeze cut brownies individually, wrap each portion in plastic wrap and foil and freeze in airtight containers for up to 1 month.To defrost frozen brownies, remove the pan from the freezer, unwrap it and leave it at room temperature for about 3 hours. If you want to defrost a whole tray of uncut brownies, I suggest cutting them when they are still partially frozen.Quick Extra Tips:
Make sure to measure ingredients correctly. I highly recommend using a kitchen scale.
Red Gel Food Coloring: the amount of food coloring will depend on the concentration of the food coloring you are using. I recommend using gel or paste food colors since they are highly concentrated, and you’ll end up using less.
Preheat the oven at least 15 minutes before getting started to give it plenty of time to reach the ideal recipe temperature.
Don’t overmix the batter. Mix just until you’ve evenly distributed the ingredients throughout the batter.
Bake the batter as soon as it is ready.
Don't open the oven door until your baked good has set. Leave the oven closed until the minimum time stated in the recipe.
Every oven is different, so baking times always have to be taken with a grain of salt. Oven thermostats can be wildly off, and that will all affect baking time, so keep an eye on yours.
To make chocolate curls run a vegetable peeler down the long side of the chocolate bar.
Bake in a 13x9-inch pan for 30 - 35 minutes for thinner brownies.
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