This creepy Halloween brain dip is made with a creamy red velvet cake dip base that’s topped with cream cheese frosting piped in the shape of a wrinkly brain.
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Table of Contents
- About Brain Dip
- What do you need to make brain dip?
- How long can you leave out a dessert dip?
- What to serve with brain dip?
- Do you need to bake the Red Velvet Cake mix?
- notes & tips for this Halloween dip recipe
- More great Halloween recipes
- Other tasty dessert dips
- How to make brain dip
- Recipe Details
About Brain Dip
Halloween is all about being mysterious and creepy, and what’s more creepy than being served an edible brain dip?
Because, sure, it looks like a brain – but what’s in it? What’s it made of? Is it savory or sweet?
For the regular readers of this little blog, I’m sure you can probably already guess: it’s a delicious dessert dip.
The red center is made with a creamy red velvet cake batter dip. The brain design on top was made with homemade cream cheese frosting. And to top it all off, there are ladyfinger cookies for dipping thanks to their bone-like look and mild flavor to compliment this sweet dip.
Plus, using ladyfingers just seemed to go along with the human body part theme of brain dip.
What do you need to make brain dip?
To make this creepy looking dip, make sure you have the following on hand:
- Pastry bags – Used for piping the frosting across the top of the dip in the shape of a brain. If you can, I’d recommend picking up “real” pastry bags (as opposed to a ZipLoc bag with a corner cut) for easy decorating. That’s not to say that you couldn’t create the look of the brains with a ZipLoc bag, but it will be significantly easier with a pastry bag and piping tip.
- Decorating Tip A (big round tip) – This will give you the wide, round shape needed for drawing the lines and squiggles of the brain.
- Small paint brush or butter knife – If you’d like the brain frosting to look “bloody” with red streaks, you’ll need to paint or smear lines of red food coloring on the inside of the pastry bag. A brush (I used one from a children’s art set) or dull knife will do the job perfectly.
How long can you leave out a dessert dip?
As with any party food, you should keep track of how long it sits out at room temperature.
For most foods, the general rule of thumb is that a perishable item should not be in the “danger zone” for more than two hours. And by “danger zone”, this is usually at or just above room temperature, which is how this dip will be served.
As the party goes on, you can move your dip back to the refrigerator once you get past the two-hour mark. If your guests still want more dip, let it chill for at least 30 minutes before bringing it back out again.
What to serve with brain dip?
This Halloween dip is very sweet thanks to the red velvet base and cream cheese frosting, so you’ll want to pair this dip with mild or savory flavors, such as:
- Ladyfinger cookies – This is what I used, not only because they’re mild in flavor but also because they look a bit like bones. They add more Halloween flair.
- Vanilla Wafers, Sugar Cookies, etc – Any mild, vanilla-based cookie would be great with this dip.
- Pretzels, Saltine crackers, etc – Salty snacks are great for dipping, even in sweet dips like this. And even if this isn’t your main choice for dipping, I’d still recommend serving a few salty items nearby. You may be surprised how many are gone by the end of the night!
- Cubed pounds of cake, crumbled waffle cones, etc – You’re not restricted to just cookies or classic finger foods for dipping! Feel free to get creative with other foods that pair well with cake or frosting.
Do you need to bake the Red Velvet Cake mix?
Although it’s rare to become ill from consuming flour, it is considered a raw ingredient, so for proper food safety, the red velvet cake mix should be cooked before consumption because it includes flour.
To bake the red velvet cake mix: Spread the cake mix out on a baking sheet and bake it for five minutes at 350 degrees F.
notes & tips for this Halloween dip recipe
- For this recipe, I highly recommend using a stand mixer or a hand mixer. It would be difficult to make by hand with a whisk.
- If at all possible, I recommend using gel food coloring. Any type will do, but gel will make decorating the pastry bag easier.
More great Halloween recipes
Other tasty dessert dips
How to make brain dip
This next part is only a photo tutorial of the recipe steps. If you’re looking for the full recipe measurements and instructions, scroll down to Recipe Details.
Step 1 – Prepare the cream cheese frosting by whipping together the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and powdered sugar. If you’d like the dip to be pink in color, add a few drops of red food coloring.
Step 2 – If you’d like the brains to appear “bloody”, use a paintbrush or butter knife to smear red food coloring down the sides of a pastry bag with a large, round piping tip.
Step 3 – Add the cream cheese frosting to your prepared pastry bag, then chill the frosting for 30 minutes (helps firm up the frosting which will make decorating easier).
Step 4 – While the frosting chills, prepare the red velvet cake dip by whipping together the cream cheese, salted butter, red velvet cake mix, powdered sugar, light brown sugar, vanilla extract, and red food coloring.
Step 5 – Add the red velvet dip to a serving bowl of your choice, smoothing the top of the dip out into a dome.
Step 6 – Pipe the frosting on top of the red velvet cake dip into a brain-like pattern. Tip: Always pipe frosting front to back. Start by drawing a line right down the middle, then fill the sides with squiggly lines.
Step 7 – Serve with ladyfinger cookies and enjoy!
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 3 ounce cream cheese, softened
- 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
- red food coloring
Red Velvet Cake Batter Dip
- 8 ounce cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup salted butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cup dry red velvet cake mix
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- red food coloring, (optional – only if you want a deeper red)
- ladyfinger cookies, for dipping
For the Cream Cheese Frosting
- Using a stand mixer (or hand mixer + large bowl), add in cream cheese, butter, and vanilla extract. Beat on medium-high until smooth and fluffy, about 2-5 minutes.
- Drop speed to medium and slowly add in powdered sugar, about a 1/2 cup at a time, until thoroughly mixed. If desired, add a small amount of food coloring to frosting so that it’s pale pink in color.
- If you'd like the brains to appear "bloody" as pictured, set up a pastry bag with your chosen piping tip, then use a paintbrush or a butter knife to draw streaks of red down the sides of the bag, going from tip to end.
- Fill a piping bag with prepared cream cheese frosting, then place icing bag in the refrigerator for 30 minutes so the icing can firm up (this will help the frosting keep its shape better). If you refrigerate icing for longer than 30 minutes, you may need to let icing soften at room temperature for 30 minutes before using.
For the Red Velvet Cake Batter Dip
- Food Safety Step: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread red velvet cake mix out on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes. Allow cake mix to cool completely before using.
- While the icing chills, prepare the cake batter dip. Using a stand mixer (or a hand mixer + medium bowl), add in cream cheese and butter then beat on medium-high until smooth and fluffy, about 2-5 minutes.
- Drop speed to medium and slowly add in the dry red velvet cake mix, powdered sugar, and brown sugar until thoroughly mixed. If you'd like the dip to be a deeper red, you can try adding a few drops of red food coloring (can use up to 1 tablespoon of red food coloring.)
- Place red velvet cake batter dip in your chosen serving bowl and smooth the top into a dome shape.
Putting it all together
- Pipe icing on top of red velvet cake batter dip in the design of a brain. Easiest way to create this design: always piping from the front of the dip to the back, draw a line straight down the middle, then add squiggly lines along the sides.
- Serve immediately with ladyfingers cookies for dipping.
I do my best to provide nutrition information, but please keep in mind that I’m not a certified nutritionist. Any nutritional information discussed or disclosed in this post should only be seen as my best amateur estimates of the correct values.