I’ve never really liked what people refer to as red velvet cakes. These vivid scarlet cakes are supposed to be a spin-off of the classic devil’s-food-cake, that cocoa-rich bit of decadence that tempts even the most hard-core dieters into cheating. In fact, Wikipedia actually defines a red velvet cake as:
…a popular cake with a dark red, bright red or red-brown color. It is usually prepared as a layer cake topped with a creamy vanilla icing or most popularly, cream cheese icing. The reddish-brown color of the cake was originally from a reaction of the cocoa powder with an acidic ingredient such as buttermilk; however red food coloring is often added.
That’s the deal-breaker for me: food coloring. Many Filipino bakeries actually cheat on the red velvet recipe by adding just a hint of cocoa to a plain butter batter and then dumping in alarming amounts of food coloring to turn the finished cake a wonted red. For a die-hard chocoholic like myself, that just won’t do at all.
Thank goodness that there are still bakeries in this country that keep it real when it comes to really good chocolate cakes. Sweet Ideas in Makati is one of them, and this shop’s red velvet cupcakes are my personal gold standard, the one by which everyone else’s red velvets are compared to, the one that makes all the rest fall short in a serious way.
The thing about the Sweet Ideas red velvet is that it’s made of pure chocolate as opposed to just adding a tinge of cocoa and I would think that, given the moistness of the crumb, buttermilk was used – and, aesthetically, this is good. The acidity of the buttermilk causes a chemical reaction with the cocoa, turning the color from a solid brown to the classic maroon that originally gave the cake its name. (It was the great food writer James Beard who said that the cake was as soft and as rich as red velvet.)
Flavor-wise, the chocolate flavor really shines through: rich and dusky, bittersweet with a slightly smoky edge. Paired with the generous cloud of proper cream-cheese frosting on top, it really shines – and I’ve never said this about any other red velvet cake! The slightly tart, not-too-sweet frosting provides a smooth, creamy contrast to the spongy cake within.
These red-velvet cupcakes are priced at P 55.00 each; a tad pricey – until you realize that said cupcake is as big as your fist, making it big enough for sharing. But, like I always say, why share if you don’t have to? ;)
Sweet Ideas: Ground Floor – Manhattan Square, Legaspi St., Salcedo Village, Makati / Ground Floor – LPL Tower, Legaspi St., Legaspi Village, Makati