Red velvet cake is something of a pseudo-tradition in my family because my sister always asks for something similar to it for her birthday.
The first time she asked for one resulted in a deep purple dessert dubbed the Sky at Dusk because it was the color of a night sky and decorated with stars cut out of cake trimmings on top of a lemon cheesecake frosting. This would eventually be followed by the much-darker imperial velvet cake and other similar treats.
And finally, this: a real red velvet cake.
And not just any red velvet cake, mind you: this monster is a chocolate red velvet cake.
The average red velvet cake is, pretty much, a butter cake loaded with red food coloring. However, the original red velvet is a cocoa-flavored butter cake that took its characteristic maroon hue from the chemical reaction between acidic buttermilk and the more alkaline cocoa powder. Unfortunately, many modern red velvet cake recipes add just a smidgen (two tablespoons or less) of cocoa and load up on food coloring; not cool, if you ask me.
Mine is adapted from the one from the Hershey’s Kitchen – but has the added advantage of a quarter-cup of chocolate chips tossed into the deep red batter before baking. Thus, this one has ample chocolate flavor and is considerably richer and more satisfying than the red velvet cake you’d pick up from some commercial bakery. Add the fact that the icing on this particular cake is a caramel cream cheese frosting, it was a cake that definitely put a smile on my sister’s face on her special day.
And, believe me when I say this is guaranteed to make you smile, too.
Chocolate Red Velvet Cake
For the Cake:
- 1/2 cup vanilla-flavored margarine or soft unsalted butter
- 1-1/2 cups granulated white sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons red food coloring
- 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup buttermilk or 1 tablespoon vinegar + enough milk to yield 1 cup total liquid
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon fine salt
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
For the Frosting:
- 1 bar (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup caramel-flavored margarine or soft unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup icing or confectioner’s sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees / Gas Mark 4.
Grease and flour a standard-sized regular Bundt or fluted Bundt pan.
Cream together the vanilla margarine and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, cocoa powder, and vanilla; mix well. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Tip half the flour mixture into the cocoa mixture. Mix well and pour in half the buttermilk; mix until well combined. Tip in the rest of the flour mixture and blend well with the rest of the buttermilk until a smooth batter is achieved. Stir in the food coloring and mix until well-incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips.
Pour into the prepared cake pan and bake 55 minutes.
While the cake is baking, make the frosting. Using a hand-held mixture at medium speed, whip together all the ingredients until soft peaks form. Chill for at least 15 minutes.
Remove the baked cake from the pan and set onto a serving plate, reserving any crumbs. Allow to cool completely before frosting. Top the frosted cake with any reserved crumbs.
Serves 12…just. 😉