Tuesday, March 24, 2009



RED is romance, cupids and hearts. RED is violence and anger, passion and warfare. RED is power and attention, sensual and steamy. RED stirs to action and stirs up emotions. Who isn’t inspired by RED, pounding heart, racing pulse; lust and danger. Or love, celebration, joy?

But RED is also sweet and saucy, cherry and raspberry, candy canes and Valentines. Tangy cranberries and pomegranates red as rubies, rhubarb and strawberries melting into pink. Add a splash of color, bright and warm.

Red Velvet cakes and cupcakes have been all the rage for a quite a while. Recipes vary as much as the color, from a pinky-purple to a deep garnet red to a woody brown, the name itself invoking images of slinky, body-hugging gowns or kissable, sensuous lips. It’s origin is besides the point; the Red Velvet Cake is a gorgeous, delectable chocolate cake (who can have too many recipes?), dressed up in any number of lighter or richer frostings it can go from casual snack to luscious, elegant dessert.

My brother Michael has been raving about his Red Velvet Cake for a number of years now; he makes it for every special occasion, including his own birthday, pairing it with a deep, dark, rich chocolate ganache frosting. Wicked!

I once made a Red Velvet cake, but when I got to the part where it said “add ¼ cup red food coloring”, I balked! No way! Didn’t they tell us ages and ages ago not even to eat red M & M’s because the red dye would kill you? So my cake turned simply into a dark chocolate buttermilk cake.

But Michael’s recipe uses pickled beet juice, strange for sure, but he assured me that it only adds that deep, ruby red color, not the pickled beet flavor.

Visiting him last week, I decided to make his Red Velvet Chocolate Cake with the Chocolate Ganache Frosting as a special treat for him. It was truly a snap to put together and, although I didn’t really see a red color in the finished cake, it was beautiful, dark and moist yet surprisingly light, the frosting sinfully thick and rich and bittersweet.

(sorry for the yellow tinge to the photos! He must have yellow lighting!)

From Joan Nathan’s The New American Cooking

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
½ cup water
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 large or extra-large eggs
1 Tbs vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
1 ½ tsps baking soda
2 Tbs pickled beet juice or red wine vinegar
1 ½ cups flour + ½ cup cake flour (or I simply used 2 cups all-purpose) flour total
½ cup cornstarch
1 tsp salt
1 ½ cups sugar

Preheat the oven to 375°F
Grease two 9-inch round cake pans.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Remove pan from the heat, stir in water and cocoa powder until blended and smooth. Allow to cool.

Beat the eggs with an electric mixer. Add vanilla, buttermilk, baking soda and beet juice or vinegar. Stir well.

Sift together the flours, cornstarch, salt and sugar. Add this to the egg mixture and blend. Add the butter/cocoa mixture and blend thoroughly on low speed.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until set in the center.

Cool for a few minutes then turn out onto racks to cool completely before frosting.

From Joan Nathan’s The New American Cooking

1 cup heavy cream
½ Tbs unsalted butter
2 Tbs sugar
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 tsps vanilla
1/8 tsp salt

Heat the cream, butter and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring continuously, until it is hot and bubbly.

Remove from the heat and add the chopped chocolate, stirring slowly until smooth and silky. Add the vanilla and salt. Taste and adjust the sweetness to taste.

Cool and then frost. If, as I found, it is too liquid to frost, put it in the refrigerator until it is spreading consistency. After the cake is frosted and it sits to set, this ganache turns into a thick, creamy perfect frosting.

With ice cream it is the best!

We ate this cake over several days, but as it is a light, less dense cake than I usually make (here and here) it did start to turn a bit stale sooner than one of my moister chocolate cakes does.


Chef E said...

I love the tie in, and that cake, oh my goodness...now you do realize how much chocolate will be consumed today and how many women will be happy because of you!

cooknkate said...

Gads!! I want some cake!!!!!!

Culinary Wannabe said...

I've never had a red velvet cake with anything but that thick cream cheese frosting. The ganache looks amazing! I will have to give your brother's version a try.

asiangrrl said...

Oh, Jamie, I have missed your posts. Sigh. Especially the chocolate posts. This cake is gorgeous, and red is my second-favorite color. It's all good.

Jessica@Foodmayhem said...

We were just talking about making a red velvet with beet juice. I'm allergic to artificial food coloring so I would really love a good recipe without it, but I want the bright color too!

scraps said...

Thanks for putting the recipe on without the food coloring, yeah!!! I think I shall try this version. I usually don't put the red in either and it tastes ok, but I like most chocolate cakes that are home made.

Aeroentropy said...

Yummmy --

The Hubster would like this a lot, methinks, so long as I don't mention the beets!

Sirenoftitan said...

It's only 0920 and I really fancy a slice of that chocolate cake. It looks divine.
Thanks for sharing that recipe Jamie.

Foodie said...

I have just been recently introduced to Red Velvet cake http://tinyurl.com/c2fpyv and am totally hooked. The shocking red can be a bit much, so nice to see you can make it in a not-so-red colour!

My Carolina Kitchen said...

Can you believe I'm from the south and have never made Red Velvet Cake? In fact, I've never even tasted it. You make it look like a taste of heaven. Now whenever I see it, I'll start singing "She Wore Red Velvet" in my head and think of my friend Jamie in France.
Thanks for the great recipe.

Jamie said...

Sam : I will forgive you for never having made Red Velvet Cake; after all, you made Cassoulet and I have never had the courage to!

This was a delicious cake, another chocolate cake for my repertoire, but as I said, it is less dense and moist and long-lasting than other chocolate cakes I make. This one is one I would recommend for a more elegant dessert.

And this ganache frosting is really amazing and very rich and sinful!

squirrelbread said...

oh what a delicious cake to come home to! hope your holiday was lovely...



ChefBliss.com said...

Love the ganache!! How delicious and I really love the color as it is but I think I've only had the red red version once!! Gorgeous!

Scrumptious said...

What a beautiful cake! And what a terrific intro. You have such a fun, sexy, well laid-out blog!

What a treat!


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