I used to have a problem with red velvet cake. I don’t love working with food coloring. It’s fake. There are so many amazing colors in nature (nature, used loosely, to include “naturally found at the grocery store”) that I didn’t understand the point of dolling up a decadent chocolate cake in flashy, red garb. The exception, of course, is Razorback gameday, during which anything that could possibly be tinted Hog Red is up for discussion. That being said, I was recently happily obligated to “deal with” my aversion by baking a red velvet cake for a dessert buffet.
As for the recipe, please indulge me in the fancy-baking faux pas that is boxed cake mix. I know, I know, get over it. I found a modification on (blessed) Pinterest for a boxed cake that promised to taste “bakery-style” (which begs the questions: as opposed to what? What do your cakes normally taste like?!). As I work a full time job and am also a student in my down time, I have to take shortcuts from time to time, or else I become sleep deprived and talk to my dogs too much. This upgraded box mix recipe is actually great. The cake is fantastic. I’ll stop raving now and let you read the recipe.
Modified Red Velvet Box Cake
The modification that I used promised rich, bakery-style flavor, with these substitutions:
1. Add two more eggs than called for on the box.
- Substitute butter for the vegetable oil on the box, and double the quantity.
- Use the same quantity of milk (instead of water) as stated on the box. I took this up a notch and used heavy whipping cream with some vanilla added to it – and wow was this a decadent, dense cake!
- The modifications call for the same time and temperature for baking as stated on the box, which I set out to do, but it actually took a bit longer. I am awful about never timing my baking, and I do think it baked for a bit longer than it would have without the cheesecake, but I think in general the modifications should not affect the baking time.
I could tell that these changes were definite upgrades from just the batter. It smelled rich, the texture was definitely thicker, and if I were to have tried some of it, well, I would perhaps be willing to testify to its deliciousness. IT WAS SO GOOD. I also really liked that the modifications increased the volume. I had roughly 25% more batter than I would have with a standard box recipe, so I was able to bake a dozen cupcakes in addition to the larger cake pictured above.
For the cheesecake swirl in the red velvet cake, I wanted to make sure that the cheesecake didn’t steal the show. The cake is so pretty, and you are going to frost it anyway, so the cheesecake is really there all for the flavor and to add moisture to the dense cake. I made a standard New York style cheesecake and topped the batter in all of my cupcakes with about one to two tablespoons of the cheesecake. I didn’t worry about swirling it together (because I was going to frost them anyway with yet another cheesecake layer), but the textures would have swirled just fine, if you don’t plan to frost the cupcakes.
I used “Chantal’s New York Cheesecake” recipe from Allrecipes, available here, with no subsitutions (of course, I didn’t make the crust, just the cream cheese portion of the recipe). The effect was pretty, with the cheesecake on the bottom (like an upside down cake) adding a layered look to the cake. I may add white chocolate chips next time to the cheesecake recipe.
Cream Cheese Frosting
The “icing on the cake” was another iteration of cheesecake. For the party, I tried a fun new product: a gold food spraypaint. I figured that if I had already compromised my food coloring phobia, may as well go big, and going big almost always involves gold. I frosted the cake first then sprayed it gold.
You will need:
- 6 ounces cream cheese, softened.
- 6 ounces butter, softened
- 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- In a large bowl, beat together the softened butter and cream cheese. Mix well.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and combine well.