The past two weeks, I’ve been suffering from post-vacation blues. I catch myself daydreaming while sitting in my stuffy office. While at the gym, I pretend I’m running on the beach with the sand under my feet. While I’ve been stuck in my own head, the days continue to roll by. I almost had a heart attack when I saw it was almost July.
Where did the year go? Have I been stuck in la-la land for the past 6 months?
My time here in California is almost done, and my to-do list grows by the second. People to say good bye to, accounts to be closed, and sadly, an apartment to move out from. Since my time is precious and my list isn’t shrinking on its own, I need to post-and-run. Linda and I made this Dark Chocolate Red Velvet Cake when she was visiting me. I don’t know how we managed to drag ourselves in to the kitchen with the hot temperatures and travelers fatigue, but we did it. We must be kindred spirits because we were totally excited to get in to the kitchen, despite everything. In addition, it was Linda’s birthday and no birthday can go on without a cake. That is my rule and I’m sticking to it!
This is my first time baking a Red Velvet cake and to be honest, it wasn’t exactly what I expected. I thought there would be of a pronounced chocolate flavor. Instead, it was a really, really sweet cake. And the frosting. Oh the frosting. Cream cheese + 2 boxes of sugar = a really sweet frosting. You are probably thinking, “Duh, Amanda” but the sweetness comes out of nowhere and hits you like a train. I have a soft spot for cream cheese frosting; in fact it’s my favorite part of carrot cake. But I prefer mine a tad less tooth-aching sweet so next time I’d cut the sugar down to 1 and 1/2 boxes. Also, the recipe was supposed to make a three-layer cake but that was way too much for two tiny girls. We ended up cutting it down to a two-layer cake and had plenty of cupcakes left over. I should warn you that the cream cheese frosting is extremely addicting.
The recipe is from “All Cakes Considered” by Melissa Gray and if sweet cakes are your thing, try this recipe out. I imagine it would make for a wonderful birthday cake as it was pretty easy to frost. I had some stability issues but that might have been from the heat in my kitchen.
Dark Chocolate Red Velvet Cake
Origin: All Cakes Considered by Melissa Gray
Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 35 to 45 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 1 hour to chill
For the cake:
● 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
● 1 1/4 cup sugar
● 1 1/4 cup light brown sugar
● 6 large eggs
● 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
● 3 cups all-purpose flour
● 1/4 tsp baking soda
● 1/4 cup Dutch process cocoa
● 1/2 tsp baking powder
● 1 cup sour cream
● 1/2 oz. red food coloring
For the Frosting:
● 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
● 2-8 oz. packages of cream cheese, at room temperature
● 2-16 oz. boxes of confectioners sugar
● 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Position a rack in lower third of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees. Butter cake pans, or line pans with parchment paper to prevent the cake bottoms from sticking to the pan. (I did both, just in case.)
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter on medium speed, then gradually add the sugars, beating well. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and beat until blended.
In a separate bowl, dry whisk the flour, baking soda, cocoa, and baking powder together.
Add 1 cup of the floured cocoa mixture and 1/3 cup of the sour cream alternating and beating well after each addition. Don’t forget to scrape down the sides. Repeat until all the sour cream has been blended in. Start adding the butter/egg mixture to the flour mixture slowly until it has all been blended together.
Add the food coloring and beat well. Use the spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and stir up the batter at the bottom (this ensures that your cake is a uniform colored rather than marbled). Beat again to mix well.
Divide batter between pans and bake in middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 35-45 minutes. Keep an eye on the cake during those last ten minutes. Depending on your oven temperature, your cake might be done sooner than expected.
Cool layers completely in pans on wire racks. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks. Carefully remove wax paper and cool layers completely. Cake layers may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature. Let cakes cool completely. (I put mine in the fridge for an hour to cool down faster.)
To make the frosting:
Cream the butter and cream cheese together at medium speed until blended. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and mix until just incorporated.
Using long serrated knife, trim off rounded tops of cakes to make level; brush off any loose crumbs. Transfer 1 cake to platter, trimmed side up. Drop half of frosting (about 1 1/2 cups) by spoonfuls atop cake. Spread frosting evenly to edges of cake. Top with second cake, trimmed side down. Drop remaining frosting by spoonfuls onto top of cake, spreading frosting down the sides of cake. Sprinkle with your decorations, if you want. Let cake stand at room temperature 1 hour to allow frosting to set slightly.
Cake can be made and frosted 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and refrigerate. Let cake stand at room temperature at least 2 hours before serving.