Red velvet cake is, like its name implies, a cake with red tinge to it. It tastes much like chocolate cake but it has a richer, creamier, more velvety texture. It is often made for special occasions as its color relates well to festive occasions such as Christmas and birthdays.
Like many popular recipes, the exact origin of red velvet cake remains elusive. It is a traditional Southern recipe, although some say it actually originated in Canada. Its red coloring comes from red food coloring and its chocolate flavor comes traditionally from cocoa. But many adding vinegar and buttermilk to the batter will make the cocoa a deeper, richer red. During WWII, when foods were rationed, some bakers used beets in place of red food coloring to make the batter red.
The basic recipe for this delicious cake consists of cake flour, unsweetened cocoa, baking soda, salt, sugar, butter, red food coloring, eggs, vanilla, buttermilk and vinegar. The frosting for the cake is typically creamy white which contacts well with the red of the cake. The frosting is traditionally made simply with cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and vanilla. But variations abound with some preferring a butter cream frosting made with milk, flour, salt, sugar, butter and vanilla.
A quick perusal of recipe books and online recipe databases will reveal a myriad of variations to the basic recipe as well as many different desserts that are similar to, and play off the idea of red velvet. For example, you can simply pour the batter into cupcake pans and make small versions of the larger cake. Or, you can make something a bit more exciting by using the red velvet cake mix for a cake roll and adding a creamy strawberry filling. Try red velvet cheese cake which adds white chocolate to a cheesecake base that is paired with a thin layer of red velvet cake topped with a cream cheese frosting. A simple brownie recipe calls for the addition of red food coloring to a basic brownie mix. Red velvet cookies are simple to make by adding cocoa, butter, sour cream, red food color and egg to a ready-made sugar cookie mix. Top with a butter cream frosting and sprinkle on chopped nuts, if desired. Red velvet fudge can be concocted with a basic chocolate recipe by adding buttermilk and red food coloring. You can even serve red velvet pancakes by mixing adding cocoa powder, sour cream, red food coloring, vanilla extract and chocolate chips to a basic pancake batter. Top with a syrup flavor of your choice.
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