Red is the colour of energy, passion and action that exudes a strong and powerful masculine energy. This probably explains my fascination with Red Velvet cake.
I think you already know that I am a chocolate fiend. You may also know that Red Velvet cake is by far one of my favourite cake flavours. Not surprisingly, as it is technically a chocolate cake, only red. Truth be told, as much as I enjoy the taste of this cake, I think my fascination rests mostly with the colour.
Being what seems to be the season of all things red (and green, and silver and gold...) I can't think of a more fitting cake to complement the festive theme.
According to colour psychology, red is an energizing colour that excites the emotions and motivates us to take action. I guess the people who 'invented' christmas knew exactly what they were doing when they made red its ambassador colour. It certainly excites and motivates many to spend more money on more stuff than is really needed. Red is also described as a warm and positive colour that is associated with our most physical needs and our will to survive. It awakens our physical life force and has been known to stimulate deeper and more intimate passions, such as love and sex. Valentine's rings a bell, anyone??
Red Velvet cake is essentially coloured Devil's Food Cake. To achieve the red colour, red food colouring is often added, or some use beet juice/root. My preference is the latter, in combination with a quality cocoa powder and I leave the rest to science. The acid in the vinegar and buttermilk create a chemical reaction that causes the anthocyanin present in cocoa to reveal its true colour. I have recently learned that using a natural unsweetened, non-alkalized cocoa can create a more brilliant, as the natural pigments are more pronounced in the absence of the added alkaline (dutch process). So, I have been thinking about experimenting with various cocoas to come up with a super red colour, without compromising taste.
Most often, red velvet cake is paired with a cream cheese frosting, I like it with swiss meringue buttercream. Together, they treat the palate to an exquisitely rich, but light, airy dessert that isn't overly sweet. The buttercream atop these little jewels is flavoured with coconut emulsion.
And here it is - as beautiful naked as it is clothed. Eat up!
Red Velvet Cake w/ Coconut Swiss Meringue Buttercream
(Yield: 24 regular size cupcakes)
An exquisitely rich, but light and airy cake paired with coconut swiss meringue buttercream; a perfect end to any meal.
Cake 1 cup unsalted butter 2 tbsp water 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa ( I use E. Guittard Cocoa Rouge) 3 eggs 1 cup buttermilk 1 tbsp white vinegar 2 tsp vanilla extract 2 tbsp beet juice (1 medium beet yields about 4 tbsp) 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1/2 cup cornstarch 1 1/2 tsp baking powder 1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
Frosting 150 g liquid egg whites 250 g sugar 340 unsalted butter, cut into cubes and cool 1 tsp Tahitian crushed vanilla beans 1 tablespoon coconut bakery emulsion pinch of salt
Directions Preheat oven to 350º F. Line muffin tins with paper cupcake liners.
Place the butter, water, and cocoa in a small saucepan and heat gently, without boiling, stirring until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
Beat together the eggs, buttermilk, vanilla extract, vinegar and beet juice until frothy. Beat in the butter mixture. Sift together the flour, cornstarch and baking powder, then stir into the
mixture with the superfine sugar.
Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Cool in pan for about 10 minutes, then place on a wire rack and cool completely before frosting.
For the frosting: Using a clean towel and some lemon juice or vinegar, clean all equipment and utensils to be used for preparing the meringue..
Fill a heavy duty pot about a quarter of the way with water and place on the stove over medium heat to simmer.
Add egg whites and sugar to the mixing bowl and place on top of the pot, ensuring the bottom of the bowl is not in contact with the water in the pot. Lightly whisk the sugar egg white mixture constantly until temperature reaches 160°F.
Once at the correct temperature, remove from heat and transfer mixing bowl to the stand mixer. With the whisk attachment, begin to whip the meringue until it is thick, glossy, and the bottom of the bowl is no longer warm to the touch. Do not begin adding butter while the bowl is still warm.
Switch from your whisk to paddle attachment and with mixer on low speed, add butter cubes, one at a time, until incorporated. Continue to mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture.
Add emulsion vanilla beans and salt and continuing to beat on low speed until well combined.