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.
Red Velvet Cupcakes with Coconut Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- 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
- 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
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.