Red Velvet Cake with Mocha Cream Frosting

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This makes a light textured cake with plenty of flavor.
Red Velvet Cake

Red Velvet CakeTuesday, November 21, 2012, was Spane’s 9th birthday. He originally asked for a Red Velvet Cake, but then said he wanted Chocolate Cake with Mocha Frosting that I made for his 7th birthday, and was the base for the Jolly Roger Cake of the Pirate Rack Rachham that I made for his 8th birthday. At the last minute, I decided to give him his original request.

Yes, I know that Red Velvet is all over the place, and mostly nasty, truly horrific. When Red Velvet became popular all over the country, short cuts were made, and what resulted was a dense, flavorless cake, with a greasy shortening “cream cheese” frosting, that I am sure was made with cream cheese flavoring, and nary a bit of real cream cheese. The first time I heard about the cake was in Steel Magnolias when the armadillo groom’s cake was brought out. The real cake is delicious. I make a real Red Velvet Cake, that uses real cream cheese, cake flour, and vinegar/baking soda leavener.

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I just can’t make an ordinary anything, I always have to umph it up a bit, and this cake was no exception. Instead of using white vinegar, I used Balsamic vinegar. I also used a Mocha frosting instead of the traditional cream cheese frosting. It was a real hit.

Red Velvet Cake

Red Velvet Cake

This makes a light textured cake with plenty of flavor.
Calories per serving:

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  • Vegetable oil, for the pans
  • 2 ½ cups cake flour
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ cups vegetable oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee
  • Chocolate Jimmies, for Garnish

For the Frosting

  • 1 pound cream cheese, softened
  • 4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, (1 cup), softened
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated cinnamon
Ingredients necessary for the recipe step are in italic.


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil and flour 3 (9 by 1 1/2-inch round) cake pans.
  • In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In another large bowl, whisk together the oil, buttermilk 1, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla.
  • Using a standing mixer, mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined and a smooth batter is formed.
  • Divide the cake batter evenly among the prepared cake pans. Place the pans in the oven evenly spaced apart. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through the cooking until the cake pulls away from the side of the pans, and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
  • Remove the cakes from the oven and run a knife around the edges to loosen them from the sides of the pans. One at a time, invert the cakes onto a plate and then re-invert them onto a cooling rack, rounded-sides up. Let cool completely.
  • Frost the cake. Place 1 layer, rounded-side down, in the middle of a rotating cake stand. Using a palette knife or offset spatula spread some of the cream cheese frosting over the top of the cake. (Spread enough frosting to make a 1/4 to 1/2-inch layer.) Carefully set another layer on top, rounded side down, and repeat. Top with the remaining layer and cover the entire cake with the remaining frosting. Sprinkle the sides with the chocolate jimmies.

For the Frosting

  • In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand-held electric mixer in a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, sugar, and butter on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to high, and mix until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. (Occasionally turn the mixer off, and scrape the down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.)
  • Reduce the speed of the mixer to low. Add the vanilla, cocoa, coffee and cinnamon. Raise the speed to high and mix briefly until fluffy (scrape down the bowl occasionally).
  • Store in the refrigerator until somewhat stiff, before using. It may be stored in the refrigerator for 3 days.
  • Yield: enough to frost a 3 layer (9-inch) cake


If you don't want a container of buttermilk sitting in the refrigerator until it becomes a science experiment, buy powdered buttermilk. There are several brands, and they are quite good. If you are using powdered buttermilk, add it to the dry ingredients, and add 1 cup of water for every cup of powder to the liquid ingredients.
Food gel does a better job of coloring foods because it is thicker, and requires less. Wilton makes excellent color gels.
Cinnamon is available in a grinder these days, so no need to use the powdered cinnamon that has already lost its flavor. If you cannot find it, use Saigon cinnamon instead.
Got Questions? Let me know!Mention @arbpen or tag #arbpen!


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