In the Red (Velvet)

Three different takes on a sweet favorite.

The Classic: Red Velvet Cake

For the cake:
1/2 cup Crisco
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon cocoa
2 ounces red food coloring
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon vinegar

Cream Crisco and sugar. Add eggs and beat thoroughly. Add cocoa and food coloring and beat until well mixed. In separate bowl, add salt to flour. Add flour mixture alternating with buttermilk to the Crisco mixture. Add vanilla and mix well. Stir soda into vinegar and add immediately to above mixture. Fold in carefully. Bake in two greased and floured 8-inch round pans at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Test cakes for doneness.

For the icing: 
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup flour
pinch of salt
1/2 cup Crisco
1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cook milk, flour and salt to pudding stage—it must be thick. Cool until cold. Cream together Crisco, butter, sugar and vanilla. Beat until very smooth, about 5 minutes. Frost cake. Keep covered in refrigerator.

The Throwback: Red Velvet Whoopies

1½ stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
½ cup dark brown sugar packed
2 eggs
1 oz red food coloring
2/3 cup whole milk
3 cups all-pupose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment. Using a fork, mix together the butter and sugars until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and whisk. Add the food coloring and milk and mix until incorporated.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda. Slowly add in the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Add vanilla and mix until just combined.

Scoop 1½ tablespoons of batter and place on prepared baking sheets (12 per sheet). Bake 10-12 minutes. Let cookies cool completely before filling with cream cheese icing (recipe below).

For the icing:

1 stick of unsalted butter

1 8oz container Philadelphia Cream Cheese

3 cups confectioners sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream butter and cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer. Slowly add confectioners sugar and beat for 2 minutes. Turn off mixer, turn icing with a spatula and mix thoroughly. Add vanilla and mix for 1-2 more minutes. Refrigerate.

After both cream cheese and fig mixture have chilled, gently fold the two together, leaving ribbons of the fig reduction exposed. Pipe or spread on cooled pumpkin whoopies and refrigerate. For a simpler preparation, omit the fig reduction and just use cream cheese icing. Toasted pecans can be added for crunch.

The Upstart: Red Velvet Cheesecake

6 cups cream cheese, room
¼ cup Mascarpone cheese 
1 ½ cups sugar
8 large eggs
1 ¼ cups sour cream
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons cool water
5 teaspoons gelatin powder
1 cup heavy cream
5 teaspoons sugar 

Preheat oven to 245 degrees. Mix cream cheese until smooth. Add mascarpone and sugar and blend well. Gradually add eggs one at a time. Once the eggs are mixed in, add sour cream, heavy cream, vanilla extract and lemon juice. When the batter is fully incorporated, pour into a 9-by-13-inch cake pan. Place cake pan on top of a baking tray and place inside the oven. Pour hot water onto baking tray about halfway up the cake pan and bake for 60 minutes. Remove cheesecake from the oven and allow to cool at room temperature. Once cool, place inside refrigerator and let rest overnight. On the following day, remove chilled cheesecake from refrigerator and set aside. In a small bowl, mix together water and gelatin powder and set aside. Take one quarter of the pre-baked cheesecake and melt it using a double boiler. Once the cheesecake is warm, add gelatin mixture and whisk well. Incorporate the mixture back into the rest of the cheesecake. In a separate bowl, combine heavy cream with sugar and whip until smooth, just shy of stiff peaks. Incorporate whipped cream into the cheesecake and mix well.

For the red velvet cake:
2 ½ cups cake flour 
1 teaspoon baking soda  
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1 ½ tablespoons cocoa powder 
2 ½ cups unsalted butter  
2 ½ cups granulated sugar 
¼ cup corn syrup 
10 large eggs 
½ cup heavy cream 
5 teaspoons red food coloring 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil an 18-by-13-inch sheet pan. In a large bowl, sift together cake flour, baking soda, baking powder and cocoa powder. Set aside. Using a mixer, mix the butter until smooth. Once butter is creamy, slowly add in the sugar. Add corn syrup and mix well. Add the eggs one at a time to incorporate. Then, add heavy cream and mix well. When the mixture is incorporated, mix in the dry ingredients until batter is smooth. Add food coloring. Pour cake batter into the pan and bake for 25 minutes. Rotate pan halfway through cooking to ensure cake is baked evenly. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool completely. Cut the cake into two circles to fit two 6-inch round cake pans. To assemble, pour the finished cheesecake base on top of the red velvet sponge cake and allow to set inside refrigerator for approximately four hours. Serve with whipped cream and fresh raspberries.

Makes 2 6-inch round cakes

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