Last year, on my birthday, my friends took me out for a nice meal and, of course, the required happy-birthday-singing dessert course. The waitress appeared with the cake, candles glowing, and I could see the rich ruddy hue of the red velvet treat we were about to enjoy. As we took turns taking bites, we realized that most of us were unclear about the ingredients used to make red velvet cake, and we traded assumptions. I suggested that the cake was made using chocolate. But since I was unsure, and my brother Matt happened to have his handy iphone, we googled “red velvet cake” on the spot and discovered the unexpected.
Red velvet cake is actually made with just a sprinkling of cocoa. In fact, the amount of cocoa used in red velvet cakes is so insignificant that some recipes cut it out completely. Turns out that red velvet cakes rely more on buttermilk, red food coloring (or sometimes beets) and sugar – and a cooked flour or cream cheese buttercream icing – to achieve its silky taste. Mystery solved!