Okay, so I’m not a big fan of using candy for decorations (ok, except sprinkles), but I gave in to putting some crushed candy canes on this red velvet cake. And it will surprise some of you that I would use bottled food coloring. But hey, it’s Christmas! I wanted to make a chocolate and mint cake that would go over with kindergarteners, so the flavors are subtle, especially the mint. And I wanted to make a dessert that the parents would want to eat. You can taste the richness of the cocoa without that over-the-top chocolate heaviness, and you’ll taste the vanilla in the frosting as much as the peppermint. Recipes after the jump.
Here are the recipes as I adapted them from ‘More from Magnolia’ by Allysa Torey:
Red Velvet Cake
3 1/3 cups cake flour
6 oz butter, softened
2 1/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs
6 tbsp red food coloring
3 tbsp natural cocoa
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- Preheat oven to 350ºF.
- Grease and lightly flour three 9×2″ round cake pans, then line the bottom with parchment or wax paper.
- In a small bowl, sift the cake flour.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until very fluffy and white, about 5 minutes. Ad the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one.
- In a glass measuring cup, whisk together the food coloring, cocoa and vanilla. Add this to the cake batter and beat well.
- Rinse out the measuring cup and combine the buttermilk and salt in it. Add this to the batter in three parts, alternating with the flour. Incorporate well each time, but don’t overbeat.
- In a small bowl, stir together the cider vinegar and baking soda. Add to the batter and mix well. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the bowl, making sure there are no lumps, and that the batter is well blended.
- Divide the batter among the pans; they’ll each be about half full. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean. Let the layers cool in their pans for an hour. Remove from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack..
- Frost with Creamy Vanilla Frosting.
Creamy Vanilla Frosting
6 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups milk, room temp preferable
1 lb butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla (plus 1 1/2 tsp peppermint extract for mint cake)
- In a heavy medium saucepan, whisk the flour with about 1/4 cup of milk until smooth. This is your chance to get lumps out. (If you see lumps floating once you stir in the rest of the milk, strain it, but don’t push the lumps through.)
- Place over medium heat and, stirring constantly with a whisk or spatula (don’t use one that can’t reach the corners of the pan), cook until the mixture becomes very thick and begins to bubble, 10 – 15 minutes. Cover with wax paper placed directly on the surface and cool to room temp, about 30 minutes.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter on medium high for 3 minutes, until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar, beating continuously for 3 minutes until fluffy. Add the vanilla (and/or other flavorings) and beat well.
- Add the cooled milk mixture, and continue to beat on medium high for 5 minutes, until very smooth and noticeably whiter in color. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes (no less, no longer–set a timer). Use immediately. If you refrigerate the frosting too long, and it separates, let it warm up 20 minutes, then beat well in the mixer again.