Ambiguity. His clever, well-crafted emails arrive in her mailbox daily, sounding a bit flirty, yet remaining maddeningly ambiguous. Until she sees him again — wrapped in a young, blowsy blonde, replete with pert, up-turned nose and sparkly cell phone case.
Now she knows. Ambiguous no more.
Ambiguity. She’s discussing red velvet cake with a coworker. Or, more precisely, red velvet cake doughnuts. She’s never understood the passion for the insipid flavor of red velvet anything. “Close your eyes,” she says, “and what do you really taste? It’s not chocolate; the cocoa powder is too minimal. It’s perhaps uniquely tart – but is that necessarily a good thing? What flavor makes it so adored?” Her coworker thinks it contains raspberries – no, the luxurious red comes from food coloring these days or beets, non-Dutched cocoa in the past. Not a berry to be found.
‘But couldn’t you,” he asked, “remake it in your style? With chocolate and raspberries and cream cheese frosting?”
Yes, she could. It wouldn’t be red velvet cake anymore, but something different, richer, more flavorful, and utterly her.
Her Red Velvet – ambiguous no more.
Raspberry Red Velvet Cake
Whether this a truly a red velvet cake depends on what defines red velvet for you. This one contains rich, dark, moist chocolate cake with a hint of raspberry and lashings of cream cheese frosting and is anything but ambiguous with flavor.
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon instant coffee
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1.2 oz. package freeze-dried raspberries, crushed to a powder (I buy mine at Trader Joe’s)
- 2 cups cold water
- 2/3 cup canola oil
- 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 ½ teaspoons red food coloring Raspberry Jam
- 4 oz. package frozen raspberries
- ½ cup sugar Cream Cheese Frosting
- 16 ounces cream cheese, chilled
- ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
- 4 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350⁰ F. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment, butter the parchment and dust with flour.
- Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, coffee, and salt. Stir in the dried raspberries (reserving a bit for decoration, if desired).
- Combine together water, oil, vinegar, vanilla, and food coloring. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients (the mixture will be very wet).
- Working quickly, divide batter between pans and bake for 30 minutes or until tester comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, invert onto cooling racks and cool completely.
- Meanwhile, make raspberry jam. Combine the frozen raspberries and sugar in a deep-sided saucepan and bring to boil over a medium heat. When the sugar is melted, boil for another 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool and set.
- To make frosting: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium-high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the confectioners’ sugar, milk, and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high speed and beat for 3 minutes until creamy.
- Sandwich cake with plenty of cream cheese frosting and raspberry jam. Cover top and sides with remaining frosting. Chill until ready to serve.