Red Velvet Mini-Bundt

Bundt! It’s such a fun word to say, don’t you think? Just has a certain something about it.

Prior to the first time I made this recipe, I had never had red velvet cake. To some that would seem blasphemous, and considering how much I like both chocolate and the color red, it seems rather strange that I would have not taken the opportunity. I think it all stems from me asking someone or another what red velvet cake was, and they explained that it was just chocolate cake with food coloring. Okay, that’s a little weird, but mostly straightforward.

The more I think about it, though, the more I realize that I never terribly liked cakes. I mean, they’re ok, but the the frosting usually has a bitter taste from too much powdered sugar and food coloring, and store-bought cakes are usually mediocre at best. Even boxed cakes that you do yourself….just not quite my cup of tea. Back when I first realized how happy baking made me feel, I got it into my head to make my own birthday cake. It seems counter-intuitive, doing work on my birthday or whatever, but it was an excuse to make something utterly extravagant, and I had so much fun with the adventure. The first year I made a mousse-cake, which went decently well. The cake portion turned out a little deflated, but then that was my first time making what amounted to an angle food cake-like batter. The second year I made BonAppetit’s Ribbon Cake, which was again a similarly airy cake with an AMAZING buttercream filling and a glaze. Not really what you would call normal cakes, but I think it was at that point that I realized cakes aren’t half bad if you do something interesting.

I have recently become more tolerant of cakes, mostly because I love making people stuff for their birthdays. So I figure I’ll branch out. Which brings me back to red velvet cake – never really tried it, but I wanted to do something vaguely easy (not filled chocolates) for the office for V-day while on my vacation. My thought was coffeecake muffins, but of course I had to gussy it up for the holiday. I couldn’t remember ever seeing anything about a red velvet coffee cake, so I did a little search and found a gem. Apparently the Culinary Institute has developed various recipes incorporating coffee into them, and teamed up with Starbucks to do so – a nice little marriage of two things I can’t get enough of.

The recipe I found added instant coffee to the red velvet recipe – maybe that’s what makes me love it, because it has a wonderfully rich, dark flavor that I can just munch on until the cows come home. I’m not 100% sure about run-of-the-mill red velvet, but I have a feeling this will be my go-to red velvet cake recipe for a while yet.

Red Velvet Coffee Chocolate Cake

from Brewing, Tasting, Cooking Coffee

2 cups sugar
2 sticks butter at room temperature
2 eggs
2 tbsp dark cocoa powder
2 tbsp espresso coffee or instant coffee powder
2 oz. red food coloring
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp vinegar

Icing
12 oz. neufchâtel (low-fat) cream cheese
1 stick butter, softened
1 cup white chocolate, melted and warm
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped sweetened shredded coconut (optional)
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare baking pans. (Apparently with bundt cakes you’re supposed to grease and flour them – I’ve been doing it wrong. Might explain why I suck at getting them out. Also, there’s apparently a specific way to get them out of the pan – you should totally google it.)

In a mixing bowl, cream together sugar and butter, and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well after each addition.

Mix the cocoa, coffee, and food coloring together. (If you’re using gel food coloring, squeeze a goodly amount in, then add the vanilla at this time to dissolve the cocoa and coffee.) Add to the sugar mixture and mix well.

Sift together the flour and salt. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture alternating with buttermilk. Blend in the vanilla.

In a small bowl, combine the baking soda and vinegar and add to mixture.

Pour the batter into your prepared pans. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the heat and cool completely before frosting.

For the icing: Whip cream cheese, butter, warm white chocolate, sugar and vanilla together in mixing bowl. Fold in optional ingredients if desired. Spread on top of cooled cake.

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