Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies
For Valentine’s Day, a new GF all natural brownie and a not so new classic Red Velvet cake
My favourite episode of Friends is the one where Monica is after Phoebe’s grandmother’s legendary chocolate chip cookie recipe. When the recipe is destroyed in a fire in flaky but lovable Phoebe’s apartment, the determined foodie Monica sets out to recreate it with the one sole cookie she has left from the original recipe as her template. A dash of this, a bit of that, after numerous attempts Monica fails to come up with the illusive magical formula. When Phoebe finally reveals it came from her grandma’s French friend “Nestle Toulouse”, we and Monica realize it was off the back of the Tollhouse chocolate chip packet that sits in every American baker’s cupboard.
This week, with all of the beautiful Valentine’s baking going on in my Instagram and Twitter feeds, I am returning to an old favourite that is, in fact, based on a recipe from the back of a packet. My Red Velvet cake adapted from Betty Adams’ recipe which appeared on the Adams red food colouring packaging in 1969. The famous “cake of a wifetime” (yes I know, but a commentary on the lengthy history of misogyny in advertising will need to wait for another time).
The stories doing the rounds about the origins of the Red Velvet are very entertaining but the best article I have come across is from the wonderful Tori Avey: http://toriavey.com/cake-history-recipe. Her recipe is also highly recommended.
In the UK, the Red Velvet has had a big resurgence of late. Or is it just a surgence? Was it popular before? But the results are not always what one would hope for. There seems to be a lot of confusion over how much cocoa there should be, how red is red, how sweet … My Southern DNA tells me that a Red Velvet should have a hint of cocoa, be red enough to stand out but not so lurid that it feels like eating a bottle of chemicals, the crumb should be gentle and the overall effect (including icing) should be sweet but never cloying. If a cake can be soft-hearted, this is, despite its deceptively dramatic appearance. And it’s perfect for Valentine’s Day.
The changes I have made to Betty’s recipe (pictured above) for my version of the classic cake are: I use all butter (no shortening, no butter flavouring), I use a ½ tsp (max) of red food colour paste like Superflair or Wiltons, I make it in 2 layers not 3 and finish with a traditional cream cheese icing: 600g icing sugar, 50g butter, 200g cream cheese, a squeeze of lemon juice.
See the recipe for my Red Velvet Brownies Here