We all know and love the classic red velvet cake. It's everywhere you look around Valentine's Day, beckoning with bold scarlet offset by demure cream. I took off with the romantic theme and decided to give this gorgeous cake aphrodisiac properties through the power of spices. (You've been forewarned-- proceed with caution.)
Both the cake and frosting recipes are adapted from those published in The New York Times in 2007. I spiced up the cake recipe, from "The Confetti Cakes Cookbook" by Elisa Strauss (Little, Brown, 2007), with a bit with cayenne, chipotle, and cinnamon. I've reduced the amount of cream in the cream cheese frosting recipe from “The Waldorf-Astoria Cookbook,” by John Doherty with John Harrisson (Bulfinch, 2006) to give it a bit more body. And for a dramatic finishing touch, I sprinkled the top with cinnamon Red Hots candies. —Beautiful, Memorable Food
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place teaspoon of butter in each of 3 round 9-inch layer cake pans and place pans in oven for a few minutes until butter melts. Remove pans from oven, brush interior bottom and sides of each with butter and line bottoms with parchment.
Whisk cake flour, cocoa, salt and spices in a bowl.
Place oil and sugar in bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium speed until well-blended. Beat in eggs one at a time. With machine on low, very slowly add red food coloring. (Take care: it may splash.) Add vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk in two batches. Scrape down bowl and beat just long enough to combine.
Place baking soda in a small dish, stir in vinegar and add to batter with machine running. Beat for 10 seconds.
Divide batter among pans, place in oven and bake until a cake tester comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pans 20 minutes. Then remove from pans, flip layers over and peel off parchment. Cool completely before frosting.
Frost cake layers generously, then top with Red Hots for your Valentine.
Cream cheese-Mascarpone Frosting
Softly whip cream. Cover in bowl and refrigerate.
Blend cream cheese and mascarpone in food processor or electric mixer until smooth. Add vanilla, pulse briefly, and add confectioners’ sugar. Blend well.
Transfer cream cheese mixture to bowl; fold in whipped cream. Refrigerate until needed.