April
04

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Red velvet, while synonymous with Valentines Day and now popular for weddings, is just plain gorgeous to look at.  To be totally honest, red is my absolute favourite colour and any chance I get to wear it, look at it or eat it I do.  Not that many red foods around when you think about it… and I don’t really eat very much red meat.

Sooo let’s get busy and make some delicious red velvet cookies to be enjoyed and shared all year around.  But wait, just think how cute they would be for Christmas or Valentine’s Day as well!

This recipe calls for Dutch Processed Chocolate.   So what’s the difference between that and regular unsweetened cocoa powder you ask?   First off, Both types of cocoa powder are unsweetened and therefore bitter when tasted alone.

Dutch-Process Cocoa or Alkalized Unsweetened Cocoa Powder:

Has been treated with an alkali to neutralize its natural acidity. Because it’s neutral and doesn’t react with baking soda, it must be used in recipes calling for baking powder, unless there are other acidic ingredients in sufficient quantities used. It has a reddish-brown color, mild flavor, and is easy to dissolve in liquids.

Hershey Dutch Processed Cocoa
Hershey’s Dutch Processed Cocoa

 

Ghirardelli Sweetened Cocoa
Ghirardelli Cocoa
Unsweetened Cocoa:

Has a complex chocolate flavor while the Dutch-process is darker and more mellow. Its intense flavor makes it well suited for use in brownies, cookies and some chocolate cakes. When natural cocoa (an acid) is used in recipes calling for baking soda (an alkali), it creates a leavening action that causes the batter to rise when placed in the oven.

Ok, on to our recipe:

Ingredients:

3 1/4 cups (355 grams) all purpose flour
1/4 cup (75 grams) unsweetened Dutch processed cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon (4 grams) baking powder
1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups (350 grams) granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 Tablespoons of Red Food Coloring.. I used the gel type

For Red Velvet Cookies:

1. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder.

2. In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 to 4 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and the food coloring then beat until combined.

Red Velvet Cookie Dough by Cake Artisan
Red Velvet Cookie Dough

Add the flour mixture and beat until you have a smooth dough.

3. Divide the dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about one hour or until firm enough toroll.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place rack in the center of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

5.    Remove one half of the chilled dough from the refrigerator and, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch (1 cm). (Keep turning the dough as you roll, making sure the dough does not stick to the counter.) Cut out desired

Red Velvet Cookies by Cake Artisan
Red Velvet Cookies

shapes using a lightly floured cookie cutter and transfer cookiesto the prepared baking sheet. Place the baking sheets with the unbaked cookies in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes to chill the dough which prevents the cookies from spreading and losing their shape while baking.

Note: If you are not going to frost the baked cookies, you may want to sprinkle the unbaked cookies with crystal or sparkling sugar.

Bake cookies for about 10 – 12 minutes (depending on size) or until they are firm around the edges. Remove from oven and let cookies cool on baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling. Frost with royal icing, if desired. Be sure that the frosting on the cookies dries completely before storing. (This may take several hours.) Frosted cookies will keep several days in an airtight

Red Velvet Cookies Iced by Cake Artisan
Red Velvet Cookies

container. Store between layers of parchment paper or wax paper.

Makes about 36 – 4 inch (10 cm) cookies.

BEST frosted with a cream cheese frosting.  I use the recipe on my site here and thin it with some milk to make it more like a glaze if I don’t want heavy frosting.  Also, I have rolled out fondant into the same shape as the cookie and placed it on top of a thin layer of the frosting which gives a nice finish!

For a final finish on my fondant covered cookies I used an impression mat to make pretty patterns.. and then dusted with pearl dust.. there is no limit to what you can do with these or any other cookies!  Happy Baking!

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December
22
Filed Under (Cakes, Sweet Stuff) by Colleen on 22-12-2009

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Here’s a thought that crossed my spoiled mind this evening. What if, say, like my family in Australia, I can’t just run to the store and grab a box of red velvet cake mix off the shelf. I’ve obviously forgotten that it wasn’t that many years ago that I didn’t even know what a red velvet cake was! Imagine that.

This week I received an email from a fellow cake maker who asked me to share my favourite red velvet cake recipe since she wasn’t able to buy a box mix. Fellow bakers give me mixed reactions when I openly admit to using (insert scary music here)…. red velvet cake out of a box!! Well, I do and I’m not afraid to say it. Why not? It’s bad enough getting covered in red cake mix, which I usually do, without having to mess with red food colouring when measuring it out for a “from scratch” recipe.

Actually, there is a little history to my dread of red…  I used to own a small bakery in Australia and had left some decorating items out on the dining table in my brand new dining room, in my brand new home.  To cut a long story short, my youngest daughter was a climber and the result was red food colouring all over her and the brand new carpet!  We bleached it out and then had to dye the carpet back lovingly with teabags.  So you might now understand my dislike of red food colouring, even if red is my favourite color!

Ok, back to the cake at hand.  I tend to look at box cake mixes as a starting point, and usually tweak them by changing out the oil with apple sauce for instance, and adding my own flavourings, add-ins etc. I’m sure the good people at Duncan Hines, Betty Crocker and Pillsbury didn’t just whip them together in five minutes. It is my understanding that they have spent years perfecting their mixes for our convenience. And very often that is the time I have no compunction in reaching for one.

Sure there is nothing quite like a delicately created sponge or genoise but there are times when I just need to get out two dozen cupcakes in a hurry and trust me, 5 year olds very rarely call me out on using a box cake mix over a scratch baked cake. Their beaming little faces covered in frosting are all the proof I need that sometimes, it’s ok.

So let’s get this red velvet cake made!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup dutch processed (dark) cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons red gel food coloring
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter ( softened)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2  1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Method:

Preheat oven to 325°. Line muffin pan with paper liners.

Whisk together cocoa powder, food coloring, and hot water. Set aside to cool.

In the bowl of your electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and shortening until smooth. Scrape down bowl and add sugar. Beat until mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Stir buttermilk and vanilla into the cooled cocoa mixture. Sift cake flour and salt together into another bowl. With the mixer on low, alternate adding the flour mixture (in 3 parts) and the cocoa mixture (in 2 parts) to the egg mixture. Beat until incorporated.  Combine vinegar and baking soda and stir until baking soda dissolves; the mixture will fizz. Add to batter and stir until just combined.

Fill cupcake pans 2/3 full with batter. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven, transfer to a wire rack, and let cool for 10 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan, and let cool completely.

___________

So, of course I ended up with red food coloring up one arm and on the kitchen rug.  Still not sure how that happened!  These cakes are very light and fluffy due to the sifted cake flour. I topped and filled mine with my favourite crusting cream cheese buttercream and some decorator sugar and toppings I had on hand. I love the color with this recipe. I have made them in the past where they weren’t red enough but it helps to use the dutch processed cocoa powder because it’s darker than regular cocoa.

Don’t forget to try this recipe out making the Red Velvet & Cream Cheese Cake Balls, they’re delicious! Ok, so now I’m off to make a cuppa and maybe sneak one of these! ~ Colleen

Just in case I get busy in the next day or so!Merry Christmas from Cake Artisan


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July
19
Filed Under (Sweet Stuff) by Colleen on 19-07-2009

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I’ve always wanted to try making cake balls.  The whole idea just looks like fun.  I’ve seen them on other sites and thought I would definitely have to give them a go some day.

Well hubby got promoted recently so why not use that as an excuse to make some for him to take into the office right?  Easy as can be.

The recipe below uses a boxed cake mix but if you can’t get your hands on one or would just prefer to make it your red velvet cake from scratch here is the recipe.

Red Velvet & Cream Cheese Cake Balls

Ingredients:

  • 1 box red velvet cake mix (I used Duncan Hines – cook as directed on box for 13 X 9 cake)
  • 1 package chocolate bark (regular or white chocolate)
  • Parchment or wax paper.

Red Velvet & Cream Cheese Cake Balls

Red Velvet & Cream Cheese Cake Balls

Method:

1. After cake is cooked and cooled completely, crumble into large bowl.
2. Mix thoroughly with the cream cheese frosting.  I used a wooden spoon to mix it around.
3. Using a melon baller or teaspoon roll mixture into quarter size balls and lay on cookie sheet covered with parchment.   You can also use a mini ice-cream scoop but I’m a hands on kinda gal.
4. Chill for several hours. I froze mine for two hours.
5. Melt chocolate in microwave per directions on package.
6. Roll balls in chocolate and lay on parchment until firm.  (I dropped the balls into the chocolate, completely covered them and then scooped them up with a fork and tapped on the side of the bowl until most of the excess chocolate came off.)

I also only melt a few pieces of chocolate bark at a time because it starts to cool and thicken. It’s easier to work with when it’s hot.

I refrigerated mine again until ready to pack up and send to the office.

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February
10
Filed Under (Cakes, Sweet Stuff) by Colleen on 10-02-2009

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I love baking for others so of course Valentine’s Day provides ample opportunity.  I’m getting an early start by making these delicious red velvet cupcakes for my friends.  Hubby has three to take to work for the guys and I will take the rest with me.

These little beauties have a hidden gooey cream cheese frosting center and are also topped with more and then rolled in sparkly red sugar just for fun.

I had to try this recipe out.  It’s not mine it’s from my friend over at Art of Dessert who has perfected it!

Red Velvet Cake
1 1/2 cups butter, softened to room temperature
2 1/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups vanilla yogurt
1 ounce red food coloring (liquid or gel)
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 1/4 cups flour
3 Tbs. cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 8-inch or 9-inch cake pans or line three muffin pans with cupcake liners.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Combine yogurt, red food coloring and vanilla extract in a small bowl. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt in another bowl. Alternate adding the yogurt mixture and flour mixture into the large bowl. Pour batter into prepared pans or lined muffin pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes (15-20 minutes for cupcakes) or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting

16 oz. (two 8 oz. bars) cream cheese, cold
1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened to room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
7 cups powdered sugar, measure then sift

With the mixer on a low speed, beat the cream cheese and butter till blended. Mix in vanilla and lemon extracts. Slowly add the powdered sugar, a cup at a time. Once all the powdered sugar is added, increase to a higher speed to whip up the frosting till light and fluffy.

Recipe by Art of Dessert

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January
24
Filed Under (Sweet Stuff) by Colleen on 24-01-2009

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Crusting cream cheese buttercream on a red velvet birthday cake with gumpaste stars and edible decorations Once people find out you make cakes, look out! I recently made this cake for a friend’s daughter who was turning 17. She wanted a red velvet cake and her favourite colour is turquoise. Those were the sum of the instructions I got. I have daughters so it was pretty easy to come up with a design I thought she’d like. Firstly, I had to research just what was this red velvet cake which has lately become a bit of a National obsession and just what flavour is RED? 😉 After scouring books and asking questions it became apparent that red velvet cake and cream cheese icing are quite often a popular and successful pairing. But I wanted the look of fondant and the taste of cream cheese. As luck would have it I found this fabulous recipe for “Crusting Cream Cheese Buttercream” on the RecipeZaar website courtesy of one of their members. THANKS!

Recipe – Crusting Cream Cheese Buttercream

SERVES 1 , 4-5 cups (change servings and units)

Ingredients :

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 lb cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon clear vanilla extract
3 1/2 lbs sifted confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:

1.   Cream butter, shortening, cream cheese and extracts. Gradually add confectioner’s sugar and salt. Beat on low speed until nice and creamy. If you want whiter icing, try to use butter without dyes available at most health food stores.

2.   This recipe is for a stiff consistency. For a thinner consistency, use 3 pounds of powdered sugar instead.

3.   If you want a very smooth cake, let the cake sit for 15 minutes after icing (longer for a thinner icing). Then using your spatula or fondant smoothing tool (this works best)and smooth it with a plain, non-patterned Viva paper towel. To do this, take your paper towel and lay it on your icing (after it crusts) and lightly rub over the paper towel with your hand, spatula or fondant smoothing tool to get a smooth surface. If the icing sticks to the paper towel, you didn’t let it “crust” long enough. Stick it in the fridge for 20 minutes or so to let it “crust” then try again. If you let it dry too long it will get harder to achieve the smooth look.

4.   This recipe will ice, fill and decorate an 8″ double layer cake with icing left over.


When a buttercream is called “crusting” it means that it dries out and hardens enough to be smoothed with a paper towel and/or your smoothing tool. It doesn’t get as hard as royal icing but hard enough to handle. If your room is warm or the icing starts to get sticky you can pop the cake back in the refrigerator or freezer for a few minutes until it firms up again. If you like the look of fondant but not the taste this can be smoothed to achieve the same visual appeal. I made the first red velvet cake but it just wasn’t “red” enough. It looked more like chocolate cake that had a red tint to it. So I remade both the 12×12 and the 6×6 cakes again and this time they were RED! They also turned out to be very moist and tasty. I made some gumpaste from a Nicholas Lodge recipe and then proceeded to make various sized stars to which I inserted wires and painted with edible silver and edible turquoise glitter. Then I coloured some gumpaste to a turquoise shade, made a plaque for her name and a few more stars for good measure. I sprinkled the top of the cake with a little more glitter and called it done. My friend Susan was so happy with the cake I made for her daughter she cried. 🙂 HAPPY BIRTHDAY MORGAN! Things I learned from this cake adventure… RED velvet cake gets on EVERYTHING and leaves a stain – be warned! Stick wired objects into the cake AFTER you drive across town to deliver it – they wobble a LOT! Happy baking! ~ Colleen 🙂