I previously shared how my Hubbers and I ate at the Cheesecake Factory before Christmas. He enjoyed a piece of lemon meringue cheesecake which I replicated for our Christmas dinner (recipe here). While at the restaurant we perused their glass display case of cheesecakes. I think a person could gain weight just peeking inside! One of the cheesecakes that caught my interest was a red velvet cheesecake. It's two layers of red velvet cake with a layer of cheesecake in between. It's topped with cream cheese frosting and we all know that's a good thing! My step-daughter loves red velvet cake so I added this to my Christmas dessert menu. It was enjoyed by all. The colors of the cake lend itself not only to Christmas, but to Valentines Day as well. Oh, what the heck, the red works for the 4th of July, too! This cake/cheesecake combination is decadent and good anytime, but it would be the perfect dessert for an upcoming Valentines gathering. The cake is huge so make sure to invite plenty of friends, it's a little too much dessert for a romantic dinner for two!
Though red velvet cakes have chocolate in them I would hesitate to call this a chocolate cake. The chocolate flavor is very subtle. As with all baked goods, the addition of buttermilk in the batter makes for a very moist cake. And, yes, 2 bottles of food coloring is used in the cake, it is a very deep red! Red velvet cakes weren't real popular until the movie Steel Magnolias. If you recall, the groom's cake, in the shape of an armadillo, was a red velvet cake. Since then, the proliferation of cupcake shops has made this a very popular cake. Adding a layer of cheesecake to it just takes it over the top!
Don't let the length of the recipe intimidate you, each of the steps are easy to do. It does take some time, it is definitely a labor of love to make this, but your guests will appreciate it! The cheesecake layer can be made the day before. The cake is made in one bowl. The finished cake should be refrigerated so can easily be assembled the day before you need it. As with most baked goods, room temperature ingredients are always best.
Red Velvet Cheesecake
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
2 large eggs
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Red Velvet Cake:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups vegetable or canola oil
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup (two 1-ounce bottles) red food coloring
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons white vinegar
Cream Cheese Frosting:
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted lightly to remove any lumps
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
To prepare the cheesecake layer:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place a large roasting pan on the lower third rack of the oven. Place a kettle of water on the stove to boil. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick spray and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper. Wrap a double layer of foil around the bottom and up the sides of the pan.
In a large bowl, and using an electric mixer, blend the cream cheese until it is nice and creamy. Mix in sugar and salt and blend for 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add eggs, one at a time, blending after each addition. Mix in sour cream, whipping cream, and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Pour into the prepared pan.
Set the springform pan into the roasting pan. Carefully pour the boiling water into the roasting pan. Pour in enough water so that about an inch of the foil is under water, being careful not to get water on the cheesecake batter. Bake for 45 minutes. It should be set to the touch and not jiggly. Remove the cheesecake from the roasting pan and let it cool on a wire rack for at least an hour. When it has cooled, cover the pan tightly with foil and place the pan in the freezer. Let the cheesecake freeze completely, preferably overnight.
To prepare the cake layers:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch round metal baking pans (or spray with baking spray).
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Add eggs, oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla, and vinegar to the flour mixture. Using an electric mixer, at medium-low speed, beat for 1 minute, until blended. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl with a rubber spatula. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pans, dividing equally.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached. Let cool in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pans, then invert cakes onto a rack to cool completely.
To prepare the frosting:
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat all frosting ingredients until it is smooth and creamy.
To assemble the cake:
Place one cake layer onto the center of a cake plate or platter. Remove the cheesecake from the freezer, take off the sides of the springform pan, and slide a knife under the parchment paper to remove the cheesecake from the pan. Peel off the parchment. Measure (by eye) the cheesecake layer against the cake layers. If the cheesecake layer turns out to be slightly larger than the cake layers, move it to a cutting board and gently shave off some of the exterior of the cheesecake so it will be the same size as the cake layers. Place the cheesecake layer on top of the first cake layer. Place the second cake layer on top of the cheesecake.
To frost the cake:
First apply a "crumb coat" layer of frosting to the cake. This is done by using a long, thin spatula to cover the cake layers completely with a thin and even layer of frosting. (Be sure to wipe off your spatula each time you are about to dip it into the frosting so you aren't transferring red cake crumbs to the frosting!) Don't worry about seeing the cake through this layer; this layer is meant to be the base for the final layer of frosting. Once a thin layer of frosting has been applied, place it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to set the frosting. Once the first layer of frosting is set, apply the second layer. Start by adding a large scoop of frosting on the top of the cake. Using a long, thin spatula, spread the frosting evenly across the top of the cake and down the sides. Because a crumb coat layer was used there should be no cake crumbs floating around in the final frosting layer. Decorate, as desired. **
** I didn't do any additional decorating. You can top with shaved white chocolate, sprinkles, or candy.
Recipe adapted from Food, Folks and Fun.