I’m sure we have all had a piece of Red Velvet Cake in our lives. It’s a traditional Southern delicacy featuring a moist cake flavored with a hint of cocoa and colored red with food coloring, and topped with a delicious cream cheese frosting. In my time I have had a mulitutde of Red Velvet Cakes ranging from nasty, to drop down and praise the heavens good. Infact I can even tell you about each experience with this cake because to be honest, living in Chicago, which is no where near the South, Red Velvet Cake is not something you see all the time here, but it really is good stuff.
The first time I ever ingested a piece of this cake was at a birthday party some years ago. All I can say about the cake was that it came from a cake mix, and it was needless to say dry and unappetizing. I did not care for it much after that, but after seeing this cake being advertised numerously on food specials and having people go endlessly describing its rich and moist texture, I decided that I could give up on my search for the best Red Velvet cake. So a couple months after that first encounter, I tried the Red Velvet Cake again, at a Greek dinner here in Naperville that has sinced closed. I will give them points for the cream cheese frosting, it was right one. However, the cake, yet again was dry and nasty, and I was starting to wonder if this cake is even worth eating again. Well a months passed by and I found myself at a Greek bakery in Detroit during Thanksgiving ’08. I had been looking forward to going to this bakery after hearing family members rave about it. I perused through the options at the bakery, and boy were they endless. I could have settled on a cake, a pie, a pastry (baklava perhaps?), but nooooo I went for Red Velvet Cake. I do not even know why. I had clearly began to give up on it but, something within me just drew me into trying that cake one more time….
Well, I went ahead and ate that piece and at that moment I guess the euphoria of being at the bakery my lack of culinary knowlege led me in to thinking into that it was the best piece of cake that I had ever tasted. It turns out that no it was not the best cake I have had, it was good piece of cake, but yet again it was on the drier side and missing that extra oomph that I believed Red Velvet Cake was supposed to have. I decided that if I was ever gonna have Red Velvet Cake again, it was going to have to be the right stuff.
A couple of months passed again, and my mom brought home some cake. It was made by her coworker and it was…you guessed it Red Velvet Cake. Now I know I said that I was not going to botter eating Red Velvet Cake again unless it was the good stuff, but my mom had been raving about this cake before. How it was so moist and decadent. How the cream cheese frosting was zingy but sweet. So I went ahead and had bite. OH…MY…GOD, at that moment my jaw dropped in awe. The gloomy sky parted and thorough it shone the light of the Cake God upon this heavenly delight. I had been illuminated. I had the “true to heart”, “Moist”, “Rich”, “Southern Style” and all above “DELICIOUS” Red Velvet Cake. I was floored, it probably was the best Red Velvet Cake that I had ever had in my life. I almost wanted to cry in joy because after all these years of searching, I finally had found the most awesome Red Velvet Cake that I could feast my eyes, (and my mouth) over. I just had to have the receipe, and it turns out that my Mom’s coworker was more than happy to give it to us. My search was complete and I have since made the amazing cake at home twice, and it is just absolutely wonderful!
Now, I guess that I must apoligize for that long rant about Red Velvet Cake, but I feel that without explaining my endless search, I would not be able to deliver to you the story of how this delightful receipe came to be. It started during Halloween of 2009. My family would be throwing our annual Halloween Party, except this year we would be turning the volume up. In the past, the Halloween Party had traiditionally been a potluck, with sappy party games and a whole hodgepodge of food. So this year, after about 4 year hiatus of actually having the party altogether, my mom decided that it was time to bring back to life, and due to Halloween’s conicidence with the Mexican cultural holiday Dia de Los Muertos, I was like, “Mom! We have to make all Mexican Food!” And so…we did. It was a very ambitious menu and everything went perfect. We made a traditional and authentic Mexican meal featuring Mole Roja con Pollo, Enchiladas Verdes, Pozole, Papas con Rajas, Frjioles Negros, and other various Mexican treats. My mom went ahead and did all of the main coursing, but she left the desert in my hands. I went ahead and tested a whole boatload of recepies and finally decided, hmmm I might as well share the best cake in the world with all of our friends, and what wouldn’t be better than that Red Velvet Cake? So, I decided to do the Red Velvet Cake, but with a few alterations that would better fit the theme of this party. I decided to drop the cocoa powder and red food coloring, and instead color the cake yellow, not with food coloring, but by the addtion of lovely mango puree! The end result and just as delicious if not better, and was a huge hit in the party (It was considered to be the best dish served by some people), and needless to say I was showered with a mountain of praise and was so proud of myself.
Now…. We finally arrive at the inspiration for what today’s post is all about, the re-invention of our Halloween Party Hit. “Yellow” Velvet Cake with Mango Cream Cheese Frosting and “Wasted” Fruit Compote. Now back at the Halloween Cake, I had served the Cake “naked” with no frosting, but instead a dollop of fruit compote and vanilla ice cream, but since I was making this cake for a send-off party for one our family friends who is moving to Hong Kong, and since this was one of her favorite deserts that I had made, I thought that would dress this cake up more a bit. To do that I decided to honor the original roots of the cake “Red Velvet” and top if off with a cream cheese frosting, except that I altered my by mixing in a generous amount of mango pulp, and to serve with this miracle, the orignal delight that made the cake delicious, my “Wasted” Fruit Compote. Its “wasted” cause its drenched in passion-fruit liquer, but do not worry… all of the alcohol is cooked off during the long 90 minute cooking time of the compote. The cake is needless to say delicious, and here is the receipe:
“Yellow” Velvet Cake with Mango Cream Cheese Frosting and “Wasted” Fruit Compote
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
2 cups cake flour, sifted
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tablespoon white distilled vinegar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sweetened mango pulp (See Note)
1 pound block of cream cheese, softened
1 stick of unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sweetened mango pulp
3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
16 oz bag of frozen strawberries
16 oz bag of frozen peaches
12 oz bag of frozen raspberries
24 oz bag of frozen mangoes
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of passion-fruit liquer (look for the X-Rated brand) or cointreau
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Farenheit and grease to 9-inch round cake pans.
In a stand mixer combine the sugar and oil on a medium speed until smooth. Then add the eggs and combine. Then add the buttermilk, mango pulp, and vanilla extract. Mix well. In a seperate combine the baking soda and vineagar until dissolved and add to the mixture. In another bowl sift together the flour and salt and then add the dry ingredients and to the wet ingredients and stir to combine.
Then evenly distribute the batter amongst the two cake pans and bake for about 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely.
In a mixer combine the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Then add the mango pulp and and confectioner’s sugar and mix until well incorporated.
In a 9X13 baking dish combine the fruit, sugar, and alcohol. Throw it in the oven and bake for about 90 minutes at 375 degrees farenheit, until the fruits have broken down and released their juices, and the mixture has come to a boil. Remove from the oven and cool completely.
Line a cake pedestal/carrier with strips of parchment paper. Then place one of the cake layers of top. Cover the layer with a decent amount of frosting. Then place the second layer on top and frost the cake. Be generous, this is some quality frosting here and we don’t want to waste it. Serve the cake in thin slices with a dollop of compote on top.