Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Some things are just meant to be. And so it was for red velvet cake and Brown Betty. How else could we explain how a cake we didn’t grow up eating - and had never made before - became our number one seller? One of our first brides asked us to develop a red velvet batter for her groom’s cake “because he was from the South and it was his favorite.” Three tries later, and viola! Deep red, moist chocolate, cream cheese--topped deliciousness emerged. We decided to try it out on the cupcake menu just for some variety, but when one of the food writers at the Philadelphia Inquirer did a three-page story on it, the rest was history, and we cannot keep enough in the store.

Excerpted with permission from the publisher, Wiley, from the Brown Betty Cookbook by Linda Hinton Brown and Norrinda Brown. Photography by Alison Conklin. Copyright 2012

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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    Vegetable shortening 2 large eggs
    Nonstick cooking spray with flour 4 large egg yolks
    2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour 5 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    2 cups granulated sugar 1 tablespoon red food coloring
    1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder 3/4 cup boiling water
    3/4 teaspoon baking powder 3/4 cup 100% white grape juice
    3/4 teaspoon baking soda 3 ounces Philadelphia cream cheese, at room temperature
    3/4 teaspoon regular salt 2 tablespoons sugar-free maple syrup
    3/4 cup buttermilk Pinch of ground cinnamon
    2 cups unsalted butter, melted


    Prep: 30 min Total:
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    • 1

      For the Nudie Cream Cheese Buttercream: In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the grape juice to a boil. Continue to boil until reduced to 1/2 cup. Cool to room temperature.

    • 2

      Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk the cream cheese on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

    • 3

      Replace the whisk attachment with the paddle attachment and beat 1 cup butter into the cream cheese on medium speed, scraping the bowl as necessary, until light and fluffy. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat until pale yellow and almost doubled in volume, scraping the bowl as necessary, about 4 minutes.

    • 4

      In another bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk 2 large egg yolks on high speed until thick and a pale yellow, about 3 minutes.

    • 5

      Reduce the mixer speed to medium and add the cooled reduced grape juice to the egg yolks in a slow and steady stream until blended. Increase the mixer speed to high and whisk until very light and fluffy. On low speed, add the maple syrup and 4 teaspoons vanilla to the egg yolk mixture. Increase the mixer speed to high and whisk until smooth.

    • 6

      Add half of the whipped cream cheese--butter to the egg yolk mixture and whisk on medium speed until blended. Add the remaining whipped cream cheese--butter and cinnamon and whisk until fluffy, scraping the bowl as necessary, about 5 minutes. Set aside until ready to use.

    • 7

      For the Red Velvet Cake: Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Coat three 9-inch round cake pans with vegetable shortening, line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper, and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

    • 8

      In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt on low speed to blend.

    • 9

      In a large bowl, mix the buttermilk, 1 cup butter, eggs, 2 large egg yolks, 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla, and food coloring until just blended.

    • 10

      Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture in 2 batches, beating on low speed until blended. Increase the mixer speed to high and beat until smooth. Reduce the mixer speed to low, slowly pour in 3/4 cup boiling water, and beat until blended. The batter will be thin.

    • 11

      Divide the batter equally among the prepared pans and bake until a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 15 minutes before turning them out onto wire racks to cool completely. Remove the parchment paper.

    • 12

      To assemble and frost the cakes, place 1 cake layer, bottom-side up, on a cake plate. Use an offset spatula to spread 1 cup of the buttercream on top. Add the second cake layer, bottom-side down, and spread 1 cup of the buttercream on top. Top with the third cake layer, bottom-side up. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining buttercream.

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