This week I’ve been testing recipes for good old-fashioned (halal) southern food. It’s a fun and tasty job, but not always so easy. This cake, for example, was almost eaten up entirely before a single photo was taken!
I devoured the cookbook, Screen Doors and Sweet Tea, by Martha Hall Foose. She writes a loving memoir of southern cooking and recipes- you’ll want to try every single one and make them your own. Brown Velvet Cake is the result of my craving for Red Velvet cake without the red coloring. I always wanted to make it without the use of red food coloring, which is typically how it’s found on supermarket shelves in a box and the only way I’ve ever eaten it growing up.
I used Mexican chocolate, typically used for hot chocolate, or atole, instead of her recommendation for bittersweet chocolate. The only difference really is that Mexican chocolate has a bit of a kick to it due to the addition of cinnamon. I used El Popular brand chocolate, which also has almonds in it. I think it was this chocolate that made the cake look more like brown velvet than red velvet, hence my nickname for it.
One other change I made was to make my own corn syrup. I did this for several reasons. For those of you who are frequent readers of this blog, you may know that I am particularly averse to high-fructose corn syrup and genetically-modified foods, one of which is typically corn and corn-based products. The ‘corn syrup’ in this recipe is actually a simple sugar syrup, but works just as well to make a delicious frosting that fits well with this traditional, all-American, super-moist cake.
Start with the highest quality ingredients you can afford to get the best results possible. You won’t regret that.
Chocolate Velvet Cake Ingredients
Cake Serves 8-10
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 and 3/4 cup brown sugar or cane sugar
- 5 oz. Mexican dark chocolate (spiced with cinnamon), or 5 ounces milk chocolate plus 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 stick unsalted butter (1 cup), softened
- 1 and 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour or cake flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 large egg whites
Corn Syrup recipe makes 2 cups
- 2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 pinch salt
- 2 large egg whites
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 1/2 teaspoon light corn syrup
- 1 teapoon vanilla extract (without alcohol)
Chocolate Velvet Cake Directions
- Preheat the oven to 350º F.
- Using softened butter, wipe an entire 9-inch springform pan with the butter, then dust it lightly with cocoa powder. Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan over very low heat, combine 1/2 cup of the buttermilk, 3/4 cup of the brown sugar, and the Mexican chocolate. Cook and stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool.
- Add one of the egg yolks to the chocolate mixture and cook and stir until it thickens, about 2 minutes.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and remaining 1 cup brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 2 egg yolks and remaining 1/2 cup buttermilk.
- To the stand mixer add the flour, alternating with the buttermilk mixture, beating at low speed. Mix until just combined. Stir in the cooled chocolate mixture.
- Dissolve the baking soda in 1 tablespoon of warm water and fold gently into the mixture.
- In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites to soft peaks. If you are doing this by hand, it will take a very long time. Try to use an electric mixer instead, making sure the egg whites actually turn to soft, white peaks.
- Fold the whites into the chocolate batter. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for a few minutes.
- Gently run a butterknife around the sides of the pan. Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Remove the sides of the pan and cool completely.
Corn Syrup Directions
- Add all of the ingredients to a medium-size saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce to a simmer and cover for 3-4 minutes.
- Remove lid and stir with a wooden spoon to combine. Allow to cool.
- To store, add mixture to a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Label and date it. It should keep for approximately 2 months.
- In a large metal bowl set over a saucepan filled with 2 inches of simmering water, combine the egg whites, sugar, 5 tablespoons water, the cream of tartar and corn syrup.
- Whip for 7 minutes with a hand-held electric mixer, scraping the sides often with a rubber spatula. The frosting is almost done when it has a nice spreading consistency. Stir in the vanilla at this point.
- When the cake has cooled completely, frost it all around with the warm frosting. Do not refrigerate the frosting or it will be too hard to spread.
- After frosted, allow the cake to cool for 30 minutes before serving.
Bismillah and Bon Appetit!