The origin of the Red Velvet cake is much debated online, but anyone who loves a baked good has no doubt tried a cupcake, cream cheese frosted cake or whoopie pie of the Red Velvet variety. In my opinion they are far too tasty/pretty to ponder over where the recipe once began. Surely time is better spent eating the treats?
So what makes a Red Velvet bake red? Cocoa contains a natural pigment called anthocyanin, which will react with acids such as buttermilk to provide a red shade. Cool food sciencey stuff, really. Buttermilk is almost always included in a traditional Red Velvet recipe, but red colouring is often added to provide a more vibrant shade.
My brownie recipe does not contain buttermilk, but I recently purchased some fabulous new food colourings from this ebay seller and I needed an excuse to try them out in one of my favourite colours. So here goes with my ‘Red Velvet’ brownies!
Makes 10 small brownies or 6 bigger pieces. Freezes well!
Begin by melting the chocolate and butter over a saucepan of hot water – heat gently until smooth, stirring throughout.
Then mix in the caster sugar, followed by the plain flour. Stir until combined.
Beat the eggs and add gradually. I found that I added a little too much (1 is probably enough, but it depends on the size of your eggs), and I ended up having to add more flour right at the last stage.
Then add the RED! I use food colouring paste (rather than the liquids you can buy in supermarkets) as they give a more vivid colour. I used heaps as I wanted a deep colour, but you can try it out. Note that my mixture is still a little runny (and bubbly!) here, so you can add more flour if necessary.
Cook in a pre-heated oven for around 30 minutes. I tend to do mine for less as I have a fan oven and I like them squidgy in the middle.
I think this is a recipe I will continue to develop, in terms of consistency and redness. I used fairtrade dark chocolate, which affected how vibrant the red was. Perhaps just using cocoa powder will give a brighter shade.
Regardless, they are pretty tasty and I like the deep red!