Red Velvet Cheesecake. I know the conventional wisdom for a recipe post is to describe the gorgeous flavours, textures, and reasons why you should make this dessert now. But if those three words don’t convince you, nothing will.
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This is a gorgeous, moist and flavour-packed cake that is going to have your guests singing your praises for weeks after you serve it to them.
Red velvet can sometimes be a bit of a tasteless vanilla, with too much tin-flavoured food dye lingering on your tongue after the fact. And goodness, is there anything worse than a bad cheesecake? The rubbery, flavourless sort?
If you’ve ever experienced either of those monstrosities, I apologize and I guarantee that this recipe will have you rethinking any bad thoughts you’ve ever had about red velvet cake or cheesecake.
I’m going to make you a believer.
Now, there are two ingredients in this recipe that might give you pause, but trust me – the buttermilk and vinegar are essential to allowing the a vibrant red cake without copious amounts of food colouring.
The buttermilk also helps create a delicious flavour and is one of my favourite ingredients to bake with — you will find countless recipes to use up the rest of the carton.
Red Velvet Cheesecake Recipe
For the Cheesecake:
- 2 8oz boxes cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups white sugar
- 4 eggs, room temperature
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
For the Red Velvet Cake:
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 1 egg
- 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3 tablespoons red food colouring (liquid, not gel)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup buttermilk ** a must **
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 tablespoon distilled white vinegar **another must**
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 1 cup butter, at room temperature
- 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 5 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1. Start off by making the cheesecake.
2. Preheat the oven to 350°F and put a kettle to boil.
3. Blend the cream cheese and sugar until light and fully incorporated. Add in the egg, vanilla, and heavy cream.
4. Butter or grease a loaf pan and pour the cheesecake mixture in.
5. Place the loaf pan in a larger pan – like a cake pan or roasting pan – and pour the boiling water into the larger pan for a water bath. This is a key step to ensuring that the outside of the cheesecake doesn’t cook faster than the inside.
6. Bake cheesecake for 45 minutes until set but still a little bit jiggly. Turn the oven off and leave the cheesecake for an hour — just be sure to set a timer so you don’t forget it in there!
7. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and, once it has cooled, cover with plastic wrap or tinfoil and place it in the fridge overnight.
8. The next day, make the cake.
9. Preheat oven to 350°F.
10. Don’t be like me. Make your life easier and use two loaf pans if possible. If not possible, you can make one loaf cake and cut it in half using the dental floss method below – but it is much easier to just bake the red velvet cake layers separately. Grease and flour your loaf pan(s) and set aside.
11. Using a mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Add the eggs, mix thoroughly, and set aside.
12. In a separate bowl, stir together the cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and red food dye to make a red paste. Scrape into your butter-sugar mixture and blend until the entire batter takes on that rich purple-red colour.
13. In yet another bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and baking soda.
14. Alternate adding half of the the buttermilk and flour mixtures to the butter-sugar mixture, incorporating fully between each addition, and then add the shot of vinegar.
15. Turn the mixer to high and add the eggs one at a time, mixing for about a minute after each addition. Scrape down the bowl and beat until well incorporated.
16. If baking one loaf, it will take about 20-25 minutes to bake fully – check doneness by inserting a toothpick and checking to see if any wet batter sticks to it when removed from the cake. (If baking two loaves, the time may be reduced to 15 minutes.)
17. Once completely cooked through, remove from oven. Allow to cool for five minutes in pans before removing to a cooling rack.
18. Allow the cakes to cool completely before the next step – take this opportunity to make the cream cheese frosting if you haven’t already.
19. For the cream cheese frosting, blend the butter and cream cheese together on medium speed, and then add the vanilla. Add just about 4 cups of the powdered sugar and check the consistency, adding more powdered sugar or a bit of milk or cream to achieve your desired consistency.
20. If you were like me and baked one loaf when two would have been much easier, the “floss cutting” method is my go-to way to cut cakes with little error.
21. Simply measure equal heights to insert toothpicks into the sides of your loaf. Tie a large loop of dental floss around the loaf and pull up so that the floss is touching all toothpicks, pull the floss loop up and to the sides – tight like you are tying a knot – the floss with slice through the cake with no effort.
Next, layer your cake!
22. I started by first having half of the red velvet loaf, the full cheesecake layer, and then the final half of the red velvet loaf topping everything off. I decided I wanted more even layers and switched things around to cut the cheesecake layer in half and add the second half on top of the second half of the red velvet cake.
23. Finally, add a generous layer of frosting all over your Red Velvet Cheesecake. Use an offset spatula for best results.
24. You can add a crumb coat, but if you place a cheesecake layer on top like I did, you may find that you don’t need one. A crumb coat is when you do a quick, sloppy frosting job and then let it set before adding on the final frosting application. The crumb coat traps any loose crumbs so that they don’t ruin the final appearance of the cake.
25. You can also optionally add embellishments with a piping bag and decorating tip, but I like the understated glamour of this cake – and with that extra surprise layer of cheesecake right under the frosting, you don’t want too much frosting on top.
Be sure to check out my other crowd-pleasing desserts…
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