Naked Red Velvet with Cream Cheese Italian Meringue Buttercream


When one blogs, especially if it is food-related, then it's inevitable that there will be at least one red velvet post.

At least one.

And 33 posts and 10 months later, I finally have one!

I won't mind if you take a few of those strawberry-flavored pyramid-like chocolates!

And we all know that there are a ton of red velvet recipes out on the Web.  I mean it.  A ton.

There's just a red velvet-anything overflow that it can be quite confusing which recipe to choose!

The very first recipe I tried was from Nigella which I liked and it got positive feedback from my friends, too!

But that was before this very blog and I didn't have any chance on making it again.  And when I did have a chance, I decided to try another recipe because why not!

It was because of Pinterest searching that led me to La Pêche Fraîche and her exquisitely beautiful words and photos.

Let's skip the part where I basically went to her archives and just ogled at her past and recent posts because like I said beautiful words and photos!

Blogs like Rachel's (yes, we're on a first name basis because I read all her 2014 posts so we're friends) inspire me to take better photos and believe me I am trying.  But a person can only move, rotate and angle everyday objects just as much to make them seem more presentable.

On to the recipe itself!

I went back to Nigella's recipe and noticed that there is less cocoa powder and sugar than Rachel's but what I only noticed now is that there is no salt listed in hers!  I quadruple checked because my eyes might be playing tricks on me but there really is no salt in the list!

Rachel also used gel food color while I only had liquid on hand and I had to use more than what her recipe asks for to get a deep red hue.

And like with every red velvet recipe I've come across, it needs buttermilk.  And if you're like me and can't get hold of pre-made buttermilk in stores, then don't fret because Joy The Baker has solutions!

I also used two 8-inch round pans instead of three 6-inch ones and the cake layers needed 24 minutes to bake in my oven.  But check yours after 20 minutes and see if it needs to bake some more!  Let the cakes cool completely!

Now making the cake was easy peasy.  But Rachel herself mentioned that the frosting she used is a bit tricky but I read the instructions over and over, wrote it down and figured I might as well give it a go!

Let's talk about the one equipment needed: a stand mixer.  If you have one then you won't have any problem because the mixer is going to do all the work for you!  But if you don't and all you have is a hand-held mixer then there may be an issue with arm fatigue and of patience wearing out.

So how did mine turn out? Runny.

I beat the cream cheese then I whipped the egg whites to stiff peaks (are those stiff peaks?), cooked the sugar syrup (I burnt my finger and it hurt!) and added it to the meringue, then the cubes of butter (which were already soft) then the cream cheese and powdered sugar.

I used my hand-held mixer and I have been beating for what seemed like ages!  And my shoulder started to hurt so I just placed the meringue buttercream in the fridge for 20 minutes, covered with cling wrap, and hoped for the best.

After the meringue buttercream has chilled I made a mistake of not whipping it up again.  So you could say I had a difficult time trying to do a crumb coat because it was still not firm enough!  It was a messy crumb coat session indeed!

I've never made Italian meringue buttercream before so maybe I should not have let the butter get too soft and/or maybe I should have beat the meringue buttercream longer.  I did a little bit of research, too, and found that both are possible reasons why this meringue buttercream became runny.  Also, when you chill the meringue buttercream, whip it again until it firms up which is really why a stand mixer is absolutely essential.

I found recipes from Cake Boss, Martha Stewart and Food and you'll be surprised at how short their instructions are.  But like I said the most important thing is the stand mixer!

And by this point I'm already panicking because 'I don't have enough photos just yet and my cake is already falling apart!?!?!' and it did.

Don't get me wrong I am not that disappointed.  At all.

The cake layers baked perfectly and I can definitely taste the cocoa a little bit more which I enjoyed.  The cake itself is just heavenly!

Look no further for a great red velvet cake because this is one!

Now I may have done enough damage to the meringue buttercream but I forgot to tell you how it tasted.

What do you think?

Definitely one of the best tasting cream cheese frosting I've ever had!  And that's a big claim because I don't really fancy cream cheese but oh this tasted light and just right and the cream cheese wasn't overpowering.

Forget the consistency, acknowledge the taste of this meringue buttercream instead!  So good!

But if you ever find yourself in a similar situation, chill the meringue buttercream for 20 minutes or depending on how cold your fridge is.  Then whip it up again and quickly do a crumb coat, freeze the cake and put the frosting back in the fridge if you live in a humid place like I do.  After some time take both out again and frost the entire cake if possible but still moving pretty quickly.  Chill the fully frosted cake until ready to serve!

Here is a parting picture, for you, if you are contemplating whether you should tackle making Italian meringue buttercream or if it should be for some other time.

Let me know what you decide!

Til the next post!

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