Red Velvet Cake Bake Off

Feb 01

A new spin on the traditional red velvet cake, made with red velvet emulsion, marshmallow filling and chocolate frosting.
As you might have already read on Instagram, I used to be a big fan of red velvet cake, especially when it was from Sprinkles Cupcakes or Susie Cakes. I used to live super close to both confectionaries back in our Santa Monica days. Unfortunately, I think I overdid it with this flavor because it’s been about FIVE years since I’ve even thought about red velvet cake.
I’m not sure why I decided to revisit this classic southern cake (which actually was first served in NYC but later became a southern fave), but when the idea popped in my head last week, I knew I wanted to make it count when I put this recipe on my blog. I wasn’t just going to offer up anything because I also knew how polarizing this cake flavor is. You either love it or hate it.
In researching red velvet cake recipes, I saw a lot of cakes that were bright red, like a crayon. I’ll be honest, the artificial color of these cakes were totally off-putting. A lot of these recipes used a large amount of red food dye to achieve this color – one of the reasons many of you don’t like this cake and won’t make it.
The first recipe I worked with was the Red Velvet cake by Tessa Huff from her cookbook, “Layered.” Her recipe seems more like a traditional red velvet cake (based on my personal research), which is similar to a basic chocolate cake recipe, but with only three tablespoons of cocoa powder. Her recipe also uses red food gel, instead of a liquid dye. I also liked that her cake had a cup of buttermilk – a good sign it would be nice and moist – and it was!
Tessa used a milk-based frosting with her cake, but I decided to go with my white chocolate frosting and was really pleased with how it paired with the cake.
Love this deep red color the cake got from the food gel and cocoa.
The second cake I simply couldn’t resist trying was from another one of my cake heroines, Rosie from What caught my eye about Rosie’s cake was that the ingredients were very different from most of the other recipes I read through. Rosie’s cake uses butter with a mix of granulated and brown sugar. She also uses a mix of all-purpose flour and cake flour, as well as a combination of buttermilk and mayonnaise. I was also intrigued by her recipe because instead of copious amounts of red food dye, Rosie uses just one teaspoon food gel and gets her color and flavor from red velvet flavoring (link to the brand I used can be found in the ingredients list below).
The red velvet emulsion adds the slightest hint of citrus to the cake, which sounds strange for red velvet, but I promise you, it’s the best surprise of this cake – especially when it’s paired with a tart marshmallow cream cheese filling.
In the end, both cakes were super moist and flavorful. The traditional version with the white chocolate frosting was definitely delicious, and if a traditional red velvet cake is your thing, this cake is for you. However, the winner in my book (and the majority of my taste testers) is the less traditional red velvet cake by Sweetapolita. The cake stands on its own without a filling or frosting, but is out of this world when paired with the marshmallow cream cheese filling and whipped chocolate frosting. This cake has actually made me a fan of red velvet cake again, and this won’t be the last time I make it.
Try it out and let me know what you think. And don’t worry, if you’re more of a traditionalist, I’ll be sharing the other cake recipe soon too!

Red Velvet Cake with Marshmallow Filling and Chocolate Frosting

Yield One 3-layer, 8-inch cake

A new spin on the traditional red velvet cake, made with red velvet emulsion, marshmallow filling and chocolate frosting.


For the Red Velvet Cake (recipe source: Sweetapolita)

  • 3/4 (170) g) cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup (225 g) light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) red velvet emulsion (I use LorAnn Oils Emulsions)
  • 1 teaspoon super red or red red soft gel paste (optional)
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 cups (260 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (55 g) cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon (8 g) Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon (8 g) kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) buttermilk, warm
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) vinegar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons (8 g) baking soda. 

For the Marshmallow Cream Cheese Filling (recipe adapted from Sweetapolita)

  • 1 1/2 cups (190 g) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (230 g), room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (114 g) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 1 jar (about 210 g) marshmallow cream/fluff
  • Pinch of salt 

For the Chocolate Frosting (recipe adapted from Sweetapolita)

  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 5 cups (625 g) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 10 oz. good quality dark or semi sweet chocolate, chopped, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream


For the Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray the bottom and sides of three 8-inch round cake pans with nonstick spray, line the bottom with parchment paper, and spray again with the nonstick spray. Set aside.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, red velvet flavor, and red food gel. Beat the ingredients on medium-high speed for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is light in color and slightly increased in volume.
  3. Lower the speed and add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until each egg is incorporated before adding the next.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift the flour and cocoa powder. Sprinkle the salt on top of the dry ingredients and whisk until combined.
  5. With the stand mixer on low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk into the butter mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated. Fold in the mayonnaise.
  6. In a small bowl, combine the vinegar and baking soda until it fizzes and then add to the batter. Whisk until blended.
  7. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans (about 460 g of batter in each).
  8. Bake for 23-25 minutes. Mine took 23 minutes.
  9. Let pans cool on wire rack for about 10-15 minutes before inverting the cakes onto racks. Let cool completely.
  10. Level cakes. Use the cakes right away or wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for a few days. 

For the Marshmallow Cream Cheese Filling

  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and powdered sugar on low until blended, about one minute.
  2. Add the vanilla and salt and beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes.
  3. Turn the mixer off and add the marshmallow cream and cream cheese. Turn the mixer on medium speed and beat until combined and creamy, about 2 minutes. 

For the Chocolate Frosting

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter for about 2 minutes on medium-high speed.
  2. Turn the mixer to low speed and slowly add the melted, cooled chocolate.
  3. Gradually add the powdered sugar, vanilla and pinch of salt.
  4. With the mixer on medium speed, add the heavy cream and beat until combined. Turn the mixer to medium-high speed and beat the frosting for about 5 minutes.
  5. Before frosting the cake, use a wooden spoon to mix the frosting by hand to push out air bubbles and create a smooth and silky texture. 


  1. On an 8-inch cake board or cake plate, smear a small amount of frosting on it. Place your first cake layer top-side up. Pipe a rim of chocolate frosting around the edge of the cake layer. Inside the chocolate circle, pipe or spread half of the Marshmallow Cream Cheese Filling.
  2. Place the second cake layer top-side up and repeat with the frosting and filling. Place the final cake layer bottom-side up. Crumb coat the cake with a thin layer of chocolate frosting. Freeze the cake for about 10-15 minutes to set the crumb coat.
  3. Continue to frost and decorate the cake with the remaining chocolate frosting.
  4. You can refrigerate this cake, covered, for a day and it will stay moist, or freeze it, covered, for up to a week. Serve at room temperature.     

5 thoughts on “Red Velvet Cake Bake Off

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  1. Hi, I wouldnlike to know if this can be used for cupcakes. Have you used them & if so beside baking time anything else change in recipe? I would like to make these for my son & any help I can get I’d appreciate! Thank you!!

  2. I’ve been following you on Instagram for a long time and love watching every thing you make. They’re always so beautiful. But this is the first cake of yours I’ve made. I was so in love with the taste and the texture is so good!! I got rid of my old red velvet recipe. This is so delicious!! And I’m obsessed with the marshmallow filling! It tastes like a marshmallow and I’ve been eating the leftovers by the spoonful. Haha. I’m so excited to make more of your cakes!! Thank you!!!

  3. Hello. This looks amazing. I’m making this tomorrow for a birthday! Just a quick question, how warm does the Buttermilk need to be?
    TIA! Harvey