Red Velvet Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

Red Velvet Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting – A new spin on the traditional red velvet cake. Made with red velvet emulsion, toasted marshmallow filling and chocolate sour cream frosting.
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Red Velvet Addict

I have a confession to make. Red velvet cake used to be my top favorite cake. It was all thanks to the red velvet cupcake and cake at Susie Cakes which was about five blocks from my house in Santa Monica. Honestly, I think I got a red velvet cupcake every week. No joke! Well, leave it to overindulgence to turn you off from something. Up until two years ago, I hadn’t touched red velvet anything since those Santa Monica days (nearly a 5-year span). 
Cake by Courtney: Red Velvet Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting #cakebycourtney #redvelvetcake #chocolatesourcreamfrosting #buttercream #chocolatebuttercream #redvelvet

The Reintroduction of 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 favorite), but when the idea popped into my head a couple of years ago, I knew I wanted to make it count when I put this recipe on my blog. I wasn’t just going to offer up any ol’ red velvet cake. It needed to be something special, something light and fluffy. I know how polarizing this cake flavor is (my husband isn’t a fan at all). You either love it or hate it.
Cake by Courtney: Red Velvet Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting #cakebycourtney #redvelvetcake #chocolatesourcreamfrosting #buttercream #chocolatebuttercream #redvelvet
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 was totally off-putting. A lot of these recipes used a large amount of red food coloring (more than just a toothpick inserted with the dye) to achieve this color – one of the reasons many of you don’t like this cake and won’t make it.
Cake by Courtney: Red Velvet Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting #cakebycourtney #redvelvetcake #chocolatesourcreamfrosting #buttercream #chocolatebuttercream #redvelvet

Recipe Testing

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 for the cake batter, 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!
The second cake I simply couldn’t resist trying was from another one of my cake heroines, Rosie from Sweetapolita. 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 wet ingredients call for butter mixed in a large bowl with granulated sugar 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 coloring, Rosie uses just one teaspoon of food gel and gets her color and flavor from red velvet flavoring (a link to the brand I used can be found in the ingredients list below).
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 chocolate sour cream frosting. 

My Take on Red Velvet

In the end, both cakes were super moist and flavorful, but I personally love Sweetapolita’s version the best. So, as I worked on creating my own version of this cake, I used Rosie’s cake as inspiration. I love the red velvet emulsion and think it packs a powerful flavor and color. In fact, I see no need for additional food coloring, so I left that out of my recipe. I also use a little more cocoa powder, no cake flour, sour cream instead of mayo, less butter, and less brown sugar. The result is a super moist and fluffy red velvet cake with the slightest hint of cocoa and citrus. When paired with the toasted marshmallow filling and chocolate sour cream frosting, the combination is utterly delightful!

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Red Velvet Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

Red Velvet Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

4.94 from 49 votes
A new spin on the traditional red velvet cake, made with red velvet emulsion, toasted marshmallow filling and chocolate sour cream frosting.



  • 1/2 cup (113 g) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (165 g) light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp red velvet emulsion (I use LorAnn Oils Emulsions)
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 1/4 cups (270 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp (14.75 g) cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp (6 g) salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (360 g) buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (60 g) sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp (14.37 g) vinegar
  • 1 1/4 tsp (5 g) baking soda


  • 20 large white marshmallows
  • 2 cups (250 g) powdered sugar measured and then sifted
  • 1 cup (226 g) unsalted butter slightly cold
  • 1/2 tsp (2.1 g) pure vanilla extract
  • 1 jar (200 g) marshmallow fluff


  • 1 1/2 cups (339 g) unsalted butter, slightly cold
  • 5 cups (625 g) powdered sugar, measured and then sifted
  • 1 teaspoon (4.2 g) pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 8 oz (150 g) good quality dark or semi sweet chocolate, chopped, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1/2 cup (120 g) sour cream
  • Pinch of salt
  • *This buttercream recipe makes enough to cover your cake. If you want to add additional piping you’ll want to make an extra ½ batch.



  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Spray the bottom and sides of three 8-inch or four 6-inch round cake pans with nonstick spray, line the bottom with parchment paper, and spray again with the nonstick spray. Set aside.
  • In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and red velvet flavor. Beat the ingredients on medium-high speed for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is light in color and slightly increased in volume.
  • Lower the speed and add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until each egg is incorporated before adding the next. Continue to beat on medium-high until smooth and nearly double in volume.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and cocoa powder. Sprinkle the salt on top of the dry ingredients and whisk until combined.
  • 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 sour cream.
  • In a small bowl, combine the vinegar and baking soda until it fizzes and then add to the batter. Stir until blended.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans (about 16 oz. of batter in each 8-inch or 12oz in each 6-inch).
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs on it.
  • Let pans cool on wire rack for about 10-15 minutes before inverting the cakes onto racks. Let cool completely.
  • Level cakes if needed. Chill the cakes for at least an hour before using. Can be stored the freezer for up to one month wrapped well in plastic wrap and foil. 


  • Place the marshmallows on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Place on the middle rack of the oven, and broil the marshmallows until golden brown on top, about 30-60 seconds. Keep your eye on them!
  • Remove the pan from the oven and gently turn the marshmallows over and broil them again until they are golden brown on the other side.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and powdered sugar and beat on low until blended. Add the vanilla and mix on medium speed for about three minutes
  • With the mixer on low speed, add the marshmallow cream and (cooled) toasted marshmallows, and mix for about one minute. 


  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter for about 2 minutes on medium-high speed.
  • Turn the mixer to low speed and slowly add the melted, slightly cooled chocolate.
  • Gradually add the powdered sugar, vanilla and pinch of salt. Add the sour cream.
  • Turn the mixer to medium-high speed and beat the frosting for about 5 minutes.
  • 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. 


  • 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 filling.
  • 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.
  • Continue to frost and decorate the cake with the remaining chocolate frosting.
  • 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.     
Cuisine Cake
Course Dessert
Keyword cream cheese icing, red velvet bundt cake, red velvet cake

Courtney Rich

I’m a self-taught baker, obsessed with cake.

I long ago ditched box mixes in pursuit of melt-in-your-mouth, to-die-for flavor combinations, fillings and textures. I believe cake must be decadent, life-changing and worthy of celebration! And I believe anyone should be able to bake that kind of cake – and I’m here to teach you just that!

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Recipe Rating


  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

  4. I made your dark chocolate cake recipe, and it was wonderful. I wish I could post you the picture. Thanks for the clear explanations you make.
    I would appreciate if you can also post a frosting that does not require much sugar. If that exists at all.

  5. Making this cake tonight for the family and everything is tasting scrumptious as always!! How much leftover marshmallow filling do you have normally? I tried to be very generous with my layers but I still have a decent amount leftover!

  6. My cakes are flat and dense 😕 Do you know what would cause that? I’m at sea level…. Maybe I let the soda and vinegar fizz too long? Or over mixed? Thanks for any tips!

    1. Sea level should give you problems with my recipe but for sure the mixing will. Really low speed for the mixing, just until ingredients are incorporated.

  7. I made this cake for Christmas and I will definitely make it again! I might use a little less of the emulsion flavor next time it has a bit of a berry flavor? Anyways….It was super moist and it seemed to taste even better the next day which is surprising for a cake. I skipped the chocolate sour cream frosting and made a cookies and cream frosting (recipe from Courtney’s Cookies and Cream Cake) except I replaced the original Oreos with Red Velvet Oreos. Very tasty! Will make it again! Rise was beautiful.

  8. This was so good! Great texture, well-balanced flavors, unique. Everyone in my family loved it. And since I’m anti-cream cheese frosting, the combination seemed perfect to me!

    My only issue was the toasted marshmallows filling. It was really thick and stiff, so I added a bunch of heavy cream (probably about half a cup), which seemed to help. Have you had that happen?

    1. Yes, only if i’ve refrigerated it for a while. When that happens, I just microwave it for 10 seconds to soften the butter base.

  9. What kind of vinegar do you use? Is using the red velvet emulsion critical to this recipe or why is it used?

  10. This is so tasty!! I originally couldn’t let go of the idea of have cream cheese with red velvet so I went with Sweetapolita’s filling instead. I made her filling and was so disappointed with the flavor so I grabbed my marshmallows and followed your directions for toasting them. YOU’RE A DANG GENIUS! Those toasted marshmallow were EVERYTHING in the filling. I had to keep myself from eating all of it with a spoon before putting the cake together. Thanks for your creativity and willingness to share!

  11. Hi Courtney ~
    I am making this red velvet cake, and I am finding that 2 1/2 teaspoons of the emulsion weighs about 10.5 grams, whereas 2 1/2 tablespoons weights approx. 35 grams. I have tried multiple times but I keep coming up with the same weight… I have not weighed emulsion before this though, so maybe there is just a problem with my scale and i am just finding out 🤔
    My question is, should I be measuring out the 2 1/2 tablespoons, or should I weigh out the 10.5 grams?
    Thank you very much 🙂

  12. I made this cake for our son’s 18th birthday last week and it was delicious! I followed your directions for the cake exactly (except for the emulsion, as by my scale 2 1/2 Tablespoons was ~35 grams whereas 2 1/2 teaspoons was ~10.5 grams so I wasn’t sure whether I ought to follow the 2 1/2 Tablespoons measurement or the weight, I ultimately went with the 10.5 grams)
    I also used your chocolate buttercream with it instead, and between the moist cake, the delectable frosting and the marshmallow filling, it was very well loved! A big plus is that since the cake was so big (and due to Covid there were only the 4 of us physically present) the leftover cake slices are vacuum sealed in the freezer waiting for some lucky person to eat them 🙂

    1. I’m so glad you loved it! yay for leftover. We are in the middle of fixing all of our metric units so sorry for that mixup! It should be tablespoons so 35g


  14. Hey Courtney! I love this recipe in full cake size, but I want to make some mini red velvets for Valentine’s Day. Do you think this recipe would bake nicely in 4 inch pans, or could I add the red velvet emulsion and cocoa powder to a vanilla recipe I already use all the time for my 4 inch cakes? That recipe also starts with a creamed butter base + all the regular ingredients & buttermilk. Thank you!

  15. 5 stars
    This red velvet cake was so moist and delicious! Definitely a keeper. I really appreciate that Courtney includes the ounces of batter that going into the varying sizes of pans, I wish more people did this!

  16. 4 stars
    I’m so sad! 😭😭
    This turned out SO yummy but it baked up thin and chewy. I have the same issue with your chocolate based cakes. The batter is so runny, I think I must need to add less liquid? For example, the cup of hot water your chocolate cake calls for. Should I try leaving that out? I want to try again, thanks!!

    1. It’s supposed to be runny. You aren’t doing anything wrong. If it’s thin you might need fresher ingredients?

  17. I will be making this cake today. My brother in law requested a red velvet cake with chocolate buttercream. I will use the buttercream for the filling as well per his request. I’m excited to try your recipe as I have made other red velvet cakes and haven’t settled on one version that I really love. I will attempt the marshmallow filling next go around. It looks delicious. Thanks!

  18. 5 stars
    Well, I made the cake yesterday and it was a huge hit! This will become my go-to red velvet cake recipe. Thanks so much!

  19. 5 stars
    Perfect Red Velvet Cake! I have now made it four times in cupcake form in one month for several birthday celebrations. Friends keep requesting it! Thank you for helping us have great treats over and over ❤️

  20. I’m hoping to try this but with green food coloring for St. Patrick’s day. I also wanted to add some Guinness. Any ideas how to make that work? Can’t wait to play with it!

  21. Hi! Love and thanks for YOU and your amazing gift you share! Question related to the filling… Is the recipe modified from the ultimate smores filling? I noticed it was a bit more stable with the 2 C of powdered sugar than the 1C. Delicious by the way! But would love to know your thought process on the difference ❤️

  22. I’d like to make this tomorrow, but won’t have time to order the emulsion, and there’s likely not anywhere near me that would have it. What would you recommend as a substitute for flavoring and coloring? Thanks!

    1. You’ll just want to use some red food coloring instead. About 1-2 teaspoons should be enough. Hope you love it!

  23. Hey my daughter is 11 and is learning how to make all these amazing cakes but can you tell me if this recipe will work out for cupcakes and how long they would have to bake?

  24. 5 stars
    Thanks so much for sharing. So excited to try this recipe. Everything you make is fabulous.
    One question, can I use the same measurements for cupcakes? ☺️

  25. Hi there!
    I am going to be making this cake with the marshmallow filling for my daughter’s movie themed birthday (I thought red velvet cake, red carpet…it works, right?!!) next week and I am wondering what white colored frosting you would recommend for this as a substitution for the chocolate buttercream? The frosting needs to be white for the decorations I am planning on using. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated! Thanks so much!

  26. Hi! The cake came out fantastic (although I did have a couple of sour cream chunks that I didn’t mix well enough). I’m wondering for the marshmallows is it 20 regular size or 20 jumbo?

  27. I’ve tried several of your cake recipes, and they are all to die for!! Thank you so much for sharing them. 🙂
    Heres my question, in your Red Velvet cake recipe, the instructions say to mix the baking soda and vinegar together, then add it to the batter and mix is. Does this process give you different results than if you were to add the baking soda to the flour mixture, then add the vingar, at the very end?

  28. 5 stars
    This is a delicious cake and all the components individually are scrumptious. Together they are just a little bit too sweet for my taste but that filling…. I love it! Cake was moist and delicious with great flavor and I made the frosting with dark chocolate. Very good. I made a mini cake for a birthday and it turned out great.

  29. 4 stars
    I just made this cake for my boyfriend’s birthday, and I replace the red velvet emulsion with cocoa powder and vanilla extract. I made the first batch exactly how it said to on the recipe and the cake came out very flat and dense. when I made a second batch, I added the baking soda in with the flour instead of mixing it with vinegar and left the vinegar out, and it resulted in a very fluffy and nice cake. I’m not sure why this word for me but it’s something to try out if you experience the same thing with this recipe.

  30. 5 stars
    I’ve tried your red velvet with a chocolate chip cookie in the middle and our friends still RAVE about it. It’s my favorite (fool proof) red velvet cake. I’m looking to make it again but with a little different filling/ frosting… what your thoughts on red velvet cake with the toasted marshmallow filling but instead of the sour cream frosting, use a cream cheese frosting? Or do you think that may be too many sweet components? SOS

  31. 4 stars
    Hi Courtney. I made it both as cupcakes and cakes. The cupcakes turned really good. So delicious, soft and moist but the cakes turned flat and dense. Do I still need to add baking powder in this recipe?

    1. No because you add the baking soda and vinegar but if the cake isn’t rising well it could be that the baking soda is old. This cake isn’t super light and fluffy but shouldn’t be flat and dense.

  32. 5 stars
    This cake was so fun to make and absolutely delicious. My son looked at pictures and chose this cake for his 13th birthday. I was a little unsure about the marshmallow filling. Every bit of this cake was fantastic. It was a joy to make and a joy to eat and a joy to share with others. I did not need to make the extra frosting. A single batch was plenty with some extra piping