Valentine's Day and chocolate seem to go hand in hand. But during the past few years I associated Valentine's Day with red velvet cake too. It must have something to do with the red. So when I saw Angela combine the two into a "kiss" I knew exactly what I would be making this weekend. It's such a cute idea to make red velvet cake kisses covered with chocolate. (For those who don't know, they are inspired by Hershey's Kisses candy.)
I started with a red velvet cake recipe (which I adapted from Martha Stewart's site). I prefer my cake without a lot of food coloring so I guess it's more like mahogany velvet than red velvet. When the cake was cool, I broke the cake into crumbs. Then I bound the crumbs with a cream cheese frosting and formed the "kisses". After letting them chill in the refrigerator, I glazed them with a chocolate ganache.
I have to be honest and tell you that I felt like I had made a big mistake by making these kisses. It felt wrong to break up the cake into crumbs. It felt just as wrong to mush up the cake crumbs with frosting. And it was definitely wrong to handle any food so much. When I tasted the mixture before forming the kisses, I was pretty disappointed with the texture and taste. But I couldn't do anything about it so I forged ahead and continued as planned. I shaped the crumb mixture into kisses and let them sit in the refrigerator overnight.
The next day I made the glaze and proceeded to coat my kisses. When the glaze had set, I tried one and I no longer felt that it was all a big mistake. The cake was super moist, but not mushy, and they were dense without any toughness. I've always felt that red velvet cake didn’t have a dominant flavor (very light cocoa would be the best way to describe the flavor). I feared that the chocolate glaze would completely overshadow the delicate cocoa-ness of the cake, but the chocolate glaze really complemented the cake and actually brought out the cocoa in the cake. Overall I was pretty happy that it worked out so well.
Red Velvet Cake
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (natural not Dutch processed)
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup flavorless oil (like canola or grapeseed)
1 large egg
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 to 4 tsp red food coloring (optional)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vinegar (white or apple cider)
Preheat oven to 350F.
Generously butter one 9-by-2-inch round cake pan. Sprinkle with flour, and tap out the excess. Set your pan aside.
In a medium bowl, sift together cake flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Set aside your dry ingredients.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the sugar and oil on medium speed until well combined. Add egg and beat well. Add vanilla extract and food coloring (if using), and beat until well combined.
Add flour mixture, alternating with buttermilk, scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add vinegar to batter, and beat for 10 seconds.
Pour the batter into your prepared pan. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 30 to 35 minutes.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove cake from the pan, and return to the rack to cool completely.
Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese, softened at room temp.
2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened at room temp.
1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes on medium speed. Add sugar and vanilla and beat until combined, about 2 minutes.
Chocolate Ganache Glaze
6 ounces semi or bittersweet chocolate*, finely chopped
*(54 - 72% cacao works well)
1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces) heavy cream
Place chopped chocolate in a medium heat proof bowl. Heat cream over medium heat until it comes to a gentle boil. Pour cream over chocolate and let it sit for 1 minute. Using a spoon or rubber spatula, gently stir the mixture until well combined.
How to assemble your "kisses"
Crumble the cooled cake either by hand or using a food processor. Place the cake crumbs in a large bowl. Add the cream cheese frosting and stir until well to combine the cake crumbs and frosting. The crumbs should hold its shape when gently squeezed together.
Shape your cake kisses by hand. I made my kisses approximately 2 inches high with a 1.5 inch diameter base. I was able to get 28 kisses, but the yield will vary depending on your size. Place the kisses on a sheet pan and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and as long as overnight. This chilling period will help the kisses hold its shape and allow the frosting to "soak" into the crumbs.
While the kisses are chilling, make your glaze. Place your chilled kisses on a wire rack set over a rimmed sheet pan (to catch any excess glaze). Spoon some glaze over each kiss to cover completely. Allow glaze to set, about 15 minutes.