Winter baking is all about creating those special moments with flavors, tastes, textures, and colors that transport us back to our childhood, Christmases, or holidays past. We may even be inspired to take up a new  tradition.

Like a cardinal in the snow, red velvet cake is stunning to behold on a table of holiday sweets. This Santa-suit red, multi-tier cake captures the imagination of the young and the not-so-young alike with Chantilly cream flocking all over and in between the crimson layers. Trimmed out with candied pecans or almonds, this is the stuff that sugarplum dreams are made of.

For Valentine’s Day: As head-turning as red lipstick, red heels or virtually anything red on a woman, this attention-getting cake is pure eye-candy, an unexpected little indulgence to give or share with your sweetheart on the most romantic day of the year.



2 ½ c. All purpose flour

1 ½ c. sugar

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. fine salt

1 oz. unsweetened cocoa

1 ½ c. canola

1 c. buttermilk (room temperature)

2 large eggs

2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

2 Tbsp. red food coloring


Chantilly cream:

8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened

1 c. heavy cream (very cold)

2 Tbsp. powdered sugar

2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 tsp. orange juice, liqueur or hazelnut oil

 Garnish: Candied pecans or almonds

Preheat oven 350F.

1. Grease the bottom and sides of three 8-inch spring form pans using a paper towel dampened with canola and lightly flour.

2. Make the cake batter: In large mixing bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa; sift again.

3. In another large mixing bowl, beat eggs, buttermilk, canola, red food coloring, and vanilla with hand-held mixer on low speed. Add dry ingredients and beat until just moistened, scraping sides frequently. Beat on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes.

4. Divide batter evenly between 3 pans. Bake 30 minutes on center rack in oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. While the cakes are baking rotate the pans 180 degrees every 15 minutes so the cakes are red evenly all the way around. Cool in pans 10 minutes. Release from pans and cool completely on wire racks.

5. Make the Chantilly cream. Using a hand held mixer or wire whisk, beat cream cheese and sugar together in large mixing bowl until combined. Add heavy cream, vanilla and juice or other flavoring. Beat or whisk vigorously until light and fluffy. Chill until ready to use.

6. Assemble the cake. Use an off-set spatula to frost between layers or pipe-in cream using a pastry bag. Be sure to reserve enough cream to cover the top and sides. Sprinkle with candied nuts.


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