Red Velvet Layered Cheesecake

One of my managers had her birthday this week, so of course I wanted to make her a cake. When I asked her what her favorite kind of cake was, she said she loved red velvet and cheesecake. I was torn between the two, I thought…why not have the best of both worlds?!  I decided to use this recipe as a guideline:

CHEESECAKE:
Two (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
cup granulated white sugar
pinch of salt
2 large eggs
cup sour cream
cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
RED VELVET CAKE:
cups all purpose flour
cups granulated white sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
cups vegetable or canola oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons red food coloring
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons white vinegar
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:
cups powdered sugar, sifted lightly to remove any lumps
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

This cake essentially just layers a cheesecake between two, decadent rounds of red velvet cake, and is topped with a rich, cream cheese frosting.

I decided to make the cheesecake the night before, to make the process a little more manageable for a work night.

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I started by preheating my oven to 325 degrees F, and placed a large roasting pan on the lower third rack of my oven. I put a kettle of water on the stove to boil, and then sprayed and lined my 9-inch springform pan with nonstick spray and a round of parchment paper. I wrapped a double layer of foil around the bottom and up the sides of the pan (to seal it so the water from the water bath doesn’t seep into the pan).

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In a large bowl, I used my hand mixer to mix the cream cheese until it was smooth and creamy. I then mixed in the sugar and salt for 2 minutes, scraping down sides of the bowl when needed. I added the eggs one at a time, blending after each addition. The last step was to mix in the sour cream, whipping cream and vanilla. I poured the batter into the prepared pan, and set my springform pan into my roasting pan in my pre-heated oven. I then carefully poured the hot water from my kettle into my roasting pan to surround the cheesecake (I poured until the water was about an inch from the top of the cheesecake pan). I let the cheesecake bake for about 45 minutes, until it was set to the touch and not jiggly. I then removed the cheesecake from the roasting pan and let it cool on a wire rack for over an hour. When it was cooled, I put the the pan in my freezer and let the cheesecake freeze completely (overnight).

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The following evening, I made the red velvet cake layers. I preheated my oven to 350 degrees F, and greased and floured my two 9-inch round metal baking pans. In a large bowl, i whisked together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. I then added the eggs, oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla and vinegar to the flour mixture. Using my hand mixer on medium-low speed, I beat the mixture until it was blended (about 2 minute). I then spread the batter evenly into my prepared pans, and baked them for 30 to 35 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached). I let them cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes, and then removed the cakes from the pans until they cooled completely (running a knife around the edge of the cake makes it a lot easier to remove).

As the cake cooled, I made the cream cheese frosting. In a large bowl, I used my hand mixer  to beat the powdered sugar, cream cheese, butter and vanilla until it was just smooth (do not overbeat).

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Then came my favorite part – THE ASSEMBLY!! I placed one cake layer on the center of my cake plate, and removed the cheesecake from the freezer. I took off the sides of the pan, and slid a knife under the parchment to remove the cheesecake from the pan. I peeled off the parchment paper, and then measured my cheesecake layer against the cake layers. If the cheesecake layer turns out to be a slightly larger round than the cake, move it to a cutting board and gently shave off some of the exterior of the cheesecake to get it to the same size as the cake layers. I was fortunate enough to have my layers be the same size, but leveled the tops of the red velvet rounds to make uniform layers. I reserved the cutoff tops and broke them down into crumbs to use for decoration. I then placed the cheesecake layer on top of the first cake layer, and then put the 2nd cake layer on top of the cheesecake. I proceeded to frost the entire cake, and applied a crumb coat layer to the cake first to ensure a clean exterior (use a long, thin spatula to cover the cake completely with a thin and even layer of frosting; wipe off your spatula each time you are about to dip it back into the bowl. Don’t worry at this point about the crumbs being visible in the frosting on the cake).

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When my cake had a thin layer of frosting all over it, I put it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to set the frosting. Once the first layer of frosting had set, I applied the 2nd layer, by adding a large scoop of frosting to the top of the cake. Using a long, thin spatula, I then spread the frosting evenly across the top and then down the sides. I then decorated the cake with the reserved red velvet crumbs (white chocolate shavings would also be a nice touch). I kept the cake refrigerated until we were ready to eat it. I was very pleased with how it turned out!  It was a big hit 😀

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