It’s been a while since I was into pink (about the same time I asked my parents to buy me a New Kids on the Block lunch box), so when I received a request to make a red velvet cake with pink decorations I thought I could take inspiration from the past and do some fun 80s-reminiscent pink designs. And while I unfortunately don’t have a bedazzler or any troll dolls to act as a cake topper, I thought a little candy melt could go a long way.
The cake is simple, but there are some techniques that I tried for the first time that offered up some insight into how to work with modeling chocolate/candy melts, which I’ll include below.
I was told that the cake recipient loves pink, and even has the nickname “Pink Love.” Beware consumer: Eating a piece of this cake may actually transport you back to the days of slap bracelets and saxophone solos.
- Wax paper
- Hairdryer (yes, you read that correctly)
- Stand mixer or electric mixer
For red velvet cake: (makes 2, 8″ x 2″ cakes)
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1 1/2 cups + 1 Tbl. sugar
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1-2 Tbl. cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
- 1 cup buttermilk, rm. temp.
- 2 large eggs, rm. temp.
- 2 Tbl. red food coloring (the liquid kind available at the grocery store works fine-I wouldn’t waste gel paste on this. If you do decide to use gel, limit quantity)
- 1 tsp. white distilled vinegar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
For the buttercream: (This makes about 5 cups)
- 4 sticks (or 1 pound) unsalted butter, softened (but not melted! Ideal texture should be like ice cream)
- 8 cups confectioners sugar, SIFTED
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 Tbl. vanilla extract
- 4 Tbl. whole milk or heavy cream
For the lattice:
- 1 bag wilton candy melts (they come in colors, but if you want to do your own, make sure it’s a gel color so the consistency of the candy won’t change)
Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour your cake pans (I like to use Wilton’s cake release, since it’s everything in one and works perfectly). In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In another larger bowl, whisk together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla. Using a standing mixer, mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined and a smooth batter is formed (about 2 minutes). Divide the cake batter evenly among the prepared cake pans and place in the oven evenly spaced apart. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through the cooking, until the cake pulls away from the side of the pans, and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 30-min. to 1 hour. Remove the cakes from the oven and run a knife around the edges to loosen them from the sides of the pans. One at a time, invert the cakes onto a plate and then re-invert them onto a cooling rack, rounded-sides up. Let cool completely. *Note: I like to make my cakes the day before decorating and then freeze them once completely cool. They’re easier to work with, and won’t dry out, once they’re frozen.
Buttercream: *Note: Do NOT microwave your butter to make it softer, as the microwave tends to break down the butter and your resulting buttercream will be runny and grainy. Just let it come to rm. temp. naturally. Beat the butter for a few minutes with a standing mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed. Add 3 cups of SIFTED powdered sugar and turn your mixer on the lowest speed until the sugar has been incorporated with the butter. *Note: Sifting the sugar first helps your buttercream to be less grainy. Repeat this process with another 3 cups of sugar. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and 4 Tbl. of milk/cream and beat for 3 minutes. If your frosting needs a stiffer consistency, add remaining sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add more milk 1 Tbl. at a time. If you want to color it, use a gel color, as this won’t change the frosting’s consistency.
Lattice/name: *Note: Candy melts, and not plain chocolate, are easy to use when you want to sculpt or design with chocolate, because they taste like chocolate but don’t need to be tempered to have a nice glossy finish to them. Heat melts according to package. If you want to color, add the gel color once the candy has melted completely. To make any kind of lattice pattern, measure the circumference of your FROSTED cake, then cut out a wax paper strip (the height that you want as well) that measures that circumference. Pour the melts into a piping bag with a tip cut off, and pipe your design on the wax paper (substance will be runny but manageable with a little patience). You might find that once you complete the design, the first piping has dried to the point where it can’t be molded onto the cake. This is where the hairdryer comes in. On low heat, blow dry the stiff chocolate just enough so that it won’t crack when bended. Once the melt has hardned enough to be lifted without dripping off the paper, yet soft enough to be bended, wrap the lattice (wax paper side facing you, not the cake) around the cake. Tape ends together if you have to. Place in the fridge for about 10-15 min., then peel off the wax paper from the lattice.
*Since the cake is buttercream and has dairy, it should be refrigerated if you’re not going to eat it within a few hours. Cake will keep in fridge about one week.