This week Ben and I went over to dinner at our friends’ house, and I offered to bring a dessert. I felt like cheesecake since it has been quite some time since I have made one. So I had several flavors in mind that I was thinking of, and I ran them by Ben. “Red velvet, etc., etc….” He said, “I think you had me at red velvet.” The answer was clear. So I made it, and it was most definitely the right decision. Red velvet + cheesecake = you can’t go wrong! It is every bit as good as you might imagine. You need to go make this, now! And if not now, then definitely for Valentine’s Day. I can’t think of a more perfect dessert for such an occasion. I topped mine with cooca powder using a make-shift stencil I fashioned with a doily and wax paper. (It lost all detail of the design but the heart still looked pretty cute.) It would also be great garnished with red decorating sugar, heart-shaped sprinkles, or fresh strawberries.
Making this cheesecake reminded me how simple cheesecakes really are. I would probably make them much more often if they weren’t so incredibly fattening – but let’s not think about that right now, okay? ;) I only had a couple small issues with this dessert. For one thing, the crust was pretty stuck to the springform pan bottom, and ended up looking pretty messy when sliced and served. Next time I will definitely put a layer of parchment paper underneath to avoid that problem. Also, the original recipe had a typo regarding the amount of cream cheese in the topping. At first, it confused me but I figured it out on my own and realized it is just cream cheese frosting – which makes perfect sense, since it is topping red velvet cheesecake. Duh! I ended up throwing away about half of the topping because there was far more than I needed. I have adjusted these things in my version below so hopefully you won’t waste any ingredients.
Red Velvet Cheesecake
For the crust:
1 1/2 cups Oreo cookie crumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 tbsp. sugar
For the cheesecake:
3 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. distilled white vinegar
2 (1 oz.) bottles red food coloring
For the topping:
4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tbsp. butter, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with a round of parchment paper. To make the crust, combine the Oreo crumbs, melted butter and sugar in a small bowl. Mix together with a fork until all the crumbs are moistened. Press the mixture onto the bottom of the prepared pan.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. To make the filling, beat together the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer at medium-low speed for 1 minute. Add eggs, unsweetened cocoa powder, sour cream, buttermilk, vanilla extract, vinegar and food coloring. Mix on low speed just until fully combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake at 325 degrees F for 10 minutes, reduce the heat to 300 degrees F, and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the center is firm. Turn off the oven, prop the door open slightly, and let the cheesecake stand 30 minutes. Remove the cheesecake from the oven; cool in the pan on a wire rack for 3o minutes. Run a thin knife around the outside edge of the cake to separate from the pan. Cover and chill for at least 8 hours.
To make the topping, in the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until smooth; gradually add powdered sugar and vanilla, beating until smooth. Remove the cheesecake from the refrigerator and spread the topping evenly over the cheesecake. Remove sides of springform. Garnish if desired.
Source: adapted from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody, originally from Southern Living Christmas Cookbook