Its scarlet color and irresistible chocolate flavor make red velvet cake a Valentine's Day natural. But, when there's only 2 of you, baking a big cake seems silly. It's a lot of trouble and means you'll have to toss or giveaway most of your effort or face temptation for days!
That's why Bob and I adore these red velvet morsels from Mug Cakes: 100 Speedy Microwave Treats to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth (St. Martin's Griffin Paperback Original, Aug. 6, 2013, $22.99). Besides being perfect for 2, these delightful Southern tidbits are amazingly fast and easy to prepare.
The hardest part is measuring the ingredients. You'll need an egg, cocoa powder, red food coloring plus the 7 other ingredients listed below. Per the recipe, cheap liquid food coloring works much better here than fancy food coloring pastes or gels. But, take it from me and handle with care, especially if it's in a glass bottle.
When making our mug cakes, I accidentally sat the food coloring too close to the edge of the pantry shelf. Seconds later, the FULL bottle dropped about 4 feet, broke into a zillion pieces after hitting the tile floor and splattered everything in sight (the floor, the walls, even serving dishes on the lower shelves!). It was a disaster so bad Bob said we should just draw a chalk outline around it and leave it be!
Yes, I am blessed to have a husband with a sense of humor. He just laughed and handed me paper towel after paper towel after paper towel since only one of us could fit in the pantry. What a mess! It took over an hour, two full rolls of Bounty, a bottle of vinegar and some hydrogen peroxide to clean the pantry and get the red out of the white shirt I was wearing so I no longer looked like a shooting victim.
Afterwards, I was exhausted. Thank goodness, completing our mug cakes was ever so simple or there would have been no dessert for Bob that night. You just mix the ingredients in a large mug, whisk everything together, divide the batter between 2 cups and cook them in the microwave, 1 at a time. Now for the best part, they're ready in less than 3 minutes each. And you can make the yummy cream cheese frosting while you wait.
Talk about soothing! Enjoying these luscious mug cakes topped with a dollop of homemade cream cheese frosting felt as comforting as a warm hug after our trying evening. They're a great way to say "I love you!" but so easy you won't want to wait for Valentine's Day.
This uber-trendy cake is actually a vintage recipe from the Deep South. It is as red as Scarlet O'Hara's dress thanks to the combination of cocoa powder and cheap liquid red food coloring. Be sure to use the cheap stuff! Fancy food coloring pastes and gels don't work nearly as well. The vinegar was traditionally added to the baking soda as a leavener. With self-rising flour, it's not necessary, but it's added here for its classic zippy flavor.
In a large mug, whisk together the egg and oil with a fork. Stir in the food coloring, buttermilk, vanilla and sugar. Add the cocoa, flour, salt and vinegar. Beat the batter until smooth. Divide the batter between two mugs. Microwave separately for 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 minutes each until risen and firm.
Cream cheese frosting, Marshmallow Fluff, whipped cream, fresh berries, red sugar sprinkles, candied pecans or chocolate shavings.
Blue Velvet: You never know when you may need to make a blue cake. It's easily done by replacing cheap red liquid food coloring with cheap blue liquid food coloring. For any other cake color, you'll want to omit the cocoa powder, as it will give all other food colors a tinge of brown. If you make another color, replace the cocoa powder with an equal amount of flour.
This is the classic accompaniment to carrot cake and red velvet cake, but should in no way be limited to them. Try it on banana cakes, peanut butter cakes, chocolate cakes -- or forgo the cake altogether and just eat it with a spoon.
In a large mug, mix together the cream cheese and butter with a fork. Add the vanilla, sugar and salt. Beat the frosting until smooth.
There are several good-quality vegan "cream cheese" products on the market, and they all work well as a substitute in this recipe.
Other Works: Certified master baker and California Culinary Academy graduate Leslie Bilderback is also the author of 8 books in The Complete Idiot's Guide and Everything series.
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Penned: Aug. 6, 2013
What's Inside: More than 100 simple microwave dessert recipes that can be mixed with a fork and baked in about 5 minutes. Perfect when you don't feel like making an entire cake, each of these taste-tempting ideas serves 1 or 2.
You'll find miniature versions of everything from basic Buttermilk Cake to elegant Chocolate Caramel Fleur de Sel as well as recipes for those with special dietary needs and goodies like mug puddings, pies and cheesecakes. Especially appealing to busy couples and singles, this creative collection makes it easy to serve fresh-baked homemade treats no matter how small your household.
Time Out: 176 pages
Available: $22.99 at Amazon and most book retailers
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