Red Velvet Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting


I feel about as plump and round as that marzipan snowman. My weekend consisted of wine, tapas, ice cream, Chinese food, papusas, cookies, and fried chicken. Ooof, I just grossed myself out making that list. And I'm not even home for the holidays yet. Aaaaaaah! Where is my smoothie?! Reuben's parents are in town and we have been living our best lives and eating all the best foods. Plus my office has been getting inundated with so many sweets. Free macaroons and vegan donuts are hard to pass up. But I'm dying for a big platter of vegetables and to not think about cookies for a while. But I'll push through all the sugar and make it to 2018, ready for all the green foods!

Until then, I'm going to try to enjoy all the gluttony (in moderation) this holiday season has to offer. It doesn't snow here in San Francisco, obviously. The low is about 50 degrees. There are definitely not carolers strolling. Market Street has some holiday lights up but it still smells like poo. And there are maybe 2 houses around us that have any holiday decorations up. Being a child of the snowy Midwest, I just want so much more out of my holiday season. I want to bundle up in as many layers a possible so that you could confuse me for the Michelin Man. My hair should freezer a few times. I want to sip on hot cocoa everyday. I want to walk outside while the snow is gently falling from the sky. I want to be snowed in so that I'm forced to stay bundled up inside putting together a puzzle or paint all day. We don't have a Christmas tree this year or a fireplace to hang stockings on. It's just not the same here and it makes me feel a little blue.

Since the holiday spirit in SF is not up to my satisfaction, I decided to make my own snowy winter scene! In my new favorite medium: cake. Plus, when you're an adult, you learn to fix your own problems instead of wallowing in sorrow, right? Cake fixes most things I think.

I brought this cake to a little holiday gathering in Stinson Beach a few weeks back and everyone loved it! No one had the heart to eat Mr. Snowman though. If you're looking for a show stopping holiday cake, this is it! And it's pretty darn easy. I'm not really into elaborate cake decorations. Mainly because I ain't got no time and I haven't practiced my buttercream flowers nearly enough. With a few extra ingredients and some creativity, you can create a magical winter scene with little stress. This is a naked red velvet cake with coconut cream cheese frosting. The coconut milk gives the frosting a nice tangy flavor. The red and white is a nod to some holiday colors. The pine trees are inverted rosemary sprigs and the snowman is made of marzipan rolled in powdered sugar. Then the whole thing gets hit with a severe powdered sugar snowstorm!

It was really fun to put together and brought back a ton of architecture school memories. I would spend hours, days really, buildings models. It was torturous but also oddly relaxing. I would put on headphones, queue up a good (or terrible) show on Netflix, and spend the next billion hours cutting and gluing things. Thankfully I don't have to do that anymore!

Anyways, happy holidays and I wish you all safe travels to wherever your going! Off to Cleveland tomorrow! Eeek! 

Red Velvet Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

makes 1 - 3 tiered 6" cake

2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter - softened
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1 tbsp red food coloring (more if you want a redder color)

8 oz cream cheese - softened
4 tbsp butter - softened
1/2 cup coconut milk - best if can is chilled in the fridge for 2-3 days
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
pinch of salt
* double this frosting if you want to also frost the sides

powdered sugar


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl.

In the bowl of your standmixer with the paddle attachment, cream together butter until creamy. Add in sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in 1 egg at a time until fully incorporated. Carefully pour in your buttermilk and red food coloring and mix again.

Slowly add in the flour mixture, scraping down the sides when needed, until the batter is evenly mixed.

Line the bottoms of three 6" cake pans with a disc of parchment paper and grease the sides. Equally divide the cake batter into the cake pans. Smooth out the top with an offset spatula or spoon so that they are leveled. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pans for 5 minutes. Carefully remove the cake from the pans and allow to completely cool on a wire rack.

Whip together cream cheese, butter, coconut milk, powdered sugar, and salt until light and smooth. Place in the fridge for 20 minutes to set up.

Level the cake tiers, if you wish (eat the scraps!). Plop some frosting on the first layer and smooth over with an offset spatula. Add enough frosting so some of it slightly overflows at the edges. Repeat steps with the remaining layers of cake. Frost the top and scrape the edges of the cake with a bench scraper for the naked cake look.

Decorate your cake with powdered sugar snow, rosemary trees and garland, and a happy marzipan snowman!

*recipe was adapted from the Red Velvet Cake in The Joy of Cooking