Red velvet cake is a mellow chocolate cake with an intense red color. A white cream cheese icing is traditional, preferably applied with such care that when you cut it, the cake’s redness is a surprise.
We’ve tasted plenty of red velvet cakes that were somewhat bland – cocoa in search of a focus. Then we tasted a red velvet cake so laden with orange extract that its chocolate flavor was barely perceptible. But the marriage of cocoa and orange was alluring – like candied orange peel dipped in chocolate – so we developed this rich butter cake spiked with cocoa and orange zest and colored a vivid red.