Chocolate Red Velvet Cake with Chocolate Icing When I was growing up, I always wanted a simple chocolate cake for my birthday. I still do. This velvety chocolate cake gets its name from its smooth texture and reddish hue. The original recipe called for red beet juicein some parts of the country it is called beet cakebut was altered by manufacturers who added red food coloring to the cake. "Red coloring is evil and dangerous for children and other living things," Carole Greenwood, a chef in Washington, D.C. told me. She refuses to use food coloring but loves this buttermilk-based velvety chocolate cake, and uses red wine vinegar or beet juice for the color. She also makes her version less sweet, using both good-quality cocoa powder and bittersweet chocolate. For the cake: 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter 1/2 cup water 1/2 cup good-quality cocoa powder 2 extra-large eggs 1 tablespoon vanilla 1 cup buttermilk 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda 2 tablespoons pickled beet juice or red wine vinegar 1 1/2 cups bleached all-purpose flour 1/2 cup cake flour 1/2 cup cornstarch 1 teaspoon salt 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar For the icing: 1 cup heavy cream 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter 2 tablespoons sugar 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 1/8 teaspoon salt Yield: 1 cake serving 8 people 1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease two 9-inch round cake pans. 2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the water and cocoa powder, and allow the mixture to cool. 3. Beat the eggs in the bowl of an electric mixer, then add the vanilla, buttermilk, baking soda, and beet juice or red wine vinegar and stir well. 4. Sift together the all-purpose flour, cake flour, cornstarch, salt, and sugar into the bowl. Pour in the butter and then the egg mixture and blend thoroughly on low. 5. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 6. Cool the cakes for a few minutes, then turn them out onto wire racks, and frost and fill the center with the chocolate icing. Chocolate Icing 1. Place the cream, butter, and sugar in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until hot and bubbly. 2. Remove the pan from the heat and add the chocolate, stirring slowly until smooth and silky. Add the vanilla and the salt.Taste and adjust the sweetness to your taste. Cool for about 15 minutes before frosting the cake. From the Hardcover edition.Nathan, Joan is the author of 'New American Cooking ', published 2005 under ISBN 9781400040346 and ISBN 1400040345.