This recipe is a bit deceiving. It isn’t entirely made of cheesecake.
Instead, layers of red velvet cake sandwich a creamy, luxurious layer of baked cheesecake (which might look like frosting to the unsuspecting eye) and the entire confection is smothered in swirls of cream cheese frosting and red velvet cake crumbs. There is all sorts of red velvet cream cheese love going on here.
While it may look intimidating to make, it really isn’t.
I whipped this up on a Saturday morning and because each of the components can be made separately and independent of each other (it all gets assembled at the end), I just popped in and out of the kitchen as needed.
Of course, it helped that the temps were sub-zero that day and I could use my back porch as a resting spot for the baked cheesecake. It was cooled and frozen in approximately 28 seconds. Stop being jealous.
This cake is ridiculously appealing – both in looks and taste.
The fact that I couldn’t narrow down the pictures to less than four to use in this post should indicate how in love I am with it.
While my finished version doesn’t look exactly like the original, I’m still pleased with the result because after one bite, I forgot all else. Taste is what really matters, right?
2 (8-ounces each) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Make the cheesecake layer first so it has time to chill while the cake and frosting are being prepared. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly coat a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick spray. In a large bowl with a handheld electric mixer or in the bowl of an electric stand mixer, whip the cream cheese until it is smooth and creamy. Mix in the sugar and salt and blend for 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs, one at a time, blending after each addition. Mix in the sour cream, whipping cream and vanilla and beat until smooth. Don't overbeat - just mix until smooth and creamy. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cheesecake for 40-45 minutes until it is set and not jiggly in the middle. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and let it rest on a wire rack until completely cooled. Wrap the pan in foil and place the cooled cheesecake in the freezer until ready to assemble.
For the red velvet cake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round metal baking pans. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the eggs, oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla and vinegar. Whisk until fully combined, and continue whisking for another minute or two until the batter is thick and smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pans, dividing equally. Bake for 28-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached (don't overbake or the cake layers will be dry). Let the cakes cool in the pans for 5-10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pans, then invert cakes onto a piece of parchment or wax paper set on a cooling rack. Let them cool completely.
Prepare the frosting, by whipping the cream cheese with an electric handheld mixer in a large bowl or in the bowl of an electric stand mixer until smooth and creamy. Add the butter and vanilla and mix. Gradually add the powdered sugar and mix on high speed until it is light and fluffy and creamy.
To assemble, cut each of the cake layers in half to form two thinner cake layers (so you'll have four thin cake layers total). Place one of the bottom halves in the middle of a serving platter or cake plate. Remove the cheesecake from the freezer. Gently loosen it from the sides and bottom of the pan with a flat knife/spatula that has been run through hot water (this will help loosen it from the pan). When removed, lay the cheesecake layer on top of the red velvet cake layer on the serving plate. Place another red velvet cake layer on top of the cheesecake. Try to choose the layers that are the flattest on top and bottom so that the cake, when frosted, doesn't tilt or look like it is uneven. Crumble the remaining two cake layers into small crumbs and set aside.
Frost the cake by scooping dollops of the frosting on top of the cake and using an offset spatula, spread the frosting over the tops and sides. The sides will be covered up with cake crumbs so they don't need to be perfectly frosted - just make sure there is an even layer of frosting so the cake crumbs can adhere to the cake. Swirl the frosting across the top. Carefully gather handfuls of cake crumbs and press them into the sides of the cake. You'll have a mess, but don't worry, it is easy to gently sweep the fallen cake crumbs out of the way. Keep pressing them to the sides until the entire perimeter of the cake is completely covered.
Cover the cake lightly (or else the cake crumbs on the side will dry out) and refrigerate until ready to serve. The cake can be made up to two days in advance and chilled until serving.
Make Ahead: this cake can be assembled start to finish and refrigerated, well-covered, for up to two days before serving. If you don't have time to make it all at once, the cheesecake layer can be baked, cooled and frozen up to several weeks in advance.
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