Sunday, February 17, 2013

Week 7-Red Velvet Valentine

Many of you who know me, know I've lived ALL around the United States.  And if you had told me I would have spent most of my life after grad school living below the Mason Dixon line, I would have told you that you were crazy. But that's how it all shook down.

One of my favorite culinary things about living down South was trying a whole bunch of desserts I'd never really had before- hummingbird cake, fresh coconut cake and my favorite, red velvet cake. Yum!

When I moved back to the Tri-State, I was surprised to find that red velvet cake/cupcakes were ubiquitous at every bakery.  And as often happens when something becomes that trendy, they weren't really that good.  Yes, the cakes were beautifully red, but a lot of time they were dry and they never had that tang and the cocoa taste I remembered.

So I decided I was going to try to make my own red velvet cake for my last birthday.  I found a recipe, I invited folks over.  I was ready to bake.  And then an inconvenient guest named Hurricane Sandy knocked my power out and left me without an oven for over a week.  When we finally got our power back, I just wasn't excited about making my own red velvet cake.

But I keep seeing red velvet stuff all the time.  So in honor of St Valentine, I decided to make a red velvet pudding pie. 

And seriously, people it was yummy.  And a little scary- after I finished making the pie, my kitchen and the interior of my dishwasher looked like a crime scene.  But honestly, the pie was worth the red splatter. 
I will be honest, my pudding didn't set up perfectly- it was a little on the loose side since I was afraid the buttermilk would curdle (clearly, I'm not a real Southerner as buttermilk sort of scares me.)  But it was spot on for taste and the chocolate graham cracker crust was fantastic- the only bummer was there was no cream cheese frosting.  However a layer of whipped cream made up for that.
I also got a little nervous putting more than a tablespoon of red food coloring in the pie, so I had more of a dark rose velvet than a red velvet- but Revlon should call me, because I created an excellent lipstick shade for them.
This one will definitely be on the make again list but I need to man up on the red dye :)  I invited over some third party taste testers and they gave it a big thumbs up too.
Red Velvet Pudding Pie
Adapted from the website Completely Delicious
1 1/2 cups chocolate graham crackers- I used about 12 crackers
1/3 cup melted unsalted butter
3 tablespoons sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
4 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
4 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon red food coloring (as mentioned above I would recommend more if you want a deep rich red)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Whipped cream
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees,
Prepare crust by processing the graham crackers with the sugar.  Then add the melted butter. Press into the pie plate and bake for 10 minutes. Let the crust cool completely.
To make filling, mix milk, cream, sugar and cocoa in a saucepan.  Heat over medium heat until you get bubbles on the edges.
Now here's the trick.  At the same time you need to whisk together the eggs, buttermilk and the cornstarch.  But make sure you watch the stuff on the stove- apparently my ability to multitask is not so good :)
Once the cocoa mixture is heated, add it to the big bowl of egg mixture, whisking constantly.  Then return the mixture to medium high heat.  Stir the mixture until it thickens-the recipe tells you not to allow it to boil.  I probably heated this for 8 minutes until it started to thicken, but when I got a few clumps I got nervous and removed it from the heat.
Mix in the butter, vanilla and the food coloring.  Then strain the mixture through a mesh strainer to remove any clumps- I'm wondering if I removed too much and that is why my pudding never fully thickened.  Pour the mixture into the cooled crust.
Spread whipped cream on top of the pie and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. 

FYI- this is a tough pie to cut and make it look pretty.  When I tried to pull the knife out, I would get little pink stains all over the whipped cream.

Voila!  Red pie with crumbage...

Can't tell it's red at all...


Messy but delicious!


  1. Hi Jen, great post! I have become a fan of buttermilk powder. It keeps for a long time. all you do is reconstitute with water and voila, buttermilk you can use in any recipe or for pancakes, etc.

  2. Thanks! I actually looked at the buttermilk powder since I can never tell when fresh buttermilk has gone bad (it always smells nasty to me!) Maybe I'll try it next time I make cornbread.

  3. Yes, weird color and weird consistency, but tasty and the crust was great! Thanks for letting us share.