Red Velvet Cheesecake - with Chocolate Brownie Base

By Urvashi Roe •

There is always room for a little indulgence on Valentine’s Day whether you ‘celebrate’ it or not.  And as with all things Valentine, why not add a bit of red to the mix!

This recipe is based on the ubiquitous Red Velvet Cake which has been around since the 1930s and is originally from America.  The exact origin is not really known but there is an interesting story involving the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. 

The chef at the hotel ‘invented’ a cake made of three layers of red sponge.  The sponge was sandwiched with cream cheese frosting.  Anyway the story goes that a lady staying at the hotel asked for the receipe and received it with a bill for $350.  She was so outraged that she posted the recipe out to all her friends asking them to do the same.  So it’s also often known as the Waldorf Astoria Cake.

But some believe it was all a marketing ploy by the Adams Extract Company during the Great Depression.  Families were cutting back on luxuries and so using less food colouring.  It was an unnecessary expense.  So Adams came up with a recipe to help with the sales slump – The Red Velvet Cake.  At the time beetroot would have been used to colour cake so it was a real innovation to use the colour in the sponge.  The recipe also produced a very smooth cake crumb which is where the ‘velvet’ in the name comes from.  It was a hit and deemed to be “the cake of a wifetime”. 

Whatever the story, I love the gimmick and whereas I would usually use natural colouring via beetroot, I thought a little food colouring on Valentine’s Day wouldn’t hurt.

I’ve used a brownie base to keep it ‘cake’ like but you could use about 10 digestive biscuits and 50g melted butter for a more traditional cheesecake option.

Red Velvet Cheesecake - with Chocolate Brownie Base


You’ll need
200g soft unsalted butter
350g icing sugar
5 large eggs
200g dark chocolate – 80% cocoa solids
100g plain flour
100g nibbed hazelnuts
400g cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla extract
3-4 tsp red paste food colouring

To make them

Preheat the oven to 170C and line a traybake tin. 

Make the brownie base first by creaming 200g of the icing sugar and the butter together until soft and fluffy.  You could use caster sugar but you will get a lighter sponge vs a dense brownie like sponge.

Slowly add three of the eggs one by one making sure you beat well after each addition.

Add the flour and mix well. 

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl in the microwave at 15 second bursts.  When it’s melted all the way through give it a stir and then pour into the mixture and beat until it is all combined.

Pour it into the lined traybake tin, sprinkle over the nibbed nuts and set aside.

To make the cheesecake topping, beat the cream cheese and the remaining 150g of the icing sugar until you have a smooth batter and then add the other two eggs. 

Beat with the vanilla essence until well combined.

Add the red food colouring to the level of intensity you wish.  I used Poppy Red Paste and then added a touch of Violet to get a deeper red.

Pour the mixture over the chocolate layer and then bake for 30 minutes.

Don’t be tempted to leave it in longer. It will look uncooked but as long as the sides are slightly brown and the middle a little wobbly, it’s done. 

Let it cool and then chill for at least three hours in the fridge.

Slice with a knife – dip this in hot water between cuts as it will help to give you a clean finish. 

Inspired?  For more decadent chocolate recipes visit Great British Chefs collection.



Love it and nice styling. Now just slide one this way!!!
12 February 2014

Urvashi Roe

Urvashi finds food, baking, cooking & eating a therapeutic relief from her day job in marketing. She also freelances for various publications including lovefood.com & The Foodie Bugle and was a former contestant on BBC2's Great British Bake Off. Fascinated by the nutritional properties of fresh produce she started to share her knowledge on her Botanical Baker blog. As an Indian, she's also passionate about the food of her foremothers & shares the simplicity of this on her Gujerati Girl blog. 

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