Is Red Velvet Cake Just Chocolate Cake?

Is Red Velvet Cake Just Chocolate Cake?

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If you’ve ever baked or eaten a red velvet cake, you surely recall that it has a chocolate taste that stands out from the others. It’s not overt, but it’s definitely there. Does this imply that a red velvet cake is, in essence, the same thing as a chocolate cake?

The correct response is “no.” There is a world of difference between chocolate cakes and red velvet cakes, despite the fact that both kinds of cakes are chock full of cocoa powder and have a reputation for being really delicious.

My name is Angie, I consider myself a self-taught baker, and I’ve been in the baking business for more than a decade. People in my region are not very familiar with cakes made in the western way. People are often asking me to explain the distinctions between the many cakes that are available.

In this post, I will compare and contrast chocolate cake with red velvet cake, focusing on the primary similarities and distinctions between the two types of cakes.

Keep reading to find out all there is to know about it!

Red Velvet Cake

The Victorian period saw the rise in popularity of velvet cakes, which were regularly served at dessert gatherings. It was during this time that the myth of the red velvet cake began. Velvet cakes are famous for having a soft, “velvety” consistency, which is where they get their name from. Cocoa powder was added to the flour in order to make it more pliable so that the desired velvety texture could be achieved.

People have observed that the ordinarily brown cake takes on a reddish tint when natural cocoa powder is combined with acidic components such as buttermilk or vinegar. This effect may be seen in baked goods. There is a widespread consensus that this was the inspiration for the invention of the red velvet cake.

When exactly did the color of the red velvet cake change to look like this? We would like to thank the Adams Extract Company for their contribution to that.

The red velvet cake that we are familiar with today was popularized for the first time by Adams Extract Company. They did this in order to increase the amount of red food colors that they sold. They came up with a recipe for red velvet cake and posted it next to the part where they sold food coloring and vanilla essence. Since then, red velvet cake has become a craze that doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon.

Chocolate Cake

In contrast to the red velvet cake, which is a very specialized dessert that does not lend itself well to many various iterations, the word “chocolate cake” refers to any and all cakes that include some kind of chocolate in its ingredients.

You may be acquainted with the classic kind of chocolate cake, which is piled with ganache or chocolate buttercream in between each layer, has a strong chocolate taste, and has a very dark hue. If you’ve ever had traditional chocolate cake, you know what I’m talking about.

Alternately, you may go for a devil’s food cake, a black forest cake, or a german chocolate cake. There is a very wide range of choice.

Key Similarities

There is a rationale for why individuals might occasionally get these two mixed up. I’ll explain why.

The recipes for chocolate and red velvet cakes both call for cocoa powder in various amounts. The most important role that cocoa powder plays in making a red velvet cake is that of a flour tenderizer, which allows for the creation of crumbs that are finer and more tender.

On the other hand, cocoa powder is used to chocolate cakes so that they may enjoy the deep chocolate flavor that cocoa powder imparts. In order to amplify the distinctly chocolate taste, cocoa powder is often used with chocolate and even coffee on occasion.

Even though there is just a trace quantity of cocoa powder in red velvet cakes, the taste of the cocoa is still quite present and cannot be ignored. This is the reason why chocolate cakes and red velvet cakes are occasionally mistaken with one another.

Key Differences

The primary distinctions between chocolate cake and red velvet cake lie in the cakes’ constituent parts as well as their structures and tastes.


The difference between a standard cake and a red velvet cake lies in the presence of a few key elements. The first item on the list is, of course, red food coloring, which is responsible for giving red velvet cakes their signature brilliant crimson hue. A red velvet cake would not be a red velvet cake at all if it did not have this ingredient.

The next component is buttermilk, followed by a little quantity of cocoa powder and, in almost every case, baking soda.

When it comes to chocolate cakes, the ingredients you use are going to be determined by the kind of chocolate cake you’re producing. When making a conventional chocolate cake or a devil’s food cake, the cocoa powder is topped with melted chocolate to produce a texture and taste that is richer and more indulgent. Egg whites are used liberally in the preparation of chocolate sponge cakes and Swiss rolls. This allows for the incorporation of air into the cake, which gives it a cloud-like lightness.


The surface of red velvet has a unique and distinctive texture. The cocoa powder works to make the flour more pliable. Because of the reaction between the baking soda and the acidic elements in the batter, the finished cake will have a highly soft and moist texture, with extremely tiny and tight crumbs.

The recipe you choose will determine the consistency of the chocolate cake. Additionally, traditional chocolate cakes are celebrated for the abundance of moisture that they contain. The crumb texture is similar to that of a red velvet cake, but the air pockets are often bigger, which results in the cake having a texture that is somewhat more grainy than that of red velvet.

Depending on the recipe, some chocolate cakes have a more airy texture, while others have a more thick consistency. For example, chocolate sponge cakes are made with a significant amount of foamed egg whites, which gives them a light and airy texture.


When comparing the two in terms of their tastes, the red velvet cake has a more pronounced acidic flavor than the chocolate cake does. This is because the recipe calls for buttermilk as well as vinegar. The cocoa powder gives this cake a subtle chocolate flavor, and traditionally, a sour cream cheese frosting is used to complement the cake’s flavor.

On the other hand, chocolate cakes do not often have a tangy flavor unless berries are added to them or a cream cheese frosting is used. In any case, the exceptions are chocolate cupcakes.


In the following paragraphs, I will respond to certain inquiries about chocolate and red velvet cakes that you may still have.

Is red velvet cake just chocolate cake with food coloring?

I mean, if that’s the way you want to say it, you certainly have the ability to do so.

Although technically speaking, red velvet cake can fall under the big umbrella of chocolate cake because of its addition of cocoa powder, it is rarely considered to be so because it has a very distinctive texture with fine crumbs and a tangy taste that is not present in the majority of chocolate cakes.

Why is red velvet cake expensive?

To tell you the truth, the cost of making a red velvet cake is not much more than the expense of making a standard cake. The only components that might potentially drive up the price of the cake are the red food coloring and the cream cheese that is required to prepare the cream cheese icing.

Why did my red velvet cake turn brown?

When foods are baked or cooked, a natural browning process takes place. The Maillard reaction is the name of the chemical process that occurs when sugar and amino acids interact with one another.

If your red velvet cake is loaded with red food coloring, the browning process may not alter the red hue much; rather, it could only make it more intense. However, if you do not add enough red food coloring to the batter for your red velvet cake, the red color will not come through, and you will end up with a cake that is brown in appearance instead.

In the event that the cake smells burned in addition to having a brown hue, it is conceivable that you have overcooked it in the oven.

Why does my red velvet cake taste bitter?

There are two different things that might be causing the bitter flavor of your red velvet cake. The leavening agent that is called for in the majority of red velvet cake recipes is baking soda. Inadvertently using more baking soda than required might lead to a red velvet cake with a taste that is more on the astringent side.

It’s possible that the food coloring you’re using gives your cake an unpleasant aftertaste for another reason. A rather large quantity of red food coloring is used in order to get the desired shade of brilliant blood red. Even while it is the goal of food coloring manufacturers to have their products taste as neutral as possible, certain food colorings can have a little bitter flavor, particularly when used in high amounts.

Is red velvet cake the same as chocolate cake?

There are a lot of individuals who are curious about whether or not red velvet cake is truly simply chocolate cake. A red velvet cake is not the same thing as a chocolate cake, despite the fact that it tastes a lot like chocolate and contains a significant amount of cocoa powder. In comparison to recipes for classic chocolate cakes, this one calls for a very little amount of cocoa powder.

Is red velvet cake chocolate or vanilla cake?

Vanilla cake is the base for red velvet cake, which is distinguished by the addition of cocoa powder and red food coloring. This dessert is especially well-liked in the southern United States. The acidity brought to the batter by the buttermilk and vinegar helps to offset the sweetness of the typical cream cheese and butter icing. This is accomplished by introducing a little of tanginess to the batter.

What makes red velvet cake different?

The use of the food coloring is not the only thing that makes red velvet cake special. Cocoa powder, vinegar, and buttermilk are the three main ingredients in making red velvet. The chemical reaction that takes place between these components helps give the cake a rich crimson color, which is often increased by the addition of additional food coloring.

Final Thoughts

In case you haven’t previously grasped the concept, chocolate cakes and red velvet cakes are really distinct from one another. After reading this essay, you shouldn’t confuse the two at all; I won’t make that mistake and neither should you!

Do you have a preference for a chocolate cake or a cake made with red velvet? And do you have a recipe that you would suggest trying? I’m constantly wanting to try out new recipes, so if you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments section below.

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