Red velvet cake is delicious, but as a fan of red velvet cake, you don’t need to limit yourself to a traditional layer cake with cream cheese frosting. As good as those cakes are, layer cakes can be time consuming to make and there are plenty of days when you might be in the mood for something a bit simpler. Fortunately, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy red velvet! My Red Velvet Rocky Road Cake is a great everyday cake because it is so easy to make, but it is also fun to serve for special occasions, as it has such a dramatic look. The single-layer cake combines red velvet with toasted nuts and marshmallows for a twist on a candy classic.
The cake base is a red velvet cake, with a little bit more chocolate to it than most red velvet cakes. Increasing the chocolate gives the cake a richer flavor and ties in with the other rocky road elements better than red velvet alone, would. Since there is a lot of chocolate in this recipe for a red velvet cake, you may need to add in more red food coloring than you might think. I added about a teaspoon, but feel free to be even more generous if you are worried that the color isn’t going to come through. I love the deep, intense chocolate-red color of the finished cake and really think that it stands out from other red velvet cakes.
The cake is relatively thin and looks more like a bar cookie or brownie at first glance than it does like a cake. Unlike brownies, however, this cake is moist and tender, rather than dense and fudgy. It has a surprisingly deep chocolate note because it uses both unsweetened chocolate and unsweetened cocoa powder, and it tastes rich for such a simple cake. Through the chocolate, you can still taste a hint of vanilla and the tang of the buttermilk, which means that this is easily identifiable as a red velvet cake even with all the other elements baked in. Toasted nuts are folded into the batter – you can use walnuts or pecans – and mini marshmallows are baked onto the top of the cake to act as a kind of “frosting,” giving the cake a finishing touch of fluffy sweetness.
Each bite delivers a great balance of moist cake, crunchy nuts and gooey marshmallow topping. I finish this off with a drizzle of chocolate ganache, just to give it a little bit of extra chocolate flavor, but you could easily skip the glaze if you want to let the marshmallows stand out a bit more.
Red Velvet Rocky Road Cake
1/4 cup butter
1 oz unsweetened chocolate
1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp red food coloring (more, if needed)
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup coarsely chopped, toasted walnuts or pecans
Marshmallow Topping and Chocolate Glaze
2 cups miniature marshmallows, divided
2 tbsp heavy cream
1/4 cup chocolate chips or chopped semisweet chocolate
Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8×8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil and lightly grease.
In a medium microwave safe bowl, melt together butter and unsweetened chocolate. Stir until smooth. Add in cocoa powder, vanilla extract and red food coloring. Stir until well combined. You may not see the red food coloring much at this stage.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar until well-combined. Stir in chocolate mixture. Stir in half of the flour mixture, followed by the buttermilk. You should start to see the batter turning red as you stir in the buttermilk. If not, add in more rood coloring. Stir in remaining flour mixture, mixing just until no streaks of flour remain. Fold in walnuts/pecans.
Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until the cake springs back when lightly pressed.
Remove pan from oven and sprinkle all the marshmallows evenly over the cake. Return cake to oven for 2 minutes, until marshmallows are puffed but not browned.
Allow cake to cool for several minutes while glaze is prepared.
For the glaze: In a small microwave-safe bowl, combine chocolate and cream. Melt in 30-second intervals in the microwave until mixture is very smooth. Drizzle over still-warm cake. Allow cake to cool completely before slicing.