Red Velvet Cake for Cake Balls

Many people mistakenly think that red velvet cake is a chocolate cake. It actually has very little cocoa in the batter; my version has more than most. It does have a reddish, chocolaty color, due to the small amount of cocoa powder and a large quantity of red food coloring. Many recipes suggest doubling the amount of red food coloring; feel free to adjust as you like

Makes one 9 x 13-inch base cake (about 9 1/2 cups crumbs)

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sifted natural cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup low-fat buttermilk, at room temperature

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon red liquid or gel food coloring

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat the inside of a 9 x 13-inch rectangular pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.

2. Whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl to aerate and combine; set aside.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and vinegar; set aside.

4. In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar gradually and beat until very light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl once or twice. Beat in the vanilla and red food coloring until thoroughly combined.

5. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down after each addition and allowing each egg to be absorbed before continuing. Add the flour mixture in four additions, alternating with the buttermilk mixture. Begin and end with the flour mixture and beat briefly until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

6. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center shows a few moist crumbs when removed. The cake will have begun to come away from the sides of the pan. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. The cake is ready to use. Alternatively, double-wrap the pan in plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 1 day before proceeding.