As someone who has eaten her fair share of cakes and cupcakes, I've never known the difference between red velvet vs chocolate cake. I have always assumed that they were the same apart from the red food dye in the red velvet. 

I love both types of cakes, but for different reasons. A red velvet cake, to me, is more special than a regular chocolate cake. It may be due to its unique color, or to the traditional (and scrumptious) cream cheese frosting on top. Even though I have indulged on both, I still don't know the difference between the two. Let's find out together.

What Is Red Velvet?

sweet, chocolate, cream, candy, cake, berry, red velvet cake, goody, strawberry, pastry
Dylan Barth

While some people think the Red Velvet comes from the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in the 1920s, it's actually a product from the Great Depression. It was a marketing ploy from Adams Extract, a food coloring company.

Before this scheme, red velvet was made with cocoa powder, buttermilk, and vinegar. It's the chemical reaction between the cocoa powder (which contains anthocyanin, a pH-sensitive antioxidant that reacts to acids) and the vinegar and buttermilk. This reaction makes the cake its famous red-tinted color.

Adams' purpose, however, was to sell more food coloring, so their recipe included a lot of red coloring. This transformed the traditional deep maroon color into the bright red that we know today.

chocolate, sweet, cake, cream, candy, goody, milk, coffee, pastry
Kierri Price

Honestly, after writing this, I have no idea why chocolate cake has been confused with red velvet for so long. They are truly so different. From the ingredients to the texture to the frosting, they're each unique. 

A traditional red velvet cake has cream cheese frosting, which is my favorite part of the dessert. This is compared to chocolate cakes, which can have any frosting you want (although traditionally with a chocolate ganache or frosting).

What Can I Do With Red Velvet?

sweet, pastry, chocolate, cake, strawberry, berry, jam, cream
Abigail Wilkins

Luckily for you, red velvet can be used in a variety of desserts or breakfasts. These red velvet pancakes actually use the classic vinegar and cocoa powder combination to create its color (along with a little bit of red coloring). These cinnamon rolls and cookies use a cake mix, but are still oh so good.

Now that you know the answer in the classic debate, red velvet vs chocolate cake, go out and make some amazing desserts. And don't forget to add some of that bomb cream cheese frosting.