Food & BeverageCategory|

Let Them Eat (Red Velvet) Cake

The Urban Legend of Hilton’s Red Velvet Cake Recipe

In celebration of National Cake Day on November 26, Hilton is sharing a recipe for the famous Waldorf Astoria red velvet cake and some dish on its history. Take a bite of the past and enjoy this decadent dessert.

The curious combination of red cake layered with white icing is as striking inside a bakery case as it is on the taste buds. Still, many people can’t quite pinpoint the ingredients and are unaware of how red velvet cake came to be so popular.

While the famous cake’s true origin is up for debate, its popularity can be traced back to the Waldorf Astoria New York, where legend says  the chef had a recipe he kept secret until a guest requested it. The chef sent the recipe to the guest along with a pricey invoice. As possible retribution, the guest shared the recipe far and wide, helping the cake become known across the U.S. and the world for its red color and rich flavor. Decades later, red velvet treats are now ubiquitous and varied, ranging from the traditional red velvet cake to cookies and even funnel cake.

Bon appétit!

Waldorf Astoria Red Velvet Cake Recipe


For the cake:

  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ tsps. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 ¼ tsps. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 ½ pounds canned beets, drained and puréed
  • 1 tsp. red food coloring

For the icing:

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 12 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar, sifted


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter three 9-inch round cake pans and line them with parchment paper or waxed paper.

To Prepare the Cake Melt the chocolate in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of boiling water or in top of a double boiler (or melt in a microwave for 20 to 25 seconds). Meanwhile, place the sugar, eggs, oil, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed for 2 minutes. In a mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and continue to mix on low speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula so everything is well incorporated. Add the melted chocolate to this mixture and continue to mix on low speed. Add the puréed beets and food coloring. Continue to mix on low speed until everything is thoroughly combined. Evenly divide the batter between the 3 prepared pans and bake in the middle of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the center of the cake springs back when touched, or when an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Remove the pans from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pans, then turn the layers out onto the rack and let cool completely.

To Prepare the Icing Pour the cream into a small bowl and whip to soft peaks. Set aside in the refrigerator. Place the cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until it is soft and smooth. Add the mascarpone and continue to mix on low speed until the cheeses are well combined. Add the vanilla and powdered sugar and mix until everything is just combined. Turn off the mixer and fold in the whipped cream by hand with a spatula. Keep refrigerated until ready to assemble.

To Assemble Using a serrated knife, trim the top of each layer of cake so that it is flat. Place the first layer on a cake plate or serving platter and top with some of the icing. Repeat until all three layers are covered with icing, then ice the top and sides of the cake. Store the cake in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Recipe from The Waldorf Astoria Cookbook.