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Drive-Thru Gourmet

Starbucks sweetens up coffee time with robust Red Velvet Loaf Cake

Starbucks sweetens up coffee time with robust Red Velvet Loaf Cake

Drive-Thru Gourmet - Starbucks red velvet loaf cake
That's some good marbling.  Photo courtesy of Starbucks

This week, I reached out for a slice of Red Velvet Loaf Cake, new from America's coffee break room, Starbucks, with 15,000 locations on every street corner, strip center, bookstore, mall outpost, and inside supermarkets. Red Velvet joins Gingerbread and Lemon in Starbucks' lazy loaf lineup.

Here's the Red Velvet Loaf breakdown: Red Velvet cake swirled with vanilla cake, topped with white chocolaty icing. The trick is to get some Red Velvet cake, vanilla cake and icing in each bite, the old black and white cookie strategy. Total calories: 370 (per slice). Fat grams: 16. Sodium: 470 mg. Carbs: 51 g. Dietary fiber: 1 g. Protein: 5 g. Manufacturer's suggested retail price: $2.95.

This looks like your mom's time-honored marble cake, for when company came over. I remember taking a spoon once and excavating all the chocolate cake and leaving the boring white cake parts. I was on the receiving end of a little discussion after that episode.

Starbucks' take on red velvet cake, naturally, is different than the Dixie Diner's red velvet cake spinning in the dessert display on the counter. Most different: traditional red  velvet cake has cream cheese icing. Starbucks goes with a white chocolate icing.

While Starbucks gives red velvet top billing, it really shares the stage with vanilla cake. Starbucks' pastries are solid and dependable. They may be baked far away and who knows when, but Starbucks is obsessively careful about its food prep, holding patterns, and delivery system. So they taste pretty darn fresh when brought back to life in local stores. (Subway should take notes about maintaining consistency and freshness. I had a roast beef sub the other day, I had to look in the newspaper's archives for the cow's obituary.)

I've never been a huge fan of Red Velvet cake, same with white chocolate. They're too confusing. Be proud of what you are. I think Red Velvet Cake is embarrassed by its chocolate cake heritage and uses red food dye to cover its tracks. (Like when kids don't want friends to meet their dad, because there's a good chance dad is watching TV in his boxer shorts.)

Red Velvet cake is never chocolate enough for me. It doesn't look right. Give me a Molten Chocolate cake with a scoop of chocolate ice cream on top. Even then ... what, no hot fudge?

Starbucks does give you a healthy-sized slice of Red Velvet Loaf. It's a pretty dense cake, a good fill'er upper. You get your money's worth. Red Velvet Loaf is a limited time only item on the coffee chain's winter menu, so don't dawdle.

Also around for a while: Ham, Cheddar, and Peppers Sous Vide Egg Bites. These are made with cage-free eggs (good on you, Starbucks), cheddar, cottage and Monterey Jack cheese, onions, uncured ham, and red and green peppers. 


Ken Hoffman reviews a new fast food restaurant item every Wednesday. Have a suggestion or a drive-thru favorite? Let Ken know on Twitter