Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Last time I took a poll on what to bake next, mini chocolate hazelnut eclairs turned out to be the winner. But red velvet cupcakes came in a close second, and after a few requests at the office I knew it was time to tackle another cupcake recipe (I had been scared off by my failed strawberry buttercream).

Red velvet cupcakes are definitely my own personal favorite. While the bright red color certainly makes a statement, the cake itself is not too sweet, and the cream cheese frosting lends the perfect tangy note, leaving these cupcakes feeling just a bit more "grown up."

I found this recipe from Appropriate title, no? The cream cheese frosting came from Martha Stewart. Both were easy to follow (although the cupcake recipe was more labor-intensive than I had anticipated) and this time the frosting turned out perfectly. Smooth, tangy, and delicious!

Keep reading for the recipe.

Some helpful notes from my baking:
  • These recipes can be easily halved to only make 12 cupcakes. This is a good option if you only have one pan (and don't want to wait to bake off two trays) or are just making these for a smaller crowd.
  • I found that a scant 1/3 cup was the perfect amount for filling the cupcake liners.
  • Make sure that all of your ingredients are room temp - especially the butter and cream cheese for the frosting! This will make exceptionally smooth cream cheese frosting.
  • Next time, I'm not sure I would quite use as much red food dye as the recipe calls for. While these cupcakes were striking, it definitely looked unnatural and I don't think I need a super RED red velvet.
  • On the same note - make sure you wear an apron! Using lots of food dye means that anything within splatter distance is at risk for getting stained.
  • Some cream cheese frosting recipes call for equal amounts butter and cream cheese - I prefer one that has a higher ratio of cream cheese, like the recipe I've included here. More cream cheese makes a less sweet frosting that has a little bit more of a tangy bite.
  • Use left over buttermilk to make delicious buttermilk pancakes :)

Red Velvet Cupcake Recipe via
2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 oz. red food coloring (two bottles) or 4 oz beet juice (if you use unprocessed light cocoa you can leave out the food dyes and you'll get a warm red/brown color)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake liners.
  2. Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside. In a smaller bowl, mix food coloring and cocoa powder to form a thin paste without lumps and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat in vanilla and the red cocoa paste, scraping down the bowl with a spatula as you go. Add one third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beat well, then beat in half of the buttermilk. Beat in another third of flour mixture, then second half of buttermilk. End with the last third of the flour mixture, beat until well combined, making sure to scrape down the bowl with a spatula.
  4. In a small bowl, mix vinegar and baking soda. Be careful as it will fizz so don't do it in a shallow bowl. Add vinegar mixture to the cake batter and stir well to combine. Fill cupcake cups with cake batter until they are a little under 3/4 full. I ended up with 20 cupcakes. Place muffin tins in your preheated oven. Bake for approximately 20, rotating pans halfway through. The cupcakes are done when you are able to pat the tops and the cake springs back up. If it sinks down they are not yet complete. Or you can insert a toothpick into the center of a cupcake in the center of the tin and if it comes out clean they are done!
  5. Cool the cupcakes in their tins on a wire rack for 10 minutes then remove and allow to cool completely before frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe via Martha Stewart
8 oz. (two sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
12 oz. cream cheese, room temp
1 pound (4 cups) confectioner's (powdered) sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat butter and cream cheese with a mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Add sugar, 1 cup at a time, and then vanilla; mix until smooth.

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