I recently received a request for Red Velvet Cupcakes for an upcoming ladies book club meeting. Red Velvet Cake is apparently very popular but I’ve never baked it before now because all that red food coloring (one full ounce usually!) in the batter kinda freaked me out, but I got over my food coloring phobia and gave it a try!
I will admit that although the recipe called for a full ounce of red food coloring I could only bring myself to use half an ounce but I think they still came out very red, don’t you? I made regular sized cupcakes as well a few mini-cupcakes just for fun. The cake is moist and tender because of the cake flour and buttermilk. The flavor is a slightly tangy cake that is not really chocolate and not really vanilla, can’t quite describe it so I’ll just say it tastes like Red Velvet Cake!
The frosting is a slight twist on a traditional cream cheese frosting with the addition of some light brown sugar that gives an earthy, slightly molasses flavor that takes the ultra-sweet edge off the frosting yet pairs well with the cake. I suggest making the frosting the night before you bake the cupcakes. This gives the frosting a chance to firm up, perfect for piping fun swirls over the tops of the red cupcakes. A few red sprinkles to top it off and you’re good to go! Here is how you can make your own:
You can find the entire recipe here. Start with the frosting, as it’s better to make it a day ahead (or at least before you bake the cupcakes) so that it has a chance to firm up a bit for piping.
The most important tip when making cream cheese frosting is to make sure that the butter and cream cheese are at room temperature or the frosting will be lumpy! I like to beat the room temperature butter first in the bowl of an electric mixer to make sure it is smooth and creamy.
Add the cream cheese and beat until well incorporated, around 2 minutes. Add the brown sugar, salt and vanilla extract beating until well combined and smooth.
Turn off the mixer and add 2 cups of powdered sugar. Turn mixer on low and beat until combined, turn off mixer and add more powdered sugar and mix on low until you get the consistency you want.
The recipe calls for adding milk to the frosting but I left that out because I wanted a firm frosting that would hold up to piping. If you want a softer frosting go ahead and use the milk a little at a time until you reach your desired consistency.
When the frosting is finished, scoop into a piping bag fitted with a #847 Ateco star tip (that is the one that I used to get the swirl you see in the pics) and place in the fridge to firm up.
The recipe says to preheat your oven to 350 degrees, but I got better results by raising the temperature to 375 degrees. Place cupcake papers in a muffin tin and set aside.
Whisk together cake flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer beat together the eggs, oil, buttermilk, vanilla, vinegar and food coloring. I only used half an ounce (half the container) of Wilton No-Taste Red Food Coloring although the recipe calls for a full ounce of food coloring.
Mix until well combined. Add the flour mixture and beat until smooth. The batter will be very liquid.
Transfer the batter to a measuring cup and fill each muffin cup 2/3 full of batter. Bake for 25-28 minutes for regular sized cupcakes and 20-25 minutes for mini’s or until a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from pan and let cool completely on wire rack before frosting.
While cupcakes are cooling, remove frosting from fridge. When cupcakes are completely cool, swirl frosting onto the tops in a circular motion. Finish with some red sanding sugar for decoration.