Red Velvet Cupcakes

trayRed Velvet has been all the rage for the last few years. It seems made for Valentine’s Day with the combination of red cake and the white frosting. If you are a red velvet fan, these cupcakes will not disappoint. They bake up perfectly, and this particular cream cheese frosting has extra vanilla for an especially luscious flavor alongside the cake.

insideRed Velvet is everywhere–in cakes, cupcakes, cookies, drinks, Oreos, ice cream, brownies, cheesecake, pancakes, you name it. The cake itself is kind of like a twist ice cream cone, not quite vanilla, but not wholly chocolate either. Some of the key ingredients of the cake include buttermilk, vinegar, and a small amount of cocoa. The cream cheese frosting is a standard component. The red color? I have read stories about the reaction of vinegar, cocoa, and buttermilk creating a slight red color, but for the most part it is food coloring. Lots of food coloring. perfect

This recipe comes from one of my favorite baking blogs, Brown-eyed Baker. Many of my best recipes come from this site. Almost everything I have tried has been really good. The writer/baker gets many of her recipes or modifies recipes from Cooks Illustrated or America’s Test Kitchen, which are a couple of my favorite recipe sources also. If you haven’t visited the site, you are sure to find something delicious to make.

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Red Velvet Cupcakes

As is, this recipe yields 12-13 cupcakes. I doubled it to make enough for a large group at church.


For the cupcakes

Not what you might expect as a cake ingredient.
Not what you might expect as a cake ingredient.
  • 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 and 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons red food coloring (This is a LOT and produces bright red cake. Reduce if desired.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar

For the frosting

  • 4 ounces butter (1 stick) at room temperature
  • 4 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
  • 2 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Instructions:cream eggs and butter

  1. In the large bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium to medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Turn the speed to high and add the egg. Stop and scrape down the bowl with a spatula and continue beating until well-combined.
  2. In a separate small bowl or cup, mix together the cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and red food coloring to make a paste. Add this to the butter mixture and beat on low to medium until the color is evenly distributed. Stop and scrape down the bowl at least once.
  3. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add half the buttermilk. Add half the flour and mix well. Scrape down the bowl. Repeat the process with the remaining buttermilk and flour. Beat on high until the batter is smooth.
  4. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the salt, baking soda, and vinegar. Again, beat on high until the batter is completely combined and smooth.

    looks like ketchup
    So red it looks like ketchup. This is with about 5 tablespoons of coloring (for a double batch). I think you could easily reduce the amount for a less-intense color.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a standard cupcake pan with paper or foil liners. Divide the batter evenly among the cups. (Note: I hate the drips and spills that come with trying to spoon batter into cupcake cups, and I hate washing dirty cupcake pans more than any other dish, so I scrape the batter into a large zip top bag, snip a corner of the bag, and pipe the batter into the liners. No drips. No mess.)
  6. Bake cupcakes at 350 for about 20 minutes or until a pick inserted in the largest cupcake comes out clean.
  7. Cool the cupcakes for a few minutes and then remove to a cooling rack.
  8. In the meantime, make the cream cheese frosting as follows.
  9. Use the whisk attachment of a stand mixer to whip the cream cheese and butter on medium-high to high speed until combined and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl occasionally to make sure the ingredients are getting properly combined.
  10. Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the powdered sugar until mostly combined. Scrape down the bowl. Add the vanilla and mix to combine. Increase the mixer speed to medium to medium-high and beat for a few minutes until the frosting is smooth and fluffy, scraping down the bowl occasionally if needed. frosting
  11. To frost the cupcakes, I used a large piping bag and a 2D tip. Add sprinkles, candy, or other festive decorations if desired. A common garnish is to use red velvet crumbs–just crumble one of the cupcakes to garnish the rest if desired. Because of the cream cheese frosting, I keep these refrigerated if not serving in a fairly short span of time. frost

Source: Brown-eyed Baker


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