Red Velvet cupcakes are probably my favorite of all the cupcakes, although it is hard to pledge total allegiance to one when they are all so good. Sadly, not all cupcakes are created equal and I have been disappointed with some of my store-bought or even bakery-bought cupcake purchases. The two most common cupcake dilemmas are (1) the cupcake is too dry and tastes like it has been sitting on the shelf for a few hours/days and (2) there is an ungodly amount of frosting plopped on top. And I am actually one of those people who likes frosting but nobody (especially fat Americans) needs a cupcake to have 3 inches of frosting (3 inches isn't even an exaggeration because I have seen cupcakes with this much frosting before...sad). So basically I have discovered that you are better off making your own cupcakes and frosting because it will probably taste better (the one exception to this rule is Sprinkles cupcakes...they are perfect and I will never even try to surpass them as the champions of world-cupcake domination).
So the other day I took on the task of making red velvet cupcakes for the first time and they turned out a-freakin'-mazing! They were very moist and continue to be even after a few days. Also, I was able to apply the correct amount of frosting to each one. I adapted a recipe from Epicurious (here) which is actually a recipe from Magnolia's Bakery in New York. Basically all I did to change the recipe was cut it in half because I did not want 24 cupcakes sitting around my house...way too dangerous. My adaptation yielded about 15 cupcakes. Also, I did not make cream cheese frosting which usually accompanies red velvet. Last time I baked with cream cheese it was a disaster so I opted for the easier vanilla frosting.
Red Velvet Cupcakes
-1 3/4 cups cake flour
-6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
-1 cup sugar
-1 large egg
-2 tablespoons red food coloring
-1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
-3/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
-3/4 teaspoons salt
-3/4 cups buttermilk
-3/4 teaspoons cider vinegar
-3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Arrange the oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line 2 muffin pans (for 15 cupcakes) with paper liners.
2. In a small bowl, sift the cake flour and set aside. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the egg and beat well. In a small bowl, whisk together the red food coloring, cocoa, and vanilla. Add to the batter and beat well.
3. In a small bowl, stir the salt into the buttermilk. Add to the batter in 3 parts alternating with the flour. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over-beat. In a small bowl, stir together the cider vinegar and baking soda. Add to the batter and mix well. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl, making sure the ingredients are well blended and the batter is smooth.
4. Bake the cupcakes, switching positions from the top rack to the bottom rack halfway through baking, about 10 minutes on each rack. Before removing make sure a tester comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in the pan for a few minutes and then let them cool completely on a rack or plate before icing.
-1/4 cup unsalted butter
-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
-a dash of salt
-2 cups fine sugar
-1 tablespoon milk
1. Combine the butter, vanilla, and salt.
2. Add the sugar alternately with the milk and beat until light and fluffy.
I decorated the cupcakes with hearts that I made using craft wire. This is a super easy and quick way to embellish a batch of cupcakes for an occasion or just for fun. The craft wire can be purchased at Michaels or probably even Target.
I used two different types of wire, one much thicker than the other, for variety. You will also need some wire cutters, especially if you are using the thicker stuff.
Bend and mold the wire into a heart shape, leaving some extra on the end to stick into the cupcake. There is no need to sculpt the hearts perfectly (mine were far from perfect) so you are able to make these in just a few minutes!
Finally, embellish some of your hearts. I left some plain because I liked the gold coloring of this particular wire. But the thinner wire I used was green so I painted that light pink. I used interior Behr paint and let them dry for about 30 minutes. Another embellishment idea is to wrap embroidery thread (or ribbon) around the heart. I used a small piece of Scotch tape to adhere the thread to the wire.
With these simple decorations, I made my red velvet cupcakes even more cute. But they were still more fun to eat!