Monday, February 25, 2013

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes
Before I begin talking about these amazing cupcakes, I need to first apologize for my ridiculously long absence from blogging. I'm not going to go into the circumstances behind my absence now {all good, I swear!}, but I will in the very near future. I only had the time to get one post completed this weekend and I wanted it to be a recipe. Something special for you, to let you know that your visits here are appreciated and loved...even if I don't show up for two months.
It's a good feeling to be appreciated and to know you're loved, and I felt just that this past week when I brought these cupcakes into my birthday boy's 5th grade classroom. I always know a recipe passes the test when it's unanimously well-received by a bunch of kids -- because after all, when it comes to food who's more critical than children?
Mixing Ingredients
When my son, who turned 11 years old last week, specifically requested "Red Velvet Cupcakes" when I offered to bring a treat into his classroom, I was quite surprised. For one, neither of my boys are big "cake" kids {weirdos, I know} and secondly, I don't remember my son ever having a red velvet cupcake before. But he must have gotten it in his head from somewhere, because he was very clear about it. Even requesting the cream cheese frosting that traditionally tops them.
After some digging, I decided to try this recipe from The Hummingbird Bakery, along with the most delicious cream cheese frosting I've ever had from the Brown Eyed Baker. Both were a complete success and the finished cupcakes were met with comments like, "Have you ever thought about going on the Cupcake Wars?" and, "This is the best frosting I've ever had in my life"...along with, " You're hair is so pretty." Yes, I really won them over.
Cupcake Batter
And when my son got in the car after school that afternoon he sighed and said, "Mom, everyone was talking about your cupcakes and licking the papers clean afterwards. Those were so good." I said, "So, your Mom is the best cupcake maker in the whole school?" His response, "Definitely." How's that for love?
I share this story with you because isn't it at the root of why we all cook? To show our love? To care for people? I know for me that's what it's all about -- and that's why I take the time to do it. It's simultaneously rewarding and therapeutic. Everyone has different tastes, but when I post recipes on this blog I really try to make sure they are good that will satisfy as many tastes as possible. These cupcakes do just that.
Bake + Frost
One thing I especially love about this recipe is the addition of cocoa powder, which not only gives the finished cupcake a surprising, yet subtle hint of chocolate, but also deepens the color to a lovely dark burgundy.
In the original recipe, a "paste" is made using cocoa powder, red food coloring and vanilla extract, but when I tried it I had a difficult time getting the paste to incorporate evenly into the batter without getting clumps throughout, and I knew this wouldn't yield very pretty results.
Frosted Cupcakes
I decided to adjust things and make a cocoa powder/food coloring "slurry" of sorts. I reduced the amount of cocoa powder {I didn't want the cupcakes too chocolatey} and food coloring {I'm not the biggest fan of using food coloring in my cooking anyway, but I will make an exception for red velvet cupcakes}. I also added in a tablespoon of water, which along with the vanilla extract, thinned the paste down just enough so that when it was added to the batter it incorporated perfectly. In the end, I doubt it had much effect on the results and if it did they were delicious results, so I'm sticking with it!
Red Velvet Cupcakes
When it came to the frosting, I didn't change a thing. It's over the top sweet vanilla deliciousness and the perfect cupcake topping for an 11 year old's birthday.
Some other Birthday treats you might enjoy - Birthday Cake | Coconut Brigadeiros | Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting | Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

{printable recipe}
Yields: One dozen cupcakes
Adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook by Tarek Malouf and Brown Eyed Baker
These are not only the best Red Velvet Cupcakes I've ever tasted, but they could easily sit atop my list of the best cupcakes I've ever tasted. I love the Hummingbird Bakery's method of adding the cocoa powder to the batter {instead of the traditional red food coloring only}, because not only does it give the cupcakes a half-vanilla half-chocolate flavor, but it also gives them the prettiest deep burgundy color. However, what makes these truly over the top is the cream cheese frosting recipe, by the Brown Eyed Baker -- which is easily the best I've tasted. I was hesitant to use a whole tablespoon of vanilla extract in the frosting, but I was so glad I did! The result is a perfectly balanced, sweet vanilla frosting that I'm fairly certain will have everyone who tastes these begging you for the recipe.

ingredients for the cupcakes:
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons red food coloring
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon water
4 tablespoons {1/2 stick} unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cups sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar

ingredients for the frosting:
4 ounces {1 stick} unsalted butter, room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 to 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
clear sanding sugar and white nonpareils for decorating {optional}

Preheat the oven to 350 F and line a standard size muffin pan with paper liners. Prepare the dry ingredients by whisking together the flour and salt in a mixing bowl, and setting it aside.

In a separate small bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, red food coloring, vanilla extract, and water with a small spatula, or the back of a spoon until evenly combined into a slurry-like thin paste. Set aside.

Add the butter and sugar to the bowl of a stand-mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until the mixture light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add the egg, and continue beating until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the cocoa powder/food coloring mixture to the mixer, and beat, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally, until evenly distributed into the batter.

Add half of the buttermilk, followed by half of the flour/salt mixture, beating and scraping down the bowl after each addition. Repeat with the remaining buttermilk and dry ingredients, and beat until smooth. Add the baking soda and white vinegar, and beat once more until smooth.

Divide the batter between the 12 liners {they should be about 3/4 full} and bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, remove the cupcakes from the pan and place them on the wire rack to cool completely.

Add the butter and cream cheese to the bowl of a stand-mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, and whip on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Reduce the speed to low and add the powdered sugar, a cup or so at a time, beating until incorporated after each addition. Add a 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of vanilla {depending on how vanilla flavored you'd like your frosting to be}, and beat on high speed until the frosting is light and fluffy, about a minute or two longer. Frost the cupcakes and decorate by sprinkling the tops with the sanding sugar and nonpareils, if desired. Enjoy!


Joanne said...

Aww happy birthday to your son! And yay for your return!! I've missed your posts. These red velvets look awesome...they are my favorite cupcake after all!

Becky Maher said...

Welcome back Katie! I made your mini crab cakes for a party this weekend and they were a huge hit!

Happy Birthday Max!

Lauren H. said...

Your hair IS so pretty :-)

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