Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Red Velvet Cupcakes
The other day, a coworker bought red velvet cupcakes at one of those fancy cupcakes stores and shared them with the office. Amid the oohs and aahs, no one seemed to notice that the frosting was overly sweet, the cake blah, and the general experience disappointing. This isn't a complaint directed at this kind gentleman, but an indictment of what passes as a good cupcake (hint: looks matter).
I was so disappointed in what felt like false advertising that I was determined to find a red velvet cupcake recipe that would make people swoon, that deserved the acclaim, and that we could all eat and feel like it was worth the calories.
I didn't have to look far to find what I wanted. Deb at Smitten Kitchen posted this red velvet cake back in 2007, and she noted many people had made it quite successfully as cupcakes.
The recipe didn't disappoint. For red velvet lovers, the cupcakes were swoon-worthy. For the rest of us, they were a pretty darn good cupcake.
Note: You're working with red food dye here, so be careful not to splash it all over your kitchen. I have very porous light granite countertops and was careful to the point of paranoia. I think next time I'll just spread newspapers on the counter and not worry so much about making a mess. Be careful when you put the bowl, etc. in your sink. If the water splashes the batter around, you could have quite a mess.
Red Velvet Cupcakes - Adapted from "The Confetti Cakes Cookbook" by Elisa Strauss by way of Smitten Kitchen
Yield: 36 cupcakes (I got 24 standard cupcakes and 24 minis)
3 1/2 cups/450 grams cake flour
1/2 cup/47 grams unsweetened cocoa (not Dutch process)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups canola oil
2 1/4 cups/450 grams granulated sugar
3 large eggs
6 tablespoons (3 ounces-3 standard bottles) red food coloring or 1 teaspoon red gel food coloring dissolved in 6 tablespoons of water
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk cake flour, cocoa and salt in a bowl and set aside.
Place oil and sugar in bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium speed until well-blended. Beat in eggs one at a time. Turn off mixer, add the food coloring and drape an old (but clean) kitchen towel over the mixer to control splashes. Turn mixer on lowest setting, wait ten seconds then turn off the mixer. Remove towel, turn mixer to low and add the vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk in two batches. Scrape down bowl and beat just long enough to combine.
Place baking soda in a small dish, stir in vinegar and add to batter with machine running. Beat for 10 seconds.
Fill cupcake papers 3/4 full, place in oven and bake until a cake tester comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool in pans 2 minutes, then remove cupcakes to cool on a wire rack. Cool completely before frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting-Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
1 pound cream cheese, room temperature
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
6 cups/684 grams confectioner’s sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Beat cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed (or use a hand mixer) for 5 minutes. Turn off mixer and add butter, then beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Turn mixer to low and slowly add the sugar and vanilla. Continue beating on low speed to combine. If too soft, chill until slightly stiff, about 10 minutes, before using.