Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Sweet and Tangy Red Velvet Cupcakes

Red Velvet is one of the most popular flavors for just about everything. From Pop Tarts to pancakes to ice cream and even tea, everyone seems to love Red Velvet.

The past few years I’ve definitely partaken in the Red Velvet craze. I order Red Velvet cheesecake and eat Red Velvet frozen yogurt. But up until recently, I never really understood what "flavor" I was eating.

A co-worker of mine had a birthday yesterday, and she requested Red Velvet cupcakes for her birthday treat. I had never made Red Velvet cupcakes from scratch before, but I’m always up for an adventure. So I did some research online.

It turns out that Red velvet is so much more than just vanilla or chocolate cake. The main ingredients are cocoa powder, buttermilk, and vanilla. Together those ingredients give it a mild taste that’s not quite as sweet as a vanilla cake and not as rich as a chocolate cake.

I also learned that when making Red Velvet cake, the frosting is just as important as the cake itself. The tanginess of the cream cheese frosting complements the sweetness of the cake. And the bright white cream cheese frosting provides a beautiful contrast to the red cake.

I already had a classic cream cheese frosting recipe in my repertoire, but I had no idea where to begin as far as Red Velvet cupcake recipes go. I sorted through dozens of recipes and experimented with two batches before I came up with the best one.

Sweet and Tangy Red Velvet Cupcakes
Makes about 30 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (to make buttermilk, add 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice to 1/2 cup milk, stir, and let sit for at least two minutes)
  • 4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ounce red food coloring (this is typically 1 whole bottle)

For the cream cheese frosting

  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoons salt, or as needed

For the cupcakes

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Mix flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed 5 minutes until light and fluffy.
  4. Beat in eggs, one at a time.
  5. Mix in sour cream, buttermilk, vanilla, and food coloring.
  6. Gradually beat in flour and cocoa mixture on low speed until just blended. Do not overbeat.
  7. Spoon batter into paper-lined muffin cups, filling each cup 2/3 full.
  8. Bake about 18 minutes or until toothpick inserted into cupcake comes out clean.
  9. Gently remove from oven.
  10. Cool in pans on wire rack at least 5 minutes.
  11. Remove from pans and cool completely.
  12. Frost with cream cheese frosting once cooled
For the cream cheese frosting

  1. Beat the softened butter and cream cheese together on medium speed for 3 minutes until light and fluffy
  2. Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and beat until combined.
  3. Add 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.
  4. Beat on medium speed for 2 more minutes.
  5. Add salt to taste.

Happy birthday to my Fox59 morning co-worker, Vanessa McClure!

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