Monday, April 4, 2011

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Before trying this recipe, I honestly didn't know that red velvet cakes required chocolate. When I told my mom this, she didn't believe me until I showed her several red velvet cake recipes. But after putting my own spin on this, it's become one of my all time favorite recipes. The cake was moist without being overly dense and the icing, while sweet with a tang, balanced out the flavor of the cake.

When I'm sick, I like to experiment, and this take on a traditional red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting was no exception. I picked up the basic ingredients from My Baking Addiction  but added my own where I felt necessary. And the accompanying cream cheese frosting I've made so many times; it's extremely easy and you can find a recipe for it virtually anywhere, so feel free to use your own if you like.   


Red Velvet Cupcakes

 Makes: 12 cupcakes
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder (I used dutch cocoa powder but you can use bittersweet or semisweet as well)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2/3 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons red food coloring
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon white vinegar (You can also use white wine vinegar if it's all you have in the house)
1-2 tablespoons shaved bittersweet chocolate
1-2 dashes of cinnamon 

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 cupcake wells with paper liners or grease tins with Crisco vegetable shortening or nonstick cooking spray.
2.) Sift flour, cocoa powder, and salt into a small bowl.
3.) In a large bowl with a hand blender, or in a stand mixer, combine vegetable oil and sugar until well blended. Add egg and mix until incorporated.
4.) Turn your mixer down to a low speed and add vanilla extract then slowly add red food coloring until desired color is reached. I didn't count exactly how much I added but it was about 1-2 tablespoons or until it was a cherry red.
5.) Add half of the flour mixture then half of the buttermilk, alternating until both are used up.
6.) In a small dish, mix baking soda and vinegar. Then add into batter, mixing till blended.
7.) At this point, I tested the batter and I personally found it could use something. So I added 2 dashes of cinnamon and about 2 tablespoons of shaved bittersweet chocolate. If you don't find it needs anything else, you don't need to add the cinnamon or bittersweet chocolate.
8.) Using a large spoon, scoop batter into cupcake wells until about 3/4 of the way filled. I panicked when the batter came out as liquid-y as it did, but it came out fine and the cupcakes rose perfectly. Bake for about 20-24 minutes, rotating the tin halfway through so the cakes are evenly baked, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes: enough to frost 12 cupcakes with a little left over
8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
3-4 cups powdered sugar (also known as confectioners' sugar)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.) In a medium bowl with a hand blender, or in a stand mixer, combine cream cheese, butter, and vegetable shortening until fully combined.
2.) At a slower speed, add vanilla extract then slowly incorporate powdered sugar until you've reached the desired thickness. I personally don't like things that are really sweet so I only added 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract because with the powdered sugar, I felt it was sweet enough. But if you want it sweeter you can go ahead and add another teaspoon of vanilla extract.

After the cupcakes have fully cooled, apply desired amount of frosting. I used a large round icing tip to apply mine and then added a bit more shaved bittersweet chocolate for a it of a decorative touch.


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