SMiLes by Meg

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Thursday morning, I woke up at 4am. Normally I don’t get up until 5 on a work day, but I was wired. You see, there was vague talk of a serious snow storm coming. But as far as I knew, we still had school. My head was near the window, and I peeked outside, but without my contacts I can’t actually see well enough to confirm or deny said snow storm. So I laid in bed for another half an hour before accepting the fact that I wasn’t going to fall back asleep.

However, I was not yet willing to accept the certainty of a school day.So I actually put on my contacts to look outside. It was flurrying. There was some indication that maybe snow was sticking to the ground. I turned on the TV and the news confirmed that every other school district in the state had called a snow day and Governor Christie had declared a state of emergency. I decided to dilly-dally before going to work.

I took my time making breakfast. No call. I sat and ate my breakfast while watching two or three cycles of the news. No call. I tried on three different outfits for work. No call. I made my lunch which I had decided not to make in advance the night before. No call.

Finally I couldn’t think of anything else to do. I resigned myself to the fact that I would have to go to work and went out to my car. I was on the highway, mentally rewriting my lessons with the expectation that attendance would be low, about an exit away from school. I got the text: Snow Day.

Better late than never. And, now that it was 5:30am and I was wide awake, I had a full day ahead of me to bake something as time-intensive and complicated as my heart desired. I decided on red velvet cupcakes – something that I don’t personally ever feel the need to get, but that I still feel are an important staple in one’s cupcake repertoire.

I went with Magnolia’s Bakery for my recipe, adjusting their Red Velvet Cake for cupcakes, and switching out their recommended vanilla frosting for cream cheese icing. Consensus from the teachers and students that got to try them on Friday was that it was a good decision.

First, measure out the cake flour into a small bowl and set it aside.
Red Velvet Cupcakes - 1Then, in a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar with a hand mixer on medium speed for about 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. It always amazes me how there are some ingredients that change so dramatically when you beat them for a long time. Eggs, butter and sugar, etc. It really makes me wonder who decided to just stand there and whip at something for upwards of 10 minutes to see what happened.

Red Velvet Cupcakes - 2 Red Velvet Cupcakes - 3Anyways, next you should add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.

Red Velvet Cupcakes - 4 Red Velvet Cupcakes - 5In another small bowl, whisk together the red food coloring, cocoa powder, and vanilla extract.

Red Velvet Cupcakes - 6 Red Velvet Cupcakes - 7In case you are unaware, as I was, six tablespoons of red food coloring comes out to THREE bottles. I stood in the baking aisle at A&P and googled how many tablespoons were in a bottle. Google told me two. I was convinced Google had lied to me. I only bought two bottles. When I got home and checked, it turned out that Google did not lie. I had to go back to the store and get the third bottle. This alone confirmed for me that I have always been right not to really like red velvet cake, but I know there are people out there who love it, so hopefully that didn’t ruin it for you.

Add that food coloring mix to the batter and beat well to combine.

Red Velvet Cupcakes - 8 Red Velvet Cupcakes - 9As another side note (I realize I’ve been digressing a lot in this post), my biggest concern while making these cupcakes was that the excessive amount of food coloring would permanently stain my pretty yellow mixing bowls. So after I was done with each step, I compulsively scrubbed them back to yellow. Fortunately, they did not get stained. I cannot say the same for my counter.

But back to the recipe. In yet another small bowl, stir the salt into the buttermilk.

Red Velvet Cupcakes - 10Add the buttermilk alternately with the flour in three additions to the main batter, beating to combine after each addition.

Red Velvet Cupcakes - 11 Red Velvet Cupcakes - 12 Red Velvet Cupcakes - 13In a final small bowl, combine the baking soda and cider vinegar. It will bubble up and fizz like a chemistry experiment – that’s what activating baking soda looks like.

Red Velvet Cupcakes - 14 Red Velvet Cupcakes - 15Add the cider vinegar to the batter and beat again to mix.

Red Velvet Cupcakes - 16 Red Velvet Cupcakes - 17Now, since this was originally a cake recipe, it is a lot of batter. Which means a lot of cupcakes. So I went with a mix of mini and regular sized, and got 72 mini plus 9 regular sized out of it. Obviously, you can do whatever you want.

For the minis, line the muffin tin with paper and fill each about 2/3 to 3/4 full.

Red Velvet Cupcakes - 18Bake at 350°F for 10 to 15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Red Velvet Cupcakes - 19 Red Velvet Cupcakes - 20For the regular sized, fill closer to 2/3 than 3/4 full and bake at 350°F for 20 to 25 minutes, or again until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes as well before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Red Velvet Cupcakes - 21 Red Velvet Cupcakes - 22 Red Velvet Cupcakes - 23This is how they look side by side. The mini ones are adorable. If I could do it again I would make them all little.

Red Velvet Cupcakes - 24Meanwhile, you can make the cream cheese icing. When I made carrot cake cupcakes, I used a different recipe, but in the interest of trying new things, I used Magnolia’s for this as well. It has way more cream cheese, which results in a tangier taste. My students confirmed that it was the best thing about the cupcakes, so tangy is not a bad thing.

Beat the cream cheese and butter together in a stand mixer on medium speed for a couple of minutes, until smooth.

Red Velvet Cupcakes - 25 Red Velvet Cupcakes - 26Add the vanilla extract and beat well.

Red Velvet Cupcakes - 27Then add the confectioner’s sugar, one cup at a time, beating after each addition and scraping down the sides.

Red Velvet Cupcakes - 28 Red Velvet Cupcakes - 29Allow to chill in the fridge for two hours before using. If you don’t, it will be too soft and won’t hold shape while you’re piping. For the minis, I just made a little flower on the top of each.

Red Velvet Cupcakes - 30For the regular sized, I went with a traditional swirl.

Red Velvet Cupcakes - 31Store them in the fridge (because of the cream cheese icing) until ready to serve.

Enjoy!

Red Velvet Cupcakes - 32

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

Cupcake Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons red food coloring
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Cupcake Directions:

  1. Measure out cake flour into a small bowl and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar at medium speed with a hand mixer for 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy.
  3. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together food coloring, cocoa powder, and vanilla extract. Add to batter and beat to incorporate.
  5. In another small bowl, stir salt into the buttermilk. Add the buttermilk in three additions, alternating with the flour, beating after each addition.
  6. In a final small bowl, stir the baking soda into the cider vinegar. Add it to the batter and beat to combine.
  7. Line a muffin pan with paper wrappers.
  8. For mini cupcakes: Fill each about 2/3 to 3/4 full. Bake at 350°F for 10 to 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan 10 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.
  9. For regular cupcakes: Fill each about 2/3 full. Bake at 350°F for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  10. Decorate with cream cheese icing.

Icing Ingredients:

  • 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened and cut into pieces
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened and cut into pieces
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 5 cups confectioners’ sugar

Icing Directions:

  1. Beat together cream cheese and butter in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed for 3 minutes.
  2. Add the vanilla extract and beat well.
  3. Add the sugar, one cup at a time, beating to incorporate and scraping down the sides after each addition.
  4. Chill in the fridge, covered, for two hours before frosting cupcakes.

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