Saturday, October 23, 2010

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

I have an aversion to cupcakes.

I don't know why or what it is about cupcakes that are unappealing/unappetizing to me. And I'm not talking about just a particular part of the cupcake. I don't eat the cake and leave the frosting or vice versa. No, I just flat out leave the whole thing in tact.

It doesn't even matter if they are homemade or store-bought. If the frosting is cream cheese or buttercream. Either way, chances are I'm going to pass them by the dessert table and go straight for the out of the box brownies.

I didn't realize how alone I was in this feeling until my co-workers and I had a huge discussion about cake and desserts in the break room one night, where I stated briefly that I "didn't like to eat cupcakes".

The jaws dropped to the floor and it was like in seconds I was Jason Bourne trying to figure out what was wrong with me and why everyone wanted me dead. "You don't like cupcakes?!" they exclaimed, following with statements like: "cupcakes are my favorite! how can you not like cupcakes?" "I've never met anyone who didn't like cupcakes!" "Alex, you can't be a baker and not like cupcakes." As I sat there, my reputation as a baker diminished for my dislike of cake and frosting and everything else, I decided to do what any hard-headed baker would do.

I asked someone what their favorite cupcake was and I baked it that very week.

Of course, out of all the types of cupcakes that could be requested, Red Velvet made it's way to the top of the list. Sure, yeah. Pick the cake with the five gallons of food coloring in it, I thought, as I grumpily grabbed a whole bottle of it from the grocery shelf. Three dollars to prove my worth. All because of a cupcake debate.

As I woke up that very morning at 9AM to bake those cupcakes to take to work, I couldn't help but try to figure out in my head all the reasons of why I don't like cupcakes. So far, this is all that I have:

1. I ate too much pillsbury chocolate frosting out of the can as a child, and have ruined myself forever.

2. I ate five cupcakes at a party once and ended up puking up sprinkled cake mix, and have ruined myself forever.

3. Frosting cupcakes sucks.

4. Frosting cupcakes suck when you have no pastry bags.

5. Frosting cupcakes suck when you have no frosting tips.

6. Frosting cupcakes sucks.

7. I am too impatient to frost a cake or a cupcake and make it look nice.

8. I am too impatient to bake five hundred cupcakes and make them look nice.

9. I am too impatient.

10. At least when you eat 5 cookies as a midnight snack you don't have 5 empty wrappers waiting on the desk/counter/trashcan to give you a guilt-trip in the morning.

11. In fact, why the hell do cupcakes have to have wrappers? What makes them so special that I have to spend an extra 2 dollars just to make them look pretty? They already have frosting, what more do you want from me!?

12. Cupcakes are divas. Divas with wrappers. And sprinkles.

13. I'm poor.

Now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure that my relationship with cupcakes has absolutely nothing to do with that list and I just am one of those people who prefer the apple to the orange. But at least I can go home happy knowing that while I may not like everything that I bake, at least I can bake it and know it will taste good regardless. Even if it doesn't have sprinkles on it. Or a wrapper. Whatever.

These cupcakes will definitely hit home for any red velvet cake fan. Please, do not skimp on this one. The cream cheese frosting is a must, as is the cake flour. If you leave those two out, you will only be left with an unsatisfying heavy cake that is most definitely not red velvet. And just a tip: Don't forget to check if you have enough red food coloring. 2 tablespoons is more than that little container you get when you buy a pack of assorted colors. Trust me on this one. I know from experience... and failed "pink" velvet cakes.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
(Adapted from Annie Eats)


For the cake:
2½ cups cake flour
1½ cups sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tbsp. cocoa powder
1 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
1½ cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 tbsp. (1 oz.) liquid red food coloring
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. distilled white vinegar

For the frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted


1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the cake flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt; whisk to blend.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the eggs, vegetable oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla and vinegar. Beat on medium speed until well blended. Mix in the dry ingredients on low speed and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes.

4. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared liners. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18 minutes.

5. Let cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

6. To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Mix in the vanilla extract. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth. Frost cooled cupcakes as desired.

Yield: 24 Cupcakes


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