Retro desserts are all the rage and red velvet cake is making a comeback. If you aren’t familiar with red velvet cake, it’s a chocolate cake that has a reddish tint. A slight tint can be a reaction from the cocoa, vinegar, and buttermilk in the cake. Most modern cakes also add red food coloring to boost the cake’s red intensity. Give red velvet a try by making a batch of delicious red velvet cupcakes topped with a sweetened cream cheese frosting. This recipe makes 24 frosted red velvet cupcakes.
For the Cupcakes:
1⅔ cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa (sifted)
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
7 tablespoons (100 grams) soft salted butter
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
1 heaping tablespoon of red food coloring paste
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
¾ cup (175 ml) buttermilk
1 teaspoon of cider vinegar
For the Frosting:
16 ounces (450 grams) softened cream cheese
16 ounces (450 grams) softened butter
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
4 cups (460 grams) of sifted powdered sugar
PART 1: MAKING THE CUPCAKE
1. Preheat the oven and prepare the cupcake pans. Heat your oven to 325 degrees F (170 degrees C/mark 3). Get 2 12-count muffin pans and decide if you want to use muffin liners. If so, place one muffin liner in each spot of the muffin pan. If you don’t want to use liners, spray both pans with nonstick baking spray so your cupcakes come out easily after baking.
- Consider using liners if you’ll be serving the cupcakes at a party or to a group. The liners ensure that you won’t be touching the sides of the cupcakes when you’re frosting them.
2. Combine your dry ingredients. Place your dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and whisk them to combine them. Once they’re combined, set them aside. You’ll need to mix:
- 1⅔ cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa (sifted)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
3. Beat the butter, sugar, food coloring and vanilla. Set 7 tablespoons (100 grams) of soft salted butter and 1 cup (200 grams) of granulated sugar into a large mixing bowl. Cream them together using your stand mixer or using a handheld mixer. Beat the butter and sugar for several minutes until the mixture is soft and fluffy. Add in 1 heaping tablespoon of red food coloring paste and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. Beat to combine the color and flavoring.
- If you prefer to leave out the food coloring, your cupcakes will only have a slightly reddish hue. You may be able to find all-natural food coloring at some specialty grocery stores.
4. Alternate stirring in the dry ingredients and eggs. Turn your mixer on to low and add 1/3 of your dry mixture. Once it’s combined with the sweetened butter mixture, add an egg and stir until it’s incorporated. Add another 1/3 of the dry mixture and beat until it’s just combined. Add the last egg and stir till it’s incorporated. Add the final 1/3 of the dry mixture and stir till it’s just combined.
- If your stand mixer has a splash guard or shield, consider placing it on the bowl. This will prevent the dry mixture from flying out. Or you can just make sure that your mixer is set to low.
5. Finish mixing the batter and divide it into your pans. Beat in ¾ cup of buttermilk and 1 teaspoon of cider vinegar till they’re fully mixed into your batter. Your batter is now ready to divide into your two prepared muffin pans. You may want to start by filling them all halfway and then go back and add more batter so they’re equal.
- Try using a cookie scoop to scoop the batter into your liners. If you don’t have a cookie scoop, you might want to use a large measuring cup to scoop out the batter.
6. Bake your cupcakes. If your oven has heated to 325 degrees F, pop the cupcakes into the oven and bake them for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, pull them out to see if they’re done. Poke a toothpick or cake tester into the middle of a cupcake. If it’s done, the toothpick should come away clean. If not, bake the cupcakes for a few more minutes before testing again.
- Once your cupcakes are out of the oven, let them cool on a wire rack until they’re no longer warm.
PART 2: MAKING THE FROSTING AND FROSTING THE CUPCAKES
7. Beat the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla. Place 8 ounces of cream cheese, 8 ounces of butter, and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl. If you have a stand mixer, set the bowl in the mixer with a beater attachment or you can just use a handheld mixer. Beat the ingredients on medium speed until they’re completely combined and smooth. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
- If your ingredients aren’t soft or at room temperature, the frosting will have lumps. You’ll know your cream cheese and butter are soft enough if you press them and you can see an imprint of your finger.
8. Beat in the powdered sugar. Turn the mixer down to low speed and gradually sprinkle in 2 cups of powdered sugar. Keep the mixer going until all the sugar is added and combined with the butter/cream cheese mixture. Your cream cheese frosting should be light, fluffy and ready to use.
- Powdered sugar is also called confectioners’ sugar. It’s important to sift it before you add it to the butter to prevent lumps from forming.
- If you want a firmer frosting, you can add extra powdered sugar, beating in about 1/4 cup at a time.
9. Frost the cupcakes. Once your cupcakes are completely cool, cover them with your cream cheese frosting. Use a small offset spatula or a spoon to dollop the frosting onto each cupcake. Spread the frosting around the top of each cupcake so that it’s evenly covered.
- If you frost the cupcakes while they’re still warm, the frosting will slide off the cupcake or melt into the cupcake. This is why it’s important to let them cool first.
10. Serve or store the cupcakes. You can serve the frosted cupcakes immediately or garnish them before serving. Consider sprinkling them with red sprinkles or a dusting of cocoa powder. If you plan on storing the cupcakes to serve later, store them in an airtight container and refrigerate them for up to one day.
- If you know you won’t be serving these the same day, it’s best to make the cupcakes and frosting without topping them. Refrigerate the cupcakes and frosting separately. Then you can take them out and frost them an hour or two before serving.