Please don’t mistake my absence for a baking hiatus. I definitely have been baking. I’m sure you can sympathise though with how quickly the days disappear. Whilst my intentions have been honourable, I’m afraid I haven’t followed through! My apologies, along with a personal pledge to never let it happen again! Another pledge: following my own frustration at recipes which only provide volume measurements (i.e. cups), and those which only provide weights (i.e. grams) I’m now going to include both, all the time. That way you can choose the easy route (volume), or go with the more accurate (but more time consuming) weight. Apart from tea/tablespoons. Ain’t nobody got time for (weighing) dat! But I will try to add ml measurements where possible. No fluid ounces for you, ‘Mericans. Not sorry.
This most recent baking adventure started with a teeny bit of research. I’d be wondering for a while why red velvet is a thing. I mean they’re really just a light chocolate cupcake, with a big kick of red food colouring, right? While mostly right now, this was once WRONG. Thanks to Wikipedia, the homepage to my life, I learnt this little morsel of info: during food rationing in WWII bakers often boiled beetroots and added the liquid to their cakes, to enhance the colour and ensure they still looked appetizing. Whilst I didn’t this time, I’m interested to try baking red velvet with beetroot juice… I think the sweetness could definitely bring a different dimension to the flavour! I will keep you posted when I get to that experiment.
Now, onto the important part. This recipe was recommended to me by a friend and it did not disappoint! My pretty minimal kitchen efforts yielded moist, rich cupcakes that were gobbled up pretty quickly. Plus, who doesn’t like a good cream cheese icing? Apart from the poor lactose-intolerants among us, I really don’t think I could trust someone who ‘doesn’t like cheese’. I suppose even the lactose-intolerants probably still do like cheese, but can’t eat it. Now, that IS a tragedy.
Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing
1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed
2/3 cup (140g) caster sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/2 tspn. (2.5ml) vanilla extract
2 tbsp. (20ml) red food colouring
2 tbsp. water
pinch of salt (I just know you’ll want to skip this, but please don’t!)
1/4 (30g) cup cocoa
1 1/2 cups (225g) plain flour, sifted
1/2 cup (125ml) buttermilk
1/2 tspn (2.5ml) cider vinegar
1/2 tspn bicarbonate of soda
1 cup (200g) cream cheese, at room temperature, cubed
2 tbsp (30g) butter, softened
2 cups (260g) icing sugar, sifted (I know this is a pain…but really is necessary)
Preheat your oven to 180°C and either grease with spray oil / butter a 12 hole muffin pan, or line with paper cases. Tip: if you do want to use cases, use only a very dark colour as the red food colouring will stain them quite heavily. I’d recommend you go with just greasing, as that way the red-velvet-ness of the cupcakes will be on display for all to see!
Beat together with electric beaters (on high) the butter and sugar (for the cupcakes, not the icing just yet!) until very pale in colour and fluffy in texture. This should take 4 to 5 minutes. Add the egg and beat until incorporated.
In a small bowl, beat together with a fork the vanilla, food colouring, salt and cocoa (no sifting required, woohoo!) until they form a smooth, thick paste. Beat into the butter mixture until all combined. At this stage if you’ve been a bit enthusiastic with the beaters, or if they’re a bit unruly, I’d recommend cleaning up any splatters. The food colouring in such a concentration will stain bench tops and anything else it sticks to. Not fun.
Turn your mixer down low… and add about a third of your (sifted) flour, and beat til just incorporated. Add a third of your buttermilk and beat again. Repeat this twice more with the flour and milk until all incorporated. Next, in a small cup combine the cider vinegar and bicarb soda. Add this to the batter and using big, gentle motions with a spatula fold in. Leave for 3 minutes.
Spoon evenly into the prepared pan and place into the oven for approximately 15 minutes, or until top of biggest one springs back when lightly touched. Leave to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing and placing onto a cooling rack. If you’re in a rush to ice them, place them into the fridge as they need to be 100% cool before you put anything on top!
And now time for the best part. The icing. Obviously. Put the cream cheese and butter in a large bowl and mix with electric beaters until smooth. Gradually add the (sifted) icing sugar until well incorporated and very smooth.
Now: pipe, smooth, dollop, throw or smear the icing onto your (cooled) cupcakes. Then, EAT.
In case you’re wondering: yes, you definitely should refrigerate these cupcakes due to the cheese content of the icing. If you don’t want to serve them cold however, just leave them out to for an hour or so before serving to get closer to room temperature.
Thanks to A Zombie Ate My Cupcake (you should seriously check it out, much scarier looking cupcakes than mine!)