Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Red Velvet Cupcakes

When I got my job I had decided to make a birthday treat for everyone on my team (there are 8 of us, including me).  Somehow, in our four month term, there was only one birthday and it was on October 25.  I asked my teammate what kind of cupcakes were her favourite and she responded enthusiastically, "red velvet!"

I was apprehensive at first because I didn't see what made red velvet any different from a chocolate cupcake except for the presence of red.  However, I decided to make them anyways because if someone tells you what kind of cupcake they want for their birthday, you can't just make a different kind!

I found this recipe from Smitten Kitchen and adapted it for my purposes!  What you see below is an almost identical recipe but I altered it to make ~18 cupcakes and also altered the icing appropriately.  My favourite part was mixing the vinegar and baking soda.  I'm not sure (chemically) why this is done but it was in the recipe.  I definitely kept a couple drops of red food colouring so I could make a volcano.

For the Cupcakes:
1 3/4 cups cake flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa (not Dutch process)
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup canola oil
1 cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar
1.5 large eggs*
3 tbsp red food colouring or 1 tsp red gel food colouring dissolved in 3 tbsp water
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp white vinegar

*For the eggs: crack one egg into a separate small bowl.  Eyeball about half into the mixture and discard the rest.  If it's not 100% exact your cupcakes will still turn out fine, but I don't know what would happen if you used one or two eggs.

Special Equipment:
muffin tin
18 muffin cup liners (or butter or non-stick spray)
stand mixer, electric mixer, or very strong arm
piping bag
piping bag tip #30
red sugar crystals for decorating

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line muffin tin with liners or grease.
2. whisk cake flour, cocoa and salt in a bowl.
3. Place oil and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium speed until well-blended.  Beat in eggs.  With machine on lowest setting, blend in food colouring.
4. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk in two batches.  Scrape bowl down and beat just long enough to combine.
5. Place baking soda in a small dish and stir in vinegar.  and add to batter with machine running.  Beat for 10 seconds.
6. Divide batter among muffin cups, filling 3/4 full.
7. Bake for 20-15 minutes, until cake tester comes out clean.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups icing sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Place cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl (or bowl of stand mixer--smaller one if you have a choice).
2. Beat until light and fluffy, about two minutes.  Add sugar and vanilla.  Beat on low speed to combine.
3. If the icing is too soft to use right away, refrigerate for 10 minutes.

1. Once cupcakes have cooled and icing is appropriate consistency, load up a piping bag with icing and #30 tip.
2. Pipe swirls on cupcakes.
3. Sprinkle with red sugar crystals from a good height to get a sprinkled look.

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