Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Perfect Red Velvet Cupcake...

I was never a die hard fan of red velvet cake. I really never understood what the craze was over this flavor. One night, the hubby and I watched an episode of D.C. Cupcakes where for Valentine's Day the line of people practically wrapped around the building. Inside the shop, thousands of red velvet cupcakes were in production throughout the day to supply the demand for these red velvets. I couldn't help feeling I was missing something. The red velvets I was used to were dry and had very little flavor... crumbled in my mouth... and left a strange after taste. (Probably from the amount of food coloring.) So I googled "the perfect red velvet cupcake"... after sifting threw a few recipes, I came across a blog, Brown Eyed Baker. Her complaints and experience with this flavor cake was exactly the same as mine (she felt my pain) and went on a quest to come up with the perfect red velvet recipe. When I say she nailed it... SHE NAILED IT. I followed her recipe exactly except for the vinegar. Her recipe calls for white distilled vinegar... I used apple cider vinegar as advised by the ladies of D.C. Cupcakes because apple cider vinegar is naturally sweeter than regular vinegar. We are after all making a cake, right? Either way... with the touch of cocoa added (genius)... there's no going wrong here. When we first bit in to this cupcake, the one thing we noticed from the very first bite was it's rich, chocolaty flavor... but it STILL tasted very much like red velvet. A very rich, smooth, dare I say, SEXY red velvet. To top it off (literally) the cream cheese frosting... PERFECT. I've played around with butter cream and personally it's way too sweet. I find myself scraping most of the icing off the top of my cupcakes and spreading the rest evenly over the cake with each bite. This cream cheese frosting recipe I have used over chocolate and strawberry cupcakes as well... divine! It's sweet, but not too sweet. The taste of the cream cheese comes through just enough to enhance the taste of the cupcake without overpowering it or sending me into a diabetic seizure like most. In other words... It's a winner!

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
as shared on BrownEyedBaker.com

Yield: 12 cupcakes

For the Cupcakes:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 granulated sugar
1 egg
2 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons red food coloring
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar (I used apple-cider vinegar)

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
4 ounces butter, at room temperature
4ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard muffin/cupcake pan with liners.

2. On medium-high speed, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy about 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to high and add the egg. Scrape down the bowl and beat until well incorporated.

3. In a separate small bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, vanilla extract and red food coloring to make a thick paste. Add to the batter and mix on medium speed until completely combined. You may need to stop the mixer to scrape the bottom of the bowl, making sure that all the batter get color.

4. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add half of the buttermilk. Add half of the flour and mix until combined. Scrape the bowl and repeat the process with the remaining milk and flour. Beat on high until smooth.

5. Again, reduce the mixer speed to low and add the salt, baking soda and vinegar. Turn to high and beat for another couple of minutes until completely combined and smooth.

6. Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners and bake for about 20 minutes, or until a thin knife or skewer inserted into the center of the largest cupcake comes out clean.

7. Cool for 10 minutes and then remove cupcakes from the pan and place them on a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.

8. To make the frosting: Using the whisk attachment, whip the butter and cream cheese on high speed for about 5 minutes, scraping the bowl down as necessary. Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the powdered sugar until all in incorporated. Add the vanilla and mix to combine. Increase the speed to medium high and whip for a few minutes until the frosting is light and fluffy, scraping the bowl as necessary.
*Note: This recipe can be doubled to make an 8 or 9 inch layer cake.
(Recipe adapted from Joy the Baker, originally from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook)

To add a finishing touch to this already perfect recipe, I sprinkled crushed walnuts over the top... Glass of Cupcake Moscato in hand... (and a sippy cup of milk) Positively SINFUL! Enjoy!