Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

This month, continuing my posts about go-to recipes, I’m blogging about red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting! The red velvet cupcake is a popular cupcake with a dark red, bright red, or red-brown color usually topped with a cream cheese-based frosting.

The origin of the red velvet cake is pretty complicated, dating back to the late 19th century. The cake was originally a hybrid of a Red Devil’s Food crossed with a chocolate Velvet cake. And until the invention of food coloring, the cake was faint and closer to a red-brown hue. Now, the red velvet cake has turned into an almost-contest about who can get the brightest red color while also maintaining the fine crumb and the rich taste of cocoa.

This cupcake is a very moist cake, dyed bright red with food coloring and topped with a generous of helping of cream cheese frosting. It is a recipe I adapted from Paula Dean and has been a hit whenever I make it. The cake also lends itself really well to subbing in gluten-free flour. So feel free to sub in a GF flour mixture. Alternately, if you’re not interested in artificial red food coloring, you can use a variety of natural dyes.

Click below for the recipe! 🙂

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Yield: 24 cupcakes

Red velvet cupcakes:

Begin by assembling your ingredients.

You are going to need:

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

You are also going to need:

  • Cupcake pan
  • Paper liners
  • Cookie scoop

First, pre-heat your oven to 350° F.

Next, sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in to a medium bowl or on to a sheet of wax paper. (I have an awesome sifter, which has a measuring cup attachment that eliminates the need for a bowl.)

In a large bowl, mix together all of the wet ingredients on low speed. Be careful mixing because if the liquid splatters, the red food coloring may cause a bit of a mess…

Add the dry ingredients all at once. Mix until incorporated.

Using a cookie scoop, fill each cupcake liner 2/3 of the way full (about 2 cookie scoops). Be sure not to overfill the cupcake wells, or the cupcake tops will spread out and stick to the pan…

Bake in a pre-heated oven for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for approximately 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack.

Let cupcakes cool for at least one hour before frosting.

Cream cheese icing:

Begin by assembling your ingredients.

You are going to need:

  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter (1 stick), slightly softened but not melted (The consistency should be similar to ice cream.)
  • 1/2 pound cream cheese, slightly softened
  • 1/2 pound powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Begin by whipping your butter and cream cheese mixture until it is light and fluffy. This is easiest if you have a stand mixer, but a hand mixer will work as well. You’ll just likely have to put in a little more work to get fluffy icing.

Add in the powdered sugar and vanilla, and mix on low until the sugar is incorporated.

Beat on high speed until light and airy, approximately 5 minutes.

To decorate the cupcakes:

Begin by assembling your ingredients.

You are going to need:

  • Fully cooled cupcakes
  • Prepared cream cheese icing
  • Icing bag (Either a 16-inch or 12-inch bag will work.)
  • A large star tip (I use Wilton’s 1M tip because it creates the big, pretty, swirly cupcake top.)

Begin by preparing your icing bag. Place the icing tip in the bag, narrow end first. Using a pen, mark the bag about half-way along the metal tip. Remove the icing tip and cut the end of the bag off. Place the icing tip back in to the bag, narrow end first. Fold over the top of the bag to form a cuff. Place the bag in a tall glass and fill with icing. For pictures, see the Jello Deviled Eggs post.

Unfold the top of the bag, and lift it out of the glass. Twist the top of the bag closed.

Holding the tip approximately 1/4″ above the cupcake top, pipe a spiral of icing, beginning at the outer edge and working inward. Continue spiral in to the center of the cupcake. Stop pressure on the bag and pull the tip straight up and away. For more pictures, see the Neon Tie-Dye Cupcakes post. Repeat with the remaining cupcakes.

Enjoy!! 😀

Any questions? Feel free to ask in the comments below! And thanks for reading! 🙂

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10 thoughts on “Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

  1. Noticed you didn’t use a coupler with the tip, how did you manage that? A gluten-free version is in a cookbook I’m working through right now, I’ll have a post about it soon (hopefully).

  2. These look really good. I have never made Red Velvet anything, yet suggest using a natural food dye available at WF. It is from beets and comes from India Tree in Seattle. Try it! Check out my world/blog.

    • Yep, I know the India Tree brand well. They sell it here at Sur La Table and Whole Foods. I tend to use the not-natural stuff regularly tho because the natural brands end up being cost-prohibitive… But I am planning an all-vegan Double Rainbow Cupcake post using (likely India Tree) natural food dye! 🙂

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