Red Velvets for Valentine’s Day

14 Feb

A delectable Valentine dessert.

I have to admit, I’m not entirely sure why people go gaga over red velvet cake or cupcakes. I’m not saying they’re not nice, I just don’t think they are that spectacular. People have asked me what “flavor” red velvets are—and that’s just impossible to describe. I do keep making them because choosy red-velvet eaters choose mine. I’ve heard the following compliments:

“Better than Sprinkles‘ red velvets!” (Take THAT, Candace Nelson!)

“As good as my Southern grandmother’s red velvets!” (I’ll take that compliment all day long, thankyouverymuch.)

Two dozen of these beauties ready for delivery!

“The best red velvets I’ve ever tasted!” (I wish I could take that one to the bank.)

Still, I struggle with red velvets. Not just because I can’t eat any but the vegan kind, due to buttermilk in the batter and cream-cheese frosting as the usual topping, but because they are delicate little flowers if done properly. You need to use cake flour, for a start, and they never seem to rise properly. But the taste, apparently, is wonderful, a delicate crumb with a tangy, not-too-sweet frosting on top.

Adding the red food coloring. I'll be making pink ones for my niece's birthday next month.

I made these for one of my favorite clients, Viceroy Hotel Group, since I wasn’t able to give them holiday treats. I thought it would be a nice change for them to receive some treats at a different time of year, and red velvet cupcakes seemed fitting. Plus I get to use all sorts of cheesy accoutrements, like heart-shaped sprinkles and heart cut-out cupcake liners. I have to drive them up, since I can’t exactly ship fully-made cupcakes FedEx unless I want it to look like a big Eton Mess. (Which is delicious, by the way, but not nice-looking, especially if the dessert started out as cupcakes.)

And no, The Husband didn’t get any for Valentine’s Day. Poor thing—we’re on a cleanse for February!

So here is my red velvet recipe, adapted from Martha Stewart. The cream-cheese frosting is hers through and through.

There was a little accident in the food-coloring tray…luckily I have more.

Red Velvet Cupcakes (makes 24)

2-1/2 cups of cake flour
2 Tbs. unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
1.5 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1-1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup canola oil
2 large eggs, room temp
1/2 tsp. red gel-paste food coloring
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. distilled white vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake tins with paper liners. Whisk together baking powder, flour, salt and cocoa powder.

With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar together; add oil. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated. Scrape down sides as needed. Add food coloring and vanilla. (Note: I usually use the “no taste” red food coloring.)

Fresh from the oven.

Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and whisking well after each. Put the baking soda in a small bowl, and measure out the vinegar in another bowl; add the vinegar to the baking soda and stir well as it foams. Add quickly to the batter, and mix on medium speed for 10 seconds.

Here’s my special tip: freeze the batter overnight. You don’t have to do this, but I find that they rise better if you do. It’s also easier to scoop into the tins with your ice cream scoop.

Divide your batter among the cups and bake, rotating trays halfway through. I bake them for 18 minutes, test them, then bake on 2 minute intervals if a toothpick doesn’t come out clean after the first bake.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
12 oz. cream cheese, room temp
1 pound (4 cups) confectioner’s (icing) sugar, sifted
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract

First of all, it’s incredibly important that the butter and cream cheese is at room temperature before starting, and you really do have to sift the sugar. No exceptions, or you will have very lumpy frosting—and that’s from experience.

With your trusty Kitchen Aid or electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the cream cheese and butter until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Reduce speed to low, and add the sugar, 1/2 a cup at a time. Then add vanilla (I often forget this!), and mix everything until smooth and combined, about a minute. I usually use the whisk attachment at the beginning, and finish it off with the paddle. You also need to scrape the sides of the bowl down quite often with this recipe.

Make another half-batch of this frosting recipe to match the number of red velvets the above recipe makes.

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12 Responses to “Red Velvets for Valentine’s Day”

  1. stirandstitch February 14, 2012 at 10:22 am #

    i don’t get them either, but yours look amazing! did you make those darling cases for them?

    • tinykitchenstories February 14, 2012 at 10:29 am #

      Thank you so much! The pink got a little pinker than I wanted, but otherwise they turned out well.

      And thanks for assuming I could have made these liners, but I didn’t! I did, however, use regular baking liners then plopped the cupcakes in these, as they didn’t seem to be fit for the oven. Maybe I was wrong, but they were too expensive to muck up:
      http://www.shopbakersnook.com/m5/8304–heart-eyelet-themed-red-cupcake-liners-by-wilton-415-1488.html

      I appreciate your comment!

      • Ahmad March 1, 2012 at 5:43 am #

        And I was tnhiking i’m the only one left that has never tried red velvet cake… I love the pinkish color, although I see them bright red. I think I’d pick one donut and one cupcake. They both look great, hard to decide between the two

  2. kelly February 14, 2012 at 4:58 pm #

    Thanks for the cupcakes and dropping them off our office! They were delish and made our day! The perfect Valentines treat. Our office gobbled them up and by lunchtime they were gone! We agree, they are better than Sprinkles! : )
    Happy V-day!
    VHG Team

    • tinykitchenstories February 14, 2012 at 5:02 pm #

      Thanks, Kelly! You are all so great to work with, you deserve them. I appreciate the comment! Cheers!

      • Mzll February 29, 2012 at 3:18 pm #

        I will be tatlgaiing this weekend! I cannot wait…tatlgaiing at PSU (the college I went to) is HUGE on it. While these might not by traditional red velvet cupcakes or donuts they still look great and I love the recipe. Going to try it!

  3. jenmaaninamman February 21, 2012 at 9:43 pm #

    Love, love, love the cupcakes. The cupcake holders are adorable too!

    • tinykitchenstories February 21, 2012 at 10:26 pm #

      Thank you! I finished them in a bit of a rush, so was thankful they turned out well. 🙂

      • Syunsuke March 1, 2012 at 8:00 am #

        Maryann – Thank you Annie! My son wtnead something Oreo to take to school for his birthday treat so I did a search and found your recipe. Thanks to your clear directions, we were able to make these together and found it oh so simple. I was afraid of having the cupcakes not turn out as beautiful as yours, since I seem to have the knack for having something go wrong. My son had his heart set on at least trying to fill the cupcakes so you can see why I was so intimidated and reluctant after reading your comments regarding your experience with the filling, especially considering that I had never attempted this before. But we gave it a try using the Easy Accent Decorator from Pampered Chef and it worked wonderfully! Needless to say, the cupcakes were an absolute hit!February 16, 2009 8:32 pm[]

      • Aidin March 1, 2012 at 9:08 am #

        You truly crack me up! Even when I see your pins on Pinterest, I have NO idea what you’re going to do with them and we NEVER come close to using them for the same thing!! I alywas love what you do and even though we are both in the creative industry, I’m sure my brain will NEVER work like yours!! xoxo

    • Soraya March 1, 2012 at 6:00 am #

      I adore this lil shop. i setlkad it down on my last visit to Melbourne i also had the red velvet but was really disapointed. When i had it i felt it just tasted like a red vanilla cake. was however compairing it to my red velvet cake. I also found the frosting to buttery. I am glad you had a good experience though and will have to have a second sample on my next visit. You should keep your eye out for Sparkle cupcakery when they do there raspberry red velvet YUM P.s Great site keep up the great work.

  4. Ranjitkannan February 29, 2012 at 9:29 am #

    Love this petatle and the adorable, yummy cupcakes for a bridal shower. An engagement party would be very sexy in red! My mom loves red and I bet she wishes either mine or my sisters weddings were red! 😉

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