Red Velvet Cupcakes

red velvet cupcakes

I have to admit I never really understood the red velvet cake obsession. I mean, a touch of cocoa in the cake and red food coloring? Why ruin what could be a perfectly good chocolate cake?And I like cream cheese frosting (I like anything ending in “frosting”) but it’s generally not my first choice unless I’m eating carrot cake, which is pretty far down the list itself. If I’m honest I’ve rolled my eyes, at least internally, at red velvet lovers because they’ve always struck me as somehow superior in their affected reverent tone. “OMG is that red velvet. Oh, I looove red velvet. I really don’t even like cupcakes unless they’re RED VELVET!” Okay. Whatever. Again, not even real chocolate cake loaded with artificial red food coloring. Not sure how that makes you so “gourmet” in your choice. Sorry for the negative attitude. I’m really selling this recipe, aren’t I? As I’m sure you’ve guessed, I’ve had a change of heart just in time for Valentine’s Day.

We have Hailey to thank for this change of heart. It was the girls’ 10th birthday (insert mama sobs here) last week and they had their choice of cupcake flavors. Ella chose a chocolate cupcake with Oreo buttercream (recipe coming soon) and Hailey, the red velvet. Having never made them and only eaten them on a few occasions, always finding them mediocre at best, I was happy to oblige and see what the fuss was all about. Maybe if I took a lot of care I could turn out something to change my attitude. It was after I had eaten about the eighth cupcake (don’t judge, it was over the course of a few days) I realized I had done just that. Apparently I just never had a good one before because, of course, if I was in a really good bakery I wasn’t wasting calories on something I didn’t understand. I’m not sure they’ve made it clear to the top of the list or warranted me using an affected reverent tone but I do declare them quite delicious and very pleasing to the eye as well!

Red Velvet Cupcakes

(makes about 20 cupcakes)

CUPCAKES

1/2 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled (you could sub canola oil)

1/4 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 cup milk, preferably 2% or whole

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

red food coloring (I used 1 teaspoon of gel food coloring, you might use more or less of a liquid or paste)

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

3 cups powdered sugar, sifted

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 tablespoon vanilla

3 TB heavy cream, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line two cupcake tins with paper cupcake liners.

Melt the coconut oil in the microwave until it’s about 3/4 of the way melted. Remove and stir until it’s fully melted. If it’s still too warm, allow it to cool to room temp.

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With electric beaters or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together coconut oil, butter, and sugar until light and fluffy, scraping sides occasionally.

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Add eggs, one at a time, until well combined.

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In a microwave-safe container, combine the apple cider vinegar with the milk and heat until it’s just lukewarm (about 1 minute in mine). This will activate the curdling. (You could also use buttermilk or kefir but if you do, still add 1/2 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.)

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In a separate work bowl, sift flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt to combine.

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Add 1/3 of the sifted mixture to the batter then 1/2 of the milk/vinegar, mixing well after each addition. Repeat, ending with the last third of the flour mixture, scrape sides occasionally to make sure it’s well combined. Add vanilla extract.

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Last, but not least, add red food coloring until you’ve reached the desired hue.

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Fill cupcake liners about two-thirds of the way full. A standard ice cream scoop works great!

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Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 18 – 22 minutes. Baking times will vary depending on your oven and altitude so watch closely and test with a toothpick until it comes out clean. Set aside to cool completely before frosting.

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Begin making the frosting by sifting 3 cups powdered sugar into a mixing bowl.

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Add softened cream cheese and butter, vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon heavy cream and beat well with electric hand mixer or the wire whisk attachment on a stand mixer, scraping sides occasionally.

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Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of cream and beat until it’s a good consistency to spread or pipe out of a pastry bag.

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Frost cooled cupcakes. If you like, use a large pastry bag with a large star tip to pipe the frosting.

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Keep them away from me because apparently, I’ll eat two or three a day if they’re hanging around.

Oh, Mr. Darcy! Be still my heart…

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