These Red Velvet Cupcakes are adapted from the Red Hot Red Velvet Cake recipe in the book Baked, New Frontiers in Baking. Up until recently I had way too many Red Velvet recipes. I went back and re-baked some to see which ones were the best, and this recipe still rises to the top. The cupcakes aren't really high rising and bouncy, but they are deeply flavorful. They also have more chocolate than some other recipes, and I'm starting to like red velvet with more chocolate.
Darker Red Velvet
Back when I first made these (with help from a reader named Louise), I mentioned the cupcakes were too brown, too chocolatey and not red enough for me. My tastes have changed a bit. I now like the darker style Red Velvet too.
Amount of Butter and Oil
What's interesting about this recipe is that it was adapted from a cake recipe and didn't require changes to the amount of fat. Sometimes cupcakes need a little more oil or butter than their cake counterparts, but this recipe worked just fine without any real big ingredient changes. I have used different kinds of red colorings over the years, though.
Goodbye Cinnamon Frosting
The original cake was called Red Hot Velvet Cake because it was frosted with a fluffy cinnamon frosting. I gave up on making the cinnamon frosting because I will always choose regular cream cheese flavor over a cinnamon flavored frosting. So this recipe includes a cream cheese frosting. I have too many favorites, but lately I've been using one adapted from Martha Stewart which has 8 oz butter, 12 oz cream cheese and 4 cups of powdered sugar. I think the standard ratios are 4 oz butter, 8 oz cream cheese and 4 cups of powdered sugar, which I find too sweet.
Here's a picture of some powdered buttermilk. Back when I first posted this, we discussed how we both liked using it. It's still a staple at our house, though lately I've been using Bob's Red Mill brand rather than Saco. Update: I am also using Bob's Red Mill.
Exact yield may vary depending on what size your cupcake wrappers are. I use large ones (not jumbo) and get about 18 cupcakes, but if you use regular size cupcake wrappers you may get up to 24.
Baked Red Velvet Cupcakes
- ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, natural type
- ¼ cup boiling water
- 2 tablespoons red food coloring or 1 tablespoon Super Red**
- 1 cup buttermilk or use buttermilk powder and a scant up of water
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter softened, cut into small pieces
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or shortening (I use oil)
- 1 ⅔ cup sugar (330 grams)
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon fine salt
- 2 ½ cups cake flour (280 grams)
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8 oz unsalted butter, softened
- 12 oz cream cheese, softened
- 4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a muffin pan with 24 paper liners.
- In a small bowl or a 2 cup glass measure, stir together cocoa powder, boiling water and liquid food coloring. Set aside to cool slightly. Note: If using a thick gel color, mix only the cocoa powder and water and add a few drops of gel later.
- Stir the buttermilk and vanilla into the cocoa mixture.
- In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and shortening (or oil) until smooth. Scrape down the bowl and add the sugar. Beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the salt.
- With the mixer on low, add the flour and the buttermilk mixture alternately to the egg mixture in three separate additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat until incorporated. If you are using a thick gel rather than liquid color, add a few drops until you get a deep red hue.
- In a small bowl, combine the vinegar and baking soda and stir until the baking soda dissolves; the mixture will fizz. Add to the batter and stir until just combined.
- Divide the batter among the prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean, about 15-20 minutes for cupcakes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time.
- Transfer the muffin tin to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes or so, then remove cupcakes from pan and allow to cool on rack.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- With an electric mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy.
- Gradually add the confectioners' sugar, scraping bowl and beating. Beat in the vanilla. Add lemon juice for a little more tartness if desired.