I decided to make red velvet cupcakes on Saturday because I had half a pint of buttermilk in the fridge from making fried chicken last weekend and a package of cream cheese in the freezer from months ago that I had bought on sale and was tired of looking at every time I went for some ice cubes.
Plus I hadn’t had them in a long time, and who needs an excuse for these moist, delectable treats anyway?
Like most cake recipes, you start by combining the dry ingredients in a small bowl, creaming together sugar, vanilla, oil, and eggs in a large bowl, then adding the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients while mixing. The buttermilk and red food coloring (a whole bottle to get that gorgeous color!) goes in last. I always line my muffin tin rather than spraying it. It’s much easier to clean this way, and the cupcakes are more portable too. In my mind, it also seems like they won’t dry out as easily if they’re wrapped. Usually I use the handy foil liners from Reynolds, but I used plain paper ones this time. An ice cream scoop works great for filling each of the cups about two-thirds full.
Bake these babies at 350 for 20 minutes or so, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. I can never get anything to raise properly at 7,200 feet above sea level, so my cupcakes turned out flat on top. I also didn’t have patience to keep from opening the oven, so that could have contributed to the problem. In any case, I knew they would still taste delicious, but I didn’t want to just use a butter knife to spread the frosting across the top like I normally would. Instead, I filled a piping bag and made delectable cream cheese frosting swirls on top of each one to give them a little more height.
For the frosting, just cream together softened butter and softened cream cheese, then add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Pour in a little half and half or evaporated milk (slowly, while mixing) until you get it to the right consistency. Frosting thins down really easily, so you only want to add a teaspoon or so at a time until it’s incorporated and you can tell how firm it will be.
This is my grandmother’s recipe. When I was a kid, we had a garage sale at my mom’s house and my grandma brought over a few dozen of these cupcakes to sell for $1 apiece. They sold better than anything else we had set out! In fact, every last one disappeared within about a half hour.
You’ll love these! Trust me.
Red Velvet Cupcakes – makes 24 cupcakes
2 1/2 C flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
4 T cocoa
1 1/2 C sugar
1 1/2 C vegetable oil
4 T red food coloring
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
1 C buttermilk
Cream Cheese Frosting
1 8-oz package cream cheese
1 cube (1/2 C) salted butter
1 lb powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
A few teaspoons half and half, to control consistency
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl. In a large bowl, cream together sugar, vanilla, oil, and eggs. Slowly mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients until combined. Stir in buttermilk until incorporated. Add food coloring and mix well. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Meanwhile, make frosting: beat cream cheese and butter together. Add powdered sugar and vanilla and mix well. Add half and half a teaspoon at a time to thin frosting as needed.
Cool cupcakes on baking racks. Once completely cool, frost cupcakes as you like – with a butter knife, or use a piping bag if you want to be extra fancy. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days, or to freeze, wrap individually in plastic wrap. These will keep in the freezer for about 3 months. Thaw on the countertop or refrigerator.