Red Velvet Cupcakes with Roses {Recipe}

Red velvet cupcakes are a classic treat that lend themselves so perfectly to Valentine's Day.  Although I've admired red velvet cake and cupcakes from afar for a couple of years, I've never made any.  In fact, I hadn't even heard of red velvet cake until a few years ago.  Apparently it's famous in the south, but being born and raised in California I wasn't familiar with it.  And to be fair, once I learned that they were simply a light cocoa cake with lots of red dye I wasn't sure I could ever feel really excited about it.  Although I obviously use food coloring quite often for cookie and cupcake frosting, I try to avoid using excess amounts.  But over the past 2 years of blogging, the one recipe I keep getting e-mail requests for is red velvet.  I searched the web for natural color alternatives, but after reading at least a dozen different blog posts I concluded that using natural coloring (from beets, or similar) can be a lot of work, expensive, and often only produce mediocre results.  All that to say, these are delicious cupcakes... and yes, they have quite a bit of food coloring in them.  If that bothers you, feel free to make my favorite chocolate cupcakes, or vanilla cupcakes.   

This recipe is really delicious, and I'm sure I'll be using it again.  There is something a little special about the pretty dark red hue.  This cake is a delicious, moist and fluffy, lightly flavored chocolate cake.  Different red velvet cake recipes range from containing just a couple tablespoons of cocoa, to being a fully flavored chocolate cake.  I would describe this recipe as a mild chocolate cake.  As you can see, the color is dark red, or burgundy.  If you would like a brighter red color, feel free to reduce the cocoa powder a bit, and/or add more coloring. 

Red Velvet Cake (or cupcakes)

2 1/4 cups cake flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa (not Dutch process)
1  teaspoons salt
1 1/3 cups oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
4 Tablespoons liquid red food coloring (or 1 tablespoons concentrated food coloring- I used Americolor super red)
1 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup buttermilk (I made buttermilk with powdered buttermilk mixed with regular mix)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons white vinegar (all I had was apple cider vinegar and it worked fine)

1.  Preheat oven to 350*F.  Prepare cupcake pan with liners, or butter and flour cake pans and line bottoms with parchment. 
2.  In a large bowl whisk cake flour, cocoa and salt, and set aside.
3.  In the bowl of an electric mixer (fitted with the whisk attachment), beat oil and sugar until well blended.  Add eggs one at a time, and continue beating.  Add food coloring and vanilla and mix well. 
4.  Add flour and buttermilk alternately, in two batches.  Scrap down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Mix just enough to combine. 
5.  Place baking soda in a bowl or cup, add vinegar and stir (it will foam and expand).  Add to cake batter and beat for 10 seconds. 
6.  Fill cupcake liners 2/3-3/4 full, or divide batter between cake pans.  Bake cupcakes 20-24 minutes.  Bake cake layers 25-40 minutes depending on the size of the pans. 

This recipe will yield about 24 cupcakes, 3- 8" cake layers, or 2- 9" cake layers.

Recipe source-  Adapted from "The Confetti Cakes Cookbook" by Elisa Strauss, as published by the New York Times.  I scaled down the recipe from the original, which yields 36 cupcakes.

Cream Cheese Frosting

½ cup (1 stick/8 Tablespoons) butter (set at room temp about 10 minutes, but should still be cool)
8 oz. cream cheese (directly from fridge)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (always use pure vanilla extract if possible)
4 cups powdered confectioners sugar
1 to 2 Tablespoons heavy cream, heavy whipping cream (or milk- although I do like the richness that cream adds)

1.  Place butter in a large mixing bowl and beat until smooth. Add cream cheese and blend until fully combined, about 30 seconds.
2.  Add vanilla extract and powdered sugar (one cup at a time) while mixing.  Increase to medium speed and beat until it begins to get fluffy.
3.  Slowly add the heavy cream, a little bit at a time until desired consistency is met. (Don't add too much if you want the frosting to stay in place when piped on cupcakes.)
4.  Beat until fluffy, about 1 minute.
5.  Frost cake or cupcakes. 

Recipe source- Glorious Treats (this is just my version of this very old, classic frosting).

For more detailed help with frosting cupcakes, I have a full post on How to Frost Cupcakes (here)

I decorated these cupcakes with handmade fondant roses.  I'll share the tutorial this week. 

As an extra special treat, I've teamed up with a group of amazingly talented ladies to bring you a dozen beautiful and delicious Valentine's treats!  Check out all of these gorgeous creations!   

1.  Confessions of a Cookbook Queen-  Valentine's Twinkies on a Stick
3.  Glorious Treats (that's me!)-  Red Velvet Cupcakes
4.  Cookies and Cups- Glass Topper Valentine's Cookies
6.  The Hungry Housewife-  Valentine's Jello Hearts
7.  The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle-  Valentine's Dotty Cookies
8.  Sprinkle Bakes- Red Velvet Cake Minis
10.  Two Peas and Their Pod-  Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies
11.  Scarletta Bakes-  Mexican Chocolate Hearts
12.  She Wears Many Hats- Valentine's Popcorn

Have a wonderfully sweet week!
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