I love few things more than the excuse to make a celebratory dessert. I think it stems in large part from the fact that I actually don’t love desserts myself, so it’s very convenient to have an audience (and a person to take the leftovers home with her). But, even more, I think nothing says congratulations (or happy birthday or thank you or, heck, happy Tuesday) quite like a home-baked surprise.
(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos and the recipe.)
So, when my sister recently got a great new job, I started scheming immediately about a woo-hoo-worthy treat to celebrate the news. Lucky for me, I’ve also trained my sister to send me any and all good-looking recipes that should be added to my to do list (if you think this sounds like I wield an unhealthy amount of influence over her, just know that I do so in a much nicer way than in days past; growing up, there was a lot of “I’ll time you’s …”).
So, pursuant to this good training (and prior to the job news), she recently suggested that I add red velvet cake to my must-bake list. Perhaps because we grew up far north of the Mason-Dixon line, she’d never tried red velvet cake and I’ve never made it (despite having an unusually high number of friends from the south in college, even though I went to school in Evanston, Illinois, and despite living in D.C. for two years, which is a pretty southern town, actually). Armed with a celebratory excuse and a suggestion from the celebratee herself, I set out in search of a red velvet cake to say congratulations.
At first, I had a full blown cake in mind. To be honest, I’ve kind of steered clear of cupcakes since the whole bake-200-cupcakes-on-the-eve-of-my-wedding episode. But, seeing as though I was fresh off the heels of making two multi-layer coconut cakes, there was something appealingly easy about cupcakes.
Even more appealing was the fact that red velvet cakes (or cupcakes) are often paired with cream cheese frosting. And it just so happened that I had a heaping bowlful of cream cheese frosting leftover from the aforementioned coconut cake. I figured that red velvet cupcakes would be the perfect vehicle for it (though, truth be told, I wasn’t opposed to graham crackers, a spoon or, shamefully, the crook of my index finger). When I saw that Chockylit’s Red Velvet Cupcake recipe called for a cream cheese frosting, I was sold.
All in all, Ali was delighted. And though I only tried a wee bite, I thought they were great. Even though I doubled the amount of cocoa, they weren’t as chocolate-y as I expected (which Chockylit warned me about), but the fire engine red was so shocking and pretty. In fact, I might just suggest that these babies would be perfect for a certain upcoming holiday that features red and white. But, if you can’t wait a whole couple weeks until February 14, just wait for the next piece of good news in your life and whip up a batch!
Red Velvet Cupcakes
Cupcake Bakeshop by Chockylit
Note: Chockylit’s recipe yields 36 cupcakes. I have adjusted the recipe to yield 12 cupcakes, with a couple other minor tweaks, mentioned below.
1-1/4 cups cake flour
1/4 cups cocoa*
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder or 1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 ounce red food coloring*
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1. Preheat oven to 350°F
2. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder (or cream of tarter), and salt into medium bowl
3. Whisk buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla, and food coloring in small bowl to blend
4. Beat sugar and butter in large bowl until well fluffy, 3 minutes
5. Add eggs, beating until well blended, about 30 seconds
6. Beat in dry ingredients in 4 additions alternately with buttermilk mixture in 3 additions
7. Scoop into cupcake tins
8. Bake cupcakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes
9. Cool in pans 10 minutes
10. Cool completely on racks**
* These were my slight tweaks to the recipe.
** After the cupcakes were cooled, I slathered them with leftover Cream Cheese Frosting from the other day. I used about 1 1/2 cups of frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting: recipe here