Monday, August 6, 2012

Red Velvet Cupcakes

After an amazing weekend filled with delicious Julia Child recipes, it's time to switch back to a dessert. You may remember me mentioning my family is "sugar addicted", so this means that I'm on a constant mission to come up with new treats to present to them.  In the past, I would have likely made an 8pm run to the grocery store pick up a bag of cookies. If we wanted to get really fancy, we might get some chemical cupcakes from the bakery. You know the ones- the kind that last 2 weeks without getting soggy or moldy!

As has been my mission the last year, I'm trying to keep things more real.  I'm also trying to keep my family happy with the things that I make.  For sweets, they generally like simple things like vanilla with chocolate frosting. This is sometimes frustrating since I like to be somewhat challenged in the kitchen.  So, we usually compromise by finding a traditional recipe, and then I take some liberties to kick it up a notch.  Allow me to introduce Red Velvet Cupcakes as adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens Recipe.

The Red Velvet Cupcake is a basic chocolate flavored, buttermilk based cake that is probably most famous for it's ridiculously obnoxious amount of red food coloring.  I drastically reduced the amount of food coloring, and the results were still acceptable. In my opinion, it does nothing to enhance flavor, and the less chemical, the better.

Other than that, the recipe I used was a bit more fancy than your run-of-the-mill Red Velvet cupcake. It calls for a white chocolate cream filling and a mascarpone frosting. The white chocolate cream just adds to the delicious moistness that a buttermilk cake normally produces.  The mascarpone frosting is what makes the cupcake gourmet!  Mascarpone is an italian cheese that could easily be mistaken for a light, creamy butter.  Don't let my use of the word "light" fool you. This ain't no light cheese, baby!  It's made with a very high cream content milk.  This isn't a dieter's cupcake.

Red Velvet Cupcake

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 18 regular sized muffin cups with a cupcake liner.  In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Next, add oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed until combined. Spoon batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling each about 1/4 to 1/2 inch from the top.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the centers comes out clean. (Hint: While cupcakes are baking, prepare the white chocolate filling.  See below) Remove from the oven, and cool in the pan for about 5-10 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pans and cool completely on wire racks.

White Chocolate Cream Filling

  • 3 ounces white baking chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
In a small saucepan, combine white baking chocolate and 1/4 cup of the whipping cream. Cook and stir over low heat until chocolate is nearly melted. Remove from heat; stir until smooth. Cool for 10 minutes. In a large bowl, beat remaining whipping cream with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form (tips curl). Add the cooled white chocolate mixture. Beat just until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight). Cover and chill.  Once chilled, the filling becomes firm and easier to handle when filling the cupcakes.
Once cupcakes are cooled and the filling is firm enough to handle, you should make the frosting.  (see below)  Once the frosting is ready, be prepared to fill and frost immediately.  (Hint: Make sure you have enough airtight containers and room in your fridge to store the cupcakes before you start filling and frosting the cupcakes!)

Mascarpone Frosting

  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, brought to room temperature
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 - 3 teaspoons milk  
In a large bowl, combine mascarpone cheese and softened butter. Beat with an electric mixer on medium to high speed until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating well. Beat in milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, to reach desired consistency.

Now, put it all together!

Transfer the white chocolate cream filling to a decorating bag fitted with a medium sized star tip. Push tip into the top of each cupcake and force some of the whipped cream inside cupcake. I found it best to push the tip in, wiggle it a bit to compact some of the cupcake and create "room", pull back the tip, and then fill.  Another option is to remove a small bit of the cupcake prior to filling. It's your choice, but the method I used worked fine.  Once all the cupcakes are filled, frost the cupcakes with the mascarpone frosting by piping or spreading it onto tops of cupcakes.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge.  They are best when consumed within a day or two as they can dry out easily.

My family loved the cupcakes!  We found them to be just the right combination of moist, sweet, and chocolately.  I suspect that they'd be just as good without the filling, so in the future, I might skip that and stick with the basic cupcake recipe and mascarpone frosting only.

So, are there any desserts that you've kicked up a notch to make more "challenging", yet they still appeal to your whole family?  If so, let me know! I'm always looking for more ideas.


  1. sounds wonderful! One of my favorite cakes to make from scratch is Beet cake. I love that it starts with fresh beets, it looks a lot like a red velvet cake, too!

  2. I love the idea of adding chocolate filling. I will be doing that next time for sure!!

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