I am not a lover of the Red Velvet Cupcake. I've never been intrigued by it, interested it or in any way have found it appealing. It is, however, a great favorite among a number of my girlfriends, and I have just not been able to understand why. I DO NOT like the color - it scares me, as I try to avoid artificial colors and flavors, as a general rule. I think they make Daughters a bit bonkers, and on top of it, older Daughter has eczema flare-ups when she consumes artificial colors and flavors (like in commercial candies and processed foods.) So I avoid it. But even then, the bright red color never appealed.
But when best friend JEL tells me to do something , I generally ask, "How high?" She particularly enjoys giving me random challenges like, "I want you to try and come up with a red velvet cupcake recipe or find one."
"NO. I don't do artificial colors," I said adamantly.
"But it's my favorite, and you don't have to put the colors in there," she countered.
So I found myself doing a bit of research, asking my g-friends who adore the cupcake. What about it is so appealing? Why do you like it so much? Texture of cake? Color? I even went as far to ask the question, "Does a red velvet cupcake need to be red?"
Then one friend said, "Just make a NOT Red Velvet Cupcake" and I was immediately struck by the notion. I liked it. Have the light cocoa background flavor in the cake, a great cake texture, BUT - just don't make it red. SO I went with it. Then another friend suggested that instead of calling it the Not Red Velvet, that I should call it "The Velvet Cupcake." I loved it...so here I am with Velvet Cupcake in my repertoire.
I'll confess - the first batch of these didn't come out that well because my baking technique. I didn't follow my gut in terms of how I would execute a normal cupcake so the first attempt was less than wonderful. The frosting, however, was great. My second round was perfect, lightly chocolate, moist, and the perfect foil to vanilla cream cheese frosting.
The Velvet Cupcake
3/4 stick of butter (6 tablespoons), room temperature
3/4 cup of sugar
1 egg, room temperature
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar
3/4 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350. In the large bowl of a mixer, cream butter. Add sugar and cream together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg, and beat well. Scrape down the sides and make sure the egg is well incorporated.
In a medium bowl, mix together cocoa powder, flour, salt and baking soda. Set aside.
In bowl, or large measuring cup, mix vanilla extract, white vinegar, and buttermilk. Set aside.
To your butter sugar mixture, add half of the flour mixture. Beat until just combined. Add half of the buttermilk mixture. Beat again until just combined. Add the rest of the flour mixture and beat, and then add the rest of the buttermilk. Beat until just combined.
Scoop cupcake batter into pans. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, or until centers spring back lightly when pushed. Remover from oven, and allow to cool in pans 10 minutes. Remove from pans and allow to cool completely.
Cream Cheese Frosting
Enough for 12 cupcakes
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
4 oz (half a stick of butter) unsalted butter, room temperature
3-4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped OR 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (the vanilla extract DOES color the frosting so it loses it's pure white color, while the vanilla bean will just fleck the frosting with beautiful black dots...the vanilla bean is my preference.)
In bowl, cream together cream cheese and butter, until uniformly combined. Add vanilla extract/vanilla bean and mix. Add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time until desired pipeable or spreadable texture is met.
My next cupcake carrier...saw these at Costco as well and loved the design. (holds 36 cupcakes)
My choice of vanilla bean. Excellent service from the company and usually free shipping.