Last month, I made cupcakes as a gift to my extended family because:
1) I am poor and couldn't afford to buy each family member a gift.
2) I can thankfully bake.
But what recipe to use? In the past I've used Paula Deen's recipe for Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting and liked the result quite a bit. However, this time around, a friend of mine told me her favorite was the red velvet cupcake recipe from Pinch My Salt, and I noticed that it had butter, one ingredient Paula Deen's recipe lacks. And boy, do I love butter. So I gave it a shot, and it was so amazing I don't think I'll try any other RVC recipe ever again!
I halved the recipe I linked above, but the steps are still the same:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line one 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake papers:
Sift together 1 1/4 cup cake flour, 1/2 tsp. baking powder, and 1/2 tsp. salt into a medium bowl; set aside.
In a small bowl, mix 1 oz. red food coloring and 1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder to form a thin paste without lumps; set aside. Note: I decided to double my cocoa powder to 2 Tbsp. (because it was old and expired) and halve the red food coloring (I used 1/2 oz. instead), so I got a super thick paste as a result.
For this recipe, you need 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened. I didn't have this, so I put it in the microwave and accidentally nuked it. Oops! You professional bakers out there are probably horrified. Don't worry, it gets worse :)
I wasn't ready to pour melted butter in with my 3/4 cups sugar and expect it to cream properly, so I decided to put the plate of melted butter in the freezer. When I was finally ready to combine them, I had about half softened butter and half frozen butter shards:
Add one third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beat well, then beat in half of the buttermilk.
Beat in another third of flour mixture, then second half of buttermilk. End with the last third of the flour mixture, beat until well combined, making sure to scrape down the bowl with a spatula.
Add vinegar mixture to the cake batter and stir well to combine. As pink as the batter looks, don't worry--the cakes will be bright red. Even with half the food coloring.
Cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Check early and don’t overbake! Um, I didn't overbake, but I definitely overfilled:
Cool the cupcakes in their tins on a wire rack for 10 minutes then remove and allow to cool completely before frosting. Frost cupcakes with cream cheese icing (recipe below) and decorate with red sprinkles if desired.
Yes, they were a gift, but there was no way I'd let the whole batch escape my hardworking, red food coloring-stained hands:
So I frosted one.
And then I ate it. Oh my God was it amazing:
The next day, I was ready to frost the rest of them and deliver. But overnight, my cupcakes somehow became super duper moist. On top of that, I decided to use a paring knife to cut off the overhanging bits of cake on each one because I didn't want stupid-shaped cupcakes, so you can guess what happened: I got crumbs all UP in my frosting. But that's okay--they ended up looking like sprinkles!
Seriously, I wish someone would gift me 18 amazing and delectable cupcakes! I felt like the nicest person in the world when I delivered these babies, which were consumed... err...inhaled... with much joy.
So, this story has another happy ending, the cream cheese frosting recipe I mentioned! Cream cheese frosting makes anything happy.
Cream Cheese Frosting
1 stick butter, softened
1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar (or however much you like)
Using hand mixer, cream together butter and cream cheese until there are no more lumps. Add sugar and vanilla and beat until fluffy.