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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Traditional Creamy Vanilla Icing

I'm on a mission to find the best Red Velvet recipe.  The cake is becoming so popular and the beautiful red hue with white frosting is striking and very festive for the holidays. I've tried many from some great cookbooks and sources ~ but none were quite right, all tending to be on the dry side.  While Red Velvet is supposed to be a dense cake, is it supposed to be dry?  This recipe is a combination of recipes from Country Living and Food.com which reference the original Waldorf-Astoria recipe.  From Wikipedia: "The cake and its original recipe are well-known in the United States from New York City's famous Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. However, it is widely considered a Southern recipe.[3] Traditionally, the cake is iced with a French-style butter roux icing (also called ermine icing), which is very light and fluffy but time-consuming to prepare. Cream cheese frosting and buttercream frosting are variations which have increased in popularity." I use the traditional cooked vanilla icing here, its taste and consistency is similar to whipped cream.  I think it adds lightness to the cake as opposed to a cream cheese frosting.  This recipe yielded a bright red cake that had the best flavor so far, and was lighter and moister than others.  Is it the best??  Could it be moister? -perhaps.  I don't know ~ the verdict is still out and I would appreciate your feedback.  I will tweak as I go along until I get the perfect red velvet cake. One trick I have learned is be careful to not overcook, check the cake just before time is up, if it is set and a toothpick comes out clean remove it from oven, let cool a few minutes then remove from pan.


Cake - makes 24 cupcakes 
1 stick unsalted butter, room temp
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (not dutch processed)
3 Tbsps red food coloring
1 1/2 tsps pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp salt
2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp white vinegar
Frosting
3 Tbsp flour
1 cup whole milk
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp

For Cake:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.  Beat the butter and sugar in the bowl of stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, on med, until light and fluffy, about 5 mins.  Add the eggs and continue to beat for 1 more minute.  Stir the cocoa, food coloring and vanilla together in a small bowl.  Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the cocoa mixture, it will make a thick paste. Combine the buttermilk and salt in a measuring cup.  Add the flour by thirds, alternating the the buttermilk mixture.  Mix the baking soda and vinegar together in a cup and add to the batter, beating until smooth.  Using a 4 oz cookie scoop, measure a full scoop (not overflowing) into each paper cup.  Bake for 17 -19 mins - depending on your oven, just until set and toothpick comes out clean, (rotate pans 1/2 way through for even baking).  Let cupcakes cool a few mins then remove from pan.  When completely cool ice with frosting.
For Frosting:  Whisk the milk and four together in a med saucepan until smooth.  Set on med heat and cook, stirring constantly - to avoid scalding, until thickened - 4-5 mins.  Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.  While cooling, beat the butter and confectioners sugar in a med bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, on high until light.  Reduce speed to medium, add the vanilla and blend, then slowly add the cooled milk mixture and beat until blended.  Switch to a whisk attachment and beat for 1 more minute until smooth.  Pipe or spread onto cooled cupcakes.  Decorate with decorations as desired.  For these I used Wilton white sparkling sugar,  and Christmas sugar decorations - ordered through www.countrykitchensweetart.com



I made mini bundts too, these required a little less time in the oven.


If you do try the recipe please come back and let me know what you think, also I'd love to hear your tricks and successes with baking red velvet treats

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